Sunday, February 23, 2014

33 1/3

Hey, guys. So apparently it's our thing to write once a year now. Or it's my thing, anyways. I can't decide if it's because we have been busy or if music hasn't inspired us enough to write lately or both. I think I can speak for Laura and say that music is always inspiring us...but perhaps we just don't or can't always put it into words. Or at least not into blog form.

My blog for you today and perhaps for 2014 comes from my recently new-found joy of BEING ABLE TO GO TO THE LIBRARY AND READ BOOKS I ACTUALLY WANT TO READ. Any of you other advanced degree students or teachers understand this luxury. After finally finishing my graduate studies, I now have time to read for FUN and not just material for research papers or exams.

This hiatus I took from reading for fun means that I have arrived late to the 33 1/3 party. If you are not familiar with the book series, it has it's own wikipedia page HERE! Essentially, it is a book series with each book written about a particular album and authored by a fan of the album. Some of the authors are writers, musicians, and I think some are just self indulgent nobodies like me. Which means.... maybe *I* could write one one day!!

I am currently reading the 33 1/3 book on the Talking Heads' "Fear of Music" album. The album came out in 1979- two years before I was even born. But I am a child of the 80s and also very much a product of my parents who always had current and pop music on in the house. Speaking of libraries, my father would go to our local library and check out albums- I remember seeing Michael Jackson's "Bad", Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA" and the Pointer Sisters' "Break Out" all leaning up against the bookshelf underneath the record player in my dad's den at our first house.

"Life During Wartime" is the only song I really know off of this album, yet the way the author writes about the album, though very self indulgent at times, certainly makes me want to download the album right now.

But here in lies the real reason for me finally mustering up the strength to write an entire blogpost for the first time in a year: I said download. The author of this book refers often to the entire breadth and scope of the "A Side" and "B Side" of this work. Have we lost part of an artform because we now no longer have to "flip" sides?

I can see how artists back in the day may have strategically sculpted an entire side of an album. Today, we focus on tracks and singles. In fact, one of the "benefits" of itunes is that you DON'T have to buy an entire album, just the songs you want.

So do artists still write and create and sculpt entire albums?? Or do they just look for the break out singles and tracks?

Buzzfeed is all the rage on Facebook and Twitter these days- their lists, their quizzes. (I give it about another 2-3 months. It will then be relegated to the Facebook "note" no doubt). I succumbed to one of these quizzes the other day and one of the questions asked was related to this very topic: "If you were to write a 33 1/3 book, which album would it be on?" (Here were the options, just in case you want to play along:

1. The Strokes, "Is This It"
2. The Breeders, "The Last Splash"
3. New Order, "Power, Corruption, and Lies"
4. Mariah Carey, "Glitter"
5. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffit, "Before Today"
6. Madvillain, "Madvillainy"
7.Fugazi, "13 Songs"
8. (500) Days of Summer Soundtrack
9. What is 33 1/3

And while I probably own all of the songs on the (500) days of Summer Soundtrack and have fond, fond memories of The Strokes' album from college, I had to go with The Breeders which was the soundtrack to my adolescent, coming of age years. And I believe that is what a good 33 1/3 book would be about: an adolescent's coming of age experience with their first really *good* album.

Because let's face it, sure, I bought cassette tapes when I was growing up in the 80s, but as I have come to realize after having nannied a 10 year old all summer, children under the age of 12 just do not have the best taste in music purchases for themselves. I was forced to listen to One Direction this summer just as I made my parents listen to New Kids on the Block twenty years earlier.

But by 13, I was starting to explore real music for myself. Sure, one of my first cds was still Ace of Base (anyone can make a mistake when they are just starting his/her music collection) but the collection quickly filled with Salt n Pepa, Janet Jackson, Nirvana, Violent Femmes, Weezer...and The Breeders' Last Splash which got me through an out of state move which involved living in my grandparents house for a short period of time (if I ever do write my 33 1/3 book on The Last Splash, I will tell you all about it).

My point with the cassette tapes vs cds, however, is this: I grew up never having purchased an ACTUAL LP album that as 33 1/3 revolutions like the book series suggest! And we could fast forward or skip over songs, which still was at least a little more work than what kids can do today (which is never actually ever have to purchase a full album if they don't want to). They can fill their playlists with hit single after single, and I am becoming guilty of this myself.

