Music

The rise & fall & rise of Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga becomes a world wide pop sensation just as I begin my ascent into being pop culture obsessed teen. In fact the first issue of Rolling Stone I ever brought was Gaga’s first cover issue, were she stripped down to nothing, wearing a now famous see through bubble dress with some of the bubbles being conveniently placed. This is 2009 when Gaga would take the crown of biggest pop star in the world (if critics had any doubts after The Fame in 2008, they were proven wrong with her follow up, The Fame Monster, which yields the hit single ‘Bad Romance’). Come 2014 things couldn’t be more different. Names like Grande, Azalea, Perry, Swift, and Minaj are among the group of females dominating the music charts, and while Gaga is also dominating the charts, having just scored her second Billboard number one album in a twelve month period, she is nowhere near being apart of that group. Somewhere along the way something changed. Gaga discovered you really can have both the fame and love (the love I’m talking about here is her music), the theme of her debut album, but the fame would have to be different to the kind she got used to back in 2009.

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Taylor Swift’s ‘1989’

A few of my favourite tracks on ‘1989’

.01 Welcome To New York – Taylor is so on point here in saying how inspirational New York can be. Ryan Tedder’s work on this one isn’t lost, and it’s a great introduction to what Taylor called her first “documented” pop album. To those saying that it’s no Sinatra or Jay-Z anthem, I don’t think she was ever trying to out do the greats. Also love the shout out to the LGBT community.

.03 Style – This is almost like two songs have been put together, as the first minute of the song is a snooze fest, while the chorus is one of my favourite moments of the album.

.04 Out Of The Woods – Easily the best track of the album. Got me and many other super excited for 1989. One of three tracks Taylor did with Jack Antonoff, lead guitarist of the rock band Fun, and he has helped her take her synthpop ventures to the next level.

.07 I Wish You Would – This is about Harry, right? Because when ever I listen to Taylor I automatically think it’s about a recent ex-boyfriend, but it’s not always the case. Every song on 1989 can’t be about Harry right?

.08 Bad Blood – It is well known by know that this is a dig at once friend Katy Perry, not a former boyfriend. She took things even further by including a picture of Grammy next the the song lyrics in the album booklet. For the record Grammy count is Taylor Swift 7, Katy Perry 0.

.10 How You Get The Girl – Feels like a mix of the old Taylor with the new Taylor. Nothing bad about that. More low-key than some of the other tracks, but after a few listens I came to appreciate it.

Abbey Road

In a review for Rolling Stone, Ed Ward called it “complicated instead of complex”. Over at The New York Times, Nik Cohn said “individually, the album’s songs are nothing special”, while Albert Goldman boldly declared “[it] is not one of The Beatles’ greatest albums” in Life magazine. It was clear Abbey Road obtained mixed reviews, at best, back in 1969, but somewhere along the way, in between the forty-five years since its release, it became one of the most beloved albums of all time, not just in The Beatles back catalogue, but among the other great albums in music history.

Abbey Road was the first full LP from The Beatles that I had ever listened too. My Dad tried to pursued me from going further than their Greatest Hits collection, believing many albums contain to many throwaway tracks. Me on the other hand, for some reason, believed that albums were like books, and only listening to the hit singles, would be like only reading the most exciting chapters. It is astonishing I still think this was to this day in the digital age, when it is so easy to grab select tracks from the iTunes store. Anyway I’m glad Abbey Road was the first of the band’s I got to enjoy. If I had started with say “Please Please Me” or “Beatles For Sale”, I might of really found some fillers. But not here. Not on Abbey Road.

Again Ed Ward said of the album, “complicated instead of complex”. By this point in the bands short time together, the relationship between the four Liverpool lads was already so complicated, and they didn’t need for their music to be complex anymore. All they need to do was to find simplicity. Songs like Come Together, Something, Oh Darling, and Octopus’s Garden are what make the album. There isn’t much to them, other then being really good rock tracks, but because they were made by John, Paul, George, and Ringo they became something more than just songs.

iTunes Top 100

I always find it hard to discuss what music I like because it can be quite varied. Now I’m not saying my music tastes are that disperse, or that I’m “sa indie” for having a mix of Kanye, John Mayer, The Beatles, and Taylor Swift in my most played, but at they end of the day it is quite a mix of artists. So I thought I share my top one-hundred most played on iTunes, as it is a peek into what I listen to most, and also as these songs kind of form a collection of the sounds coming out of bedroom over the last two years.

