This week, Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” was finally knocked off the top of the Billboard Hot 100, but the next single from Born This Way seems ready to appear and take its place in the pantheon of her great singles. The lyrics to the song leaked this morning (Thursday, March 31), and as the title suggests, the track uses a lot of religious imagery to get the point across.
And while this isn’t the first time Gaga has indulged in lyrics that reference religion (in fact, “Born This Way” has plenty of allusions to a higher power), but it is one of the sharpest. It might even ruffle some feathers (especially the line “Your Bible won’t save you”), which would associate “Judas” with some of the most faith-baiting tracks in recent rock history.
Kanye West, “Jesus Walks”
West has managed to antagonize just about everybody under the sun. However, he actually managed to bring people together with “Jesus Walks,” as it helped welcome religion back into contemporary hip-hop. That all happened even though the lyrics could be taken as West comparing his journey through the rap world as not unlike the second coming of Christ himself.
Depeche Mode, “Blasphemous Rumours”
Even though the members of Depeche Mode have regularly stated that the lyrics to “Blasphemous Rumours” weren’t meant to be anti-religion, it still got banned from quite a few radio stations for the chorus, “I don’t want to start any blasphemous rumours/ But I think that God’s got a sick sense of humor/ And when I die I expect to find Him laughing.”
Joan Osborne, “One of Us”
Osborne’s big breakout hit (written by Eric Bazilian of the Hooters) raised some eyebrows in 1995 because the chorus attempted to humanize God (“What if God was one of us?/ Just a slob like one of us?”). Though it seemed relatively safe, that didn’t stop the head of the Catholic League from publicly condemning the song and accusing Osborne of “Catholic baiting.”
Madonna, “Like a Prayer”
With Madonna, it has always been more about the imagery in the videos than they lyrics to the songs, but that all came together on “Like a Prayer.” The lyrics on “Like a Prayer” aren’t particularly sacrilegious (in fact, the word “prayer” is about the only word that could be considered religious), but the video made up for it.
Nine Inch Nails, “Heresy”
A lot of Trent Reznor’s work questions the work of the higher power, but his sharpest attack on faith came on one of the key songs on his 1994 opus The Downward Spiral. If you didn’t get the message based on the song’s title, Reznor clears everything up with the chorus: “God is dead/ And no one cares/ If there is a Hell/ I’ll see you there.”
Tori Amos, “God”
Amos believes in power and energy that mere mortals don’t comprehend, but her particular religion focuses on faeries. On “God,” Amos addresses Him directly, consistently repeating the line, “God, sometimes you just don’t come through” and wondering “Do you need a woman to look after you?”