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  1. Joe Jackson was pissed off. Joe, the patriarch of the Jackson family, paced in his Los Angeles office, barking at the reporter from SPIN. Janet, the youngest of Joe’s 10 kids, was finally starting to make some money, and Joe wasn’t part of it. Joe had overseen Janet’s career for pretty much Janet’s entire life. He’d gotten her booked at Vegas casinos, cast in sitcoms, signed to A&M. “I was putting her on stages back when she was a little girl,” Joe told SPIN‘s J.C. Stevenson. “The wheels had already been set in motion for Janet Jackson. Anyone who jumps on now will be getting a free ride. And I don’t intend for that to happen.” Joe didn’t have a choice in the matter. A 19-year-old Janet had fired her father. She’d gone instead to John McClain, the A&M records executive who’d been a friend of her family since she was a toddler. (Janet told SPIN that McClain used to change her diapers.) But Joe wasn’t done fighting yet. Joe didn’t like Janet’s new album Control. He didn’t think it was the right direction for her. “If Janet listens to me and works a little harder, she’ll be as big as Michael,” Joe told SPIN. Janet didn’t listen to him. Within a few years, she was even bigger than Michael. The process had already started. By the time Joe was yelling at that SPIN reporter, Janet had already scored her first #1 hit. The fact that Janet Jackson was able to carve out any kind of autonomy is a minor miracle. Janet had been surrounded by wealth and fame for her entire life. Before she was born, Janet’s father had relentlessly, abusively rehearsed five of her older brothers, turning them into a disciplined entertainment machine. Janet was born in Gary, Indiana during her family’s final years in that town. (The #1 single in America on the day of Janet’s birth was the Mamas & The Papa’s “Monday, Monday.”) She was three years old when her older brothers made it to #1 with “I Want You Back.” Janet wasn’t part of the Jackson 5, but her father didn’t wait long to draft her into the family business. Janet was seven when she first performed in Las Vegas, and she was 10 when she first performed on her family’s CBS variety show. At 11, she joined the cast of Good Times, the hit Norman Lear sitcom, on the first episode of the show’s fifth season. Janet played Penny, an abused girl adopted into the show’s family. Jackson starred on Good Times for the show’s last two seasons. After that, she moved on to Diff’rent Strokes, taking the recurring role of Willis’ girlfriend Charlene. In 1984, Jackson starred as one of the kids in the performing-arts school on Fame, a one-season role that she hated doing. By then she’d already started recording. At 16, Janet’s father got her a deal at A&M. She later said that she didn’t even want to make her self-titled 1982 debut album, that she just did it for her family. Jackson’s father oversaw the album’s production, and it sold somewhere in the neighborhood of 200,000 copies — a great number for anyone with a last name other than Jackson. A couple of her singles made the lower reaches of the Hot 100. (“Come Give Your Love To Me,” Jackson’s biggest pre-Control hit, peaked at #58.) By the time Janet made her sophomore album, 1984’s Dream Street, Janet’s older brother Michael was the biggest star in the world, and he’d separated himself from Joe Jackson’s clutches. Janet, on the other hand, was still very much under her father’s thumb. For about half of Dream Street, Joe paired Janet up with producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte. On the single “Two To The Power Of Love,” Joe also teamed Janet with Cliff Richard, the British easy-listening star who’d been around since long before Janet had been born. Dream Street sold about the same as Jackson’s debut, but all of its singles missed the Hot 100. Around the same time that Dream Street came out, an 18-year-old Janet secretly married the 21-year-old James DeBarge, a member of the group DeBarge. (DeBarge’s highest-charting single, 1985’s “Rhythm Of The Night,” peaked at #3. It’s a 9.) Jackson’s parents were furious about the marriage, and she had it annulled a year later. Soon afterward, Jackson fired her father and grabbed control of her music. She’d never much liked the frothy soft-pop sound of her first two albums, and she had a different idea for where she wanted to go with her next one. She wanted to work with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. James Harris III and Terry Lewis grew up in Minneapolis, and they’d known each other since high school. As teenagers in the early ’70s, they played together a local funk band called Flyte Time. Harris, who called himself Jimmy Jam, played keyboards, and Lewis played bass. Cynthia Johnson, Flyte Time’s original singer, went on to do lead vocals on Lipps, Inc’s 1980 chart-topper “Funkytown.” A year later, Prince took Flyte Time under his wing and changed the group’s name to the Time. Prince installed a flashy, flamboyant, larger-than-life figure named Morris Day as the group’s new singer, and the Time became one of the world’s most purely entertaining funk bands. (The Time’s highest-charting single is 1989’s “Jerk Out,” which Prince and Morris Day co-wrote with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. It peaked at #9, and it’s a 9.) Prince wrote and produced the Time’s songs, and he played all the instruments on the Time’s records. Jam and Lewis watched and learned. In the early ’80s, Jam and Lewis started writing and producing their own tracks for other artists: The SOS Band, Cherrelle, former Flyte Tyme member Alexander O’Neal. They carved out their own style, too — a hard, percussive, club-ready synth-funk R&B. Tracks like the 1985 Cherrelle/O’Neal duet “Saturday Love,” which peaked at #26, owed something to Prince’s sparsest, hardest tracks, but they were even more spare and kinetic. Prince might not have been too happy about the duo’s success. One night, when the Time were supposed to open for Prince, Jam and Lewis were late. They’d been recording with the SOS band in Atlanta, and a blizzard had stranded them. Prince fired them both. Janet Jackson loved the Time. In that