It Was A Dark And Stormy Stage…

Yes, I know. You were probably expecting some sort of rambling about Madonna’s Super Bowl halftime show and M.I.A.’s middle finger, but frankly, I’m bored with all that. In short, it was a good show, and I was glad to see marching snares get so much exposure this year as they were also there for the National Anthem which Kelly Clarkson kicked ass on. I’m glad the Giants won, let’s move on to this…
(The hell?!? Courtesy of Lady GaGa on Facebook)
This is the conceptual drawing of Lady GaGa’s new gigantic tour stage. And the by-line on the picture says “THE BORN THIS WAY BALL 2012-2013” so we should see some tour dates for later this year rolling out anytime now. On the first viewing, this son of bitch is huge! And I’m not sure it will fit inside an arena, because I think the drawing is intended for an outdoor venue. Plus, if it’s as big as the concept, floor seating will be very limited, in fact the area that is enclosed by the walkway is called “The Monster Pit“.  According to GaGa, this area will be for fans who arrive first, those who camp out all night, and those who are dressed for the ball. And that’s all the details Mother Monster has provided at this point. Oh, and the Monster Pit will be General Admission, oh boy!
I don’t know how many times I’ve said it, but I’m going to say it again…I WANT TO SEE LADY GAGA!!! Especially this time and if I have to spend every penny to my name, I will do it. It will be interesting to see what the tickets will cost considering Madonna has just announced her world tour schedule and her prices? They run $45-$300 and VIP packages run from $250-$1,250. She says these prices, much like her love, are justified. Would I turn down tickets to see Madonna? Absolutely not! But, $300 bucks for a possible nosebleed seat? Because I know that halftime show wasn’t worth $300. I’m hoping GaGa can be a little more fair with her upcoming ticket prices, especially for that general admission Monster Pit area.  
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My Mandatory Best Music Of The Year Blog

I’ve been dreading writing this one, and mostly because I wanted to make the post a little different. I don’t want to just count down the songs I like. Instead, I’m going to focus on artists, albums, and maybe throw in a song here and there. 
Any “year end” list will have this lady at the top of it:
(Idolator.com)
ADELE! I just read she has sold more records in a year since Usher did it way back in  2004. Over 5 million copies to be exact. Unbelievable. I keep wondering why Adele has been able to accomplish all of her feats. She continues to prove pop music is a chameleon. It doesn’t have to be flashy or overproduced, it just has to be simple and simple always works. With two Grammy wins under her belt, she will no doubt add all six she is nominated for at the 2012 ceremony. “Rolling in the Deep” is a song I will never get tired of. And although she has a laundry list of terrific self-penned songs, I love a good cover song performance. Here’s Adele at the iTunes Download Festival in London in July covering Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me”, I’m still speechless.
Speaking of downloading, I thought I would be bold and buy at least one cd this year and I don’t regret it. The Foo Fighters returned this year with the Butch Vig-produced Wasting Light, oh yeah. Recorded in Dave Grohl’s garage/home studio, this album is a rock supernova and it’s very heavy. It’s definitely the best rock record I’ve purchased in the last few years; it makes me miss my rock radio days.

(coverdude.com)
Next up, I had only heard about indie pop band Foster the People, but I had never heard any of their music until I saw them on Saturday Night Live in October. Sometimes the combination of indie and pop don’t quite go together, but this band makes it listenable and really fun. I immediately downloaded (yes) their debut album Torches and it’s good stuff. I bet if you turn on the radio for a while, you’ll hear their crossover hit, “Pumped Up Kicks” which has some bold lyrics but the catchiness takes away from all that, well done!

