Lady Gaga's self-empowerment anthem "Born This Way" is already a Number One smash and one of the most successful singles of her career – but her ambitions for her second LP (due May 23rd) are way higher. "'Born This Way' is just the beginning of this album," Gaga promised in a recent interview. "It's certainly not even the biggest hit on the album."
Gaga spent the past year working furiously on new music between shows on her Monster Ball world tour, teaming again with The Fame Monster producers RedOne and Fernando Garibay. "It's a marriage of electronic music with major, epic, dare I even say, metal or rock & roll, pop, anthemic-style melodies with really sledge-hammering dance beats," the singer said.
The second single, "Judas," is classic Gaga, with multiple hooks, a deep house beat and flirty lyrics about falling for a bad boy. Edgier industrial influences show up on "Hair," which pairs surreal inspirational lyrics ("I am my hair!") with gnashing Nine Inch Nails-ish beats. The torchy "You and I", shows the strong influence of her friend Elton John. "I just love her," says John, who's heard the album. "She's seizing her chance."
Then there's "Edge of Glory," an over-the-top power ballad featuring the E Street Band's Clarence Clemons wailing away on saxophone. "She told me, 'Just play from your heart,'" says Clemons. They ended up recording together until three in the morning. "It was a day I'll never forget," Clemons adds. "When I left the studio, it took me a few days to come down. What she does, man, it just blows my mind."
This story is from the March 31st, 2011 issue of Rolling Stone.