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Gaga Popping the Popular Culture Bubble with ARTPOP

13 Aug

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It is no surprise that Lady Gaga is attracting controversial headlines, with the early release of her single Applause off of her upcoming album ARTPOP. It is also no surprise, that with the digital age we live in, that artists are facing the threat of hackers leaking their music before their intended release dates. Gaga, along with Jay-Z and Katy Perry, have recently fallen victim to these “pop music emergencies.”

The official Lady Gaga website posted the below Pop Music Emergency statement:

A POP MUSIC EMERGENCY IS UNDERWAY 911 – 911 SUMMON THE MONSTER TROUPES

DUE TO HACKERS AN ABUNDANCE OF LOW/HIGH QUALITY LEAKS…WE ISSUE THIS POP MUSIC EMERGENCY…MONSTERS SPREAD THE WORD

In true Gaga fashion, the Haus of Gaga released the below YouTube video entitled Lady Gaga is Over: A Film by Haus of Gaga, sending subliminal messages to fans telling them not to buy her new single. Surely this is not the intent of Mother Monster. This type of shock-value marketing (popping the pop culture bubble of mainstream ideas, if you will) is clever because it gets people talking, whether they are fans or not. I applaud Gaga on that move (among several other similar marketing stunts over the course of her career).

Aside from the early leak of Applause and the controversy it is generating, the song itself has had highly mixed reviews. Gaga released an official audio of the song on her Vevo channel on August 12th. Personally, I did not hear any of the low quality leaked versions of the song. And truthfully, my initial reaction was: oh yes, Gaga has done it again! Not that Gaga is frankly interested in the opinions of bloggers, as she so subtly tweeted. However, I think that this is in reference to those who are just constantly looking to criticize for the sake of it (Perez…Hilton…).

Interestingly enough, Rolling Stone, MTV and Fuse liken Applause to Gaga’s early work in her The Fame album. I can see how this comparison is made, as Applause has a club feel with a theatrical flare. Applause does what any good pop song should do: electrify listeners. I think that Gaga ignites an urge in listeners to dance and move; hence the ARTPOP movement. Gaga has made it known that she lives for Pop music and if the lyrics of this song do not reflect this, nothing will. Gaga lives for the applause and she lives for her fans; this is what we have been told.

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Pop culture was in art now,
Art in Pop culture in me.

As a self-proclaimed Little Monster, Lady Gaga always gets two claws up from Merzybean.

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Tune-day Tuesday: As It Seems- Lily Kershaw

26 Jun

Sorry for the lack of Tune-day Tuesday posts in the last few weeks, life has been so busy. No excuses, though.

I discovered Lily Kershaw when watching the season finale of Criminal Minds (which happens to be one of my favourite shows). Kershaw is a singer/songwriter based out of Los Angeles and her sound is so crisp and pure. I’m a sucker for anything acoustic or indie, so if have similar taste you will love this song as much as I do. I’m looking forward to the music Kershaw releases in the near future.

The message of the song, As It Seems, really makes resonates a message that is so common: nothing is as it seems. All too often I find myself saying that something didn’t turn out to be as it seems. While this can often have a negative vibe, sometimes things turn out to be better than expected so there is definitely a positive flip-side to this! Kershaw nails the message so beautifully.

 

Well in this life you must find something to live for
Cause when the darkness comes a callin’
You’ll go back to where you were before
Cause this life is as
Fragile as a dream, and
Nothing’s ever really
As it seems…

Thanks for stopping by,

Merzybean.

Tune-day Tuesday: Linkin Park- Burn it Down

29 May

Linkin Park has been one of my favourite bands for over ten years. Frontman, Chester Bennington, has a voice that is unique and powerful; a smooth grit, perhaps. It was only a matter of time before Linkin Park made an appearance in my Tune-day Tuesday installments.

The band collaborated with Jay-Z to put together an album, Collision Course. This was one of the most epic albums put out because the mashup of Linkin Park songs with Jay-Z songs was something that was fresh and brought fans together, despite their preferred genre.

