Category Archives: General

Lady Gaga’s Trashy Nip Slip Raises Eyebrows

I’m a day late to this, but I’d be remiss not to mention it.

Wearing a positively ghastly get-up, Lady Gaga revealed a bit more than she bargained for while preparing to accept an award honoring her as some sort of ‘style icon’:

Yikes.

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On the Judas Video and the “Monster Ball” HBO Special

A lot of you have asked why I haven’t had anything to say about the Judas video. The honest truth is that I gave it a watch and found it profoundly uninteresting. She keeps overhyping these videos only to release an utterly ordinary piece of work. There’s nothing wrong with it, really — although the pseudo-arty cut-away scene made my eyebrow peak — but the attempt to whip up controversy by provoking Christians is so overdone. It’s no longer shocking. If Gaga wants to be truly shocking — and gain back my respect — then I want to hear her speak up on behalf of oppressed Muslim women. I want her to parody the burqa, or use a hijab as a fashion statement. Angry Christians are still docile. Angry Muslims will fuck your shit up.

As for the ‘Monster Ball’ special on HBO: I didn’t watch it because I don’t get HBO. I’ve seen a shockingly high number of people on my Facebook feed who aren’t Gaga haters say that it kind of bored them, though. Mostly they’ve said that they’re surprised at how uninteresting it was, given all of the hype and glamour surrounding Lady Gaga. Alas, I have no thoughts to present to you, since I didn’t watch it. I will say, though, that the name ‘Monster Ball’ has always made me gag, simply because of how I know that she envisions it: it’s a little festival for the Little Monsters to come out to play and celebrate Who They Are with their Mother Monster, Lady Gaga. Gag me.

More Bad News for Gaga

* The “Glee” episode featuring “Born This Way” served up the season’s lowest ratings.

* “Judas” has slipped to #19 on the iTunes chart and is currently sitting below “Born This Way” in both its original and Glee manifestations.

* “Judas” is losing major steam at pop radio, failing to match even half of the spins that “Born This Way” had by this time.

* Rather than rising to the Top 5 as I’d originally anticipated, “Judas” actually slips on the Hot 100 this week to #12, yet again being beaten by Britney’s “Till the World Ends” by one position.

* Gaga’s “Ellen” performance is running into early mixed reviews.

Perhaps the video premiere of “Judas” on American Idol — is anyone else shocked that the show that wouldn’t let Pink sing “U + Ur Hand” is allowing this video to premiere there? — will save this song, but right now it’s off to a slow start. As “Till the World Ends” proves, a song can recover from a slow start, but it’s looking bad so far, especially since “Born This Way” is still outpacing it.

New NME Interview: Is Lady Gaga Stable?

Oh, Gaga…

Just when I was ready to grant Lady Gaga some goodwill — I love “Judas” and quite liked the Born This Way cover — here drops this interview, in which she comes across as not only delusional, but a bit unstable:

A bit of it does sound quite a lot like ‘Express Yourself’, though, doesn’t it?

“I don’t think… I swear to you. I am not stupid enough to put out a record and be that moronic.”

The reference seemed so obvious that it had to be intentional because, as you say, you’re not stupid…

“No. Listen to me. Why the fuck…? I’m a songwriter. I’ve written loads of music. Why would I try to put out a song and think I’m getting one over on everybody? That’s retarded. What a completely ridiculous thing to even question me about. I will look you in your eyes and tell you that I am not dumb enough or moronic enough to think that you are dumb enough or moronic enough not to see that I would have stolen a melody. If you put the songs next to each other, side by side, the only similarities are the chord progression. It’s the same one that’s been in disco music for the last 50 years. Just because I’m the first fucking artist in 25 years to think of putting it on Top 40 radio, it doesn’t mean I’m a plagiarist, it means that I’m fucking smart. Sorry.”

The criticism did seem to take the wind out of the song’s sails.

“There’s a lot of people who want to see me fail. The minute they see something to shoot at, they shoot, and the bigger I become the bigger target I am. Nobody in this room at any point looked around and said ‘Oh my God, it’s ‘Express Yourself’. ‘ Not once. Listen. I swear to you. I can only be honest with you about it.”

What will people say about ‘Judas’?

“I dunno… I think they will really love it. (Starting to well up) I just don’t want my fans… I don’t know. This is exhausting. I just don’t wanna perpetuate that shit. I’m sure you want to address it but it’s just so ridiculous. I was just fucking shellshocked by it. It’s so funny to hear you say, ‘It must have been a homage’, I’m like, NO. When I homage, I fucking homage with a big sign saying I’ve done it. Why would I not do that now? (Sighs) I just like… I just have to say… (Starts crying) I feel like honestly that God sent me those lyrics and that melody. When you feel a message to give to the world and people are shooting arrows at it… there’s no way for something that pure to be wrong. (Reaches for Marilyn Monroe lighter) I need a cigarette.”

