Thursday, May 26, 2011

Gaga, Brian, and a guy named Mutt

Media Moment: Lada Gaga: Born This Way
Queen-related: Brian plays on track, other Queen references

I picked up Lady Gaga’s latest album yesterday to get a listen to Yoü and I, the tune that Brian plays on. Before hearing it, I honestly thought that this was going to be a cover of Deacon’s You and I, and if Gaga was such a huge Queen fan as I’ve been hearing, I didn’t think this was such a lame thought. But no, it’s her own tune . . . both music and lyrics.

When I got it unwrapped (no digital downloads for me . . . I still prefer the physical artifact) and loaded in the CD player,  I skipped down to track 16 and cranked it. The first thing that struck me about it was that it had a subtle bluesy stomp-stomp-clap beat to it, although it wasn’t consistent. Gaga’s piano playing has a bit of a Freddie feel to it not unlike Play the Game

With my limited exposure to her full catalogue of tunes, this song seems to be one of the least Gaga-esque that I’ve heard from her, and having Brian provide some crunch for it propels it into a different genre for her, in my opinion. Maybe she’s keeping that door open once the modern temper of her current popularity fades or she decides to change things up again.

Brian’s guitar makes an appearance fairly early on but, as expected, it’s the solo that gives him away. The latter portion of the song features Brian sounding suspiciously like Chinese Torture, which was completely unexpected. The liner notes for the song does acknowledge an element of WWRY being used and that Queen appears courtesy of their record label(s), so maybe it is sampled directly in some capacity . . . I just didn’t hear it verbatim as usual. 

Speaking of the liner notes, I caught Robert John “Mutt” Lange’s name as producer on that one track only. Holy shit. I was wondering when Brian would team up with Mutt Lange and now I know. Politics and marital criticisms aside for a moment, Mutt Lange is on par with Queen for staying power (pardon the pun) in the music business. I also think he and Brian are kindred spirits in their vegetarian lifestyles, although I don’t think Brian is a teetotaller — at least not yet — like Lange has been for years. Here’s a link to the article on Brian’s Soapbox where he talks about getting the call from Mutt to be on Gaga’s album.

Once word got out that Brian was going to be a guest on Yoü and I, it spread quickly in the mainstream music media. There’s an article on the Daily Mirror website here on it, and a scan of the print version can be found on Brian’s Soapbox here. What I didn’t care for in the DM article was the portrayal of Queen kowtowing to Gaga’s popularity (“Queen go goo goo for Gaga”). Sorry, I think it’s the other way around.

There’s another song on the album called The Queen, which seems like an obvious homage to one of her musical mentors. From what I saw in the Born This Way documentary the other day on TV, the absence of Queen in her dressing room, etc. but seeing Bob Dylan, Sting, and Poison plastered about made me wonder why she didn’t salute them more explicitly. But now to have a whole song called The Queen and then to reference “the killer queen” in the third line seems obvious that this is her nod to her heroes. There’s also a mention of a phoenix near the end of the song. Coincidence? 

One last thought . . . I think the umlaut accent ( ¨ ) above the “u” in the song title is her discreet way of dedicating the song to her ex-boyfriend, Lüc Carl, which is mentioned here in this Wikipedia article on the song. (Mutt Lange involvement (Daily Mirror scan)

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