aforementioned SPIN cover story, Jackson told J.C. Stevenson about seeing the Time in Chicago when she was 16: “They were great, and sooooo nasty. I was sitting out in the audience next to my mom, and I got so embarrassed that I had to move a few seats away from her.” By the time Jackson met with Jam and Lewis, they’d already started making hits. (Jam and Lewis wrote and produced “Tender Love,” a Force MDs ballad from the soundtrack of 1985’s Krush Groove. “Tender Love” peaked at #10, and it’s a 6.) Jam and Lewis had stared writing songs for Sharon Bryant, the former singer of the R&B group Atlantic Starr, but Bryant didn’t think their songs were smooth enough. So Jam and Lewis hung onto all those songs, and those songs became the bedrock of Jackson’s Control album. (Bryant’s highest-charting single, 1989’s “Let Go,” peaked at #34. Atlantic Starr will eventually appear in this column.) I absolutely love that Janet Jackson, the younger sister of the world’s biggest pop star, consciously moved away from any sounds that might link her with her family — and, by extension, her brother. Michael had also detached himself from Joe’s control by this point, but it’s still striking that Janet decided to make her album in Minneapolis, with two producers who’d previously been associated with Prince, Michael’s biggest competitor. If you loved pop music in the ’80s, you pretty much had to decide if you were a Michael Jackson person or a Prince person. Janet Jackson, Michael’s baby sister, took a good look at the landscape and decided that she was a Prince person. That rules. Joe Jackson was deeply uncomfortable with the idea of Janet making something that might sound anything like Prince, and he didn’t like the idea of her recording in Minneapolis instead of Los Angeles. But Janet had control, and she used it. Jam and Lewis worked with Janet to adapt the songs they’d already written for Sharon Bryant, rewriting and adjusting them. (Jackson has a co-writing credit on every song from Control.) Together, they made a sleek, sharp, occasionally abrasive album. It’s impossible to overstate the importance of Control, the record that turned pop and R&B into something crisp and hard. Jackson was never a powerhouse singer, but she was a presence. On Control, she’s fierce and defiant, and she floats over Jam and Lewis’ 808 thuds and Fairlight clangs with muscular grace. All the cybernetic, futuristic R&B of the past 35 years owes something to Control. On top of that Control was huge. The album only has nine songs, and five of those songs made the top five on the Hot 100. (A sixth single, “The Pleasure Principle,” peaked at #14.) Control is one of those albums that plays like a ready-made greatest-hits collection. The album went quintuple platinum, and Billboard named it the #6 album of the year. The first of the hit singles from Control was the brash, tough “What Have You Done For Me Lately,” which peaked at #4. (It’s a 9.) Jackson followed that one up with the brasher, tougher “Nasty,” and that one did even better, peaking at #3. (It’s an 8.) By this point, it was pretty much inevitable that a Janet Jackson single would top the Hot 100, and the third single from Control was the one that took her there. “When I Think Of You,” the first of many #1 hits for Janet Jackson, doesn’t have the intensity of those first two singles. “What Have You Done For Me Lately” and “Nasty” are both confrontational songs, songs that exist to make a point. “When I Think Of You” has a lighter touch. It’s not a declaration of independence, and it doesn’t want to do anything other than make you dance. “When I Think Of You” is a breezy, joyous love song. Its lyrics are simple: Whenever Jackson’s world gets crazy, she thinks about you, and that makes her happy. Melodically, the song is brighter and more liquid than Jackson’s previous two singles, but it still bangs. In a lot of ways, “When I Think Of You” isn’t too far removed from disco. Jam and Lewis built the track on a fast, bubbly roller-rink beat. The song is full of different drum sounds, all of them synthetic: An insistent metronomic rattle, a few skittering congas, a tumbling syncopated boom. The darting, staccato bassline kind of sounds like drums, too. The orchestra-hit Fairlight noises — the same sound effect that Trevor Horn hammered so hard on Yes’ “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” — definitely sounds like drums. But there are breezy, hooky keyboard melodies in there, too, sweetening the thump. “When I Think Of You” also has 20-year-old Janet Jackson projecting pure ebullience — the same feeling that her older brother once communicated on “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.” When the song hits its post-chorus vamp — “I’m! So in love! Ooh! So in love!” — Jackson sounds like she’s floating on pure ecstasy. Jackson doesn’t have the same kind of vocal control as her brother or Prince. She’s not an R&B singer in any kind of classic sense, and there’s no church in her voice. (Whitney Houston got “How Will I Know” only after Janet Jackson turned it down. “How Will I Know” might’ve been written specifically for Jackson, but there’s no way she could’ve handled it as well as Houston did.) But while “When I Think Of You” doesn’t really show Jackson’s vocal chops, which were still forming, it does show her sense of rhythmic timing. It shows that she knows how to disappear into a beat, to become one with it. “When I Think Of You” isn’t as ambitious or distinctive as a lot of other Janet Jackson songs, but it moves, and that’s what it needs to do. I hear “When I Think Of You” as a connective track in the club-music continuum. The song owes something to disco and to the sort of post-disco club-pop that Madonna was making on her first album. It also foreshadows the propulsive, clattering forms of dance music that were only just starting to take shape around that time: Latin freestyle, new jack swing, house. “When I Think Of You” might’ve helped clear a path for those styles to hit the mainstream in the months and years ahead. The videos from Control, all of which are built on dance and movement, played a huge part in making Jackson a star. The “When I Think