Linkin Park has released a new song, Burn it Down:

I can’t get enough of this song because of the same reasons that I love Hybrid Theory (the band’s debut album), their recognizable and signature sound. Linkin Park fans have been waiting a while for a new song and the wait was oh so worth it!

 

The cycle repeated
 As explosions broke in the sky
 All that I needed
 Was the one thing I couldn’t find
 And you were there at the turn
 Waiting to let me know

 

We’re building it up
 To break it back down
 We’re building it up
 To burn it down
 We can’t wait
 To burn it to the ground

What is your favourite Linkin  Park song?

Merzybean.

Tune-day Tuesday: ‘The Voice’ Finalists

8 May

For something a little bit different this week, I decided (thanks to the brilliance of my brother) to feature the finalists of NBC’s ‘The Voice‘ for my Tune-day Tuesday installment. Tonight, the ultimate champion is awarded the title of The Voice, while receiving the ultimate prize in the industry, $100, 000 and a record deal with Universal Republic!

Those who watch the show are familiar with the show’s format, and for those of you who don’t, this is how it works:

  • Blind Auditions
  • Battle Rounds
  • America Votes
Onto the fun stuff, the music! Led by four current and diverse musician coaches, Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, and Cee Lo Green, the contestants are mentored and guided throughout the journey that is the show. Each coach/mentor has one musician remaining in the competition for the finale and for Tune-day Tuesday, I picked my favourite song performed by the finalists last night.
Team Cee Lo Green: Juliet Simms singing Free Bird
Juliet Simms has such a beautiful, raspy voice and has been likened to legends such as Janice Joplin and even Steven Tyler. I absolutely love the tone and texture of her voice and I think that she is the definition of a female powerhouse rocker. With every note she sings, I feel her emotion and passion for singing and this is something that I admire in an artist. Last night, Simms sang Free Bird (Lynyrd Skynyrd) and Adam Levine said it best, the grit she put into that song was perfect and quite untouchable. The song was symbolic in terms of the point at which the competition is at, as well as the future that lies ahead for Simms’ career. I am a true fan, as she slays every song she performs.
The point in the competition, where Simms proved that she was the woman to beat was when she performed James Brown’s It’s A Man’s, Man’s Man’s World and blew it out of the water. For that reason alone, it is worth me posting for your listening and viewing pleasure. It is also ironic and worth nothing that Simms is the only woman left in the finale, and I think that she has a strong chance of winning (if it was up to me). I can honestly say that I would buy her album today.
Team Christina Aguliera: Chris Mann singing You Raise Me Up
Chris Mann brings such a beautiful uniqueness to The Voice (as well as its competitor show, American Idol) because of his strong Operatic background. With the support of Christina Aguilera, Mann never steered too far from his Operatic roots in order to fit in and become a “mainstream” artist. This is part of the reason I love him so much as an artist, and it contributes to why I respect his artistry so much. When I first saw Mann early on in the competition, I was on the fence and couldn’t decide if I was going to land up being a fan of his, partially due to what I thought was a bit of an ego. However, after his performance of Josh Groban’s You Raise Me Up last night, I was blown away and that performance and his humility confirmed that I am in fact a fan. He could not have ended the season on a more appropriate and poignant note, in my opinion. He did an incredibly beautiful rendition of Groban’s gut wrenching song and did it justice. Mann has the ability to bridge the gap between a younger audience and a more mature sound, and the fact that he is one of the finalists of the show has proven that he has indeed bridged the gap. As Cee Lo said last night, he was “so cool”.
Team Adam Levine: Tony Lucca singing 99 Problems
When I heard that Tony Lucca was going to be singing 99 Problems, which is originally a Jay-Z song (who I am a huge fan of) I was a little bit skeptical about it, to be honest. I think that it was a very brave risk that he took and while I enjoyed his rendition, he certainly didn’t avoid the backlash of Christina Aguilera, who was unimpressed with the song’s misogynist undertone. He did a great job of making the song his own and holding onto the metaphor of the song and owning that it is the obstacles that life presents which are the b*tches/problems! I think that it is very difficult to take a song like 99 Problems and cross genres the way Lucca did. Overall, I did enjoy it though. He brought a refreshing and upbeat vibe to the song and while I enjoyed his performance last night, along with his performances throughout the season, I don’t think that Lucca will be the last one standing with the title of The Voice.
Team Blake Shelton: Jermaine Paul singing I Believe I Can Fly
Jermaine Paul caught everyone’s attention early on in the competition because of his role as a background singer for the ever so talented, Alicia Keys. With a voice like his, it was truly only a matter of time before Paul moved from a background singer to a solo artist in his own rite. He sings with so much soul and power and his rendition of I Believe I Can Fly, like Mann singing You Raise Me Up, was extremely appropriate for the point at which the competition is at. Cee Lo said that Paul sings with such simplicity and I couldn’t agree with that statement more. His voice is so strong and he makes it seem so effortless as he truly reaches the audience and connects with the songs that he chooses. His coach, Blake Shelton, paid him the highest of compliments, telling him that he wishes he could channel his performances as well as Paul does.
It is safe to say that I love The Voice as well as all four of the final contestants! The finale airs on NBC in 15 minutes, so with that being said I am going to end this blog post. Please share who your favourite artist is and it’ll be exciting to see who America has chosen to be the ultimate victor.
Merzybean.

