Category Archives: Music

Second-Week “Born This Way” Sales Take a Massive Plummet

Damn:

While it’s too early to gauge exactly how many copies “Born This Way” will move in week number two, estimates suggest it could sell around 200,000 by June 5. While that would represent a staggering drop from her No. 1 debut, it’s not unusual to see albums that are heavily front-loaded in terms of first-week sales fall off a cliff in their second week.

From 1.1 million, 200,000 would represent a staggering 82% drop.

I’m not sure if that sets any particular record, but, thanks to the Amazon deal, that’s much higher than the standard 60-70% drop that most big-name albums experience in their second week.

Thoughts?

“Born This Way” Track-by-Track Review – Revised and Edited

These are my thoughts on the album now that it’s had some time to settle…

This is lengthy, so just click on the More button if you’d like to read it…

Continue reading

“Born This Way”: Track-by-Track Live-Blog Review

This is an initial review. I’m going to write about the tracks as I’m listening to them, in order, including the singles we’ve already heard.

Here I go…

1. “Marry the Night”: After hearing the MQ Farmville release of this song, I was more than a bit underwhelmed. It sounds better in HQ, of course, but it still leaves me cold. The basic problem with this song is that it’s basically hookless. What, in this song, is supposed to draw me in? It feels like there’s potential, here: the melody to the verses is pretty good, and would have served as a better melody for the chorus, leaving the existing chorus to serve as a post-chorus, similar to the ‘Oh…’ in ‘Judas.’

Perhaps worst of all, though, the ending drags on for a minute without going anywhere at all. It’s the musical equivalent of blue balls: what on earth did I listen to this song for? I kept waiting for some kind of payoff, and I never got it. A horrid choice for the opening track.

Initial impression: C-

2. “Born This Way”: Why in hell wasn’t this the opening track? It’s The Statement of the album, and is — don’t take this as a compliment for this plagiarized, trite mess — quite frankly, a more interesting song than “Marry the Night.” It even seems like a breath of fresh air after that unfortunate track. But I’ve beaten this song to death dozens of times in dozens of ways. I have nothing more to say.

Impression: Still an F for plagiarism

3. “Government Hooker”: This is the track that was on everyone’s lips — a lot of Little Monsters had their hopes pinned on this track to be the second coming of “Bad Romance.” (Actually, most people thought that “Judas” was the second coming of “Bad Romance,” but we’ll set that fact to one side for now.) The big question mark was how greatly the track would differ from the the Mugler remix.

The answer ended up being: Not at all. After an overlong intro, the track kicks into earnest with some of the dirtier beats we’ve heard so far, but — well, they’re the same ones we’ve already heard. The verse remains completely uninteresting, though; this entire song looks like it’s going to live or die by its hook, just like at Mugler.

At the time of writing, I’m 2:40 into the song and I’m on the verge of shoving knives into my ears. The verses are dissonant, ugly, and jarring.

What a horrid letdown. I had high hopes for this song. It went nowhere. Who let her release this atrocious mess? If it weren’t for the quality of the hook — which is quite real — this song would be among the worst she’d ever released. Total disappointment.

Initial impression: C-

4. “Judas”: I love this song. A lot. I’m in love with “Judas.” It would have fit nicely onto “Fame Monster” — and I still like it. I must have been the only person on Earth to do so, however, given that it completely flopped on the radio.

Oh, well. Everyone flops. Anyway: the song — despite a few clunky lyrics and a misguided breakdown — is quite good, and the final minute is breathtaking: “I cling to!” — That’s a great pop moment. I’ll still be listening to this song sometimes a year from now. It’s the highlight of the album, so far.

Impression: A-

5. “Americano”: I’m at 0:30 as I write this — it sounds messy so far. I never had high hopes for this song, so even a pleasant listen will be something of a nice surprise.

Okay, I’m now at 1:00. It’s not happening. I’m going to struggle to get through this track.

I’m at 2:10. I don’t know how much more of this I can take. I’m just gonna sit back and say nothing in the hopes of not losing my damn mind.

