Tag Archives: lady gaga

Worst Album Covers of 2013

planet waves copy

With album art having less and less of an impact on sales due to digital media, I think many labels have gotten lazy, relying on the same tried and true approach to album covers, never taking chances like artists did in the past.  While the albums below are all horrible in their own ways, I commend these musicians for at least taking a chance and doing something different at risk of being made a fool (which they accomplished).

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Worst Album Covers of 2011

20. And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead

“Taos of the Dead”

I appreciate that all of the Trail of Dead covers are drawn by front man Conrad Keely, and he's obviously a great artist, but there comes a time where you need to pull your singer aside and be frank with him. Enough with the spaceships and air balloons, the machine guns and monocles, and the idea theft of video games (“Final Fantasy” and “Star Fox”). Put the pen down, and SING.

19. Eric Church

“Chief”

It’s nice to see that the kind folks in the country music community have welcomed the Una-Bomber into their world with open arms.

18. 311

“Universal Pulse”

A glimpse of “National Geographic” in the year 3000.

17. William McDowell

“Arise”

Does anyone else see the irony in how William McDowell’s followers in the background resemble a zombie uprising?

16. William Shatner

“Seeking Major Tom”

As much as Captain Kirk tried to hide, Sulu just kept finding him.

15. Steven Tyler

“(It) Feels So Good”

Tyler opted for the Times New Penis font (of all the phallic-letters, N is the happiest to see Tyler’s mouth open).

14. Big Time Rush

“Elevate”

We all know white guys can’t jump, but are we supposed to believe that the guy on the right is actually jumping?

13. Drake

“Take Care”

Poor , sad Drake has to sit around alone with his golden goblet, his golden candle stick, and his golden owl (this cover would be an all-time favorite if instead of an owl, he was holding a golden turkey leg).

12. Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers

“Rare Birds”

This cover is about as funny as Martin’s performance in “The Pink Panther”, or "Baby Mama", or "Bringing Down the House", or "Cheaper By the Dozen" or "Sgt. Bilko".... (Can someone remind me why is this man so beloved again? You can't give a guy a 30 year pass for "The Jerk".)

11. Maylee Todd

“Choose Your Own Adventure”

Remember that “Choose Your Own Adventure” book where you have the choice between going in a time traveling cave or wearing furry animal pants? Yeah, I always went with the time machine too.

10. John Lord Fonda

“Bang the Fire”

Should have worn sunscreen.

9. Kate Bush

“50 Words for Snow”

Snowballing a snowman - you see something new everyday.

 8. Dream Theater

“A Dramatic Turn of Events”

This picture is SO fake. Everyone knows that the wind would totally blow his hat off.

7. Sebastian Bach

“Kicking & Screaming”

Sebastian Bach is still releasing albums while Kip Winger sits at home. There is no justice in this world.

6. Millie Vanillie

“Green Velvet”

If you blur your eyes just enough, it looks like they both have udders.

5. Bilal

“Robots”

Our generation's "American Gothic".

4. Steve Miller Band

“Let Your Hare Down”

There's no way that rabbit is going to be able to maneuver its way down that ladder #animalcruelty

3. 31Knots

“Trump Harm”

When Joe wouldn’t commit to the shirtless cover, they came up with a genius back-up plan.

2. Lady Ga Ga

“Born this Way”

American Chopper totally missed the boat on their Lady GaGa bike. I would have gone with a meat-r-cycle.

1. Limp Bizkit

“Golden Cobra”

With “Gold Cobra”, Limp Bizkit tried going the Rick Perry route by making fun of themselves, but just like Perry, they still look like asses in the end.

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Video Taping Etiquette

About a month back I took a trip to Portland with my brother and his wife. After a week of hiking and visiting breweries, I decided I needed to take in the local music scene, and fortunately, none other than Beirut were in town performing at the legendary Crystal Ballroom (supposedly this is the venue where Little Richard fired Jimi Hendrix).  The show was as spectacular as you’d imagine, although the fact that the over 21 crowd was barricaded about 20 feet away from the stage so that the teeny-boppers could be up front annoyed me. I suppose I could have set down my beer and joined them, but what’s the fun in that?

At the show I realized I’d forgotten my Flip-Cam, which isn’t a big deal although I do enjoy posting show clips on here.  I figured someone else had to be capturing the performance and that I’d just post their clip. Wrong. A month later, a YouTube search for the show (that was sold-out) results in a list of a dozen videos, most of which are 45 second clips.