So I write this post to ask: What is the ALBUM that you would write a book about? Where each and every song flowed and spoke to you? That you had an entire experience with the WHOLE album?

I struggle to remember full albums anymore, sadly. I played out my Miseducation of Lauryn Hill cd in 1999 but I know that I still skipped over tracks. I think I could name the first six tracks in order, but after that, it gets a little hazy for me (Intro, Lost Ones, Ex Factor, To Zion, Doo Wop (That Thing), Superstar....When it Hurts So Bad? I Used to Love Him? Every Ghetto, Every City? See? It starts to get hazy, but maybe I'm also just old....)

Ooo! I know that I can name every track in order for Sara Bareilles' Little Voice, though! I could probably write a 33 1/3 book about that album, too. I'm so glad she finally won a Grammy, though, I liked her first two albums better than the latest one she won for.

Anyways, all this to say, I've just been thinking a lot about albums as a medium and our childhood experiences with albums vs what music production looks like today. I hope that the value of entire albums will never be lost- I do think they will always be treasured, even if in an archaic kind of way- but I also hope that the next generations are still able to produce the kind of quality and impact that only an entire album (instead of just tracks) can make.

And there are your thoughts for 2014!

By the time I write again, *I* will be 33 (and a third). No, but really.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Future Sex Love Sounds: The 20/20 Justin Timberlake Experience

So it has been a WHOLE YEAR and some change since Laura or I have contributed to this blog. We've been busy, okay? Laura's run some marathons and is planning a wedding and I've been traveling and finishing grad school. What do you have to show for 2012, huh? ;)

2012 was undoubtedly a great year for music and I think the most recent Grammys (not our most recent blog post about Grammys, however...sorry about that...) attest to that. The Alabama Shakes! Mumford and Sons! fun.! This indie rock girl was stoked that some of these indie-ish bands are infiltrating the music scene and getting well deserved recognition.

But we all know I'm a pop girl at heart, right? Right. My most recent posts on this blog were about Lady Gaga and Justin Timberlake and I'm ecstatic that the latter has just released his first album in about seven years. Seven years! I have been in three different houses and two different hair colors in seven years. JT's been through a few different girlfriends and is now MARRIED. AND NOT TO ME. Sigh.

JT actually performed on this year's Grammys and it was this highly anticipated performance, much like his new album, The 20/20 Experience. When I first heard the first single off the album, "Suit and Tie", I was driving home from work and was pretty sure I recognized my beloved's tender tenor, but it also sounded like my OTHER boyish tenor boyfriend, Robin Thicke, so I had to wait for the DJ's postlude announcement to be sure. He sounded so different! "Suit and Tie" is a little different from what is on the radio right now and a little different than what my boy band boyfriend has done in the past. But I was excited for him. I thought it was and is a good musical direction for him to go in. (Sniff! Jay-Z on the track too! He's come so far...I'm so proud!)

The album was released this week and I downloaded it on itunes (different than my purchase of his album before this, FutureSex, LovesSounds which I had to buy on cd at Best Buy!) I had seen a tweet from one of my friends about the first track off the album, "Pusher Love Girl." I'm pretty sure she simply tweeted: OMG PUSHER LOVE GIRL. So I knew it had to be good.

When I heard the winding strings of "Pusher Love Girl" for the first time, I was like, "Oh, I like!" but I was also a little sad, too. This retro, big band, Rat Pack throw back stuff has been on the scene for a while now...was my JT just giving into something that Bruno Mars and some hipsters have been bringing back instead of the sexy that he brought back all on his own? (see also this review from one of my favorite music news sources, Paste magazine, for similar sentiments) As soon as I heard the dulcet tones of his sweet vocals, however, I didn't care. It was still sexy. He's still bringing it back.

"Pusher Love Girl" has this sweet, swing groove, much like many of the tracks on the album. The Paste article I mention above also draws attention to the fact that JT's lyrics aren't that great, but hey, are they supposed to be? It's about the music and vocals for this guy. I remember back in 2002 when JT's first solo album, Justified, was released and CRINGING at the track "Nothin' Else" because my boyfriend literally sang the lyrics: "You're out of this world except you're not green." WHAT? No. (He apparently hasn't got this alien stuff out of his system, though. "Spaceship Coupe" is also an alein metaphor. Oh, Justin. Didn't you learn from JC's "Space Cowboy" on No Strings Attached?! Or Lance Bass' failed space trip?? What's with Nsync members and the space fascination?!)