3:40 — Yes! Here’s a nice outro. That was a nice ending. And it’s ending! I’m so happy!

Fuck, that was painful.

Initial impression: D

6. “Hair”: My thoughts about this haven’t changed much since yesterday. But listening to the joyful chorus of this song is euphoric after the four minutes of trash that I just sat through.

I actually love the melody to the chorus in this track. The last ninety seconds are breathtaking. The way that much of the instrumental drops out of the second-to-last chorus is really inspired.

The lyrics remain banal, at best, but RedOne’s sparkling production and the brilliant melody to the chorus rescue the song from what could have been, in the hands of Fernando Garibay and DJ White Shadow — who have done nothing but disappoint, so far, up to Track 6 — something a lot worse. Why was RedOne granted only three tracks on this album? He’s proving more and more to be Gaga’s true ‘secret ingredient.’

Impression: B+ overall, A for the chorus

7. “Scheisse”: The last of the RedOne tracks. I’d actually never bothered to listen to the preview at the Mugler show, so this track came to me fresh. Because it’s RedOne, I walked into it with high hopes.

Gaga’s penchant for inserting random foreign phrases into her words has always been irritating. I suppose this track was meant to “get it out of her system.” I’m at 1:00 as I write this and so far I don’t like this at all, but we all know that Gaga songs are structured around the chorus,with the verses just needing to be tolerable enough to get you there (if they’re good, all the better, but they’re never the point).

I’m at 2:00 as I write this: What is this, some feminist anthem? At any rate, the chorus is good but not as memorable as RedOne’s other contributions. Two out of three ain’t bad, though — and it’s actually a better hit-to-miss ratio than his “Fame Monster” contributions. What messes up this song has nothing to do with RedOne, though: it’s, as usual, Gaga’s obnoxious lyrics. The verses are insufferable.

Initial impression: B-

8. “Bloody Mary”: Alright, back to the Fernando Garibay tracks. The track somewhat resembles “Alejandro” when it starts out. The verses go nowhere, for me, and the lyrics are — are you noticing a pattern, here? — a bit overwrought.

The chorus is very Madonna. I can see myself enjoying this more after a couple of listens, but this track, on the whole, screams ‘filler.’ I have little to say about it. It’s simply not very interesting. It’s pleasant, but it’s forgettable.

Initial impression: B-

9. “Bad Kids”: I anticipated hating this track. I figured that it would be some kind of anthem for Little Monsters about how freakish, outcast, and eccentric they supposedly are.

I’m at 1:30 as I write this: I was right! And, to top it off, it assures the Little Monster listening that they’re still special to Mommy Monster. Gag me.

Initial impression: D+

10. “Highway Unicorn (Road to Love)”: Um, is it just me, or is the chorus to this song almost note-for-note the same as “Poker Face”? Down to the syncopation, it’s the same damn song! What the fuck is this? If I wanted to hear a “Poker Face” remix, I’d go buy the fucking “Poker Face” Remix EP on iTunes.

Initial impression: F for plagiarism. (And this was done with Fernando Garibay, while “Poker Face” was with RedOne, so, yes, I’m calling plagiarism.)

11. “Heavy Metal Lover”: This, with “Electric Chapel,” was one of my two most-anticipated tracks. At this point I’m extremely disappointed in the album, so I’m hoping that the next two tracks can redeem it in some fashion for me.

I’m at 0:47. This production is nice. She’s, for the first time on the album, allowed her producers to use her voice as an instrument to blend into the overall final product. In that sense, this track is really a production showcase for Fernando Garibay, who comes off fairly well, here.

Unfortunately, the track is nearly hookless. A song with a title like this should capture the spirit of heavy metal: balls-out, dramatic, and theatrical, with some slashing guitars or perhaps some blast-beat drums to mix up an album that promised to be innovative but is failing to deliver.

Instead, it sounds — well, nothing like that. This boring track will probably rank as the album’s biggest letdown for me. This sounded nothing like I was hoping. It’s boring.

Initial impression: C-

12. “Electric Chapel”: For the love of God, I hope that this track can redeem this album. I loved the preview and the title is awesome. Here we go…

0:40 — Ooh, I love this beat. It sounds sparkling in HQ.