This leads to so many questions: why did they only film for 45 seconds? Or if they are fans of 45 second excerpts, why did they choose to post it online? Is there a big following for 45 second clips of performances? Is this the new hipster trend? It also made me think about video taping etiquette.  Someone needs to set down the ground rules since ever person now has a camera of some sort in their phone. Here are just a few rules I came up with.

1. Don’t ever raise your camera above your head

No one wants to see your video footage live; they want to see the band live. So quit obstructing my view you hipster douche! When I record a band, which is always self-consciously, I try to keep my camera close to my body/face so as not disturb those around me with the glare of the video screen. I’m blessed to be a taller gentleman, but I don’t know why anyone can’t simply keep their camera down while still capturing the show.

2. If you post a song online, it better be the entire song (or be a clip of the singer punching women in the crowd)

This goes back to the sea of 45 second clips for the Beirut show which floors me. And even if you are filming for your own viewing, what joy do you get out of a 45 second clip? It boggles the mind. I imagine them sitting at home, showing friends, “Look! This the first 45 seconds of Beirut performing that one prostitute song!'”

I stand corrected; it’s 52 seconds: 

3. Don’t film if your camera came out before 2007

A week after my trip to Portland I bought a flip phone that has to be over 10 years old (I went through four phones this summer, an entirely different story). It has a camera, but photos turn out like pixel images from a Nintendo game. I’ve seen video footage from phones like mine, and I don’t get what the videographer is trying to accomplish. Do they think they will later enjoy the garbled quality?  Or is it just a way of showing off to their friends that they did indeed get to see Def Leppard in person?

This video should be called “Pour Some Acid On Me”:

4. If you have to video tape the big screen to actually see the performer, you’re probably too far away

I don’t get what people enjoy about watching a concert in the upper deck (or lower deck for that matter) at an arena, yet the majority of Americans who say they love going to concerts are referring to the act of watching a video screen located almost a mile away as you listen to the performer lip sync (if you can’t see their lips, are they really lip syncing?).  But even worse than enjoying this experience is filming it and posting it on YouTube.

This girl can’t even see the big screens at this Lady GaGa show. For all they know it could be Madonna performing “Express Yourself”:

5. Only film one song

It’s okay to film one song as a keepsake. Filming more than one song makes your video into a movie. Put the camera down and enjoy the show.

6. Quit zooming; you aren’t Coppola

And I will end on a guilty note; I am the KING of zooming. The day after a show I’ll watch my video clip only to find that I’ve zoomed in and out throughout a song, making the video more about me being a drunken cameraman and less about the band actually doing the performance. Despite this mistake, I continue to make it. No matter how much you want to add your Spielberg touch to the show, resist the voices in your head and just hold the cam steady. Let the band do the work.

Here’s one of my biggest zoom-fests offenses:

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Video Clip of the Week: Arcade Fire wins Album of the Year

Well, it happened. Arcade Fire “Suburbs”: album of the year.  Wow.  Who would have thought?

And despite giving the Grammys a thrashing last week,  I watched the last bit of the ceremonies, and my alibi is that I was waiting to see Arcade Fire’s performance. But I have to admit there was some curiosity as to if Arcade Fire could pull it off.  And they did. And I cheered like the Spurs had just won the NBA Championship.  I’m not sure exactly why. As discussed in my last blog, Grammys are a joke, yet it was exciting to see a band I’ve loved for years actually get recognized. Maybe this is a sign, or maybe it was just a one year fluke (probably the latter), but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

My favorite part is that instead of giving a lengthy, self-congratulatory speech, the band simply wanted to play another song:

The otherwise torturous Grammys were made much more tolerable thanks to Tweets by fellow artists that came up throughout the night. Here are some of their reactions:

@mountain_goatsThe Mountain Goats

Hear furious scribbling. Pretty sure cat is downstairs journaling about the Arcade Fire straight up winning a Grammy

@leftfordamian Damian Abraham (lead singer of Fucked Up)

Shout out to the good folks @arcadefire for adding a bit of credibility to the Grammy’s.

@owenpallettOwen Pallett

Damn I lost $50

@wavveswavvesWAVVES

Good. Does that mean there is actual hope for music?

