Monday, March 9, 2009

In a World Gone Gaga...

To create or maintain any kind of notoriety on the Internet these days, a disgusting place where many a schmuck will fight dirty for your precious and usually undeserved attention, the most important thing is to have your finger on the pulse of current events, or at least to make it seem like you do. With so many 'blogs' and 'bloggers' in circulation, peddling their opinions like side walk street vendors, there's absolutely no point following the writings of someone who is a few steps behind everyone else, trudging sweatily behind the latest bandwagon.

So while this is something I'm aware of, I want to talk today about an album that came out last year, has recently become quite popular and is disappointingly, but not surprisingly, being received meekly (or downright negatively in some cases) by the increasingly bland Irish music scene. This woman came into my life late last year through a recommendation from my girlfriend and is responsible for the first album I've genuinely been consistently excited about since Duke Specials 'Songs of the Deep Forest' in 2006.

Lady GaGa - The Fame

By now, I'm sure we all know who Lady GaGa is. Love her or hate her, she has embedded herself into the consciousness of the public, something that has become increasingly and inexplicably difficult of late. 'Just Dance', the first single taken from 'The Fame', began circulating youtube sometime in mid to late 2008 and before long had gratuitous amounts of youtubers flocking regularly to her channel, revelling in the talent they felt they had discovered. For awhile it seemed like Lady GaGa would be the best kept secret in the history of pop music. 'Just Dance' proved too powerful a force for even the Internet hoards to hold on to and in early 2009, the track found its way into radio rotation in the UK & Ireland and would go on to rise to (and stay at) number one in the singles charts for a number of weeks.

The album, 'The Fame', soon followed suit and found itself sitting on the top of the album charts all over the world. And why shouldn't it? It is, after all, an album that many artists in many genres have been trying to create for several years. A bold claim perhaps, but 'The Fame' showcases a wide, but not schizophrenic, range of influences that the Lady has assimilated into one style, definitively her own. Listening to 'The Fame' from beginning to end, you'll hear the charm and elegance of Christina Aguilera, the grit of MGMT, the dirty glamour of Shiny Toy Guns, all woven together with the pop sensibility of a 'HITS OF THE 80s' box set. 'Just Dance', 'Pokerface' and 'I Like it Rough' have all the ingredients necessary for an instant number one single, while 'Paparazzi', 'Starstruck' and 'Paper Gangster' show that GaGa can ground herself in the increasingly popular minimalist production of modern hip-hop and fill a dance floor just as easily as Rhianna or Kanye. 'The Fame', 'Boys Boys Boys' and 'Summerboy' are unapologetic in their sugar-sweet pop, and are sure to crack a smile from even the hardest of the Lady's cynics. 'Again Again' and 'Brown Eyes' seem a little out of place initially, but taken on their own terms they present a more vulnerable side to the songstress that is absent from the other tracks. 'The Fame' as an album addresses the issues that have marred its predecessors and effectively does away with them. In many ways this is the first techno/electro/pop album to perfectly capture the credibility of Justice/Jurgen Vries style instrumental dance music and the instant accessibility of pop music. In short, Lady GaGa can and will give you everything you want, if you'll only let her.

Unfortunately, it seems as if the Irish music industry is determined not to let her. Despite the fact that her album is clearly the most innovative thing to happen to pop music in the last 5 years, it has been met primarily with two or three star reviews from Irish critics. It's not surprising really, how could such a carefully constructed, culturally relevant mélange of pop styles ever be appreciated in a country where Republic of Loose and Bell x1 dominate the airwaves with bland, repetitive, soulless singles, lapped up hungrily by the art-starved and culturally oblivious.

In a masterful throwback to my original paragraph, Ireland is becoming the 'out-of-touch blogger'. We are still wallowing in the sea of musical mediocrity that the rest of the world has successfully broken free of. If 'The Fame' were to released in roughly around 5 to 10 years time, I don't doubt that the Irish music journalists would rave about it. But by that time the rest of the world will have discovered, embraced and held several festivals in the name of 'the next big thing' about three times over.

TL;DR: Buy 'The Fame' if you haven't already, then write to hot press and tell them they're rubbish.


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