Awww, sweet Lance. How did I not know about you?!? I wanted to have your babies, too...

Anyways, Pusher Love Girl's lyrics are about, well, drugs, as you can imagine. But the lyrics seem to be somewhat appropriate in this case because this song has quickly become like a drug for me. Let's just say I've had an incredible trying past two weeks, okay? I've been STRESSED. And as I texted to one of my roommates yesterday: "Pusher Love Girl is the only thing getting me through." It lulls me, it relaxes me...much like I can only *imagine* a drug might be like ;)

I was thinking of breaking down this album track by track like I did Lady Gaga's Born This Way but something I really like about The 20/20 Experience and one of the hallmarks, I think, of a really good album is that the album really flows together. "Pusher Love Girl", like I said, has this throw back, Sinatra-esque feel mixed with some smooth jazz (the break down towards the end of the song, though, for me is reminiscent of "Chop Me Up" of off FS/LS in my mind...just the way in which JT sings "hop" maybe, but still...) "Strawberry Bubblegum" is similar in the smooth category with a touch of Barry White in the intro, as well as "That Girl" which begins with a retro big band moment (JT and The Tennessee Kids is apparently his throwback band leader persona).

The dance-ier tracks are perhaps "Don't Hold the Wall" (which incorporates some Eastern instrumental influence as well as a smooth, acapella intro), "Let the Groove Get In", "Tunnel Vision", and of course, "Suit and Tie." "Suit and Tie" is much different in its dance appeal as it gives nods to the big band moments on this album and the other three have Timabland produced feels.

The last track, "Blue Ocean Floor" is actually why I wanted to write this blog post in the first place. When I first heard it, my little indie rock girl beating heart stopped. "Blue Ocean Floor" kinda sounds like Bon Iver meets Grizzly Bear meets my latest indie experimental band obsession, Beach House. "Blue Ocean Floor" is definitely different from anything JT has done and yet it seems to fit into this overall very chill, smooth 20/20 Experience.

This is the cover art for Beach House's latest album 'Bloom'. I'm equally as obsessed with the cover art as I am the album.

My very favorite song on The 20/20 Experience that has been on repeat on my ipod is the single "Mirrors." It is rock-y, pop-y, triumphant, and sentimental all at the same time. And while the rest of JT's lyrics may fail, the lyrics on "Mirrors" are not lost on me. The beautiful image of your significant other "reflecting" your own image is what every hopeless romantic waits for and apparently he wrote this about his GRANDPARENTS. I mean, COME ON. How adorable is that??? Here is the beautifully made video.

In conclusion, Justin's three solo albums: Justified, FutureSex/LoveSounds, and The 20/20 Experience are similar in that they have R&B, hip hop, and jazz influences. They are not lyrically perfect nor entirely groundbreaking but I think they are all solid albums and are all cohesive with the next. Each album has a track or two or three that you can tell Timbaland and JT and whomever else were being experimental while being true to JT's pop aesthetic. I know I am incredibly biased, but I have never been disappointed with a JT album, and am always happy to see his progression (but grounded-ness) as an artist. The 20/20 Experience is no exception of this and I think falls right in line with his freshmen and sophomore albums.

And, I mean...just look at that face! Jessica Biel is a lucky lady...


Friday, December 16, 2011

The 54th Grammy Nominees!

Hello, friends! Laura here. Sometimes I remember I have a blog. Sometimes that reminder comes in the form of Julia, and sometimes that reminder comes in the form of the Grammy nominees being announced.

Here are the nominees for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Album of the Year, and Best New Artist. I'd LOVE to hear your opinions! Who are you rooting for? Who do you think will win? Are those answers the same person? How do YOU pronounce Bon Iver? What DOES happen If I Die Young? Answers, people. I need answers.

Record of the Year: Remember: this means a single song, and it's for excellence in sound engineering. Think, "recording of the year." It's also come to mean "The Recording You Couldn't Escape This Year." (Think: "Single Ladies.") So Adele might have this one on lock. The nominees are:

Rolling in the Deep - Adele
Holocene - Bon Iver
Grenade - Bruno Mars
The Cave - Mumford and Sons
Firework - Katy Perry

My producer friend Brendan loves Firework, and I tend to default to him on all things music editing. But I can't deny that all of these recordings are stellar. Again, if it goes to "The Recording You Couldn't Escape This Year," Adele takes it.