I’m at 1:00 as I type this. The production to the chorus is lovely. The melody is subtle and is the kind of thing — oh, that piano! — Ooh, this is good. I like this track. — Ooh, there’s some guitars! (Where were they in “Heavy Metal Lover”?) Look how giddy I am to have come across a good track!

This sounds like a song that The Saturdays would kill for. And I love The Saturdays. This is a hot track.

3:00 — A friend just pointed out to me that the melody to the verses was basically identical to the melody to the verses of Kylie Minogue’s “Cupid Boy” — which, alas, is true. And the song only came But it doesn’t diminish what is still a good song.

Initial impression: A-

13. “You and I”: Um, for some reason, my download didn’t have this. Sorry. I’ll have thoughts later.

14. “The Edge of Glory”: This was the perfect closing track to this album. Nothing else could have done the trick. My impression of the song remains the same: it’s got a nice, anthemic chorus, passable lyrics, a nice theme — and then the cheesy sax break nearly kills the momentum (it doesn’t help that you can ‘see the seams’ of where the saxophone was inserted). But it’s still a good enough song that it’s worth listening to more than a few times — and more than good enough to deserve a slot as the final track.

Impression: B+

Overall: Holy shit, what a disappointment. The only track that I liked that I hadn’t already heard was “Electric Chapel,” which was one of my most-anticipated tracks. That song met my expectations. The rest were either filler (‘Bloody Mary,’ ‘Heavy Metal Lover’), corny (‘Bad Kids’), plagiarized (‘Highway Unicorn’) or downright messy (the ghastly ‘Americano’).

The presence of four or five strong tracks makes this album impossible to give a terrible grade to, and even when certain songs are weak as a whole, the production is often quite good.

Best track: “Judas”

Worst track: “Americano”

Best chorus: “Hair”

Worst chorus: “Heavy Metal Lover”

Best production: “Hair,” “Electric Chapel”

Worst production: “Government Hooker”

Biggest surprise: “Hair” (most had high hopes for this; I did not)

Biggest letdown: “Government Hooker”

Best lyrics: “Electric Chapel”

Worst lyrics: “Bad Kids,” “Government Hooker” (tie)

Not as good as: Femme Fatale

Better than: Loud

As good as: Teenage Dream

Music: B

Lyrics: C-

Production: B+

Overall: B-

Was it the album of the decade?: No.

Born This Way Leaked! [Download]

Review coming soon…
Until further notice:

FULL ALBUM: http://hulkshare.com/dji4ow8orbfz

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CD HQ full songs http://hulkshare.com/ca3d7xtk6t1n
alternate link http://www.filesonic.com/file/1022549584

“Government Hooker”
“Marry The Night”
“Americano”
“Sheisse”
“Bloody MAry”

CD HQ full songs http://hulkshare.com/1nl31zhqpttc
alternate link http://www.filesonic.com/file/1022549594

“Bad Kids”
“Highway Unicorn”
“Heavy Metal Lover”
“Electric Chapel”

Lady Gaga’s “Hair”: Be Yourself — Wait, No! Try to Impress Your Friends!

Here we go with another Lady Gaga song geared toward her young teenage fans. Written, apparently, from the perspective of her teenage self, upset about her parents’ refusal to allow her to style her hair in the way that she wants or something, “Hair” serves as the one and only promotional single from the seemingly leak-proof “Born This Way” album (“Edge of Glory” is now the third single after “Judas”).

RedOne’s production is sparkling, and the melody to the chorus is truly good and could have served as the keystone to a fantastic song with a liberating feel.

When I first heard the song, Gaga’s mediocre diction made it difficult to understand the theme of the song. What initially stuck out were the typical lowest-common-denominator injunctions to “be yourself,” cherish your identity — whatever that means — and so forth. But by the third listen, I was struck by how much of the song was actually about wanting to impress others. In both the first and second verse, Gaga sings that she specifically wanted to style her hair so that she could look cool in front of her friends; in the bridge, she yearns to be invited to the hottest parties.

