Music: Beyonce, Cassius and Madonna's sampling minions

The music market is great right now. Musical variety is here, the big names in L.A. are all releasing records this fall, and the club scene is finally warming up. (Ironically enough, as the actual clubs start losing their drunken patronage.) Beyonce's "If I Were A Boy" is decent enough emopop, but I doubt the release will be followed with serious airplay. It's too similar to what Rihanna has done with "Take A Bow," which was in turn a total ripoff of B's own "Irreplaceable." Then again, maybe the departure from traditional Beyonce R&B/Pop--you know, spasmic, over-the-top faux-female empowerment anthems with blaring horns and whistles--is just what she needs. Another problem going for her is a lack of media exposure; it's not that the paparazzi doesn't want her picture (she's looking great in a bikini again), it's that she and Jay-Z avoid them like the plague. Good for their sanity, but not for B's career. There's a price to pay for no longer being a prominent figure in pop culture. Britney Spears just demonstrated how buzz can lead to success with the so-so "Womanizer" which currently sits at the top spot of the Billboard Hot 100. The only way B can come back in full force is with another "Crazy In Love," not likely considering her first two singles.

In other music news, when I started creating my pre-Madonna "Sticky and Sweet Tour" playlist this morning I was led on an iTunes jungle discovery bonanza, where one song led to another and another and another. "Toop Toop" by Cassius is a fun, grungy electronic track similar in spirit to Kylie Minogue's "2 Hearts" (the best track off last years' X), with pegged-on, blippy effects that feel slapped together. The track has a garageband feel to it, which is simply a statement of opinion--not neccesarily good or bad.

I was also turned on to Fedde Le Grand, an electronic artist who apparently missed his bubble of opportunity a long time ago. I only say this because his latest single was in September of 2007, and in DJ circles you have to come hard and fast to maintain the momentum of one good single. (Justice and Simian Mobile Disco are exceptions to this rule, as their talent far surpasses anything put out by your night-to-night DJs.) Regardless, Le Grand did have two good singles, but his only lasting relevance is Madonna's current tour, where she actually covers his breakout track, "Put Your Hands Up 4 Detroit." The song is a blast, with unpredictable synths and Moby-esque vocal samples. The electronic elements are handled in a innovative way that hints at the curiosity of the DJ, with ups and downs and a fun little series of saxophone samples that are instantly recognizable (despite my never hearing them before). Le Grand copies his own brilliance--take that last word with a whole spoonfull of salt--in his follow-up, "Let Me Think About It." Once again channeling Moby, Le Grand tries his hand at funk-electro, to mixed results. Imagine the seuxality of SMD's "Hustler" mixed in with "Put Your Hands Up." It's great for the two minutes it plays, but beyond that I'll stick with the electronica champs, thank you.

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