Here are some old album reviews I didn’t post when they were timely in their respective editions of V-Rag. I upload them here for archival purposes.
Born This Way: Lady Gaga
V-Rag wasn’t kind to Lady Gaga’s lead single from the eponymous Born This Way in March. The comparative flop Judas left even hardcore Little Monsters digging for enthusiasm as they awaited the release, heralded by Gaga herself as “the greatest album of this decade”.
It’s not without missteps – or delights. The album’s overall success is in its baffling ability to meld metal guitar riffs, rock saxophone, and Euro-electronica into an effort that begs the question, “What were they thinking and why is it so good?” Its major failure is Gaga’s need to tackle a checklist of political issues without much lyrical eloquence. She’s at her best in Hair, a sugary pop anthem so hot it kicks the title track’s ass practically off the album without attempting the religious commentary that otherwise pervades the disc.
There is plenty on Gaga‘s third effort that is well worth the price. Skeptics who like pop will enjoy its infectious fury, but probably won’t convert into Mother Monster’s zealous flock.
Beyoncé’s fourth solo album (ohhhh! I just got that!) was apparently culled by studio suits from the best of a whopping 72 demo tracks.
I’d hate to hear the 60 rejects.
I couldn‘t remember much about it after I‘d finished listening except that it is so oversung, unconventional and unpoetic it’s frustrating. I also recall one particularly bad line: “You showed your ass / and I saw the real you,” she accuses on “Best Thing I Never Had”.
Wait. On second thought…I’ve had some unpleasant shocks that way too.
The disc contains no classics, no hits, nothing memorable or catchy. It’s overwrought, weird and inconsistent, effectively removing it from the pop lexicon without allowing it to breathe in any particular genre. Maybe it’s hard to see past one of the biggest names in pop to assess the music fairly. If this album were released by another artist, some underground up-and-comer, its retro balladry might place it in a similarly nostalgic category as Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black.
But a lesser, greener artist didn’t release 4. Friggin’ Beyoncé did, so where’s the beef?