I can’t imagine anyone over the age of 16 feeling like they relate to this song. The chorus nearly rescues it, but the lyrics, as with “Born This Way,” render it sterile and frustrating. I suppose that Gaga is telling the truth when she says that she writes (the bulk of) her own lyrics: almost every song from this era has contained its share of mind-numbingly bad lyrics.

I didn’t expect to enjoy this song, however; I was pleasantly surprised at how melodic it ended up being and can at least enjoy it on that level. RedOne seldom disappoints on that count (and if anyone thinks that Gaga is the one responsible for the sweeping melodies, just check out RedOne’s work with other artists to put that deluded notion to rest). It’s a shame that there’s only one RedOne track left to hear from the album. The rest come to us almost entirely from Fernando Garibay and DJ White Shadow, who aren’t quite as good.

We’ll have the whole album in two days, when it’s streamed for the UK’s Metro. It’s been an astounding, mind-boggling coup for Interscope to keep this album under lock and key. The team responsible for that should be commended. It’s less than two days until the authorized release of the audio and there isn’t a trace of a leak. Unbelievable.

Overall grade for Hair: B-

Grade for the chorus to Hair: A-

Grade for Interscope’s professionalism: A

“Edge of Glory”: Thoughts…

Well, here it is! [Download link.] It’s got a chorus that Kelly Clarkson would kill for, mixed in with some vocalizing that is reminiscent of — of all people — Celine Dion — and topped off with some truly good lyrics that are very fitting for the final track of an album.

The big question mark, ever since the Rolling Stone article summarizing a few of the songs, was the sax break. For me, it didn’t quite work. The combination of jazz and throbbing techno beats has not really been attempted before, to my knowledge, and, while I’m usually in favor of quirky mixtures of genres, I have to say that the dearth of jazz/techno mixes are for good reason. It just sounded sloppy. I’m not a jazz fan to begin with, though, so: take that for what you will. There’s something profoundly not epic about a saxophone.

Anyway, the song didn’t immediately catch me, and I doubt that this will rack up the number of plays on my iPod that Judas did. I played Judas 75 times; Born This Way, about 10. (Hold It Against Me, for comparison, has about 425, and Till the World Ends has about 225). I’m still looking forward to the rest of the album, but this song didn’t quite live up to what I was hoping for.

Grade: B

“Marry the Night” Sneak Peek

Put the melody to the beat at the end and it sounds quite good. The lyrics are a typical mish-mash of self-esteem crap (“I won’t give up on my life/I’m a warrior queen”) and some nice imagery (“marry the night” itself). Here it is:

And we’re awaiting “Edge of Glory” in thirty minutes…

By the way, where the hell is the album? Femme Fatale leaked eighteen days before its U.S. release date and songs started drip-dropping out nineteen days before; we’re now just two weeks from the release of Born This Way and there isn’t a hint of any leaks at all. I don’t think that leaks affect sales (you can download illegally on the day of release, too, after all; if you’re gonna download, you’re gonna download), but I’m looking forward to hearing it. Like her or not, it’s a pop music event, and the most-hyped pop album in years. And it’s almost here…

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.

“Judas” Plummets on iTunes; Struggles at Radio

“Judas” currently rests at #27 on iTunes and gained a rather weak 650 spins last week at radio (“Born This Way,” at this point in its Pop 40 history, was gaining over 2,000 spins a week; Selena Gomez’s “Who Says” is rising a rate similar to “Judas”). It’s set to fall on the Billboard Hot 100 this week, although the final chart will not be released until tomorrow morning.

The Ellen performance did nothing for the song, and the American Idol video premiere has been scrapped.

This song’s in big trouble, which is actually a shame, since it’s much better than “Born This Way,” which is the song that should have flopped. I’d go so far as to call “Judas” one of my favorite Lady Gaga songs (up there with “Just Dance,” “Boys Boys Boys,” and an altered-pitch version of “Alejandro” — don’t ask); I actually find it better than its precursor, “Bad Romance.”

Oh, well. I’m happier to see one of her songs struggle.

Thoughts?