Of You" clip, in particular, is a straight-up Hollywood-backlot musical number, a virtuosic blur of happy motion. Jackson and a hoard of extras prance with precision through a sunny simulacrum of a city street. There’s only one person who isn’t having fun: A grumpy old man who constantly complains and threatens to call the cops and have all the revelers thrown in jail. At the end of the video, the cops do show up, but they shove the complainer against the squad-car hood and then join the party. It’s a utopian vision, a dancing-in-the-streets fantasy with no connection to reality. Director Julien Temple, who’d already made the Sex Pistols movie The Great Rock And Roll Swindle and Dexys Midnight Runners’ “Come On Eileen” video, shoots the “When I Think Of You” video to look like one continuous camera shot. Temple pulled something similar in Absolute Beginners, his musical that also came out in 1986. I haven’t seen Absolute Beginners, but Temple’s “When I Think Of You” video is breathtaking. A lot of that comes down to the joyously athletic dancing. Paula Abdul, the former Lakers cheerleader, choreographed the video, as well as the rest of Jackson’s Control clips. Soon afterward, Abdul would become hugely famous by making music that sounded a whole lot like what Jackson did on Control. That Control model worked out well for everyone involved. We’ll see plenty of Janet Jackson in this column in the days ahead. We’ll also see plenty of Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, and Paula Abdul. GRADE: 8/10 BONUS BEATS: Here’s the excellently named Wally Jump. Jr & The Criminal Element sampling “When I Think Of You” on their 1987 single “Tighten Up (I Just Can’t Stop Dancing)”: BONUS BONUS BEATS: The Austrian dance group Bingo Boys sampled “When I Think Of You” on the breakdown of their extremely entertaining 1991 hip-house single “How To Dance,” a collaboration with the New York rapper Princessa. Here’s the “How To Dance” video: (“How To Dance” is the Bingo Boys’ highest-charting single, and it peaked at #25.) BONUS BONUS BONUS BEATS: DC house duo Deep Dish put together a bunch of remixes of “When I Think Of You” for a 1995 reissue of the single. Here’s the funky, jazzy nine-minute jam “When I Think Of You (Deep Dish Chocolate City Mix)”: The Number Ones: Janet Jackson’s “When I Think Of You” (stereogum.com)
  2. https://junkee.com/rihanna-2020-recap-summary/281280 Donated More Than $8 Million To Fight COVID-19 Across The Globe Held A Lingerie Runway During The Pandemic Told White People To ‘Pull Up’ And Take A Stand On Racism Demanded Justice For George Floyd, Breonna Taylor And All Black Victims Of Police Brutality Released A Damn Zine Dropped Details Of R9, Told Shaggy To Audition Popped Up On PartyNextDoor’s Album Repeatedly Ignored Drake Just Like You, She Held One Virtual Party Then Realised They Kinda Suck Launched Fenty Skincare, Shoes And Sunglasses Partied In The Back Her Forehead And Her Lived Their Best Lives The way the title had me cackling though
  3. She is so comedic at this point, "I love her natural curly hair, it just looks so natural". I'm pretty sure Taylor's hair is straight naturally. "The guy in the video, is that her new boyfriend?" "The dress is like a wedding dress, very lacy" Pretty sure the dress was just to signify the era the video is set in. https://youtu.be/O6IayU4FPmI?t=185
  4. Phoebe


    Break the Ice Get Naked (I Got a Plan) Get Back Gimme More Piece of Me Everybody Perfect Lover Toy Soldier Ooh Ooh Baby Hot as Ice Freakshow Radar Why Should I Be Sad? Outta This World pile of crap Hell on Earth
  5. Blinding Lights Circles The Box Don't Start Now Rockstar Adore You Life Is Good Memories The Bones Someone You Love Say So - #11 Savage - #15 Everything I Wanted - #18 WAP - #24 Lose You To Love Me - #30 Good As Hell - #31 Break My Heart - #33 Rain On Me - #48 Juicy - #87 https://www.billboard.com/charts/year-end/2020/hot-100-songs
  6. It's been nearly half a year since the album dropped. Have your opinions changed about it or stayed the same? Personally, I definitely enjoyed it a lot more when it got released. A lot of the songs have become unlistenable to me either by the autotune or the messy/dated instrumentals and production. If I had to rank it, then it'd be something like this: Ciao Bella Looking for Mercy Crazy Faz Gostoso Extreme Occident Back That Up to the Beat I Don't Search I Find Crave I Rise Killers Who Are Partying Come Alive Future Batuka Bitch I'm Loca Medellín God Control Funana Dark Ballet
  7. I’ll try and keep all the reviews in one place: NME - 4 Stars
  8. 7.4 Source: https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/ariana-grande-positions/
  9. Sugar, spice and everything nice, These were the ingredients chosen To create the perfect little FOTPers, But Professor Kevin accidentally Added an extra ingredient to the concoction - EXTRAORDINARY TASTE! Thus, The Powerpuff Poppers were born Using their ultra-super ears, @Freaky Prince , @Luca and @Phoebe Have dedicated their lives to fighting mediocrity And the forces of bad taste! ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Hello everyone! Me, Luca and Phoebe (aka The Powerpuff Poppers) are pleased to welcome you in our thread where we will review our favorite albums of the past decade. A decade has passed and the sound of “pop” has been changing day by day. Pop girls came and went, trends have been changing and our taste has been developing ever since. We are promising to bring you great reviews of some great albums from the past decade. Everyone is welcomed to post their opinions on our choices, do you approve the album as one of the best of the decade, do you agree with our favorite songs, did we miss something in the reviews etc etc. Without further ado, please make yourself at home and remain perched for our countdowns! Buckle up and you might see your favorite album making it into one of our lists. Me, Luca and Phoebe worked hard on this so we will appreciate any kind of opinions and activity, just keep it cute. (To be clear, this review will be more oriented towards pop music, hence why we are called “poppers”). Shout out to @Luca who did our graphics!
