At this moment...

...I'm thinking Britney Spears' "Circus" (the track, not the album--yet) is one of the best pop tracks I've heard since "Toxic." With a breathy sample as a bass line, a characteristic slowly becoming Britney's signature, the track is consistently surprising. From the initial pitch rise, reminiscent of Madonna's "Miles Away," it's clear Dr. Luke wants to keep it all in the family. Bringing together the best of Katy Perry's crunchy samples off "I Kissed A Girl," the tenacious throbbing of Confessions on a Dance Floor, and even Paris Hilton's redunkulous pop ease, if you have any taste at all, you will hate this track.

But for the rest of us ear candy addicts, "Circus" could not be sweeter. It's better than "Womanizer," easily, and the lyrics are wholly believable: "All eyes on me/ in the center of the ring/ just like a circus."

In other news, I still haven't listened to The Killer's new album. Like, I have owned it for almost a week now--preordered it and everything--but I'm just way to preoccupied with vintage Madonna and Buckcherry's "Crazy Bitch."

Happy late Thanksgiving, btdubs!



Bjorn Borg is a great clothing company, but this has nothing to do with clothing. In discussing it with one of my mentors, Glenn Gill, I described it as an ad in the vein of Andy Warhol's Campbell's soup can. It's beautiful as art, and as a statement, but it really chalks up to pure shock value. And in that sense, it's taking advantage of the gay/socially conscious audience in an attempt to sell--get this--"Lucky Underwear."

So is it a good ad or not? No straight guy will ever buy from them again, and any conservatives that would consider buying Lucky Underwear certainly won't now.

Bjorn Borg Advert= Gay content (alienate 0.5 x audience) + Religious content (alienate 0.25 x whoever's left) x possible gay exploitation= a bad ad.

BUT...Here I am talking about it.


Ex-husbands of famous people read The Happiest Activist

Yeah...Carlos Leon, Madonna's Cuban dancer ex, totally stole my look.

He must have been at her show in Houston and saw me grindin' it up. That bastard!

UPDATE: Leon is not the only HA reader. Robert Pattinson, from some vampire movie, must have popped in last week!

Here he is stumbling outside the Chateau Marmont last night. In my look.

Review: 808s & Heartbreak, by Kanye West

God, it has taken long enough.

Just months ago I watched Kanye West jump and groove to Graduation for the Glow In The Dark Tour. How appropriate that his first post-Graduation album is his most mature LP.

Perhaps Mr. West has grown up?

808s & Heartbreak is a monumental work of, as West would put it, pop art. It's instantly likable--give "RoboCop" thirty seconds and see if you aren't hooked--but is, above all, a culturally significant album. As a rapper, West has transformed from "that guy who rocked the VMA's" in 2004 with "Jesus Walks" to "that guy who sings like T-Pain." He has traveled a full arc of musical tone; College Dropout was gritty and eager; Late Registration was pompous and self-praising; Graduation was elegant and frothy; with Heartbreak, Kanye has given us everything. He wants freedom from controlling lovers (the relentless banger "Paranoid") but longs for a family ("Welcome to Heartbreak"). He is thrilled his fans adore him ("Amazing") but, really, just wants to be alone ("Street Lights"). Kanye is, and always will be, an enigma. Very few artists, however, can channel their personal struggles and mysterious personas into believable music.

Playing "RoboCop," easily the most accessible track on the album, to peers this morning, they all thought the same thing: This is a pretty album. It's light and sparse, relying on more traditional instruments (including rap verses) only when Ye is aiming most to please. He plays like he's all strong on his own--just listen to the entire Late Registration album--but he lives for approval. Why else would he regularly update a style blog? Why else would he have exploded after Entertainment Weekly gave him a B+ for his last tour? Why else did he swear off the VMAs forever? And, more telling, why did he return?

Point being, Kanye wants the American audience to like this album. At first listen, "Love Lockdown" sounds self-indulgent, but why can't music be elevated and different at the same time? Usher may have gotten a monster hit out of "Love in this Club," but will Rolling Stone be chronicling that single's rise to fame in ten years? Unless it's remixed by Cut Copy or something, no. Heartbreak is packed with hits. "Amazing," featuring a Young Jeezy verse that balances Ye's muffled vocals, is perfectly suited for radio...in 2012. "Bad News," one of the few slow jams on the entire album, could fit a movie soundtrack-- about robots in love. So, as evidenced by the only moderate success of "Love Lockdown" (built mostly on buzz) and the likely-to-bomb "Heartless"--still one of the strongest tracks--Kanye's got a fantastic pop album with nowhere to go.

