Remember that time Britney Spears did a disco song with Nile Rodgers?
Wait, so the video for “Haunted” features the mansion from “Paparazzi” AND uses the same director?
Well, here’s an early highlight of 2014 already lined up.
*Management does not guarantee results.
That amazing AMAs performance from last night is a good reminder: Lady Gaga is a really enjoyable popstar! She just desperately needs someone around saying “Good idea. Bad idea. Bad idea. Good idea.” (You’d probably say “Bad idea” about eight more times before saying “Good idea” again, but we’ll elide for brevity.)
Which is why I pretty much always find myself re-sequencing her albums to maximize my enjoyment of them. ARTPOP in particular is riddled with speedbumps, so I’ve done my best to smooth them out and create an album that’s actually a lot of fun to listen to, assuming you’re prepared to buy into the zanier shit she’s up to and assume she’s just laughing her ass off through the whole thing. Which, it’s worth noting, I almost ALWAYS assume she is; I genuinely believe she’s a lot less self-serious than most people figure.
Anyway. You have to cut the obvious stinkers — “Jewels n’ Drugs” is surely only on the album in order to recoup its guest-artist costs; “Donatella” is basically the dictionary definition of a b-side; and “Mary Jane Holland” was more musically compelling on the last album, when it was called “Bloody Mary.” What you’re left with is twelve songs that have at least one of the two key Gaga qualities: enormous hooks and productions, or intriguingly off-kilter (but half-realized) concepts. Some of them even have both! Shuffle ‘em around a bit for a better flow, and you get the following, which breaks nicely into four three-song vinyl sides:
- "Do What U Want" (feat. R. Kelly)
- "Sexx Dreams"
This playlist let me focus on what’s going right on this album, rather than the several things going weirdly wrong. And don’t get it twisted, plenty of things are going wrong. Ever since “Born This Way” she’s seemed to take an alarmingly first-draft approach to writing verses, for instance. I love the shit out of “Do What U Want,” but was that first verse really the best lyric she could come up with to succinctly summarize how the media’s gaze captures women? Are we sure? But one of Gaga’s gifts is the ability to just muscle past her weaknesses and still make it look like she did something worth applauding. (File under: her dancing.) When she minimizes the number of mulligans she asks you to let her take, the effect gets more pronounced.
Maybe this version of the album will get you the same results it got me. Or maybe you’re just sick of her shit! Valid! But I tend to think that Gaga’s never boring, only exhausting — so taking her in smaller, more refined doses is much more rewarding.
(This has been another installment of Chris Devoting Too Much Time To Things That Don’t Matter.)
I interviewed Trent Reznor and Rob Sheridan about the truly astonishing visual presentation of the current NIN tour. Gifs and youtube videos can’t really do this justice — it’s a very full aesthetic statement, and technologically so far ahead of what anyone else is doing.
On this day in music history: October 14, 1981 - “Controversy”, the fourth album by Prince is released. Produced by Prince, it is recorded at Uptown Studio (Kiowa Trail Home Studio) in Chanhassen, MN, Sunset Sound, and Hollywood Sound in Hollywood, CA from April - July 1981. The fourth release by Prince will mark the beginning of major changes in the prolific musician’s sound and songwriting. Much like his previous albums, it will feature Prince playing nearly all of the instruments and singing all of the vocals by himself. “Controversy” is the first album in which he will use his newly acquired Linn LM-1 drum machine, which will become a cornerstone of Prince’s classic 80’s era work. It will spin off three singles including “Let’s Work” (#9 R&B), “Do Me Baby” and the title track (#3 R&B, #70 Pop). The original LP pressing will also come packaged with a poster of Prince standing in his shower clad in only black bikini underwear. The album will be reissued as a 180g vinyl LP in 2011 by Warner Bros/Rhino Records, making the title available on vinyl for the first time in nearly twenty years. It will replicate the original album packaging including the poster. “Controversy” will peak at #3 on the Billboard R&B album chart, #21 on the Top 200 and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
I own a used copy of this but I doesn’t have the poster, which is HEARTBREAKING.
What is she really trying to say with her new album, Prism ?
"I don’t understand how birds work."
Ariana Grande - Honeymoon Avenue
Since this has been running through my head more or less nonstop for the past five days, I figured I should post it here. The thing that got me was the way she sings “bumper to bumper” in the chorus — it’s so unusual and fluid that I thought it was just onomatopoeia for the first ten or so listens. (Like, the traffic is going “bumpata bumpa.” I know, it doesn’t make sense if you think about it for a half second.) I understand the Mariah comparisons but this track feels more specifically like a great Ne-Yo song from 2008: a loose, flowy verse that piles on hooks until it arrives at a chorus with a quiet but insistent four-on-the-floor backbeat.
I also seem to have a specific image of Honeymoon Avenue as a physical place. I see it running parallel to Ocean Parkway, starting at Coney Island and running through Sheepshead Bay until it terminates in Flatbush. It’s the name, “Honeymoon Avenue,” sounding like ad-speak from some early twentieth century amusement venture, like Niagara Falls but more urban. And the traffic isn’t highway traffic, it’s domestic, open to the air. Brooklyn on a spring day. Honeymooning at the shore.
Eerily similar to my thoughts on this song. Which is a GREAT song.