  10. KYLIE - DISCO ★★★★ by Wyndham Wallace Dig out the mirror balls, the jumpsuits and the polyester print shirts! Kylie's back with a banging collection of dancefloor spanglers... Halfway through Kylie Minogue's 15th album, on the sometimes almost ABBA-like Last Chance, she warns us "the DJ's gonna play my song". This, she tells us, is "our last chance for the last dance, but frankly it sounds like it's destined for a marquee, not a nightclub : the song could crown any wedding playlist, assuming weddings ever involve parties again. It's typical of what's on offer here, and given Disco's objective is spelled out in its one-word title, Kylie has every reason to celebrate. Considerably truer to the spirit of the genre which gives the record its name than 2018's nonetheless impressive Golden was to the country music, which inspired its Nashville writing sessions, it does to pop what Daft punk's Discovery did to dance, adding a once loved, later lampooned sound to contemporary chart ingredients, making it mainstream yet again. Kylie is far from the first to do this - one thinks of Spiller's massive 2000 hit Groovejet (If This Ain't Love), not to mention her own Light Years album the same year - but she's thoroughly convincing, and that's what matters. Indeed, she's a hard taskmistress, her desire for merrymaking unsated. Two songs after Last Chance, she asks Where Does The DG Go "when the party's over at night", and one tune later, on Dancefloor Darling, she informs us that "the night ain't even over" and she's planning to "dance all night". As if to test her, the song speeds up to its climax. For further proof of commitment, moreover Disco's perfect finale, Celebrate You, insists that "the night is still young". She's quite the hedonist nowadays, in other words. Admittedly, her heavily filtered and autotuned vocals can be a little vexing - opener Magic's chorus, where she actually sounds human, outshines its verses - and some may find Magic's urge to tick every one of the era's production boxes contrived rather than precision engineered. But Monday Blues will send you skipping into the office - if we ever go to the office again - and Supernova adds Starship Trooper glamour while Unstoppable's Philly strings ensures it fulfills its nominal promise and Real Groove adds slick but taut R&B. You might not remember all of this afterwards, but that's the sign of a good party, and Disco guarantees a grand old time. so basically it's Light Years ha second coming
  11. https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2020/sep/26/my-daft-punk-review-hasnt-aged-so-well-guardian-critics-on-getting-it-wrong?CMP=soc_567 Amercan Life coming for 99/100 metacritic score after 17 years
  12. CharnyBoy


    Slow vs. All the Lovers Still Standing vs. Get Outta My Way Secret (Take You Home) vs. Put Your Hands Up (If You Feel Love) Promises vs. Closer Sweet Music vs. Everything is Beautiful Red Blooded Woman vs. Aphrodite Chocolate vs. Illusion Obsession vs. Better Than Today I Feel 4 U vs. Too Much Someday vs. Cupid Boy Loving Days vs. Looking for an Angel After Dark vs. Can't Beat the Feeling You Make Me Feel vs. Heartstrings Slo Motion vs. Mighty Rivers Cruise Control vs. Go Hard or Go Home Aphrodite: 10 Body Language: 5
  13. Freaky Prince


    Sexercize Les Sex Million Miles Sleeping With The Enemy Sparks Golden Boy Kiss Me Once Sexy Love Mr. President If Only Into The Blue Fine Feels So Good I Was Gonna Cancel Beautiful Lets do an updated version, please please be nice to it or I'm gonna hang myself up flat-screen akdskak her mind If only.zip she swapped Pitiful and I Should've Cancelled with Spanks and Grammy Boy on the standard
  14. Shego


    Its actually getting praised.
  15. An Impossible Princess

    Review #TamaReviews: Bionic

    Finally I'm moving it here! Here's my first ever entry for the #TamaReviews series. Check it out! REVAMPED! “Bionic” is the title of Christina Aguilera’s sixth studio album—fifth counting only English language releases, fourth excluding the Spanish language and the holiday albums—which was released on June 4th-11th 2010, depended on your country. It is the follow-up to Aguilera’s previous album, “Back to Basics”. “Bionic” served as a reinvention of Aguilera’s music, persona, and career trajectory moving forward in time. Aguilera, known as one of the leading ladies of big-voiced pop singing since the early Noughts, is famously recognized as the artsy student of pop music compared to her peers. Rather than Britney Spears’s safe but energetic dance pop songs, Aguilera would make trials of different mixture of sounds and genres as she seemed to be unafraid of neither imperfections nor errors—despite being a self-proclaimed “perfectionist”. Compared to Jessica Simpson’s similar big-voiced brand, Aguilera always seemed to make exciting innovations in her music that Simpson could never dare to try. Therefore it is fascinating to witness the evolution of Aguilera’s music; started with an R&B/Soul-inspired eponymous debut album which then followed by a similar sounding Spanish language release, a Christmas album, a mixture of both the Noughts favorite sounds as well as retro moments on “Stripped”, and later blossomed to the previously mentioned “Back to Basics” which was an album filled with more R&B/Soul music alongside sophisticated Jazz that took inspirations from American popular music 30+ years ago. However, it was not enough for Aguilera as she sat and pondered inside the recording studio. “I wonder what should I do next? What is next? Next is...the future!” she thought. She prepared a rocket ship and launched herself to an unknown future to get inspired by it. Later, as she orbited back to Earth, a huge smile could be seen upon her face as she thought, “I am the future.” Then, we arrived here. Opened with a bombastic track, aptly titled “Bionic” as the titular track, Aguilera promised to take every listeners headfirst to the future as she proclaimed, “Bionic, take ya supersonic, eh!” You might get migraines or became insane, got hit by her rocket ship and felt as time slipped, or went up in a hurricane and got lost there, but she did not care about that. She didn’t care about your thoughts or your screams, she would take you through this journey until the very end. As she sang to you that she’s not herself tonight, you would get the sense of danger as much as arousal. Aguilera took notice of that and followed with “Woohoo”, a flirty song that featured then-rookie Nicki Minaj to co-pilot for a few minutes. It was a call for celebration of lust, love, and fire as it basked in the glorious fab of an elite club’s neon lights. During the song Aguilera repeatedly told you “guys” a direct command; to dance below her and taste her “woohoo!” Similar to this is a song titled “My Girls” which featured a band named Le Tigre in production and a rapper named Peaches. Aguilera let listeners know that she’s having fun with her girls and that they are not afraid of anything as they stick together to take control. Despite the sexual nature of the album’s content, there was also a sense of doom and urgency loomed on the tracklisting. Particularly on a song titled “Lift Me Up”, which was written by longtime collaborator Linda Perry, you could hear the eagerness to express herself without judgment because something troubling had happened. As Aguilera also stated on "Prima Donna", she had worked hard in a long week and needed a couple drinks to ease herself. The chorus told you repeatedly that she is a prima-donna, and you truly did believe her. A specific part of the album which Aguilera herself had stated as “the heart of Bionic” proceeded to tell listeners about her thoughts other than sex. Co-penned with Sia and Sam Dixon, the sadness was real and present. “All I Need” and “I Am” explained the joy and the expectation, accumulating to a brief moment of hope until “You Lost Me” hit you—or rather, her—hard on the face. Aguilera sang in much anguish as she lamented loss; a forlorn protagonist who had to suffer the most as she delivered one of the best vocal performances of her career. The album resembled a riddle that Aguilera demanded us to solve. “There must be a cause to all of this, have you noticed?” she spoke in your mind. She might not be around you, but through all of these songs she has never made her presence any clearer. Listeners would take their time to analyze the tragedy that she told, or maybe feel some sarcasm as she scolded, but for every songs like “Glam”—a nice song about the joy of fashion as a freedom of expression—or “Not Myself Tonight”—a feelgood tell-all about something that’s gonna happen “tonight”—there is also an “Elastic Love” which told us about behind-the-scene and more. Perhaps the most thrilling moments of the record could be found on the deluxe side. There are five other songs that didn’t make the standard version tracklisting. “Monday Morning” opened the deluxe disc with an effervescent quality that nobody could avoid, while “Bobblehead” would make you giggle and wondered about the identity of the song’s subject as you did vogue. There is also a piece-of-art titled “Birds of Prey”—unrelated to DC’s infamous fictional villains group—that would strike listeners with its electrifying electronica as well as the lyrical work which told about danger and disappointment of a superstar’s circle of connections. There are also a stripped version of “I Am” which sounded gorgeous and an overwrought ballad titled “Stronger Than Ever”. However, the album would not necessarily end there. The last track, “Little Dreamer”, gave you the very final moment which closed the story beautifully in a mix of both bitter and sweet. There was a familiar feeling of happiness that would make you cry as the music was going to an end, and you couldn’t stop yourself from saying, “Yes, thank you so much!” to an imaginary Aguilera in your mind who smiled at you. “It is done, I have accomplished.” she said to you before walking away, tears of joy were also streaming down her beautiful face. Overall, “Bionic” is a highly recommended record for those who wanted to listen to the kind of pop music that didn’t sound bland or formless, but it would not necessarily abandon the fans of the chanteuse either. It might have been a product that had made a lot of people scratch their heads in 2010, but not ten years later. “Bionic” has never felt more at home in month June, year 2020. ----FIN---- That's it everyone. Hope you can spare a bit of your time to read this review. Love, Tama.
  16. LITTLEDUDE presents JOURNEY TO CHROMATICA PART TWO: THE FAME MONSTER BAD ROMANCE The first time I heard Bad Romance it felt really… long. I’d definitely heard five minute songs before, but Bad Romance was incredibly epic in its scale compared to her other songs up to that point. It’s like a gothic romance come to music, the pop version of Emily Brönte or Bram Stoker. This is achieved by the dark, industrial East Europe synth pop and the intense, devotional lyrics. The length of it feels so broad because there are three hooks to the song – the pre-chorus, chorus, and post-chorus (which doubles as the intro and outro as well). Even the bridge acts as its own sort of hook. To say that this is the best song Gaga created with RedOne may be an understatement. It is definitely his best work with Gaga up until this point, and on this album. I would suggest listening to the instrumental to this one. If you ever wondered how this song achieves that spiraling sensation, listen to the post-chorus (“Rah-rah-rah-ah-ah!”) There are two synths layered on top of one another. One of them whirs down the scale note-wise, while the other slowly gets louder, being brought from the background to the foreground in the mix. This is maybe my favorite part of the song as it really invokes such a fantastic feeling that I believe Gaga and RedOne were going for. Bad Romance sets the tone for the album itself – and in large, is one of the best pop songs of the century. 10/10 ALEJANDRO This song continues the somewhat gothic feel of the album, except this time it’s s little colder and more subdued. The ghostly wind and sobbing strings are a great opening but soon give way to the industrial-type synths we were introduced to in the first track. The chorus is a killer, making the song surprisingly infectious. The pre-chorus also expertly builds up the mix that makes the explosion of the chorus hit so deliciously. Although every song on this album is coming from a personal place – demons and monsters Gaga had to encounter – I don’t feel a lot of personality coming from Alejandro. It’s a great pop song, but it’s lacking the vulnerability and emotion Gaga gives us on some of the other tracks. 9/10 MONSTER I’m not sure if this could technically be considered the title track, but I feel like this song does a lot to encapsulate the album – tonally and content-wise – but also to connect The Fame Monster to The Fame. Monster incorporates, distorts, and evolves elements from her previous popular songs. The major one that fans might notice right away, is that it uses the “he ate my heart” line from Gaga’s The Fame Ball interlude. The song is also reminiscent of Poker Face in many respects – production wise and the hooks. Right of the bat we have the signature RedOne horn, this time lowered and a little more dissonant. The “m-m-m” stutter and the deep, male voice used as a call-and-response is here in Monster as it was in Poker Face – but unlike the latter, this time the male voice is predatory. Gaga is an unknowing victim here, until the bridge where her voice croons up in despair. The subject matter here is really fantastically dealt with. Gaga is able to portray in an interesting way how consuming it feels to be manipulated and taken advantage of when you’re at your lowest. Monster feels urban – city-like – a dark, Ridley Scott film with gleaming squares of lights outside of windows. 