To help figure out what “Born This Way” is, let’s first rule out exactly what it’s not.
First off, it is not the modern day “I Will Survive”, as Elton John so giddily claimed in his recent Rolling Stone interview. As tempting as it also is to write it off as a modern update of Madonna’s “Express Yourself” (as Rob Sheffield does here), it also doesn’t fill that role precisely, because its context is notably different (although, musically, it bears an unabashed similarity).
Instead, what Sheffield does get right is that “Born This Way” finds its power and its force by digging deep into the heart of American disco: shamelessly straightforward pop music with only the slightest wink of self-importance. This is an empowerment anthem to be danced to, inclusive to all, specific to no one. It will set clubs ablaze for the rest of 2011, soar to the top of the charts, and have an extravagantly over-the-top video as we’ve come to expect from Miss Gaga.