Just How Many Religious References Are In Lady Gaga’s ‘Born This Way’?

By: Becky Bain / May 23, 2011

“I’m a religious and spiritual person who’s obsessed with religious art… I’m obsessed with it,” said Lady Gaga in a recent interview with E! News. She was speaking of her “Judas” video, but she could be talking about her entire album, Born This Way (out today!). In almost every track on the powerful entertainer’s new album, the pop star either hints to or overtly states her messages of love, faith and devotion through religious imagery and metaphors. Hey, what do you expect from someone who spent 13 years in Catholic school? Jump below as we go track-by-track to dig out all of Gaga’s religious (as well as political) references on Born This Way.

Artists have merged religion and pop music before — Madonna’s crucifix-donning get-up and the entirity of her “Like A Prayer” video is probably the most obvious example that comes to mind — but we can’t think of an artist who released an entire collection of music with so many references and allusions to their faith without creating a Christian pop album.

In fact, did Gaga release a Christian album? She preaches the power of prayer, devotion to a higher being and lack of judgment throughout these 17 tracks. And that alone is kind of extraordinary when most pop albums today (includingGaga’s debut The Fame) appear to be mostly concerned with going out to clubs.

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#1. “Marry The Night”
– There’s no direct religious reference in this song (which Gaga says is about “having a good time in NY with my friends, and how I would never be a Hollywood girl”) although marriage is obviously considered a religious institution. And it certainly shows Gaga’s newfound desire for commitment on this record – if this song were on The Fame, it’d probably be called “One Night Stand With The Night.”
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#2. “Born This Way” – With lyrics like “I’m beautiful in my way cause God makes no mistakes” and “A different lover is not a sin, believe capital H-I-M”, this song is basically a liberal outlook on religion – you can worship your god, but still be true to yourself, too. The tune to this song might sound familiar, but the god-heavy subject matter is pretty revolutionary for a dance-pop song.
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#3. “Government Hooker” – This song is “inspired by Marilyn Monroe + political mistresses”, says Gaga. If there’s a running theme besides religion on this album, it’s politics. Nothing super religious here, though the Mary Magdalene/prostitute angle certainly fits with the rest of the album.
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#4. “Judas” –Lyrics like “Jesus is my virtue / but Judas is the demon I cling to” could be about the paradox one lives with of being god-fearing but still indulging in sinful activities. Or it could be about just loving a bad dude who betrays you. Still, the song is named “Judas.” She didn’t name it “Luc Carl” for a reason.
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#5. “Americano” – This mariachi-inspired song is more political than religious, though she does make mention of “I won’t speak your Jesus Christo” and about fighting for the freedom to love somebody. Sounds like the battle over gay marriage to us.
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#6. “Hair” – This track is about self-love and expression more than anything, though she does include a reference to praying: “This is my prayer, I swear, I’m as free as my hair.”
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#7. “Shieße” – Again, a reference to prayer – “Wish I could dance on a single prayer / Wish I could be strong without somebody there.”
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#8. “Bloody Mary” – This one has Gaga taking on the role of Mary Magdalene (much like she did in the “Judas” video). There’s references to prayer, crucifixion, Pontius, Jesus, being stoned… With the added chamber choir chanting her name, this track is definitely the most heavy with religious symbolism.
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#9. “Black Jesus + Amen Fashion” – Gaga explains that this song “about how putting on a new spirit is as easy as putting on fashion. Amen.” We’ll have to take her word for it, because the metaphor gets kind of muddy in this one. Still, if anyone is truly worshiping fashion these days, it’s Gaga.
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#10. “Bad Kids” – Nothing really religious here, though Gaga gets political again: “Just a freedom hussy / Rebel fashion junkie / And I wanna serve my country / in the best way that I could be / so don’t ask, cuz I’ll tell you I’m free.” A “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” reference!
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#11. “Fashion Of His Love” – Could the “his” be talking about God? Well, a fashion god, at least — This one’s about Alexander McQueen.
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#12. “Highway Unicorn (Road To Love)” - Only a bit more political talk, where Gaga declares “she don’t care if your papers or your love is the law / She’s a free soul burnin’ roads with a flag in her bra.”
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#13. “Heavy Metal Lover” -This synth-heavy piece of techno with the entirely inaccurate title only gets a bit religious during the heavily robotized bridge: “Wash the night away with St. Jameson / Like a baptism heavy metal lovers play / Because we were born this way.”
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#14. “Electric Chapel” – First she’s marrying the night, now she’s found herself in an electric chapel. And it sounds like she’s having a white wedding: “Follow me, I need something more from you / It’s not about sex or champagne you holy fool.” Gaga says the song is “about needing to feel safe to find love”, and despite its name, it sounds more like it’s about the Monster Ball: “Pray for your sins right under the glass disco ball”.
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#15. “The Queen” – We’re not convinced that this one is not also about Alexander McQueen, particularly the line “Don’t forget me when I come crying to heaven’s door.”
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#16. “You And I” – Besides another reference to heaven (“We don’t pay rent cause you can’t buy a house in heaven”), this one just has a passing reference to Gaga’s personal beliefs: “There’s only three men that I’mma serve my whole life / It’s my daddy and Nebraska and Jesus Christ.” She serves him well with this whole album.
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#17. “The Edge Of Glory” – After two references to heaven, we get one shout-out to hell (“It isn’t hell if everybody knows my name tonight”) in this song about passing onto the other side. And Gaga does indeed believe in another side after death. You don’t need mentions of crucifixes and Jesus and Mary for a song to be deeply rooted in one’s religious beliefs. It’s too bad it took Gaga an entire album to finally find some subtle way to express her faith.
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