Thursday, 30 June 2011

I Like... Results / "The ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function"

Bachelor of Arts Part 2 grade = FIRST

Hard work paying off feels awful nice.
Just the small matter of dissertation research to contend with now...

Monday, 20 June 2011

PRINTED WORDS / Lady Gaga 'Born This Way'

F.Y.I. - I was unhappy with the edit of my review which was printed in Spark. Here's the full monster:
She promised to bring us ‘the album of the decade’ and with it brought a surreal promotional campaign as if from the mind of Salvador Dali; appearing on the red carpet of the Grammy’s in an egg incubator, popping out of a coffin wearing a patent prosthetic pregnancy bump live on stage, and styling herself as 21st century, couture Mary Magdalene for her latest music video. Yet aside from these sumptuous shock tactics, the first two singles taken from Lady Gaga’s second album missed the number one slot in the UK charts. Is Lady Gaga’s saturation point on the horizon? Forget her not – ‘Born This Way’ is the result of Gaga’s transformation from fame-hungry pop starlet to a self-aware tastemaker.

The dominant theme of ‘Born This Way’ is a message of unashamed self-love, with Gaga in her self-appointed role as the voice of and preacher to the disenchanted and disenfranchised. Sometimes she unquestionably hits the mark; ‘Americano’ is a mariachi electro response to the unremittingly strict immigration policies in Arizona, but at other times falls flat – the bubblegum sentiment and chorus of ‘Bad Kids’ is as patronising and unconvincing as the picture-perfect cast of Glee lamenting their social pariah status at McKinley High week on week. Having been recently named the world’s most powerful celebrity by Forbes, can Gaga keep playing the outcast card when she’s the focal point of popular culture? She certainly makes her impassioned intentions clear with her riveting proclamation of self-empowerment on ‘Hair’ (‘I just want to be free, I just want to be me’), even if her vigour does push her vocals into questionable Bonnie Tyler territory.

Luckily the album’s title track and lead single was something of a false start; just when it looked as though all the Madonna comparisons had swallowed her whole (the accusation of ‘Born This Way’ bearing more than a passing resemblance to ‘Express Yourself’ reduced Lady Gaga to tears in a recent interview), Gaga proves she’s at her best when she puts her own failsafe formula of molten dance-pop over a narrative of love gone woefully wrong to work (‘Judas’). Similarly, Gaga revisits the sentimental tone of ‘Speechless’ on the amplified power ballad ‘Yoü and I’ which shows her free of pretence and exercises her noticeably enlarged vocal range. She truly hits her stride on ‘Schiße’; the most instantaneous moment of smack-you-in-the-face Gaga greatness on this bilingual rave-disco oddity. However, there are moments of either laziness or self-indulgence when Gaga becomes a pastiche of herself, take ‘Government Hooker’ which opens with thirty seconds of disorientating operatics but descends into clinical electronica and a series of buzz phrases (‘Put your hands on me, John F. Kennedy’). Likewise, the smut of ‘Heavy Metal Lover’ with the request for ‘your whisky mouth all over my blonde south’ lacks the tongue-in-cheek knowingness of ‘bluffin’ with my muffin.’

Despite this album not containing as many unquestionable occasions of pop revolution as the likes of ‘Paparazzi’ and ‘Bad Romance’ have made us accustomed to when it comes to the output of Miss Germantotta, she artfully bookends the album with tracks that keep her reputation as an innovator intact. ‘Marry The Night’ is an unassuming opener, but is all the more enticing for its unaffected nihilism and copious anthemic sound. Closing the album is ‘Edge Of Glory’; not one for subtlety Gaga professes herself to be, ‘On the edge of glory... hanging on a moment of truth’ on this exhilarating specimen of synth-pop on a stadium scale.