Song of the Year: for excellence in songwriting. I tend to give this category a mental "Acoustic Coffeehouse Check" and see which song still stands after you strip away all its production. So what do you do with Kanye's "All of the Lights"? In my opinion, that song is a work of art, and the orchestration of the whole thing IS a product of the artists' creativity, not an afterthought of the engineers. It unravels otherwise. So that song just might be my pick, though the nominations are all excellent. What do you think?

All Of The Lights (Kanye West, Rihanna, Kid Cudi & Fergie) Jeff Bhasker, Stacy Ferguson, Malik Jones, Warren Trotter & Kanye West, songwriters
The Cave (Mumford & Sons)Ted Dwane, Ben Lovett, Marcus Mumford & Country Winston, songwriters
Grenade (Bruno Mars) Brody Brown, Claude Kelly, Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine, Bruno Mars & Andrew Wyatt, songwriters
Holocene (Bon Iver) Justin Vernon, songwriter
Rolling in the Deep (Adele) Adele Adkins & Paul Epworth, songwriters

Album of the Year: the whole CD. For the sake of full disclosure, the only one I've heard in its entirety is Gaga's, and it's a work of art. If you listen to the radio, however, you've heard several songs from all of the following albums. I love me some Foo Fighters. Then again, Adele had a huge year. Then again, Rihanna cranked out the hits like a champ in 2011. Then again, I begrudgingly acknowledge that Bruno Mars is talented. (But only begrudgingly. Why is that? You're with me, right?) Thoughts? Insights? Do you know any of the unreleased stuff?

21 - Adele
Wasting Light - Foo Fighters
Born This Way - Lady Gaga
Doo-Wops and Hooligans - Bruno Mars
Loud - Rihanna

Can we also acknowledge what a bitch Adele is for naming them after how old she is when they're released? It's like she's rubbing it in. Pardon me while I work on my debut solo project, "26."

Best New Artist: the nominees:

The Band Perry
Bon Iver
Nicki Minaj

I know Julia hates The Band Perry. Wait. Maybe it's Lady Antebellum she hates. I get the two confused... (I don't, but you see my point.)

I'm hot and cold with Bon Iver, people. Rant starts here: I saw a friend tweet about their album, so I picked it up. Though beautiful, I honestly found it to be a bit redundant. I also don't understand why someone with such a naturally sexy, gritty, baritone voice would spend an hour singing to me in falsetto.

When it was announced that they were nominated for a Grammy, I, like a sheep, thought that I must have overlooked their genius and somehow owed the album another listen. Besides, when you play the 10-second-awards-show-snippet of each nominated song back to back, Bon Iver's ethereal orchestra is downright beautiful.

Then, I stumbled across the New York Times article of lead singer Justin Vernon saying that the Grammys don't matter. And while I agree with much of what Vernon says about the motivations behind the people in the popular music industry, I believe there is a time and place to say so. There's "too cool for school" and there's "ungrateful," and I think you have to toe that line carefully, especially if you want people to continue to support you and your music in this economy. So although the hipsters will love you for saying the Grammys don't matter, I take offense. I am someone who writes blog posts about the Grammys, you see.

There's no denying Nicki Minaj had a huge year, but last year the relatively unknown Esperanza Spalding took home the award, so we can't eliminate the possibility it could be Skrillex or J. Cole.

What is a Skrillex? You know Skrillex. The techno song with the "OH MY GOD!" sample? See, I thought you did.

What is a J. Cole? I, uh... don't know.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Popping Up 80s and 90s (Is Nothing Sacred?!)

So I've been contemplating the use of 80s and 90s guilty pleasures in 2011 commercials for a while now. I think it all started when Old Navy and Target launched these campaigns around late summer/early fall:

I took notice because FACT: I may or may not have owned a Billy Ocean 45 AND/or Debbie Gibson piano book as an eight year old. I did, in fact, want to BE Debbie Gibson, so I found Old Navy's "Only in My Jeans" commercial blasphemy. You can't mess with Debbie! She's sacred!
Here's the REAL video here:

I mean, she was only 16! And wrote all her own lyrics! Which is probably most evident in the song "Electric Youth" (which inspired the 90s perfume by the same name....LONG before J Lo's Glo or Spears' Curious...):

Zappin it to ya...the pressure's everywhere! Goin' right through ya...the fever's in the air! Oh, yeah! It's there! Don't underestimate the power, of a lifetime ahead....