Tune-day Tuesday: A Real Hero by College ft. Electric Youth

30 Apr

How many of you have seen Drive, with Ryan Gosling?

The film is certainly not for the faint-hearted, but it is surprisingly clever and well executed. With that being said, I attribute this week’s installment of Tune-day Tuesday to the film, Drive. A Real Hero, by College, came in at the perfect time during the film, serving to create the appropriate atmosphere for the film.

This beautiful song came from a collaboration College did with Canadian duet, Electric Youth. I love the 80s throwback that the song has and its eerie instrumentation juxtaposed against the pure singing. I think the song does a good job of reminding us that we are all just human beings, trying to survive.

“A Real Hero”

(feat. Electric Youth)

Real human being
And a real heroBack against the wall and odds
With the strength of a will and a cause
Your pursuits are called outstanding
You’re emotionally complex
Against the grain of dystopic claims
Not the thoughts your actions entertain
And you have proved to be
A real human being and a real hero
Real human being and a real hero
Real human being and a real hero
Real human being and a real hero
Real human being

Hope you enjoy the song as much as I do!

Keeping it real,
Merzybean.

Tune-day Tuesday: COACHELLA edition.

17 Apr

Firstly, I apologize that I have not been blogging nearly as much as I would like to be! This is partially to blame on my rigid gym routine, as well as my oddly busy schedule. Who knew that I’d be so busy in the days waiting for my full-time job to begin and in the midst of career-job hunting! I digress. The reason I went on about my lack of posting is because of this week’s Tune-day Tuesday installment. As all music enthusiasts are aware of, Coachella Weekend 1 has just past and Weekend 2 is approaching. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Coachella is an annual music and arts festival that is held in California. The beauty of this festival is that it connects the different genres of music and brings a diverse collection of artists and audiences together to celebrate their universal love for music. Music is one of the most important things in my life, I truly cannot live without music. This is why I think that music festivals, such as Coachella, are so incredible.


In honour of Coachella, I will be featuring five artists/bands in this week’s Tune-day Tuesday installment because I cannot pick one song this week with all of the wonderful performances I’ve been catching on YouTube. Thanks to YouTube, those
of us who are not fortunate enough to physically attend the festival, can still capture highlights!

Without further ado, here are some of my favourite artists playing at Coachella, with my favourite songs by the particular artists (in no particular order).

1. Holocene: Bon Iver

Above is Bon Iver’s set at Coachella 2012.