(artofplaylist.com)
Another album I downloaded was country, yeah I know, and I NEVER buy country anymore. Hell on Heels is the debut record from the trio Pistol Annies including hitmaker Miranda Lambert, and her pals, Ashley Monroe and KY native Angaleena Presley. What I like about the Pistol Annies is that their kind of country borders on the side of folk, now that’s a good combination. No wonder acts like The Civil Wars, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, and last year’s Grammy darlings Mumford & Sons are basking in the new country folk movement. I’ll admit, I’m a fan of traditional country music, like Loretta Lynn, George Jones, Dolly Parton, and so forth. The Pistol Annies build on that downhome philosophy and sound. Here is “Boys from the South“, I recommend the whole album.
(blog.gactv.com)
Okay, this is getting to be long and I know I will suffer mightily at the hands of my fellow Little Monsters if I don’t mention that 2011 wasn’t too bad for Lady GaGa. Born This Way was released in May and it went multi-platinum very quickly. In fact, you may remember online retailer Amazon.com offered the standard copy of the album for $.99 and all hell broke loose, and the record ended up easily selling over a million copies in its first week. The discounted price sales prompted Billboard to change its policy on counting sales on albums sold lower than $3.49, if it’s lower, it’s not counted towards official sales numbers, which is lame.  In 2011, GaGa dueted with Tony Bennett, she had her own Thanksgiving special on ABC, and she wrapped up her Monster Ball Tour, which I missed, and I’m still sad about it. But when the new tour rolls out, hopefully next year, I don’t care the cost, I’m there!
As for 2012, new albums are on the way from: Nicki Minaj, Maroon 5, Mumford & Sons, Jay-Z, Green Day, Muse, Paramore, the reunited Soundgarden, maybe No Doubt, and the most anticipated by far will be from Madonna with Ray of Light producer William Orbit back at the helm. The singer will team up with Minaj and M.I.A during her even higher anticipated Super Bowl halftime show in Indianapolis in February with the first single, “Gimme All Your Luvin’“…I can’t wait.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Video Deconstruction: (Abbrviated) Lady GaGa "Marry the Night"

What you are looking at, if you haven’t seen “Marry the Night” yet, is a scene from the nearly 9 minute prelude to when the track starts to play. It’s a story of madness and redemption, although it’s meant to play out like a true prelude to GaGa mania. Did GaGa really lose it when she was turned down the first time by a major record company? Did she go into a mental hospital? Did she really do it all in style? 
 I love the French subtitles and this translation is something I can actually remember from taking 2 years in high school and 2 more years in college: “but I am an artist.” Simple enough. What ensues is naked madness played against a scene where GaGa is a ballet dancer on a dark stage, one spotlight. 
I just noticed that’s a maxi pad she’s covering her chest with; maybe an idea for next Halloween. And it has wings, bonus! GaGa must also have a thing for Cheerios as she is seen slathering plenty and milk all over her body and then finally, she plops into a bathtub to dye her hair blond.
After she has her breakdown, in all her bedazzled glory, she returns to show the bad-ass ballerinas a thing or two. I got a very Amy Winehouse make-up vibe here. Or maybe it’s another Madonna moment. 
“I know that diamond for my tea cup is in here somewhere!” This is what we all saw as part of the main video shoot, cars on fire, a dirty GaGa what have you. Did I mention I love this song? 
What would a Lady GaGa video be without dancing? I doubt we’ll ever see a video without dancing, since it’s part of who she is and in this instance, it helps to drive the story. This post is getting a little corny, my apologies.
 WHOA! No, that’s not a toilet she’s leaning over. And that’s as naked as I’ve seen GaGa in a video to date, at least natural naked. This is a prelude to the Vanity Fair naked shot. Insecurity? Ha!
 I just thought it was funny when GaGa picked up the faux Black Swan up off the floor. Yeah, this post isn’t so good.
When all is said and done (and danced) this shot appears towards the end, God those nails look dangerous! It’s a wonder we never see Jimmy Iovine. Patience pays off while watching this video, but it’s not my favorite. I want to see her live!!!!
(All video screenshots courtesy of youtube.com/vevo)