10/10 SPEECHLESS I said earlier that Brown Eyes could be my favorite Gaga ballad, but I don’t think she has ever written and performed a song as well as she did Speechless. The rock, power-ballad style of production, relying heavily on piano, guitar, and drums, is just a perfect style for Gaga. Despite the fact that it may be initially jarring to go from electro-pop to the live instrumentation of a ballad, the production is heavy, the tone is similar, and the genre is just so natural for Gaga that it doesn’t even feel out of place. Gaga’s voice still has that slightly higher, poppier tone that she had in her early 20s that gives a lot of emotion and vulnerability behind her vocal performance – while still adding a lot of grit and power she can so easily delve into. The subject matter is another highly personal one, and again, probably some of her best writing. I don’t pick this song out to listen to on my free time, but every time I do listen to it I am never disappointed. Although it wasn’t a single, it’s undoubtedly one of Gaga’s signature songs. 10/10 DANCE IN THE DARK What can I say about this songs that Gaga fans haven’t already? There’s a reason why Dance in the Dark is a fan favorite. After the palette cleanser of Speechless, we’re back into dark, electro-pop – but it doesn’t feel repetitious. We step away from RedOne collaborations for a moment, and we slowly open with stuttering before exploding with the album’s dirtiest synth. This track is epic on the scale of Bad Romance, but thankfully has its own unique feeling. It jumps back and forth between the garbled, vocal clipping and the soaring, vulnerable vocals Gaga gives in the chorus – which is another killer. This contrast helps make Dance in the Dark the success it is, and helps portray the point of the song: a sense of being guarded, holding back and hiding until the shameful moment when you can finally feel open and exposed. 10/10 TELEPHONE While the first half of The Fame Monster sets up the themes and style of the album, the latter half explores a little more with its sound. On the surface, it may not seem like Telephone necessarily sits well with the tone of the album. It’s fairly upbeat and dancey in a way that’s a little more akin to The Fame rather than the way the first half of this album was produced. Despite all of this, it still fits very well in the album. The synths are incredibly dirty, the pace is quick – claustrophobic and frenetic – and even the lyrics “stop calling, stop calling, I don’t want to think anymore” doesn’t really fit on the “positive” side of things. Beyoncé’s feature is simply flawless. She feels natural coming into the song, and not just someone slapped onto the track for the collaboration purpose alone. Gaga gave Bey the second verse instead of just a small feature slot – her verse is fairly short, true, but the production switches to make it fresh and interesting. They share the bridge before returning to the final chorus. We only hear the chorus twice, but it’s long – three hooks worth – which helps make the track feel heftier than it actually is while making it extremely catchy. I think Telephone is a pretty underrated song when it comes to looking back on Gaga’s catalogue – as well as the pop landscape of the early 2010s. 9/10 SO HAPPY I COULD DIE This is possibly my favorite track on this album. There’s something about it that pulls me in and pulls out emotions. The production is disorienting and echoey – which is most likely props to Space Cowboy’s help in the writing and producing – that fits incredibly well with the drunken swaying, high-on-a-cloud-you-don’t-necessarily-want-to-be-on sensation the lyrics talk about. The verses are wonderfully written. I like the play on the phrase “touch myself” that means two different-but-similar things in each verse – masturbation and vanity, in this instance, both rituals of insecurities. These elements tie perfectly with the chorus’ message of relying on drugs and alcohol – when getting drunk isn’t really fun and adventurous, but it’s an addition – a reliance. You may be wondering why, if I love the song so much, am I giving it a nine instead of a ten? Well, there is a problem with the bridge… Now, I actually don’t hate instrumental bridges. They’re fine and I don’t necessarily think they’re lazy. However, I’m always looking for a little more when it comes to this song. The break from the bridge back into the chorus ultimately feels repetitious, and I think it was due for some type of change – either in the vocal performance/mixing, or the instrumental to make it feel like the song was going someplace. 9/10 TEETH The true outlier of the album – yet still somehow well incorporated. This track relies on a constant stomping, horns, strumming of guitar strings, and a double call-and-response (Call: “don’t want no money” Response #1: “want your money” Response #2: “that shit’s ugly”) Buried underneath it all is a cool, distorted waiting of a possibly-male vocalist that gives the song a sinister-type vibe. The persistent stomping never lets up throughout the song, though the instrumental switches up a bit for the chorus. Even with an addition of quicker clapping during the bridge and Gaga amping up her vocal performance near the end, the track feels pretty level throughout. It would have been nice to get at least a short break from the monotonous stomping either during the bridge or for switching it during the final chorus. That being said, the song is spicy, with a lot of attitude and fun lines. Production was handled by Teddy Riley – a connoisseur of new-jack swing – which gives Teeth it’s signature feeling. The meaning of a song called Teeth apparently has multiple meanings: on one hand it’s about giving /demanding your truth, but on the other hand it’s a double entendre for oral sex… I think I’ll take the former. It’s a very brave song for a pop album and adds a lot of flavor. Ultimately it’s good that we don’t just have an album full of RedOne industrial electro-pop songs, and its a testament to Gaga’s artistry 8/10 FINAL RATING: The Fame Monster : 94 The Fame : 86
  17. LittleDudeNT5

    Is "Blackout" Britney's Best Album?