I think that Bon Iver was one of the most underrated talents of 2011 and finally, in 2012, they are receiving the recognition they truly deserve. Bon Iver epitomizes what good song writing and composition can do to a song. Holocene, which was up for a Grammy at the 54th Grammy’s, is so incredible.

and at once I knew I was not magnificent
Strayed above the highway aisle
Jagged vacant, thick without us
I could see for miles, miles, miles

Rolling Stone Magazine writes that “The cathedral-folk sound is idyllic, the memories of an ex are terrifying. This takes sensitive-guy poetry somewhere sublime” as they listed Holocene as one of the 50 best songs in 2011.

The genius behind Bon Iver: Justin Vernon.

2. Echoes of Silence- The Weeknd

And you reply I like the thrill
Nothing’s gonna make me feel this real
So baby don’t go home
I don’t wanna spend tonight alone

The Weeknd represents Toronto, very well, in my opinion. I always love featuring local talent and Abel Tesfaye, as we all know as the Weeknd, lends his beautiful voice to collaborations with the likes of Drake. The Weeknd brings a dark edge to R&B and has a really beautiful voice, which can be quite rare in his genre. In Echoes of Silence, The Weeknd showcases his beautiful voice in a haunting anthem about loneliness and the echoes of silence that ensue. I think you will fall in love with this song, as I did, after listening to it. I truly don’t have a bad word to say about it. The entire album is incredible and you can download it for free off of The Weeknd’s offical website: http://the-weeknd.com.

3. Cosmic Love- Florence and the Machine

As I’m sure those of you who follow my Tune-day Tuesday posts have noticed, I sometimes post the live versions of the songs I feature because I simply prefer the sound of live music. I’m sure you can agree with me that the true test of an artist is how much I enjoy their live performance. If the sound on the CD surpasses the live performance, I am left feeling let down. Florence Welch has a beautiful, powerhouse voice that never disappoints. Florence and the Machine released their album Lungs, and Cosmic Love is my favourite song off of the 2009 released album.

The stars, the moon, they have all been blown out
You left me in the dark
No dawn, no day, I’m always in this twilight
In the shadow of your heart

And in the dark, I can hear your heartbeat
I tried to find the sound
But then it stopped, and I was in the darkness,
So darkness I became

It seems as though the songs I choose share a common them of loneliness and darkness that results because of the loneliness, but these songs are just so stirring. Cosmic Love is no exception, as the lyrics tangle the audience up in the story that Welch ever so beautifully sings about.

4. Bloom-Radiohead

Radiohead is no stranger to the Coachella stage.

Off of King of Limbs, Bloom is one of my favourite Radiohead songs because of the ambiance it creates. Neil McCormick, for The Telegraph, accurately writes “simultaneously deeply weird and inviting, Bloom leaves me tingling with delicious anticipation. Which is, oddly enough, just about what you might expect.”

Open your mouth wide
A universal sigh
And while the ocean blooms
It’s what keeps me alive
So why does this still hurt?
Don’t don’t blow your mind with why

I’m moving out of orbit
Turning in somersaults
A giant turtle’s eyes
Jellyfish float by.
(it’s what keeps me alive)


The beauty and the mystery of Radiohead is what is left to the imagination.

5. Born To Be-The Airplane Boys

Again, I’m proudly featuring Toronto talent. The rap duo known as The Airplane Boys, is made up of Beck Motley and Bon Voyage. As their Facebook page describes them, they are “an evolutionary breed of sound that pushes the barriers of modern music. Having mastered their craft with a better grasp of mainstream music, The Airplane Boys have begun to make their move into the pop music industry. Their digital sound constantly evolves; built on captivating synths, experimental drum patterns and intricate lyrics. The intent for change is to stray away from the old to brand artistic music and pave a new path to stardom.”

Something that makes The Airplane boys both unique and relevant is their ability to bring two genres together so beautifully.

