‘Glee’ Covers ‘Born This Way’: The Story Behind The Song

McKinley High singers took on Lady Gaga's instant hit on this week's 90-minute episode.

Lady Gaga’s smash “Born This Way” is a song that seemed almost tailor-made for “Glee.” The track’s inspirational lyrics, aimed in particular at the LGBT community, echo the very sentiment creator Ryan Murphy tries to convey each week on the popular series.

So it was of no surprise that Tuesday night’s super-size 90-minute episode of “Glee,” about self-love and acceptance — which happened to be titled “Born This Way” — featured Gaga’s anthem about those very subjects. (The chorus urges, “Don’t hide yourself in regret/ Just love yourself and you’re set/ I’m on the right track, baby/ I was born this way.”)

Gaga is no stranger to getting “Glee” love, as the one-of-a-kind pop star was the subject of season one’s “Theatricality.” But before castmembers Chris Colfer, Amber Riley, Jenna Ushkowitz and Naya Rivera gave “BTW” a “Glee” twist, the song already made its mark on 2011′s musical landscape. Released on February 11, two days earlier than its planned release, “Born This Way” was the first single off of Lady Gaga’s upcoming album of the same name.

The club-ready tune, which was penned by Gaga, Paul Blair, Jeppe Larson and Fernando Garibay, became an instant hit. It not only debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the 1,000th song to do so, but it also marked Gaga’s seventh top 10 song in a row.

But that’s not to say all of these impressive feats didn’t come without some criticism. While the song garnered mostly positive reviews, at first listen many critics and experts said the song sounded similar to some other classic pop ditties, most notably Madonna’s “Express Yourself.”

For instance, John Polly of the Logo network told MTV News back in February, “She seems to borrow pretty heavily, clearly visually, and sonically, from Madonna. Which is probably super smart, I mean, why wouldn’t you?”

But that didn’t stop Gaga (she argued to NME magazine that the only real similarity between her song and Madge’s classic was the chord progression) and her Little Monsters from turning “BTW” into an anthem. As her friend/ celebrity blogger Perez Hilton told MTV News , “It is a very gay song — unapologetically gay, in-your-face gay — but it’s also a universal song that can relate to everyone.”

In addition to all that, “BTW” became the fastest-selling song in the history of iTunes , when it sold more than 1 million copies worldwide in just five days. Sales were no doubt propelled by the singer’s various live performances of the song, most memorably her appearance at the 2011 Grammy Awards. It was there that the 25-year-old star arrived in an egg . The superstar has also been sharing the song with concertgoers on her Monster Ball Tour.

“Born This Way” not only made its mark onstage, but onscreen as well, with the premiere of its music video in late February. Keeping in line with her other unconventional vids, the seven-minute-plus clip features everything from outer-space to zombies in tuxedos to unicorns (not to mention a tongue-in-cheek nod to the Madonna controversy in which Gaga sports the star’s iconic gap in her front teeth.

And as with anything that becomes part of the pop culture mold, parody is bound to follow. While “Glee” pays tribute, “Weird Al” Yankovic found his own way to pay homage. The 51-year-old singer created a silly spinoff of the song with his take on Gaga’s onstage antics called “Perform This Way.”

“Perform This Way” caused a bit of a stir, but not because of its jabs at Gaga. There was a bit of a misunderstanding between Gaga and Yankovic after he criticized her manager for denying his request to release his song. But as it turned out, Gaga had never heard the song in the first place.

Yankovic explained on his blog, “Even though we assumed that Gaga herself was the one making the decision (because, well, that’s what we were TOLD), he apparently made the decision completely on his own.” He later noted she “loves the song.” Because that is, after all, the Gaga way.

What did you think of the “Glee” cover of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”?