Okay X Factor, We’re Not Stupid!: A Commentary

I only saw a little bit of this week’s show and I totally missed the results show, however, when I did the math this afternoon, the finals are almost guaranteed to be Simon vs. L.A.  And that’s exactly what the two judges/mentors/record exes–and producers– wanted.  We all know Paula Abdul’s “groups” didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of making the finals, so Lakoda Rayne had to go.  Frankly, I give Nicole Scherzinger credit, Josh Krajcik has the best chance of schooling the big guys’ stars in the competition (sorry LeRoy Bell, you were too milquetoast) and unless one of Simon’s or LA’s frontrunners stumble (We’re all looking at you ASTRO!) Krajcik is next in line to go.  It makes me wonder how accurate the voting is.  Sure, America trusts Cowell, and it’s no surprise all three of his “girls” are still in the running to win. If one of them DOESN’T win, it will certainly be a shock.  And I don’t see Marcus Canty or Chris Rene winning, so Astro, despite the attitude/headphone controversy is all LA’s got and I think he knows it.  Astro could be the next Justin Bieber, whom Reid mentored and signed. 
As far the other contestants, and I include all three of Simon’s, I don’t see a “next” somebody.  It’s safe to say Rachel Crow will go on to an acting career with or without a $5 million dollar contract, Drew? I don’t know, and Melanie Amaro is still my favorite and she could be the next I’m not sure.  I still see Amaro as very tenative, not diva-like at all.  LA has a challenge in Canty and Rene; both are good, but they are not good enough to win, so does Reid really care? No.  I hope Cowell doesn’t suffer the American Idol curse when the winner goes nowhere. Remember Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox, the 2 finalists in Cowell’s last year on Idol? DeWyze was dropped from his label and Bowersox quit to go back the “independent” way of doing things.  I bet they wish they were Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina right about now.  Josh Krajcik is about to be set up for a harsh reality, starting a career over 30 is not the best scenario.  Don’t even make me pull the Susan Boyle card!  UGH!  That’s not a career, that’s a passing fad and if she still succeeds in England, great.  It’s just very difficult for anyone, any age to break into the music business in the 21st century.  I would love to see just once, a singer or a band get signed the way all artists used to be signed, through hard work and dedication and a little creativity.  Lady Gaga is the best example of an artist who paid her dues and she is now one of the biggest pop stars in the world, maybe, of all time. Okay, I won’t go nuts, but there’s my point.  A person can be discovered and be mentored, but is it worth $5 million bucks? 
 (Kadeem Hardison should sue!/tv.com)

Review: A Very Gaga Thanksgiving

I spent Thanksgiving with my family and although I was able to commandeer the TV Wednesday night for Modern Family (TM), Top Chef, and American Horror Story (shit is getting real!), I was unable to watch A Very Gaga Thanksgiving without somewhat annoying my parents.  I was going to record all of the said shows regardless, so I caught up with Gaga tonight.  For the record, Dad is unsure of Gaga, Mom loves her,  but she wasn’t interested in watching the special.  We ended up watch a Big Bang Theory re-run, then 4 back-to-back re-runs of Big Bang on TBS.  Another fact, CBS won the ratings Thursday night, because they chose to air original episodes after The Big Bang Theory.  For a nation entranced with football and embracing their food comas, it’s a fair assessment.  
A Very Gaga Thanksgiving was shot on location at the Covent of Sacred Heart in Manhattan, where Gaga went to school.   The special begins with a jazz trumpeter introducing Gaga and Tony Bennett (who calls Gaga the modern Picasso) and they jump right into “The Lady is a Tramp”; the performances were all recorded live, very classy.  There were a lot of candles, and I’m not sure they were all real; and there were a lot of elaborate tables.  The reason I ask about the candles is the the first big number with dancers, “Born This Way”

The dance numbers looked a little silly for the setting, but it’s totally Gaga.  And I question whether or not her guests were eating; I don’t think I could eat with all that fabulousness going on around me.  Next, Gaga joins some elementary students/girls from Sacred Heart and they create Thanksgiving decorations.  Gaga goes on to ask the girls what their favorite Thanksgiving dishes are, and when she reveals her piece, she says it’s a lot like a Jackson Pollock piece and the girls, to her surprise, all know who Pollock is.  We then go back to Gaga’s piano aka long dining table for a renditions of “You and I” and “Edge of Glory”, again how could they eat even if they wanted to???  Gaga would tend to break mid-song and tell an anecdote; by the way, in “You and I” the word “Nebraska” was replaced with “America”, and in “Edge of Glory” Gaga told a story about her grandfather (who the song was written about) about how he used to make Italian cookies.  
Finally, we get to the cooking segment and it was probably the most laughable part of the entire special.  Gaga is joined by chef Art Smith, who decides fried turkey with waffles infused with ham and bacon are an appropriate homage to Gaga’s Italian heritage.   Watching Gaga’s guests was hilarious; it’s like they were interested, but not sure.  And Gaga is dressed as Holly Golightly goes to cooking school (“let me remove my Valentino couture”), I was rolling!  Next Gaga launches into a jazz set with “White Christmas” where she adds a verse since the song only has one, and a number she used to sing in jazz clubs, “Orange Colored Sky”, both are good.  Then, a solo Gaga appears back at her lengthy piano to perform “Hair” (I’m not a fan of the song) and to talk about being bullied in school, she goes on to add a wig.  She also talks about how she was/still is insecure about her forehead, honey join the club!  That’s one thing I love about Gaga, she’s just as insecure now as she was in the beginning; it’s a quality that keeps her in sync with her fans.  “Bad Romance” was next, I can’t find a video, but at one point, Gaga shoves a mouthful of ???? in and she continues to sing.  Oh, she also sits down for a brief interview with new ABC talk show maven (starting next year) Katie Couric.  Nothing new, except Tony Bennett did a nude sketch of Gaga that will appear in the January issue of Vanity Fair that will be accompanied by photos from Annie Leibovitz.  
The crowning jewel or tease from the special is another look at the yet to be released video for “Marry the Night” which Gaga also performs a little bit of it on the special.  I can’t wait for the video, the deconstruction will be long, but it will be good.