    Blackout has perhaps become Britney’s most lauded album among fans and retrospective pop music critics. This is rather significant considering its relatively low impact at the time. The music had taken a backseat to Britney’s media attention and tabloid coverage. The critics were more concerned with her awkward pole-dancing in the “Gimme More” music video or her lip-synced fumbling performance at the MTV Video Music Awards. The album remains a black sheep among her discography, which sees Britney completely embracing the underground genres of dark electro-pop, techno, and even dubstep (all of which became more popular in later years). It didn’t offer the type of bubbly personality, sensuality, or radio-friendly hits we’d come to expect from a Britney album. This was what made it such an outlier – not just for Britney, but for the pop music landscape. Blackout is arguably Britney’s most cohesive album; the soundscape is succinct and each track brings its own level of satisfaction for the overall listening experience. However, despite this praise, it’s difficult to name Blackout as the best Britney album. The project is decidedly impersonal. Beyond a few softer tracks – like “Heaven on Earth” and “Why Do I Feel Sad” – the album is aggressively and unabashedly sexual. In The Zone had offered tracks oozing intimacy with a slice of passion: Britney whispered soft desires in “Breathe on Me” and easy sultriness over oriental strings on “Touch of my Hand”. Blackout hits listeners with gritty, hard-edge beats, forward lyrics of uncommitted erotic encounters, and a fair amount of vocals from the male producers that make you feel like a sweaty guy is breathing down your neck at a club. In fact, the entire albums feels like strobe-lights in a crowded black-box club, black paint on the walls and floors, and graffiti all over the bathroom stalls. The room is spinning, it’s dark, and there are people grinding on you from all sides. In some ways I suppose that was the intention of this album: it was meant for the clubs. On In The Zone, Britney co-wrote eight of the tracks. These were oftentimes specific to her experiences or interests. In 2005, fans were seeing Britney becoming more and more involved in the creative process, and were even promised the most personal project of her career. Whatever work was done between 2004 and 2007 was seemingly scrapped (with only a few Britney-penned tracks surviving on an EP) and the public received Blackout instead. Britney barely contributed to two of the tracks on the album, and considering her private struggles, the media scrutinizing her behavior, and being pregnant during recording, it’s hard to find the artist’s personal connection to the music. Britney only performed once to promote the album, and was focused instead on her own trials and tribulations. Considering what was going on with her at the time, a raw, sexually-charged record is an odd professional move. That isn’t to say that Britney isn’t present on the album. Despite criticisms of over-reliance on autotune, Britney is direct, loud, and sassy on Blackout, giving more than a few memorable performances. An album doesn’t necessarily need to come from a personal place to be good. Blackout is sonically interesting and one of the most provocative pop albums of the 2000s. Other female pop singers of the time couldn’t quite pull off this type of image and embracement of underground pop subgenres as Britney did. It remains a solid, timeless album even after all these years. One of the reasons why Blackout can’t quite snag the title of Britney’s best album is because of the releases that bookend it. In the Zone saw Britney’s intentionally-charged blossom out of her teen-pop image and into womanhood and creative metamorphosis. The album doesn’t quite hit you from all sides, as there are a few tracks that could have been replaced by any number of excellent unreleased material, but it saw Britney at her most involved. It was refreshing to see her finally take control of her music. On the other end, Britney barely gave Blackout enough time to rest in the dirt before releasing Circus in 2008. Although Britney still wasn’t giving much creative input, the album has a better balance in tone. The album is more positive, brighter, and doesn’t preoccupy itself with the subject of sex. The album is full of certified hits (“Womanizer”, “Circus”, “If U Seek Amy”) and even more potential smashes (“Kill the Lights”, “Shattered Glass”, “Unusual You”). Circus saw Britney re-embracing Top 40 sensibilities, but unlike the bubblegum releases of her youth, this album is mature and competent. One can’t quite say whether or not In the Zone or Circus are Britney’s best efforts – just as it can’t be said with certainty that Blackout takes that crown. All three are highly formidable pop albums in their own right, and it all depends on what the listener wants from Britney Spears as an artist.
  18. I haven’t listened to Chromatica yet! As a former Gaga stan, that is pretty heinous. But I haven’t really listened to Gaga in a long while, so it’s been an effort to try and slide back into the mood her music. I’m also fairly behind on Gaga’s music releases. I haven’t listened to Joanne in full or A Star Is Born, and I haven’t listened to her first four albums in ages. So, in celebration of her sixth album, I am going to go on a journey of reliving and reviewing all of her past albums as a sort of musical lead-up to Chromatica. This is pretty exciting, so I hope you all follow along! Just to be clear, these are the albums I will be reviewing: Heard before: The Fame The Fame Monster Born This Way ARTPOP Haven’t heard before: Joanne A Star Is Born Chromatica (I am deciding not to do Cheek 2 Cheek because…. I just don’t feel like it. I have nothing against jazz standards but I just don’t feel like it’ll fit on this journey. A Star Is Born will also be pretty different but I haven’t heard it and it was a big album so I should give it some attention) JUST DANCE I may be jumping the gun here, but I feel like Just Dance is the most timeless single from this album. It’s a fun, infectious song, and honestly should be more remembered than it probably is. I actually really like Colby’s verse. He seems like a part of the song, rather than just a feature slapped on there. The bridge breakdown is also fucking sick – and a testament to Gaga’s unique direction in writing pop songs. 10/10 LOVEGAME I always really loved the production of this one. I actually wish the synths hit a bit harder because they’re so good. Gaga’s collaborations with RedOne are always on the simpler side, but the novelty of songs like LoveGame keep them interesting. Probably the weakest single from the album, but that’s not really saying a lot. A hot song. 9/10 PAPARAZZI Probably equally if not more timeless than Just Dance. I feel like this should be one of Gaga’s signature songs (if it isn’t already). The lyrics are really interesting and not too repetitive or simple, as the song has a darker nature than just the typical love/sex/dance themes of most pop songs of this era. The production is also really fucking interesting. It’s still an electro pop song, but the style of the production is much more interesting to listen to than the other RedOne singles. Crazy to have a song of this caliber on your first album. 10/10 POKER FACE This was the first song of Gaga’s that I latched on to. My introduction to Gaga was seeing her emerge from that pool in a latex jumpsuit and a mirror masquerade mask, flanked by two Dalmatian Great Danes while lightning strikes in the distance. Although it’s simpler than her later music videos, I always thought it was the perfect pop video. It was sleek, stylish, fun, and fast-paced. The sets were great, and it gave us so many of Gaga’s signature early looks. Although I think Paparazzi is a more interesting song, I think Poker Face is still in my top 3 Gaga songs of all time. It’s just very nostalgic for me, but it’s also just so fucking catchy and fun, the production as sleek and stylish as the video. I love the more robotic verses and how it sort of opens up in the chorus – the male voice used for the call-and-responses is a fantastic addition that makes it a bit more dynamic. 