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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Lady Gaga's heavily-hyped new album "Born This Way" made its way to the Internet on Wednesday, five days ahead of its official release on May 23.
All fourteen tracks from the album were initially streamed in Europe on a special website to readers of the London-based free newspaper Metro, which Gaga guest-edited on Monday as part of a promotional blitz for the new album.
They were also released on Wednesday to premium subscribers in Sweden, Norway, Spain, the Netherlands and Finland of the music streaming service Spotify.
But all the tracks soon made their way to the Internet, giving U.S. fans and reviewers an early chance to weigh in on the third album from the New York pop-dance performance artist.
Four of the singles have already been released by Gaga, including the title track which sold one million copies in five days in February and became the fastest-selling single in iTunes history.
But Rolling Stone magazine said in a track by track review on Wednesday that Gaga had "still managed to pack in some surprises".
Entertainment Weekly called it "an inconsistent blend of icy techno-pop and greeting-card empowerment that's more a triumph of production than songwriting."
Dan Martin with British music website NME.com described the album as "a relentless torrent of heavy metal rave pop." Martin added that "Born This Way" is "an exercise in the pushing of everything to its ultimate degree. And for all the black, white and silver, it passes that test with flying colors."
U.S. fans on Wednesday were split between downloading the album illicitly or waiting until its official release next week.
"Pretty stupid to preview it and not think such a highly anticipated album would leak. She should have just waited to release her album when it was meant to be released," commented a writer called Carrie on the Entertainment Weekly website.
Gaga's Interscope Records, part of Universal Music Group did not return calls for comment.
Gaga, 25, was named by Forbes on Wednesday as the world's most powerful celebrity, partly due to her dominance of social media, where she has 32 million Facebook fans.
"She can use Twitter and Facebook to work the 'little monsters' into a frenzy that leads to record sales and media attention. She's the best example of how celebrities will need to manage their careers in the coming years," Forbes editor Dorothy Pomerantz said.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Zorianna Kit