@arcadefireArcade Fire

OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD. Thank you EVERYONE.

@mergerecordsMergeRecords

Congrats Arcade Fire!

@jonwurster Jon Wurster (drummer from Superchunk)

I’m happy for the Arcade Fire but now I’m worried Superchunk will get dropped from Merge.

@timesnewvikingTimes New Viking

THE BAND THAT INADVERTENTLY BUYS OUR CAT FOOD WAS JUST ON THE GRAMMYS!

@kanyewest: KanyeWest

Arcade fire!!!!!!!!!! There is hope!!! I feel like we all won when something like this happens! FUCKING AWESOME!

@SPINmagazineSPIN Magazine

Win Butler just casually placed a Grammy on top of his amp. Then started playing the best song he ever wrote.

@SurferBloodSurfer Blood

Okay…that fucking rules.

@ACNewmanCarl Newman

I love that Arcade Fire winning album of the year is greeted with controversy, yet no one ever questioned Starland Vocal Band’s win.

@okkervilriverOkkervil River

“Never heard of ’em!” is such a bullshit insult. It just means you’re ignorant.


And here’s a page that has compiled Tweets from  ignorant douche bags who are upset about Arcade Fire’s win:

http://whoisarcadefire.tumblr.com/

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Video Clip of the Week: Ace of GaGa

When I first heard Lady GaGa’s “Alejandro” I actually thought it was Ace of Base’s “Don’t Turn Around”.  After reading SongsSuck’s riveting article earlier this week, I decided to do a little YouTube research and I stumbled upon this mash-up of the two songs that literally layers the two over top of each other.  And they call GaGa revolutionary?! SongsSuck couldn’t be more right.

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Lady Gaga.

Lady Gaga is a pop star—why are we taking time to bitching about her?  Is it necessary to use the internet to spread negative rants about global pop stars?  Isn’t it a bit spiteful?  Some writers at BDWPS are actually Lady Gaga fans.  And we haven’t bitched about say, Britney, or Christina.  Isn’t her music better than the average pop star?  (Yes, and I happen to actually like some of it).  So why the hate?  Because of all the talk of her ‘revolutionizing pop music’—that’s why.  A quote from her interview with TIME Magazine: “I don’t want to sound presumptuous [any time someone feels the need to say something like that they already are], but I’ve made it my goal to revolutionize pop music.  The last revolution was launched by Madonna 25 years ago… I want so much for it to go beyond the music for my fans.”  That lame self-proclamation led to everyone repeating it until the hype became a common fact.  But what does Flavor Flav say?  Lady Gaga: revolutionizing pop music?  FAR from it my friends.  Let us take a look at the (wo)man who lives in the Haus of Gaga.

Our journey begins with a woman named Stefani Germanotta.  Take a moment to browse through these three clips.

Hopefully one can stand watching enough of these three videos to see what Lady Gaga started out as—a Vanessa Carlton/Norah Jones hybrid.  Maybe throw in a bit of Tori Amos, but that is probably giving her a bit too much credit.  It should be obvious she didn’t start off revolutionizing anything, but then again, we don’t hold that against her, as neither did David Bowie.

But how did Stefani Germanotta transform into Lady Gaga and get so popular?  Well somewhere along the way Gaga manipulated herself into what she felt would make her a star—or more accurately, what her management team felt would make a star.  Mainly I would say, she/they added controversy and a ‘freaky’ public image.  Is she a hermaphrodite?  Bisexual?  To answer these questions, and whether or not she is now revolutionizing pop music, let us reflect on her music videos, live shows, public image and music.

First off, I will say that a few of her videos are amazing (although the video for “Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)” is absolutely horrible).  Very visually captivating… but obviously they took like thousands of dollars to make.  I’d just as soon watch this one from Dinsosaur Jr., which probably took 5 bucks to make.  Check it out:

Alejandro Video:

More on music videos later.  Music is what we are worried about here at BDWPS, not flashy music videos.  So let’s talk about her live shows.

Most of the Lady Gaga fans I know swear by her live show.  And, yeah I get it, lots of props and costumes and money put into it.  But EVERYTHING IS SCRIPTED.  During this song she will wear this, she will go over there and shake her ass for 35 seconds then take off her hat and do some scripted dance moves then put on a different pair of stupid assed glasses and grab her crotch in a neo Michael Jackson move and then a black guy will come from over there and hump her leg.  Then she will take pants off revealing a Hello Kitty covering your vagina.  Where is the REAL FUCKEN DANGER in any of that?!  Rock and roll shows shouldn’t be scripted.  Revolution is dangerous and is not scripted.  Sorry Gaga.