And hanging on the edge of glory is where ‘Born This Way’ leaves Lady Gaga. Although her second album does show outstanding progression from ‘The Fame’, it doesn’t quite propel her over the periphery into the oblivion of eternal greatness, or whatever it is that lies on the other side of being the most powerful pop star on planet earth.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

I Like... Unexpected New Music by Morrissey / 'Everybody has a date with an undertaker'


Wednesday, 15 June 2011

I Like... Adoration / 'Don’t let your idols be anything but inspirational'

Meeting Michael Jackson was obviously the coolest thing that could happen to a human being, let alone someone who has spent their life dedicated to a man they have never met but know they share some kind of boundless, semi-divine affinity with, an affinity which causes them to scream, cry and just generally melt into a pool of emotion which I imagine afterwards nigh on drowns them. It’s this sudden outburst of sensation that makes watching footage of MJ fans meeting their hero so god-damn heart warming. So here’s a rundown (in no particular order) of my favourite ‘Meeting Michael Jackson Moments.’

1) I like the polite but direct requests of this female fan; she asks for a hug and she gets one, proving the maxim of ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get’ to be unequivocally true. And then her admirable composure disappears after not only a prolonged hug but also a kiss, and expresses her joy with a fellow fan/friend in a series of non-linguistic but nevertheless reasonable squeals. I also admire the second female fan who takes it upon herself to deliver the message of an entire nation to Michael Jackson. I’m not sure who elected her to do so, but she does so without losing her cool, something which many fans fail to do.

2) The passion runs so high in this clip that it’s kind of confusing; does she want to meet Michael Jackson or doesn’t she? What biologically happens that makes her legs collapse at the sight of Michael Jackson? I don’t know, but the reverence shown by this young lady is commendable. She doesn’t just cry, but she heavily weeps. And I don’t think MJ wanted her to genuflect before him, but the fact that she does so anyway is just lovely. Oh yeah, and there’s a massive gorilla in the background.

3) Another example of emotion gone wild here. To say the least, it must be odd for fully-grown men to begin jumping, twirling and yelping like a Teletubby in front of you, but MJ deals with it well by standing at a healthy distance.

4) My gosh – to stumble across Michael Jackson not only at Disneyland but whilst exiting the Peter Pan ride is like going on safari and spotting rare exotic creatures in their natural habitats. The woman filming sums it up nicely, ‘Oh my word.’

5) So from natural surroundings (for Michael Jackson) to the highly superficial setting of a meet and greet signing. At first this woman seems timid, but she quickly pulls herself together to propose to the King of Pop. Since he takes the ring and does not decline her offer, if I were her I would consider the two of us legally betrothed and I would change my last name to Jackson with immediate effect.

6) Finally, meeting Michael Jackson before a huge crowd of your, no doubt envious, peers must feel just great. Exhibit A: Oh to have been the female fan plucked from the crowd to embrace Michael on stage. I have no idea how the selection process for this privilege worked but I know I would have fought to the death for it – no kidding.

Exhibit B: this fan seriously goes out on a limb here. Presumably he is an MJ fan (why else would he be risking his life to meet him otherwise?) so he must know how important showmanship and perfect performances are to his hero. But despite this knowledge, this fan invades not only the stage but manages to jumps on board Michael’s famous cherry-picker crane; a dangerous decision but one which ultimately pays off as he spends an extended amount of time with Jackson and is even prevented from a fatal fall by Michael. Meeting your idol is one thing, but having them prevent your untimely death is another.

So what have we learnt? In order to get the most out of meeting Michael Jackson these rules are clear; firstly, be direct, concise and clear. If you want a kiss/to be wed/to profess your love, then do so quickly as this was/is the 20th/21st century and unfortunately people do not have time to listen to your feelings in the form of epic love complaints anymore. Secondly, take risks. If you put your life in danger to meet your hero then at least you can rest peacefully in the solace that your final moments were well spent. And, most importantly, let it all out. Don’t hold back – this is one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments, so bring every emotion you have ever felt with you and be ready to unleash every single of one them simultaneously.

For trustworthy and knowledgeable information on Michael Jackson and fan interaction experiences pick up a copy of It's All About L.O.V.E.: Michael Jackson stories you were never meant to read.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011