Lady Gaga‘s ‘You and I’ is probably one of the best songs on ‘Born This Way’ — as it is a loungy, lovelorn ballad with a whole mess of rowdy guitar riffs that just won’t quit. The song is informed by the bombastic theatrics of Queen, from the guitar solo that kicks in at about 3:20 to the handclaps that fill the first 30 seconds of the song to the layered vocals that hover near the four-minute mark.
The song could be construed as Gaga’s universal love letter to New York City and her upbringing (and her ultimate success) as much as it is to an unrequited lover when she says, “It’s been a long time since I came around / Been a long time / But I’m back in town / This time I’m not leaving without you.”
Clearly, the subject of the song (and the recipient of Gaga’s affections) has left an indelible impact on her, as she also coos, ‘There’s something about this place / There’s something about lonely nights / And my lipstick on your face’ and ‘There’s something about baby, you and I.’
Gaga also sings, “There’s only three men I’ma serve my whole life and it’s my daddy and Nebraska and Jesus Christ.” While Nebraska isn’t exactly a cultural hotbed or used to receiving shout outs in pop songs, Lady Gaga namechecks the state for whatever reason, leaving us a little curious.
The song cross-pollinates several genres, seamlessly mixing arena rock bluster with the kind of heartfelt emotion that spills out of a hole-in-the-wall, smoky dive or juke joint. Gaga dips her toes into both ends of the musical pool and the song is a vehicle that suits her voice. While many pop stars can’t really sing, Gaga actually can. No, she’s not a Mariah or Whitney, but her deep and husky voice is nowhere near as thin as some manufactured starlets who shall remain nameless! Gaga sings like she believes every note and in turn, we believe her too. There’s an uncontainable largeness to her delivery on ‘You and I.’
Overall, Gaga’s voice, guitar riffs and keyboards take center stage in the song, and in that order and ‘You and I’ is satisfying slice of Gaga-gone-rock-opera.
Her rhythmic cadence throughout out the song also ensures that when the lighters go up in the air at future Monster Ball concerts, the crowd will scream themselves hoarse by singing these words back to Gaga.
Whether you strip it down or dress it up, ‘You and I’ has got a melody that you cannot purge from your brain. At the most base level, it’s a beautiful, sonic love letter.