I mean, any song that can start with the phrase "Zappin' it to ya" is nothing short of lyrical genius. Please.

Then there were M&Ms and State Farm respectively:

And I started to take notice. Why the sudden interest in all my 80s and 90s pop music guilty pleasures?! Is nothing truly sacred anymore? Dirty Dancing? (Patrick Swayze, RIP) TLC? (Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopez, RIP).

And, sadly, it took my mother to point out to me: Julia, YOU are the demographic marketers are marketing towards now.

So, in other words: I'm 30 and I'm old.

These marketers- particularly the State Farm TLC commercial- assume that my peer group a.) has the money and b.) the power to use it. They also apparently assume we are all married with children which- if they were to even consult with my 89 year old grandmother, she would all to eagerly point out this is NOT the case for all of us, namely yours truly (and this pains her greatly. She would "just like to see a wedding before she dies, already/" Ahem.)

I actually feel a little insulted that a.) I am now old enough to be the market target for these companies and b.) that they feel the need to distort my favorite pop memories and pull on my nostalgic pop heartstrings.

I suppose these campaigns are effective and that some of my peers actually do have the money to be their target focus group. Me, however? I just have a pop blog and a deep affinity for all things 80s and pop. Which  is enough, I guess.

ps- Who's ready for the Grammys, huh?!?! It's that time of year again! Yeah!


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Just a Holy Fool Part 2

Okay, so I totally didn't intend to be writing a follow up to my last Gaga post because I totally didn't intend to give Ms. Gaga a second thought. Or buy her second album. But then our friend @robcasal informed @lauravand and I that Gaga's new album was only .99 on Amazon and I said "FINE. I'll BUY IT. And I might even listen to it."

And listen I did. And now here I am giving you my play by play. It is a little of what I expected but a little better than I thought. Let me tell you why!

To do this, I really need to go through the album as a whole, because I believe that Ms. Gaga must've thought of this as a concept album. As the past 2 blog titles imply, there is lots of religious imagery. And while that may seem trite for a twenty-something singer/song writer ("we GET it. You are CONTEMPLATING stuff. You have deep thoughts and whatnot....") I think Gaga is grappling with her Catholic roots and does pay them homage. She also uses the line: "I'm just a holy fool" in not one, but two songs, so while she's thinking about stuff, she's clearly not using a thesaurus.

In fact, before I give the play by play, I must warn I have many "Colbie moments" with Gaga's lyrics. For example, I really wanted to like Gaga's tune- "Bloody Mary". It starts off haunting (as many on the album do) and it is interesting. We have the twisted Catholic image of a "Bloody Mary" which again, okay, is trite, but whatevs. But then she's all: "Hands, hands, hands, dance, dance, dance..." and I'm like: "might as well have gone with: nose, toes, froze, close....")

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The album as a whole is a religious, horror-show, theatrical disco with an attempt of an  international fair (like the kind we have back home where all the different cultures in the town set up various vendor stations of cuisine and do cultural dances and stuff. You don't have those? Eh. I'm from Ohio.) Anyways, Gaga speaks like four languages in this album. Five if you count 'Gaga'-ese.

I also think (much like Sara Bareilles' sophomore album which we've discussed) Gaga must've thought of what this album would be like live. 'Cause it's got a 'Phantom of the Opera' kind of freak show written all over it.

The album starts with a haunting "Marry the Night" which I can just picture Gaga at her piano in the dark with candles lit in some obscure costume to begin her show. Cut to a few measures later when the track starts pumping and we are suddenly in a gay disco. Yup. Sounds about right. Typical Gaga, but I do actually really like this track. I like her concept of "Marrying the Night". It is kind of a lonely anthem, kind of like a Cher's "Song for the Lonely" but empowering and hopeful at the same time. She's not going to to let her loneliness get to her. She's gonna 'Marry the Night' which I imagine many rockstars end up doing in a way. Hey, the night probably talks back less and is a cheap date. Am I right?

Next is the anthem for acceptance that I've already written my 2 cents about (only 97 more and you have what I purchased this album for! Ha!). "Born This Way" has been covered by Glee and even last night's American Idol contestants (which I was a little surprised by, but whatevs). It is what it is and it's been embraced by America, so good for it.

