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Why No One Needs Lady Gaga To Reinvent Pop Music (And Why She Isn't Doing It Anyway)

In the 1950s and ’60s, ‘Pop’ art upended the staid world of fine art by incorporating elements from advertising, television, and consumer product packaging. It fundamentally shifted the public perception of visual art, redefined the acceptable subjects for the medium, and subtly exposed the supercilious pretension and meaningless market forces that governed the art world with shadowy power.

In 2013, Lady Gaga released ARTPOP. It has a track called “Sexxx Dreams,” and includes lyrics like, “Cuz that bitch, she’s so thin (oh la la la) / She’s so rich, and so blonde / She’s so fab, it’s beyond.”

This is not to discount her new album totally out of hand, (because, actually, her R. Kelly collaboration is pretty damn catchy) “ it’s just to say that Gaga’s self-proclaimed revolutionary pairing of high-brow art culture and pop music is actually very far from progressive, especially if you take her at her word about the motivation behind the project.

Gaga has stated that “the intention of the album was to put art culture into pop music, a reverse of Warhol.” So immediately it’s pretty obvious that she considers art and pop music to still exist in completely separate and non-overlapping spheres. This may be true, at least for the majority of serious artists who take on some projects for the sake of pure creativity, because they can’t not make art, and because even in a modern society that has devalued the role of the creators by overvaluing the distributors (ahem “ the Spotify model), they still see value in the process of making stuff for its own sake.

But Lady Gaga’s understanding of art culture seems a bit different. Her obsession and collaborations with huge art world names like Marina Abramović and Jeff Koons feel a lot like her own admitted obsession with fame, a major, ongoing theme in her music and life. Coincidentally (or not), the artists that Gaga admires most are those that have been prominently in the public eye for years. They are the giants on the world stage. Koons, who designed the ARTPOP album cover, recently sold one of his statues for $58.4 million. It was a gigantic orange balloon dog.
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Rock 'n' Roll Call: Punk Goes Pop, Volume 3

It’s been ten years since the release of Punk Goes Metal, the first of a nine-disc set of cover compilations released by Fearless Records. Today, the tenth installment in the series, Punk Goes Pop, Volume 3, hits shelves.

Upon first view of the tracklisting, you may be surprised to see which artists appear on this record. While the early Punk Goes… albums featured scene staples like Yellowcard, The Starting Line, Thrice and Taking Back Sunday, Punk Goes Pop, Volume 3‘s lineup includes few artists that the average music listener would know (and certainly no bands that truly qualify as “punk”). The question from here on out, then, is: Can the underdogs pull their weight?

The album starts off with a cover of Jay Sean‘s “Down” by “crunkcore” duo Breathe Carolina. Unfortunately for Breathe Carolina, the very mention of “crunkcore” will be enough to keep many from giving this track a chance.

Crunkcore duo Breathe Carolina open the record with their cover of Jay Sean's "Down"

“Down” does set the tone for most of the record, though, which reflects the hottest trend in pop rock: the electronic-meets-screamo style made famous by bands like Attack Attack! and 3OH!3. If this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, be warned: you probably won’t like most of Punk Goes Pop, Volume 3.

The third track, a cover of Lady Gaga‘s “Bad Romance,” comes to us from OurStage band Artist Vs Poet. Though it’s been covered a million times already, this is a solid version of it and remains very true to the original.

Another highlight of the record is Mayday Parade‘s cover of Jason Derülo‘s “In My Head.” Vocalist Derek Sanders can hit all the high notes without relying on autotune, and the track as a whole is refreshingly straight forward and not overproduced.

We Came As Romans' cover of "My Love" might just give JT a run for his money

After the harmony-laden pop vocals of Sparks the Rescue‘s cover of “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum fade out, you may be caught off-guard by the growls of We Came As Romans vocalist David Stephens. Romans’ cover of “My Love” actually ends the record nicely, though, with clean vocalist Kyle Pavone’s Justin Timberlake-like croon going head-to-head with breakdowns and synth riffs.

Unfortunately, covers do not always do the original song justice (you’ll probably find yourself skipping The Ready Set‘s bland version of B.o.B and Hayley Williams’ “Airplanes”), but if you’re a fan of teen “popcore,” you’re likely to be pleasantly surprised with this collection.

Pick up Punk Goes Pop, Volume 3 in record stores and online today and check out Mayday Parade’s cover of “In My Head” below!