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No new U2 album till 2015 (Update: Rep denies these claims)

According to Billboard, U2 are delaying the releases of their next album, so they can book in new recording sessions with producers Ryan Tedder and Paul Epworth, meaning the follow up to No Line On The Horizon, won’t be seen till 2015. This also pushed back the accompanying tour to Summer of 2015.

It was expected for the Irish rock group to release new music late last year, when dates got moved to Summer this year. Now the new arrival date could be in the early months of 2015.

Read more at Rolling Stone: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/u2-delay-new-album-and-tour-to-2015-20140307

Update: A representative for U2 has told that the bands 13th album is still planned to be released this year. Billboard last week broke the news that the band would have to delay any new material, due to extra recording sessions with Ryan Tedder and Paul Epworth, till next year. While the sessions with Tedder and Epworth will still happen, it looks as though we will hear the currently untitled album in Summer which, according to Bono who spoke to USA Today, was the original date.

Sounds so soulful, don’t you agree?: Kanye West’s The Collage Dropout turns ten!

2004 was a big year for popular culture. We saw the launch of Facebook (then known as the Facebook), endured a nipplegate at the Superbowl, was introduced to some Desperate Housewives, and said goodbye to out Friends. But nothing can complete with Kanye West’s arrival onto the music scene, not just as a talented producer, but as a rapper of the kind we hadn’t seen before. Nobody knew back then, I don’t think even Kanye truly knew, how much of a iconic figure, on stage and off, the 27 year old “Through The Wire” singer would become.

Recorded over four years beginning in 1999, his debut was a struggle to get to the shelves. Kanye began to find success when he produced a track on Jay Z’s The Dynasty: Roc La Familia as a up-and-coming artist, and received even more recognition for his work on The Blueprint, released in 2001, when he crafted hits like “Izzo (H.O.V.A)” and “Heart of the City (Ain’t No Love)”. Even with his mainstream success, “Izzo” making it to number eight on the Billboard Hot 100, Capitol Records decided against taking him on after a series of meetings, and Roc-A-Fella Records reluctantly took him onboard in fear of him taking his work elsewhere. On October 23, 2002, Kanye fell asleep at the wheel while driving home from a California recording studio, which left him with a shattered jaw. The crash was near-fatal, so Kanye was lucky for only his jaw to be wired shut in reconstructive surgery. All of this lead to “Through the Wire”, the first song to be heard out of his work, where he expressed his experiance in the accident, and took Kanye in the right direction for his debut saying, “all the better artists have expressed what they are going through”, and that is exactly what he intended to do. When “Through the Wire” became available on the Get Well Soon… mixtape, Kanye also announced he was working on a album called The Collage Dropout, and told that its overall theme was “make your own decisions. Don’t let society tell you, ‘This is what you have to do.’” This instantly drew me in towards the album and all it represented.

You could say I was a latecomer to the genre of hip-hop. Before I first downloaded Yeezus, I had listened to Watch The Throne (West’s full album collaboration with mentor and friend Jay Z), and of course had heard of Kanye’s commercial hits like “Stronger” and “Gold Digger”, but never dug deeper. I remember the first time I listened to Kanye’s experimental 2013 album. I was at school. It was a cold morning. I had a free period, when I was meant to be studying, but wasn’t. I, within an hour, was hooked on this work of art. Getting home I had to have more. Over and over again I listen to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, till I became sick of it. The next Kanye West LP that received heavy rotation from me was his first.

The Collage Dropout is a great achievement in its own right. His music was about family,  religion, consumerism, and his other personal struggles. He was able to shake of the gangster tag that came along with being a rapper at the time, all while crafting his debut album. People forget that his first album peaked at number two on the Billboard 200 (only being held off by Norah Jones’ Feels Like Home) and was nominated for both Album of the Year and Best Rap Album at the 2005 Grammy Awards (he would go on to win Best Rap Album, while losing Album of the Year to Ray Charles for Genius Love Company). All this was from a guy that nobody wanted to take a chance on. These days Kanye West receives most of the medias attention for punching photographers every second day and being part of the force that is Kimye, which can be considers the 2010’s version of Brangelina. But on the 10th of Febuary, 2014, Kanye West needs to be seen as the incredible artist that he truly is.