Now, the next track I really wanted to like. And I kind of do...if it didn't just repeat the word "hooker" over and over again. And not that I'm prudish or anything- what ladies of the night do is not for me to judge- but because I'm sure in her mind, Gaga thought she was making some kind of political statement, but kind of fails at doing so. I think she could've done it in another lyrical way. The lyrics totally ruin the song for me, which is what I have to say about MOST of this album.

Judas I've done talked about too, but I will add: having now seen the video, it is TOTALLY NOT the worst, most scandalous video that she's done and the video actually makes me like the song MORE.

Enter Lady's first international attempt on the album a la"Alejandro" aka "Americano". The woman still thinks she's in Spain or something, but I actually like this tune because there's something really artsy about it. It also sounds like anything by ABBA, which you really can't go wrong with ABBA- it's so fun! It's typical Gaga, but it's what she does well- artsy, fun, and weird at it's best.

Hair. Ugh. I can't listen to this song because of the lyrics. I love the beat (though it sounds a little like "Edge of Glory" AND the unicorn song that I'll have to look up the actual title to in a second) but I can't do it. I don't know what she was thinking talking about how she wants to be "free like her hair". You couldn't think of any other analogy? Free like birds? Free like Ladies Night? Free like Buy One Get One? Really? Nothing else?

I can't even spell the next song BECAUSE MY COMPUTER DOESN"T DO GERMAN. But I like this song. It's like a feminst anthem. Or something. In German.

I've already spoken my piece on Bloody Mary.

"Bad Kids" is like a "Born this Way" for troubled teenagers. I also can't listen to this song because the lyrics are trite and I think of my angsty teens who I describe as "not liking themselves or anyone else" and who wants to think about that on the weekends?

Highway Unicorn is EXACTLY like "Edge of Glory" but less good. And it says nothing about unicorns.

Heavy Metal Lover is exactly just that. Gaga's tribute to Heavy Metal. It's a more rockin' tune, but again, trite. And she brings up "Born this Way" again. Not sure why.

Electric Chapel is interesting to me because it is super religious and haunting like "Marry the Night". She uses her "holy fool" line again and I really think this song is like her John 3:16 in a sense (to use religious reference myself!) It's a culmination of all the songs- a little heavy metal, a little electronica, religious imagery, dark....

I love "You and I". It is the "Speechless" on this album for me. I could listen to it over and over again, and I do. I first started to love it when Hailey sang it on Idol. The judges poo-pooed her, but I loved it. And I also loved Hailey. Girl can sang. But this song is good, chill, and I can see Gaga at her piano slow-jamming it with Elton John which is how I like her best :)

I also love "Edge of Glory". When I heard it on the radio, I just remembered it's awesome sax solo and it made me think of the 80s and that awesome Sergio skit from SNL. (Apparently some other dude thought the same thing!) That's really all I needed to think this song awesome, but I think it has an inspiring message too- standing on the edge for love, putting yourself all out's one of the few songs for me that doesn't lyrically suck.

Overall, I was kind of impressed with the albumm though my expectations were kind of low. Like I said, it was a lot of what I expected, but Gaga does do what is expected of her exceedingly well- she's weird, she can sing, and she's artsy. Mission accomplished. And it was 99 cents!

It was definitely worth the buck for sure! And I'd probably even pay a little more...

Definitely want to see the girl in concert sometime. For now I'll just see her EVERYWHERE else (seriously the girl is everywhere! She even has her own Google commercial!

Anyways, meet you in the Electric Chapel...whatever that means....wherever that is...


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Just a Holy Fool

Oh, HEY THERE, Spring! Hey there Passover, Easter, and all things regarding making things new and resurrected and whatnot. How timely to be talking about religious songs with religious themes!

Oh, HEY THERE, Lady Gaga!

I suppose you've heard about Gaga's latest? And what "Christians" have to say about it?
Holy over-reacting, Batman.

Sooo....I actually happen to teach religion and am working on my MA in Theology and I'm not saying that makes me an expert or anything....but....

No, for reals. That for sure does not make me an authority on this in any way. But I just have been asked by every. single. person. and their grandmother about what the Church and Christians have to say about this song.  And I can only really speak for myself since I am pretty sure Benedict XVI himself has not yet wrote an encyclical about it or even heard it on itunes.