Tracklisting:

1. Breathe Carolina – “Down” (originally recorded by Jay Sean ft. Lil Wayne)
2. Woe, Is Me – “Hot ‘N Cold” (originally recorded by Katy Perry)
3. Artist Vs Poet – “Bad Romance” (originally recorded by Lady GaGa)
4. Mayday Parade – “In My Head” (originally recorded by Jason Derülo)
5. Asking Alexandria – “Right Now (Na Na Na)” (originally recorded by Akon)
6. This Century – “Paper Planes” (originally recorded by M.I.A.)
7. The Word Alive – “Heartless” (originally recorded by Kanye West)
8. Family Force 5 – “Bulletproof” (originally recorded by La Roux)
9. Of Mice & Men – “Blame It” (originally recorded by Jamie Foxx ft. T-Pain)
10. Miss May I – “Run This Town” (originally recorded by Jay-Z ft. Kanye West and Rihanna)
11. The Ready Set – “Airplanes” (originally recorded by B.o.B ft. Hayley Williams)
12. Cute Is What We Aim For – “Dead And Gone” (originally recorded by T.I. ft. Justin Timberlake)
13. Sparks The Rescue – “Need You Now” (originally recorded by Lady Antebellum)
14. We Came As Romans – “My Love” (originally recorded by Justin Timberlake ft. T.I.)


Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Eminem and Jay-Z rock Yankee Stadium

Part one of Jay-Z and Eminem’s Home and Home Tour, which took place last week in Eminem’s hometown of Detroit, was a success (to put it mildly). And Part two, which took place this past Tuesday at Yankee Stadium in Jay-Z’s home turf, looks like it was just as epic, if not more so. Featuring repeat guest performances by Drake, Kanye West and Dr. Dre, the concert also featured surprise guests Swizz Beatz, Nicki Minaj and Coldplay’s Chris Martin, who joined buddy Jay-Z for a medley that included snippets of Clocks and Viva La Vida. Check out the clip below”goosebumps on the house.

Ted Leo + Paul F. Tompkins = Bottled in Cork video

Lampooning the archetypal rise and fall of a rock star, this new video from Ted Leo is a real hoot, thanks to a comically rich performance by Paul F. Tompkins, who plays the part of Leo’s would-be manager, Reginald Van Voorst. Enjoy the LOLs.

The Bad

Hootie and the Blowfish to get SC monument

It seems mean-spirited to throw this in the Bad section, but we didn’t have room for it anywhere else. Honest. And even if we were griping about the expense of funding such a monstrosity (your words, not ours), it wouldn’t change the fact that Hootie and the Blowfish are getting a big monument in Columbus, South Carolina. The band formed there on the campus of USC nearly 25 years ago, and went on to sell 16 million copies of their record, Cracked Rear View. The monument will be unveiled on October 21. Put that spray can down.

Weezer autotunes the news

If you have a sour Hootie aftertaste in your mouth, cleanse your palate with this video wherein Weezer autotunes current events. Catchy and informational!

The Ugly

George Michael sentenced to prison

George Michael was sentenced to eight weeks in jail and a five-year suspension of his driver’s license after he drove his Range Rover into a Snappy Snaps photo store (real name) on July 4th. Somebody won’t be singing Freedom anytime soon.

Miscellany

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Christian Bale dances to Gaga

Don’t know about you, but all that oil spill footage had us in a deep, greasy funk this week. So it’s nice to get some levity, especially when it comes from an unexpected source such as the perpetually cranky Christian Bale. Watch this clever mash-up of Bale circa the 1992 Disney musical Newsies dancing to Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance. Yes, it’s another Gaga video. We promise we’ll stop. Right after we tell you about this one starring babies dancing to Telephone. There, done.

The Bad

Chris Brown denied visa to UK

Chris Brown

Days before his UK tour was set to begin, Chris Brown was notified this week that his application for a visa had been rejected due to his February assault conviction stemming from a fight with ex-girlfriend Rihanna. The UK Home Office reserves the right to deny entry to anyone guilty of a criminal offense. Brown indulged in a little pity party in the Twitterverse after hearing the news, writing, U ever feel like the storm clouds are too thick for any sunshine to get through? [sic]. We would feel sorry for him if not for, you know, that whole oil spill thing going on. And every other thing happening in the world.