10/10 EH EH (NOTHING ELSE I CAN SAY) I feel like this song wasn’t anyone’s favorite back when this album first came out, but it seems like everyone who reacts to this album retrospectively falls in love with it. Someone one described it as a late-90s bubblegum pop song, and for some reason I never really thought of it that way, but it makes a lot of sense. I always thought this song was catchy and cute, but it was never my favorite. It still isn’t, but I can enjoy it and bop along to it. 7/10 BEAUTIFUL, DIRTY, RICH Although it’s pretty short and also rather simple, this song fucking rocks. It’s one of the best songs on the album and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. I think the song itself is at the core of what The Fame is meant to be about. It drives this message she was going for about being filthy poor but living like you’re rich, turning heads wherever you go. And the production… If you haven’t listened to the instrumental on its own please go do it. The live drums, piano, and guitar hit so fucking hard. I really love this funk-pop sound she was going for in the early days of The Fame recordings. 10/10 THE FAME A great song to follow Beautiful, Dirty, Rich. It continues the more 70s glam pop sound with the guitar that drives the song. It’s not a song I particularly love, when it comes to the lyrics or the production, but it’s still incredibly infectious at the same time. Unlike the last song, The Fame is actually about seeking fame and fortune. The lyrics through the verses are really clever and cheeky, and I’m glad the pre-chorus switches up between the first and second times we hear it. I actually kind of like that the title track isn’t this big banger. It sits pretty in the middle of the album with this rock-yet-electronic sounds that defines the album. 8/10 MONEY HONEY On the surface, Money Honey isn’t anything too fresh. The production probably sounds too similar to LoveGame or Poker Face, but damn… I always just really loved this song. The chorus is super catchy and fun to listen to, and I just really like the lyrics. Subverting the previous song, Gaga sings about how all the riches that money can buy are nice – but it’s love that she truly wants. Just a solid pop song. 8/10 STARSTRUCK I loved this song when I first got into Gaga. I remember people complaining about her vocals being too autotuned, but it never really bothered me. It kinda does now, actually, though? The song’s production actually reminds me more of So Happy I Could Die than anything on The Fame, so it feels slightly out of place. But my biggest gripe is Flo Rida. I really like the second verse and chorus of this song, but Flo’s feature is just so loud and annoying. I think he did what he was supposed to do, and it technically works, but it’s just a distraction. I feel like this song could have just been Gaga and Space Cowboy, made a lot shorter, and it could have been a decent addition to the album. I still like it overall, though. 7/10 BOYS BOYS BOYS Don’t get me wrong, I like this song, but I could never really connect with it. I think it’s the general melody and rhythm of the song, as well as the production. I can tell it was the first time she and RedOne worked together, because it still feels a bit primitive compared to their other tracks. Like most of the songs on this album, it’s a really solid pop song and accomplishes what it came to do… it’s just not my favorite. 6/10 PAPER GANGSTA This was one of my favorite tracks from this album when I first listened to it. If I were to rate the songs now, I don’t think it would be too high on the list. However, I still really like it. It’s a good slice of something a little more personal from Gaga, but it also gives us a different view of Fame than what we’ve gotten on the album so far: the backstabbing, shallow kind, where Gaga was screwed over by the industry. I do think it fits well with the theme of the album. The song suffers from boring-instrumental-bridge syndrome, so it ends up feeling a little long. But, overall the production – particularly the piano melody – is really cool. 8/10 BROWN EYES Although this song starts off slow, the build-up is really satisfying. Although a ballad, it feels a lot like Beautiful Dirty Rich in many ways. (Which makes sense, since they’re both Rob Fusari productions) The live piano, rock guitar, and drums gives it a very funky, organic nature to it – and whoever is playing that guitar was really killing it. Although I think this song sounds out of place on the album, just based on what tracks bookend it, I actually think it works really well. If it was placed near BDR, The Fame, or Summerboy, it could have felt a lot more natural in the sequence of the album – because it really isn’t that slow. This is probably still one of, if not my favorite Gaga ballad. 9/10 I LIKE IT ROUGH Probably the best production by Cherry Cherry Boom Boom (I don’t feel like typing out his full name. Martin or Mark something) on the album. It’s really sleek and on the darker side, which plays well with the lyrics. I’m a huge fan of the lyrics: a play on words, where at first it sounds like Gaga is saying she likes it rough in bed, but in reality it’s about her inclinations to difficult relationships. Being placed at the end of the album (on the US edition) sort of downplays the success of this track. I feel like if it was placed elsewhere (like it was on the international editions) people would recognize it for the hit that it is. I think it’s a really successful pop song. Production is electro-dancepop on point, and the lyrics have a slightly deeper meaning. 9/10 SUMMERBOY I suppose on first listen people might say this sounds different from Gaga, though I could always hear her on it, even if she sounds younger or is putting on a somewhat cutsie affectation. Obviously it was recorded a lot earlier than the other songs, but the fact that they still put it on the album is a testament to its quality. This is. One of my favorite songs. Not only on the album but from Gaga in general. Co-written and co-produced by easy-breezy summery-pop masters Bran Kierulf and Josh Schwartz, Summerboy is just a perfect, glossy disco-pop song that I’m so glad is in Gaga’s library. It may seem a bit different against the others but I don’t think that should take away from it getting its proper recognition. This is another song I implore you to listen to the instrumental to because the production – and that fucking guitar player – is just so good. 10/10 DISCO HEAVEN A bonus track, but since it’s on the Spotify version of the album I figured I would review it. Another song in the vain of disco, glam-rock, driven by a heavy guitar-centric melody. I honestly feel like the production feels a bit too heavy to fit perfectly on The Fame as it stands. Gaga’s collaborations with Fusari that lean a lot into this type of sound is a bit too removed from where the album turned to, but that doesn’t take away from how good this song is. It’s fairly dancey, but also somewhat moody, as well. It’s hard to describe, exactly, but it’s a flavorful track. 8/10 FINAL RATING: 86
  19. If That's the Way Love Goes This Time Where Are You Now Again Because of Love You Want This New Agenda Funky Big Band The Body That Loves You Any Time, Any Place Throb Whoops Now What'll I Do Hands down this album is in my top 3 favorite albums of all time. What about y'all? @Liam @Madonna @P. @Bright Moon @Chantoya Jo Jackson @I Brings That Levity @Elusive