All I know is Gaga is starting to impress me less and less and we all know how I loved her. When "Born This Way" came out (heh) I was on the "it- sounds-just-like-'Express Yourself'- laid-over-top-of-TLC's-'Waterfalls'" train. And now this Judas business which even the students I work with acknowledge that it sounds strikingly similar to "Bad Romance".

But, yet, Gaga still has our attention, even if it is much in the same vain (pun intended) as Madonna before her. And Madonna's shoes are not necessarily bad ones to be in. I happen to think Lady Gaga is even more of a musician than Madonna. Madonna perhaps, though, had more of a defined vision. Both certainly have drive.

So, yeah, even with all the hype, I'm underwhelmed. Maybe that's because I was, oh, I don't know, ALIVE in the 80s when Madonna's 'Like a Prayer' controversy hit (albeit I was about 8 and totally making up choreographed dances to the song in the parking lot of my Catholic School that I attended. Blasphemy? Meh, irony maybe.)

I'm sure the video will be shocking (Um, I was a little disturbed by the video for "Born this Way". Not because of any kind of lyrics but that the beginning reminded me a little too much of  The Miracle of Life videos shown in health class. No one likes to revisit those, Gaga) but really all I can speak for right now is what I think about these damned (heh) lyrics. So here goes:

The lady herself has said it is about being drawn to the wrong kind of guy, and that's how I take the song 'Judas' as well. I do think she used all the over-arching imagery (ie- "a king with no crown" and "I'll wash my feet with my hair") to be shocking, but I do think she is also making her point with it. She says in the song "Jesus is my virtue." I take the lyrics to mean she knows what is good, but yet she chooses to "wash the feet" of the wrong guy instead. She sympathesizes with the betrayer for some reason, even though she knows it's wrong and bad for her.

That's really all I got. Like I said, I'm underwhelmed. Maybe that's what comes with turning 30. Last year, i was dressing up like Lady Gaga, this year, I'm over the drama.

I'm just kind of over the drama, Gaga : ( I'm getting to old for this.


Monday, January 31, 2011

Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Justin Timberlake

So... math is hard. And I'm not sure if the subject heading actually expresses what I want to say. What I really want to say is today is Justin Timberlake's 30th birthday and I'm celebrating.

My love affair with Justin started briefly in 1998 when I went to my first Nsync concert Senior Year in high school. I had seen Justin on the MMC (Mickey Mouse Club- DUH) back in '94, but I was still partial to the original members (like those from the short lived pop band "The Party". Remember them? I played that cassette tape OUT:

I later lived my dream of seeing one of the original members live when I saw Dee Dee Magno in a national tour of "Wicked". Yes, I = geek)

Anyways, back to Nsync. My friend and I waited in line to get tickets the morning of our senior Homecoming dance instead of getting our hair did. Britney Spears was the opening act and it. was. amazing. I had no idea what this pop prince and princess had in store for us in the '00s.

Nsync followed me to college and my friends and college roommate will tell you that obsession was at its height in 2000-2001. Justin lived on my cinderblock walls (as well as his bandmates. If I am honest, Lance was my *favorite*, which makes sense since I seem to have a pattern as *that* girl who falls for gay men. Sigh. Gay men and I just have so much in common! Broadway showtunes! Cute boys! Clothes! Fashion! Double sigh).

My heart was broken even before Lance came out of the closet when in 2001-2002 (about the same time Lance announced he was going to be trying to fly to space...oy...) Nsync went their separate ways.

I held my breath when Justin's solo album was released. Would it be good? Or would my idol be the laughing stock of pop culture?

When I heard the guitar riffs for "Like I Love You" complete with the rap break from Clipse- I knew my boy would be okay.

I obsessively watched and showed all my friends the "Cry Me a River" video ( was about Britney cheating! And it was HOT. Justin? In the rain? Yes, please)

Then there, of course, he brought "Sexy Back" a couple years later and the world fell in love with the man I always knew had an impecible sense of comedic timing (what? I did. I had endless hours of footage of taped Nsync appearances on every talkshow circa 2000. I knew he had "it" ;) with his numerous SNL guest spots.

I hope Justin's 30th year brings A NEW ALBUM ALREADY. Humph.

This year is MY 30th year too. Whatdoyasay, old friend? Can you make my 30th year dreams come true? Sexy Back Reprise...please?