GaGa by Lifetime????

I suppose we knew this was coming sooner or later but Lifetime is going to produce a bio-pic about Lady GaGa.  Why?  This news comes hot on the heels of Amanda Knox’s exoneration AFTER her spotlight in the LIfetime real life rotation (UPDATE, the network is re-airing the film next Tuesday night, a week after Knox’s guilty verdict was overturned with added sentences before and after).  What the hell happened to Hayden Panettiere anyway?  
Anyway, back to GaGa.  The UNAUTHORIZED film will be based on the UNAUTHORIZED biography entitled Poker Face: The Rise and Rise of Lady GaGa.  Nice.  The book was written by New York Post writer, Maureen Callahan.  Yeah, that sounds trustworthy.  So this means without GaGa’s approval or involvement, the casting could be really difficult.  Ya think?  To be fair, GaGa’s story is pretty film-worthy, but is it Lifetime-worthy?  I would hate to see GaGa’s story get skewered like another pop diva’s.  Oh how must we forget Madonna: Innocence Lost, UGH!  The blame lies with FOX TV, not Lifetime, on that disaster.  So who will take on the role of Mother Monster?  GaGa has said in the past she would like Marisa Tomei to play her, but isn’t Tomei like too old; she’s 46 going on 47.  I never quite got that logic.  I would like to see an actress who can, in fact, sing and dance, but let’s remember, this is Lifetime, the production budgets are nowhere near the amounts seen for big Hollywood productions.  And you don’t always see big name actresses gracing the Lifetime screen.  If the movie succeeds or fails, it will all be on the casting.  Someone who can pull off the look now AND the look then:
And who knows?  Once GaGa hears about this, it may not get a toe off the ground.  I’m sure we’ll read her about her reaction very soon!  Oh boy.

GaGa By Research Department

Did all the little monsters watch “GaGa by Gaultier”????  Shame on you!…I’m totally kidding.  Since I now don’t have a lot to watch on Monday nights, until next week kicks in, I decided to give it a whirl.  What I saw was a very disjointed interview/”look at my collection” clips with designer Jean-Paul Gaultier intertwined with narration of her facts and her career accomplishments accompanied by a plethrora of clips we’ve all seen a billion times.  In other words, what was all the hype about?  Absolutely nothing (new). 
First of all, why the CW?  A bigger cable network, like MTV or VH1, despite the re-GaGa-tation, would have drawn a larger audience.  Plus, I don’t think it was promoted as well as it could have been.  Alas, I’m sure the die hards watched the hour-long plus special.  As for the interview itself, Gaultier seemed to be more interested in GaGa’s bisexuality than anything else.  It was weird.  No, I didn’t expect a Barbara Walters type of interview, but I expected perhaps some new tidbits.  In fact the timing of this special is a little late; I got the gist GaGa had just released the “Judas” video which debuted back in May, um, a lot has happened since then.  Born This Way hadn’t even been released at the time this was shot.  I’m puzzled and I was bored by “GaGa by Gaultier”…sorry….if you watched it, what did you think?