Born To Be was actually the very first song Airplane Boys’ song I listened to and I was immediately captivated. Not only do the rappers have a spitfire way of throwing out their lyrics and their rhymes, they are able to pull back the energy and lure in listeners with the beautiful melody.

the things we fear in the most, already happened 
what’s life without drive and no passion? 
It all passed by, I was passive 
but they can’t set sail without the captain 
same song we all feel alone 
thank god mistakes have me grown 

Well friends, that about does it for this week’s installment of Tune-day Tuesday. I hope you can appreciate that it took me quite a long time to determine which 5 artists I would feature out of the entire 2012 Coachella line up. If I could, I would have written about even more! I think that the collection of features that I did choose represent my musical preference quite accurately. My advice, if you’re looking for new music to listen to, pick a few random artists/bands on the Coachella line up and check them out on YouTube. This is one of the best ways to find new, excellent music, and if you’re anything like me, you’re always wanting to hear something new!

 

Tune-day Tuesday: Gotye feat. Kimbra- Somebody That I Used To Know

10 Apr

I know that I’m a little bit late with this Tune-day Tuesday feature, but I couldn’t leave it any longer! Somebody That I Used to Know, off of Gotye’s third album Making Mirrors, has been gaining popularity since its July 2011 release, and rightfully so. I love when you can listen to a song on a top 40s radio station as well as on the alternative rock station. The song has an 80s feel to it and the balance between the singing and the instrumentation is just right, in my opinion.

What I love so much about the song is the power that Gotye puts into the chorus. The build up to the chorus is haunting and pulls on my heart strings because I can truly feel every lyric. The lyrics place me back to past memories. The song, featuring New Zealand artist Kimbra, puts out a very powerful message quite simply. How many of us have people in our lives, who we were once very close with in one way or another, and now they’re simply just somebody that we used to know?

I told myself that you were right for me
But felt so lonely in your company

But that was love and it’s an ache I still remember

I find that there are so many people who can listen to these lyrics and completely understand what Gotye is singing about. Feeling so alone while you’re in someone’s company, we’ve all been there.

Amazingly enough, the Walk Off The Earth cover has a staggering amount of views. I’m sure if you know the song, you have seen this video. If not, it’s a must see:

But you didn’t have to cut me off                                                                                            

Make it like it never happened and that we were nothing                                            

I don’t even need your love, but you treat me like a stranger                                   

And that feels so rough

That’s all,

Merzybean.

Tune-day Tuesday: Lady Gaga- Hair

27 Mar

So this week’s installment of Tune-day Tuesday comes to you all a little bit later than usual. I like to aim to have the post up and running earlier in the day, however, this will have to do! My selection to you comes from one of my all-time favourite artists (and I use that word very carefully), Lady Gaga. How fitting that tomorrow is her 26th birthday, HAPPY BIRTHDAY Gaga!

The video that I chose to share with you all is from Gaga’s incredible Thanksgiving special. The beauty of Gaga is that her voice is more than enough of an instrument, that a piano accompaniment is more than sufficient. Everytime I watch this video clip, I get goosebumps! It truly speaks for itself.

I have seen Lady Gaga in concert three times and have thoroughly enjoyed each and every concert experience. Lady Gaga is a true performer, leaving nothing to the imagination of her little Monsters. Gaga is extremely vulnerable on stage and bears her soul, making each performance unique and life changing.

When Lady Gaga came to Toronto in 2010, her performance was beyond moving. Here are three photos that I took at Gaga’s concert that encapsulate her beauty and passion so perfectly.

Lady Gaga was so moved and inspired on stage that she had to take a second from performing to soak up the moment. She had tears streaming down her face and the passion for her fans and for her music brought me to tears, as well!

Fittingly, Hair is off of Gaga’s latest album Born This Way. As most know, Gaga is infamous for the way that she dresses, as well as through the way she expresses herself through her hair. Elle Magazine posted an online poll, having readers vote on their favourite Gaga hairstyles.

I just wanna be myself,
And I want you to love me for who I am
I just wanna be myself,
And I want you to know, I am my Hair

Gaga uses her hair as a metaphor for self-expression and I think that the message is so beautiful. The message of the entire album resontates with all of Gaga’s monsters because the idea that we are born this way is truly liberating. Sure, this might not be a new idea, but no one has sung it as loudly (literally) and proudly as Gaga.

