Following the stratospheric success of Just Dance, Pokerface and Bad Romance, the pressure was on for Lady Gaga when she began working on the lead single for her second full studio release.
But true to form, Mother Monster delivered another huge hit in the form of LGBTQ anthem, Born This Way, which later spawned the album of the same name.
With the track now celebrating a whole 10 years since its release, we’re uncovering all the things you probably never knew about it...
1. Born This Way actually has a strong link to the UK
Gaga actually penned Born This Way while touring the UK with The Monster Ball in 2010, revealing to a fan on Twitter in 2011 that it happened while she was in Liverpool and Manchester.
@MattyyBabyy I started writing Born This Way in Manchester + Liverpool. I knew it had to be the first single. It still gets me every time.
— Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) May 23, 2011
2. Gaga wrote it pretty darn quick as well
“I wrote it in ten fucking minutes,” she told Vogue magazine, “and it is a completely magical message song. And after I wrote it, the gates just opened, and the songs kept coming. It was like an immaculate conception.”
3. But she imagined another pop legend singing it while writing it
When accepting a Grammy in 2011 for her previous album, The Fame Monster, Gaga revealed she had imagined Whitney Houston singing Born This Way while she was working on it, explaining that she “wasn’t secure enough in myself to imagine I was a superstar”.
Gaga also cited Whitney as one of the sources of inspiration for for the track, revealing in an interview with Billboard magazine: “Harkening back to the early ’90s, when Madonna, En Vogue, Whitney Houston and TLC were making very empowering music for women and the gay community and all kind of disenfranchised communities, the lyrics and the melodies were very poignant and very gospel and very spiritual and I said, ‘That’s the kind of record I need to make. That’s the record that’s going to shake up the industry’.”
4. Many people also cite that Born This Way gives a nod to a 1970s gay disco anthem
Born This Way shares similarities in its message to Carl Bean’s 1977 track I Was Born This Way, which carries the lyrics, “I’m happy – I’m carefree – I’m gay – I was born this way”.
After many music critics cited this as a source of inspiration for Gaga, Carl said in an interview with Los Angeleno: “When I hear that someone is inspired by something I did, I feel good about it. I inspired a young person who is very talented, a go-getter.
“I feel great that it’s in the ears of those who need it most.”
5. Born This Way set a number of records
At the time, the song became the fastest single in history to reach sales of 1,000,000 copies worldwide, hitting that milestone in just five days.
It’s opening week sales in the US also marked the biggest first weekly digital sales figure by a female artist, beating the previous record held by Britney Spears’ track Hold It Against Me. Taylor Swift’s We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together later took the title.
Born This Way was also the 1000th song to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the US.
6. While the song sparked a much-publicised feud between Gaga and Madonna, things started out pretty amicably
Most pop music fans know that Born This Way immediately drew comparisons to Madonna’s Express Yourself upon release, going on to spark an on-going feud between the two singers.
However, Gaga initially claimed that Madonna’s reps had emailed her saying she supported Born This Way, with Gaga telling The Tonight Show With Jay Leno: “If the Queen says it shall be, then it shall be.”
Madonna’s team later said they weren’t aware anyone had sent Gaga an email, and then the Queen Of Pop was famously asked about the song in an interview in 2012, calling it “reductive” and even performing a mash-up of the two hits on her MDNA tour.
7. Gaga lost her cool with a music reporter who compared the two songs
When questioned about the comparisons during an interview with NME magazine, Gaga did not take kindly to it, remarking: “I am not stupid enough to put out a record and be that moronic. I’m a songwriter. I’ve written loads of music. Why would I try to put out a [copied] song and think I’m getting one over on everybody? What a completely ridiculous thing to even question me about.”
She continued: “If you put the songs next to each other, side by side, the only similarities are the chord progression. It’s the same one that’s been in disco music for the last 50 years. Just because I’m the first fucking artist in 25 years to think of putting it on Top 40 radio, it doesn’t mean I’m a plagiarist, it means that I’m fucking smart.”
8. The music video references some greats of the art world
Born This Way might have come before the ARTPOP days, but Gaga was still slipping in references to some of her favourite artists in the video for the single.
She said the visuals had been inspired by surrealist painters Salvador Dalí and Francis Bacon.
9. It also honours one of Hitchcock’s greatest films
Bernard Herrmann’s prelude to Alfred Hitchcok’s 1958 film noir Vertigo can be heard playing as Gaga tells the story of the creation of a new extraterrestrial race.
It’s not the first Hitchcock references in Gaga’s work, as Bad Romance includes mentions of Vertigo along with the director’s other films Psycho and Rear Window.
10. It contains a subtle tribute to Michael Jackson
In the closing moments of the video, Gaga is seen wearing jewelled gloves as she struts down an alley, echoing scenes from Michael Jackson’s video for The Way You Make Me Feel.
11. Gaga had to improve her dancing skills for the video
Choreographer and Gaga’s creative director Laurieann Gibson recalled having to work with Gaga to improve her dance ability prior to filming the Born This Way video.
Speaking to MTV, she said: “To get her to be a better dancer, it’s just a process of getting it out of her and getting her confident. So I just told the story of the record. There’s lots of pushing and birthing. There’s lots of punching the adversity. It’s very symbolic.”
She added: “I took her to Alvin Ailey [where I studied dance], and we rehearsed there because the choreography is really modern-based. It’s, like, more technical than anything she’s ever done. That was a great moment to engulf her in a real dance world and push her ability choreographically.”
12. There was a specific reason the video was shot in New York
“When Gags was making the album, she wanted to be in New York,” Laurienn told MTV. “This was the place that we started. This was the place that birthed her. This was the place that birthed my dance. New York just has something so real about birthing something specific,” she said, echoing the themes of the Born This Way video.
The promo was shot in a top secret environment over a two day period in Brooklyn.
13. Gaga had some company in her Grammy’s egg for her Born This Way stunt
Gaga famously arrived at the 2011 Grammys red carpet inside an egg which she remained in until taking to the stage during the ceremony.
To ensure Gaga didn’t suffocate while she was in there, she had an oxygen tank and a breathing mask, while the vessel was also temperature controlled.
Prior to the Grammys, Gaga claimed to have also spent three days inside the capsule.
14. There’s a country version of the song in existence too
Long before Gaga donned her Joanne hat for her 2016 country-inspired record, she’d recorded a country version of Born This Way.
It also features new lyrics, in the form of an additional stanza before the bridge, which goes:
“If I want to make it country, baby it’s okay/ Cause I was born, I was born, I was born this way/From London, Paris, Japan, back to U.S.A / Yeah I was born on the road, I was born to be brave.”
15. Elton John pronounced Born This Way the “gayest song” he had ever heard
That’s what Gaga told Vogue in 2011. Quite the accolade.
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