Jo Calderone Overkill? And Other MTV VMA Musings…

Was I the only one who wasn’t surprised by Lady GaGa’s, er, Jo Calerone’s antics last night?  No, but I think GaGa’s move was genius with a dash of overkill.  I mulled over whether of not I would even be interested in the VMA’s past GaGa’s rough and rousing opening performance of “You and I”.  To be fair, I missed most of the first hour of the show (True Blood, hello?!?), though I did see Jo Calderone’s opening monologue (too damn long!) and then his performance complete with Queen’s Brian May joining Jo on-stage. 
When I turned on the VMA’s after I returned to my apartment, I saw Jo again and I thought “is he the host?” since MTV decided at the last minute to go without one.  Then he started another long-winded speech about Michael Jackson Video Vanguard winner Britney Spears.  After a dance montage of some Spears’ hits, Calderone then presented her the award.
Clearly, Calderone/GaGa wanted another Britney make-out moment a la the Madonna/Spears/Xtina threesome of the 2003 show, but after some awkwardness, it didn’t happen.  DARN!  It makes me wonder how much of the whole Jo Calderone schtick was rehearsed and how much was “let’s see what happens”.  MTV’s bleep machine was working perfectly, so that’s why I question how much was planned.  I’m assuming Beyonce’s pregnancy was planned…I’m already over that, not really over her, but over the hype. 
I felt bad for Adele, yes she won 3 awards, they were all technical, but I’m sure she was a little overwhelmed with the MTV machine.  All she has to do is sing (last night, “Someone Like You”) and the crowd respects her, it’s too bad that silence only lasted a few minutes.  It was like a different awards show.  Same thing with the Amy Winehouse tribute; it was heartbreaking to watch the footage of Tony Bennett and Winehouse recording “Body and Soul” for Bennett’s upcoming second duets album.  The Bruno Mars performance of “Valerie” was really good and it was high-energy. 
The only other moment that stood out for me was looking at this:
Katy Perry’s “cheesehead” mystery hat as she accepted Video of the Year; I like her, but her fashion choices are below par more often than not.  She was the other big winner with 3, whoopee zip!
So that’s what I thought….but I couldn’t resist one last shot.

Lady GaGa Channels….Marilyn Manson?

It’s been another big day for Mother Monster.  Not only was it announced she and the Haus of GaGa would be taking on Santa’s Workshop at Barney’s, but GaGa upped the ante by releasing her latest video for “You and I” two days earlier than expected.  Originally, the video was supposed to premiere Thursday night to be followed by a live tweet/q and a session; I think that will probably still happen, (I don’t know as of this writing and I also can’t find out who directed the video).  She simply stated on her Facebook, “FUCK THURSDAY” in reference to the early leak of the video.  
Now, the video…I can honestly say, and I know I’m not alone, I have no bloody idea what is going on!  One keyword in the song is “Nebraska” as the song is about GaGa’s on-again/off-again boyfriend Luc Carl who is from, Nebraska.  Who knew things got so freaky in the Corn Husker State.  
Here are some highlights/screenshots from “You and I”:
Oh hell no!, it’s a toothless wonder ice cream man/woman?, one of the first images we see, yikes! Not an ice cream truck I would want to visit.
Bette Midler is probably still stewing and I bet she won’t be a fan of this!
GaGa takes on a widow meets C-3PO look and I love the big sunglasses.
We are finally formally introduced to GaGa’s male alter ego, Jo Calderone and I knew as soon as I saw this, I knew GaGa would be making out with herself, I was right!  
The sprawling, real live Nebraska corn field, it’s nuts!
Here’s where things start to get freaky.  GaGa is being made into some type of creature/Metropolis thing, I really don’t know and all I thought of was this. Well, at least there wasn’t any extreme oral surgery.
There is a fierce dance sequence in a barn, again Nebraska, but with black leather and aqua hair.
Yes, GaGa goes all the way, at least artistically, I mean that’s a bare ass!
The mermaid looks amazing and she’s very happy in her oversized livestock tub.
SEE! It was inevitable!
GaGa does a lot of running in the video, oh and there’s a dance sequence in the corn field; she runs funny.
One of the last shots, well, it’s one of the first shots, a huge barn that could be anywhere in the Midwest, nice cinematography.
Now watch it and put the pieces together, I implore you.

The Edge of Boring? And Then She’s Bald!

Okay, so Lady GaGa’s “The Edge of Glory” video is underwhelming, but there’s a bizarre explanation behind how the video came to be….check here for the complete scoop.  Both Joseph Kahn, who was named as the video’s director and Haus of GaGa creative director Laurieann Gibson claim they did NOT direct the latest GaGa dancing/Clarence Clemons’ cameo-infused clip (ironic timing, since Clemons suffered a stroke last weekend).  However, before too many stones were thrown, this clip of GaGa perfoming “Hair” on the Paul O’Grady Show overseas popped up this evening.  
WTF?…Never fear, GaGa did NOT shave her head, it’s a bald cap, but still, she keeps everyone guessing, especially with all of her European performances, which have all been elaborate compared to her new minimalist video.  Even her performance of “The Edge of Glory” on the American Idol finale had more visuals.  I guess when you’re the biggest pop star in the world, you need a break or at least a gasp from your fans.