A few comments.

(1) It’s likely that nobody told her that it sounded like “Express Yourself” because of the kind of attitude she displayed here. She surrounds herself with sycophants who tell her how artistic, brilliant, beautiful and talented she is. Anyone accusing her of being anything other than a revolutionary renegade goddess is likely subject to verbal abuse. She is living in a fantasy world, and so far, she keeps the money rolling in. But she, like Britney Spears shortly into her career, is not surrounded by people who have her best interests at heart. If nobody told her that it sounded like “Express Yourself” — I mean, ‘Express Yourself’ was trending on Twitter on the day that “Born This Way” dropped — then her handlers are either profoundly ignorant of pop history (which is not good), or they are sycophantic yes-men who worship her every move. I’m betting on the latter, and that’s not good for her well-being.

(2) She says that God himself sent her the melody to “Judas.” I suppose that she does identify RedOne with God, given that he is the man behind her the hits that made her famous, such as “Just Dance,” “Poker Face,” “LoveGame,” and “Bad Romance.”  Wait, I think she meant for “Born This Way.” Well, that’s even more embarrassing. But wait — I thought she said that her Little Monsters wrote the album? Now God did. Okay.

(3) The melody of the chorus of “Born This Way” is identical, note-for-note, to the bridge of “Express Yourself,” and the songs are in the same key. Whether she consciously sought to copy the song is one thing, but as an amateur songwriter, I can tell you that we are sometimes inspired by songs when we don’t even realize it. We listen to thousands of songs and what we process isn’t always what we recall at any given moment. But it’s incumbent upon you, when you realize you’ve copied someone, intentionally or not, to admit it and move on. Gaga, of course, cannot do this, because she is nuts.

(4) This woman is going to have a major breakdown within the next three years. She has demonstrated no signs of emotional stability. She’s consumed by her work, but that can’t keep up forever.

Overall? I’m getting worried for this woman’s stability.

Lady Gaga Is Not Weird, and Neither Are Little Monsters

Every once in a while, I get a commenter here who tells me that if only I understood what Lady Gaga did for them, and if only I could relate to what she means to the freaks and misfits of the world, I’d understand what being a ‘Little Monster’ is all about.

Forgive me, Monsters, if such sentiments piss me off more than they enlighten me. Because here’s a little surprise for you: I have felt alienated and isolated practically since the day I was born. Virtually everyone who knows me considers me among the oddest people they’ve come across; there’s not a person alive who couldn’t call me eccentric. I don’t get along with institutions, I’m very bad at following conventions, and I’ve never gotten on well with most of my peers. I was practically friendless in middle school, and high school introduced me to only a precious few friends — none of whom I really feel like I strongly related to. College has been similarly disappointing, for me. There’s not a lot of warmth or intimacy in my life, I don’t find any joy in fulfilling societal duties (college/work), and I don’t have many people with whom I can share my love of ideas. I constantly wish that I could just fly away to an island somewhere and live a contemplative life with someone I love — whoever and wherever he may be. I just don’t fucking fit in, I never have, and I don’t anticipate that I ever will.

Hence, it is beyond insulting to me to be told that I clearly cannot appreciate the role of the outcast, and that if only I were able to relate to the alienated and eccentric, I’d understand why Lady Gaga appealed to people. In fact, having grown up as such an eccentric loner — which is certainly something I continue to consider myself — I am doubly baffled as to why anyone who proclaims himself such would identify with Lady Gaga. She is undoubtedly the most popular woman in the world right now; she is as far away from being an underdog as one can be. She became famous for singing about booze, penises, and sippin’ on bub at the club with Beyonce, and there really isn’t any evidence that she was ever considered weird or freakish until she became famous and starting parading around in meat dresses for media attention. Why in hell should I relate to this? What is the message? “Be weird, but only when you have a massive cult following!”

To shoot down an inevitable objection from commenters with no skill in logic: my point here is not that my favorites — Britney Spears and Justin Bieber — better relate to the outcast. None of them dobut Lady Gaga is the only one being marketed as a champion of freaks. It is beyond absurd. Her music is as conventional and formulaic as it comes. There’s nothing wrong with this; she tends to make glorious pop music: as I continue to reiterate, the problem with her is the disconnect between perception and reality. I love Britney and Bieber because there is no such disconnect: they are marketed exactly as they really are. As a commenter pointed out when someone compared Britney and Gaga to two different varieties of fast-food: that’s all well and good, but Lady Gaga is being marketed as a gourmet delicacy when she’s really just another Big Mac. Big Macs are tasty — but they are not delicacies.