I don’t wanna change,
And I don’t wanna be ashamed
I’m the spirit of my Hair
It’s all the glory that I bare
I am my Hair!

The song not only showcases Gaga’s beautiful voice, but it gives the audience such a beautiful image of what it means to be brave and to express yourself. No one should be ashamed of who they are and this song is the anthem for all of Gaga’s little monsters who are afraid to be themselves because they have been bullied and made fun of. This song is freeing.

Kudos Gaga, this song is one of your hidden gems on the album.

Claws up,

Merzybean.

Tune-day Tuesday: Coldplay- Paradise

21 Mar

Tune-day Tuesday is back and this was the first week (I only have two posts in this category thus far, so not really a staggering comment) that I had to think about what song I would feature. That is simply because the first two posts, Aleesia ft. Big Sean- Kiss it Bye Bye and Fun ft. Janelle Monae- We Are Young, were songs that I was dying to share my feelings about.

Coldplay has been one of my favourite bands for as long as I can remember and the band always reminds me of a very special person in my life, Lara. I attended my first Coldplay concert  with Lara and we sang the night away, along with Chris Martin.

This week’s song choice is very fitting for my life, and I think the life of any young person who fancies his/herself a dreamer. Paradise is off of Coldplay’s fifth album, Mylo Kyloto. The fact that half of the video was shot in South Africa makes me love it even more.

The lyrics mirror the journey of a life where someone faces hardships but continues to dream.

When she was just a girl
She expected the world
But it flew away from her reach
So she ran away in her sleep
Dreamed of para- para- paradise

How many of us can say that growing up,  the dreams and aspirations that we had as children, far exceeded what is humanly possible? Regardless of the challenges that we face in reality, paradise can always be found in a dream and these dreams foster the ideas and goals that we develop and build along the way.

Life goes on
It gets so heavy
The wheel breaks the butterfly
Every tear, a waterfall
In the night, the stormy night
She closed her eyes
In the night, the stormy night
Away she’d fly.

This is one of the most beautiful Coldplay songs because of its musical and lyrical simplicity that, in turn, resonates such a profound meaning.

Keep dreaming,

Merzybean.

Tune-day Tuesday: Fun.- We Are Young ft. Janelle Monáe

13 Mar

In continuing with Tune-day Tuesday, this week I’m featuring Fun’s song, featuring Janelle Monáe, We Are Young, off their Some Nights album. The New York band, Fun, epitomizes a feel-good indie band. I’m very pleased that they will be stopping off in Toronto on their tour, on April 25th at the Kool Haus. This is a note to self, I need to see them live. Nothing solidifies my love for a band or artist more than a live performance, and I certainly do not think that Fun would disappoint in concert.

Lead singer, Nathan Reuss has such a beautiful voice that is very distinct and is so pleasant to listen to. His ability to pull on listeners’ heartstrings, along with band members Andrew Dost and Jack Antonoff, is something magical.  Reuss has a raw voice that is very dynamic and drew me in when I was flipping through the radio stations in the car one day. I heard a bit of the chorus, mindlessly changed the station, and quickly changed back after I was immediately gripped. On iTunes, I purchased We Are Young and also downloaded All Right for free as it was the featured song of the week! That was my good luck because the song is also fantastic and a “must listen”.

This song is hauntingly powerful and the vocal contributions of R&B singer, Janelle Monáe, add a beautiful touch to the song. I do, however, wish that she had more of a feature in the song, because she truly possesses a pure, lovely voice. People might remember Monáe for her 2011 Grammy performance alongside Bruno Mars and B.O.B, or perhaps recognize her for being notorious for wearing (and rocking) tuxedos. Whatever sparks your memory, Monáe is a truly talented individual.

“Tonight
We are young
So let’s set the world on fire
We can burn brighter
than the sun.”

Burn brightly,

Merzybean.