published Friday, May 27th, 2011

Phillips: On going gaga for Gaga’s ‘Born This Way’

Lady Gaga tapes an episode of "106 and Park" at BET Studios in New York on Monday.
Lady Gaga tapes an episode of "106 and Park" at BET Studios in New York on Monday.

On Tuesday, Lady Gaga’s second album, “Born This Way,” finally was released, and I practically sprinted to my computer to throw $16 at Apple to start downloading it.

It wasn’t until later in the day that I was informed I’d paid about 1,600 percent too much for the privilege of hearing what is inarguably the most anticipated album in years.

Apparently, I was pretty much the only person on the planet who missed out on nabbing “Born This Way” for 99 cents as part of a promotion of Amazon.com’s new Cloud Drive digital-music storage service.

In groan-inducing hindsight, I now realize I missed out on the deal of the summer.

Fortunately, I can at least gloat a little since Amazon grossly underestimated the degree of interest by Gaga’s legions of Little Monsters (think Beatlemaniacs or Parrotheads).

So many users logged on in a mad rush to take advantage of the ultra-discounted album — a physical copy runs $8 — that the servers overloaded.

During the ensuing online traffic jam, many people were unable to download the album. Irate customers began sending out a digital tidal wave of hateful tweets until Amazon assured everyone they would eventually be able to download it once service was restored.

Personally, I think raising such a hue and cry over losing 99 cents was a bit of an overreaction, but clearly, I’m biased.

Regardless of how much it pains me to think of spending way too much (to be fair, it was the 22-track deluxe edition), you have to hand it to Gaga because she’s certainly got a heck of a fan base.

The very fact that so many people have been madly anticipating “Born This Way’s” release for months indicates this was a musical event on an order rarely seen since the decline of the recording industry.

Many record releases can’t hope to raise such a fervor, thanks largely to the decline of radio and the dismantling of record-industry machinery by digital distribution services such as iTunes and, ironically, Amazon’s Cloud Drive.

I’ve been rabidly following the album since the first single, the title track, hit the airwaves on Feb. 11. The subsequent singles, “Judas” and “The Edge of Glory,” amped up my excitement even more.

Obviously, plenty of people were compelled by the discounted price, but the flood of interest in the Amazon deal clearly demonstrates the anticipation was pretty universal.

Being able to share that kind of collective enthusiasm for one album makes me wish I’d been around at a time when it wasn’t such a phenomenon.

I’m not suggesting I long for inventory shortages and long lines at the record store, but I do think it’s fascinating how, for once, a single release was so significant as to make it a topic of conversation at the office.

With a Metacritic rating of just 70 percent, “Born This Way” isn’t poised to be the best album of all time (or even the year), but you can certainly make a case for it being one of the most culturally significant releases in a long time.

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, young adults, technology and people of interest. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German. He previously worked as the features editor for Sidelines at Middle Tennessee State University. Casey received the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists Award of Excellence for Reviewing/Criticism in ...

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