My Response to Arrogant Bastard DJ White Shadow

CONFIRMED: DJ White Shadow has read this blog post. I tweeted it to him and he replied saying that he read it and that “it’s great to have an opinion.” Diplomatic PR statement, or cowardly refusal to engage? You decide, reader… (Since I know that he reads his tweets, though, I told him that it speaks poorly of him and everyone on Gaga’s team that none of them had the guts to tell her that the song sounds like “Express Yourself.” Will he reply? Time will tell…)

Remember when the NME interview dropped and I speculated that, since Gaga revealed that no one around her had the courage to tell her that her “anthem of her generation” was blatantly plagiarized from Madonna’s “Express Yourself,” it is quite probable that Gaga surrounds herself entirely with sycophants?

Today, we have proof. Check out this quote from one of Gaga’s new producers, DJ White Shadow:

How many people have been copying Gaga since she came out? Oh, I have that answer: everyone. Have you seen all the lightning bolts painted on faces, or the one hand eye cover ups during photos, or the exact same promo posters being put up as Gaga’s, or the new popularity of unicorns, or the copycat fake “Oh I’m so cool with the gay community” rhetoric? Or how about the fact that there was barely any dance music on the radio until “Just Dance” came out? Come on motherfuckers, let’s keep it real here. If we are going to talk about who is chasing who, I think we all know the answer to that. So yeah, she did something new, and people had to reach back 20+ years to find a song that could have possibly sounded like it, and that made news? Come on. And I get to watch people try and fuck Gaga all the time and steal her shit, but guess what? While you were out trying to make the music she made off The Fame, thinking she was making The Fame v2.0, she went and made some next shit for you to chase for the next 3 years. So, suck on that.

Wow. Let’s take this cocky cunt’s bullshit line-by-line:

How many people have been copying Gaga since she came out? Oh, I have that answer: everyone.

A few have. Natalia Kills is a particularly glaring example, for instance. Besides her, I can’t really think of anyone “copying” Gaga.

Have you seen all the lightning bolts painted on faces,

No?

or the one hand eye cover ups during photos,

Two answers to this: (1) Apparently nobody covered one eye with one of their hands before Gaga did it in a split-second frame in the “Just Dance” video, (2) No?

or the exact same promo posters being put up as Gaga’s,

No?

or the new popularity of unicorns,

The fuck?

or the copycat fake “Oh I’m so cool with the gay community” rhetoric?

There’s a pro-gay zeitgeist, but Gaga is almost entirely a symptom, not a cause, of that.

Or how about the fact that there was barely any dance music on the radio until “Just Dance” came out?

Absolutely everything on The Fame has a precursor in three trailblazing albums: Loose, FutureSex/LoveSounds, and Blackout, whose sounds were crafted largely by the likes of Timbaland, Danja, and Bloodshy & Avant.

Come on motherfuckers, let’s keep it real here.

Indeed.

If we are going to talk about who is chasing who, I think we all know the answer to that.

Correct: Gaga is chasing Madonna.

So yeah, she did something new,

She didn’t.

and people had to reach back 20+ years to find a song that could have possibly sounded like it, and that made news?

It’s a rather famous song. The chorus to “Born This Way” was written in the same key and was, note-for-note, the same melody as the bridge to “Express Yourself.” The title of the Madonna song was trending on Twitter higher than the name of the Gaga song on the day of the song’s release. Let’s get real, here.

Come on.

Seriously.

And I get to watch people try and fuck Gaga all the time and steal her shit, but guess what? While you were out trying to make the music she made off The Fame, thinking she was making The Fame v2.0, she went and made some next shit for you to chase for the next 3 years. So, suck on that.

If he’s referring to “Born This Way,” then we’re about to hear an explosion of songs that sound like 90’s club remixes. If he’s referring to “Judas,” then he’s full of shit, since that song is most definitely The Fame v2.0. Perhaps there are fully innovative songs on the upcoming album, but from the previews we’ve been given, I seriously doubt it.

But there’s big news lurking underneath this: This man is representative of the type of people that Gaga surrounds herself with. That’s a rather unsettling thought!