Girlpop's Greatest Hitters
Lady Gaga: Born This Way (Streamline/Interscope/KonLive)
First of all, avoid the "Special Edition." Of the three extra songs, only "The Queen" would be a decent B side, and the remixes are as unnecessary as usual. Even at normal length, moreover, this isn't up to The Fame or The Fame Monster. But both of those keep growing, and with its mad momentum and nutty thematics, this one could too--despite being laid down on tour trailed by 28 semis. Ever the non-Catholic, I let "Judas" and "Bloody Mary" slide while going all googly-eared for the hilarious "Hair," where the nimbus of every woman's vanity becomes the cutting edge of every woman's freedom, and "Americano," a marriage proposal to a Chicana in a flowered skirt that's as sincere and unreliable as The Fame Monster's "Alejandro," where the title inamorato keeps morphing into Fernando and Roberto. This lags seriously only on the one with unicorns in it, a no-no not even Gaga can safely defy, and a big closer that just doesn't take the whole effort over the top where it belongs. The country song in particular is a hoot, which reminds me that the title track wasn't inspired solely by "Express Yourself." Close your eyes on the refrain and you can almost hear Carl Perkins lining out "You've got the right string baby but the wrong yo-yo." A MINUS
Pink: Greatest Hits . . . So Far!!! (LaFace/Jive)
Nine of these 16 tracks are from albums with their own strong identities, including four from the 2001 policy statement Misundaztood, the rest of which holds up fine even without them. Normally, that would be too many. But the same four songs transfer nicely from that concept album to a best-of that salvages the pugnacious "So What," links "Trouble" to "Glitter in the Air," and adds two top-shelf Max Martin blends. It's where I will go for a shot of the longterm hitmaker rather than the 21-year-old who's finding herself in public. A MINUS
I don't have good data on this, but looking quickly at the data I do have, I see: Susan Ashton, BTO, CSN&Y, Eileen Ivers, Anne Murray, Sinead O'Connor, PIL. Nothing there invalidates my thesis. If anything, it suggests a stronger one: has any such artist gone on to have any subsequent hits?
Guthrie: I'd also add Reynolds Blissed Out and (especially) Bring the Noise. And Frith's Music for Pleasure is a fantastic collection of essays. If you can find it, he also co-authored a really good book called Art into Pop, largely about the art school influence on British rock (and roll). I haven't read Mark Fisher's Michael Jackson essay collection, but his Capitalist Realism has some interesting ideas. Not the easiest guy to read, but check out his website to get an idea of what he's about (just google K-Punk and you'll get to it).
Have fun - why theory? Why not?
WHO CAN HELP ME?!!!
Showing a bit of nerve here, again. Not the first time I've asked for some tips on good books. This is also partly inspired by the Frankfurt school / pop culture theory thread that took place a couple of entries back.
However, between now and January '12 I gots to write a dissertation and want to write about Pop Music because I love Pop Music. I'm allowed to write about anything I want as long as I apply Critical Theory and use good references.
Except I don't know where to start! I think I'm interested in gender/celebrity/musical personas/music as product v music as art but that could easily all change if I get inspired by something else.
So I've gotten a bit of SIMON FRITH / SIMON REYNOLDS are these guys interesting?(my tutor keeps harping on about REYNOLDS new book Retromania, anyone read it?, plus also she told me about some Mark Fisher book called Resistable Demise of Michael Jackson). I've got a couple of Da Capo collections to sift through woopee...
But my bibliography is still terribly slim atm, so can I ask what pop music books have people been inspired by here, or has instilled in people deep dissertation-friendly type ponderances? I don't care whether it's popular criticism or thoroughly academic or a mixture.... GO!
student in need
Yay for the Pink as well...I've been enjoying that one a lot since it came out.
I don't know that Carl Perkins song, but I definitely want to hear it now.
I was sort of enjoying the absurd mental image I had of a touring Lady Gaga on the road followed by a frowning Robert Christgau piloting a semi, trailed by 27 other Christgau-owned semis.Hah! And he would use one of the semi's as a traveling lecture hall though the acoustics would be horrible and it'd get quite hot this time of year...
While not immediately relevant to the current post Cheb i Sabbah is an artist who has received favorable reviews from Robert.
Cheb i Sabbah has been diagnosed with Stage 4 stomach cancer and urgently requires help.
Edit: Thanks Rob B. I was posting as you beat me to the punch!
about the blogger
Starting in 1967, Robert Christgau has covered popular music for The Village Voice, Esquire, Blender, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and many other publications. He teaches in New York University's Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, maintains a comprehensive website at robertchristgau.com, and has published five books based on his journalism. He has written for MSN Music since 2006.