Similarly, Lady Gaga makes great pop music. But she does not relate to outcasts. She is not a champion of underdogs, freaks, and misfits. If some kid happened to buy into the act and found their life turned around because of it, then that’s lovely. But they were saved by a marketing gimmick, not by a true champion of eccentric misfits.

Most importantly, the truly eccentric among us don’t want a label like ‘Little Monster’; we really are alienated from society and from our peers; we don’t just long for a little clique of our own. The Little Monsters seem to be a group of angsty kids who were upset that they never fit in. The truly weird among us don’t want to fit in with the crowd, and it’s beyond insulting to be told that we are the ones who don’t understand what it’s like to not fit in. Conformity masquerading as eccentricity is ridiculously absurd. The Little Monsters are like the kid from South Park: “I want to be different — like those guys, over there!” I’ll continue to chart my life path on my own terms while the Monster Cult punches itself out, thank you.

Gaga’s Cocaine Problem

Lady Gaga has “admitted” her cocaine problem to Neil Strauss, infamous for coaxing celebrity secrets:

Lady Gaga has admitted to author Neil Strauss that she suffered from “trauma” because when she was younger, she’d abused cocaine and alcohol. The eccentric singer was very straightforward with Neil about her past escapades during their interview together…

What was Neil about to get Lady Gaga to say? Well, she stated, “All of the trauma I caused to myself… There are some things that are so traumatic, I don’t even fully remember them.”

Admitted?

This is no headline. Lady Gaga’s cocaine use is (or, rather, should be) notorious for its ongoing nature. As she freely admitted to Vanity Fair a few months back, she does “dabble” in cocaine, off and on. A couple of times a year, apparently (yeah, okay). To Lady Gaga, this is part of the agony and ecstasy of fame, so she sees no problem with casually dropping a mention of it here and there.

But again, let me ask: what if Britney Spears admitted to dabbling in cocaine from time to time? What would the world say? But with Gaga, it’s dismissed: it’s just “Gaga being Gaga,” because the world knows, deep down, that there is something utterly farcical about this character played by Stefani Germanotta. This isn’t good for her fans — who are highly impressionable — or for her: anyone even dabbling in cocaine has a serious problem and needs help. There’s no evidence that she is receiving any — or even wants any.

The Autotune Myth

It’s the new buzzword amongst pop music’s critics: Autotune. Run a quick Google search and you can find a plethora of complaints: “Everything on the radio is ‘autotuned'”; an artist’s voice has been “autotuned to death”; “Autotune is killing music.” Some hack in the comments section said that “Hold It Against Me” was marred by “Britney’s autotuned voice.”

Please. This stupid cliche is debasing music criticism — and people don’t even understand what Autotune actually is.

Myth: Autotune can make a bad singer sound good

Although the term carries connotations of magically transforming awful singers into divas, “Autotune” is nothing more than simple pitch correction. If an artist is somewhat off on a note — if that A-sharp just didn’t ring unequivocally — it can be tweaked to make it clear and consistent. If a producer wants to play around with the melody of a song, he can alter the pitch even further. The most ‘autotuned’ song I’ve listened to in a while is “Animal (Billboard Remix)” by Ke$ha. Compare the original with the remix.

If you want to make a bad singer sound tolerable, then adding reverb, echo effect, vocal layering, and endless harmonies is your best bet. Terrible tone will still be terrible, regardless of whether that note is an F or a G. (Witness Heidi Montag’s “Superficial”: nothing can cover the fact that she simply is not a very good singer.)

Myth: Autotune is only found in Top 40 music

Autotune is used by rock singers, metal bands, soul divas, and gospel artists. It’s meant — like other vocal effects — to add gloss to a professional, studio-quality recording. It didn’t start with Cher, Daft Punk, or T-Pain — they simply found that they could play around with pitch-correction to create a futuristic effect. But autotune on its own is very common and is hardly limited to Top-40 music.

Myth: Autotune is harming music

Who wants to listen to a second-rate rendition of a quality song? When I hear a song, I want it to come through crisp, clean, and clear: just as the songwriters and singers idealize it. “Animal” is not merely a verdict on Ke$ha as the vocalist, but on Greg Kurstin, Dr. Luke, Pebe Sebert, and the small army of producers and engineers behind it. It’s meant to be a finished product: our judgment of Ke$ha’s vocal abilities, in a vacuum, is an entirely separate matter. I want to hear that song as it was meant to be heard — and so do all of the short-sighted critics, whether they want to admit it or not. If purity of recording is what you want, that can be found in black metal and the Juno soundtrack — they sure ain’t usin’ pitch correction there. But few people actually prefer that music to a good pop or rock song.

So stop complaining.