Gorillaz and Pixies pull out of Tel Aviv music festival

First it was Elvis Costello, now Gorillaz and Pixies have canceled their appearances at a Tel Aviv music festival after Israeli forces attacked ships bringing aid to Gaza, resulting in nine deaths. Costello’s wife, chanteuse Diana Krall, is still scheduled to perform this summer.

The Ugly

Lady Gaga debuts Alejandro video, ruffles feathers across America

Remember that time we said were done with Lady Gaga videos? Kidding! This one is the latest from the woman herself, and it’s a doozey. The concept is sort of all over the place, but in a nutshell it’s about gay men in fishnets and bowl cuts simulating sex with Gaga. Oh, and she wears a nun’s habit and eats a rosary, too. If you listen closely, you can hear the message boards on Fox News screaming.

Kanye West’s car stolen, totaled

Kanye West

Looks like Kanye West’s black Porsche Panamera was stolen in Honolulu and crashed into a house shortly thereafter. We anticipate an explosion of caps on West’s blog in 3 ¦ 2 ¦ 1 ¦

Miscellany

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Lenny Kravitz headlines benefit concert for oil spill

Lenny Kravitz

Almost three weeks after the explosion of a BP oil rig of the coast of Louisiana, New Orleans’ biggest names will join forces for Gulf Aid, a benefit concert aimed at cleaning up one of the biggest spills in the history of the area. With more than 210,000 gallons of crude oil now polluting the Gulf and threatening aquatic ecosystems, the situation is heartbreaking. Lenny Kravitz will join Mos Def, Ani DiFranco, Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, George Porter Jr., Cyril Neville and more on May 16th in New Orleans at the Mardi Gras World River City to help raise funds to offset the damage of this disaster. Kudos to all for their efforts in fixing this mess.

M.I.A. releases XXXO, disses the Biebs

M.I.A.

After attacking Lady Gaga and releasing one of the most violent musical videos in recent history, M.I.A. is back in the press this week, but this time it’s for debuting the first single off her forthcoming album. XXXO is another catchy dance floor hit for the British performer/politico and hints at good things to come. But it wouldn’t be enough for Ms. Arulpragasam to simply bestow an edgy pop gem upon us, she’s also gotta serve up a side dish of cheek, this time directed at Justin Bieber. Quoth M.I.A. to the folks at NME: I find the new Justin Bieber video more violent and more of an assault to my eyes and senses than what I’ve made. Touche! And, agreed.

The Bad

Babies dance to Single Ladies, grown men sing to Bad Romance

What’s more disturbing ” a troupe of tiny girls popping, locking, twirling, strutting and grinding to Single Ladies for the World of Dance competition, or a gang of grungy grown men gathered on the street to sing an a cappella version of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance. Wait, don’t answer yet”watch the videos below and get back to us.

The Ugly

Ke$ha’s meow mix revealed

Ke$ha is sooo lucky. It’s just not fair for one human to hog all that musical talent. We’re kidding of course. Oh, you weren’t? Well then you might want to take a look at the video below. Turns out Ke$ha’s been squeezing cats in the studio to get that feline-in-heat effect on all her songs.

Miscellany

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

OK Go debut another expertly timed music video

OK Go

On Monday OK Go debuted their video for This Too Shall Pass, and reaffirmed their status as music’s most synchronized video stars. This time around, they joined forces with Synn Labs in Los Angeles to build a large-scale chain-reaction machine to serve as the focal point of the video. The results include lots of funny, bizarre and often poetic effects, not to mention some pretty badass paintball action. Check it out here.

The Bad

Kanye’s got a new blog

Kanye West

Well Kanye West is back at blogging, and his newly redesigned site has made his all-caps-stream-of-consciousness rants at least 10 font sizes larger. In this edition, Kanye laments the passing of Alexander McQueen and his mother, muses about the ancient Egyptians being robbed of their MTV awards and still finds space to remind us all that he is brilliant and sometimes his genius makes him cry. That and the booze. Read all about it here.

The Ugly

Mini Lady Gaga and mini Ke$ha prompt the question, What’s wrong with kids these days?

What makes you fear the future more “ a small child pretending to brush her teeth with a bottle of Jack to Ke$ha’s Tik Tok or a small child crawling pants-less across the stage to Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance? We’ll let you decide. We have to go lie down.

Miscellany