Watch this video of her playing “Speechless” live:

Watching her play the piano for a five minute song is almost excruciating.  Without all the flash, props, pomp her live show amounts to almost nothing.  Putting your leg up on the piano and showing your crotch doesn’t make it any more watchable or the song any better.  Okay, maybe a little, but it also turns me off, because it should be beginning to become clear to one, with Gaga very little of it is about the music.

Let us take a moment and go through Lady Gaga’s latest album, The Fame Monster, track by track.

1.  “Bad Romance” – An awesome song – the first time Gaga’s music surpassed the hype

2.  “Alejandro” –  Mostly I get fucken tired of her singing the word “Alejandro” over and over again (we used to play a game, counting how many times Creed sang the phrase, “what if” on that one shitty song. But it would be completely impossible to play that on this song, as I doubt any human can count that high).  If it weren’t for that, I could dig this song.

3.  “Monster” – sounds like Kylie Minogue song + Britney Spears

4.  “Speechless” – a bad Queen song sung by the guy from Nickelback.

5.  “Dancing in the dark” – Madonna  + Britney

6.  “Telephone” – Christina Aguleria with an autotuner

7.  “So Happy I Could Die” – like every Eurotrashpop star ever + Shakira

8.  “Teeth” – if you told me this was Christina Aguilera I would believe you.

An above average pop album (although if you gave almost anyone as big of a songwriting team as Gaga has, they could probably come up with some above average stuff as well), but the biggest problem with calling Lady Gaga revolutionary is that, really, it has all been done before.  Proof (all one needs is 30 seconds worth, VERY IMPORTANT TO WATCH THIS ONE):

Can one watch that and not see Lady’s shit was done 30 years ago?  I guarantee she is a Missing Persons fan, cos that is too similar to be coincidence.  David Bowie did the androgyny thing 40 years ago (even Ellen Degeneres told Gaga this in an interview) and did it way better—cos the music was fucking fantastic!  Grace Jones was much fiercer/scarier 30 years ago, Betty Davis did the whole badass “I wear the pants in this sexual relationship” way better 40 years ago, Madonna blazed these public image/controversy trails in the 80s and the rest of Lady Gaga’s schtick is a mixture of Marilyn Manson, Kylie Minogue, Britney Spears, Freddie Mercury, Princess Diana, Michael Jackson, Roxy Music, Roisin Murphy (especially with the avant-garde outfits and while I am on it, Roisin’s 2005 album Ruby Blue is way ahead in the pop arena while at the same time being more avant-garde than Lady Gaga) and Bjork.

Her lyrics are 10th grade suburban white girl, her choice of collaborators (like Beyonce and Flo Rida), are definitely not avant-garde, and her controversial/nihilistic public image is only interesting cos mainstream pop music has become so damn conservative the last five years.  And come on, do you think I care about the Nazi/nihilistic imagery and if she is acting like she is fucking some dude in the ass (“Alejandro” video), or beating up some prison bitches (“Telephone” video)?  I couldn’t care less—it’s all about the music (and really, does this shock anyone but 67 year olds?).  But this brings out more beef I have with Lady Gaga.  She is always talking about how she wants to “liberate” her fans.  Is this cruelty fetish in her videos helping to liberate teenage girls?  Teaching them you need to get your ass kicked and be cruel to other?  Whatever—I could give a fuck less if she has three dicks and two ovaries (or if her music videos portray it)—it is all about the music. Justin Bieber fucking a baby in the mouth in one of his videos would be controversial as well, but that wouldn’t make his music any better.  Controversy does not equal revolution or add up to liberating music.

I listened to at least five of her interviews for this article, and not ONE time did she say anything remotely interesting (how can someone who is revolutionizing ANYTHING have nothing thought provoking to say?).  She is not the brains behind this hype machine.  Maybe Joanna Newsom said it best: “Her approach to image is really interesting, but you listen to the music, and you just hear glow sticks.”   So she is definitely not ‘revolutionizing’ pop music.  Gaga is simply what pop music is today, for better or worse.

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