Honestly, though, in a radio environment where "Let It Rock" by some guy named Rudolf can climb the charts, why would Kanye want to?

So, maybe Kanye's graduated. Or, at least graduated from his former self. He's recently admitted to an obsession with style and design, and when you combine an obsessive compulsive rapper-slash-vocoderalist (I love it!) with good style...well, you're just short of enlightenment. However, they say a child is the most honest of us all; that, as we age, we gain inhibitions and fears and become self-conscious. Heartbreak is none of these things. It is an uninhibited as that meme with the boy dancing to "Single Ladies." It is as fearless as, well, Kanye West.

In "graduating," Kanye West didn't grow up. He's cut deep to the heart of what makes music good, and what makes an artist exactly that: simplicity. Heartbreak is Kanye's Like A Virgin, his Hot Fuss, his Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. This is his post-Graduation moment, but he's never seemed so young.


iTunes had an error and let me download 808's and Heartbreak Early. Yeah, review by tonight.


Is Katy Perry the next Madonna?

Right now, everyone's "the next Madonna." Lady Gaga, Rihanna, and Britney Spears, the latter of which being the most realistic candidate, have been crowned the New Queens by blogs and newpapers and films and, in Britney's case, lyrically. There's a reason this debate is going on, too--with her last album, Madonna proved she has lasting power unlike what Confessions on a Dance Floor seemed to suggest. She's got radio power. At 50. With kids. And a divorce.

So, really, who's the next Madonna? (True answer: NO ONE! But let's forget that for a second.) In a moment of inspiration, like, three seconds ago, I decided that the wielder of the Madonna torch is Katy Perry. Think about it--how did Madonna start in this business? Stirring up controversy, courting the gay audience, and setting clothing trends. Granted, Madge had a flawless first album, while Perry's is just oookaaaayyy, but still: the amount of public controversy lil' Katy's "Kissed A Girl" caused is kind of remarkable. It's become this litmus test when you meet someone. "Do you like 'Kissed A Girl?' No? Oh, that sucks. [I.e. Well, our friendship is over.]" Girls who like it are either personally self-affirmed or, well, actually into kissing girls, while those who hate it just hate it because it makes them "good" girls.

Who surrounds Perry on her tour? For better or for worse, a bunch of effeminate makeup artists and dancers and stylists. Who happen to be male. What about the trend-setting style? I will be the first to say Perry's no SJP, but I know more than one girl who's bought a short jumpsuit "like Katy Perry!"

This is truth. Eat it. IT'S KRUCHY!!

P.S. Not my image.

New Music: Believe the hype

"Society and culture steal confidence and self-esteem from you when you’re a child. You’re born with it, but society takes it away."

Review forthcoming.


A Look

I realized something this morning. Walking home from a friend's apartment--got in around 3:30 and woke up around 12--I was in a kind of woozy blur. Not a hangover (I slept through it), but that post-hangover euphoria where everything is slow-moving and forgettable.

Everyone has a look in Austin, Texas. The sorority chicks at AEPhi have a look: Nike running shorts and a longhorn sweater with tights and Uggs. My friend Christie has a look: Holly Golightly with a bit of Gwyneth Paltrow. Hell, even the homeless population in Austin have a "look."

And "look" is not just a way of dressing; it's an all-encompassing attitude, a way of walking and talking and a choice of whether to smoke cigarettes or not.

Anyways, what's so important about "look?" It's all about self-definition. Are you a hipster? Good God I hope you aren't. I actually watched an interesting documentary on the evolution of "the hipster" and now I'm paralyzed that my entire personal style boils down to being "hip." Granted, I don't fit the mold, technically; I don't dress ironically, I don't own anything from Urban Outfitters, and I have only one pair of skinny jeans--which I bought in Paris two years ago. But still. Hipsters are, apparently, wholly unaware that they are what they...er, are. I wear Oscar De La Renta sweaters and combat boots to school; am I preppy? Preppy-goth? Preppy-goth-alt? I'd honestly prefer to just be "preppy," but I will never wear khakis for fun.

AND THEN there's the question of labels. Like, "Duuuuude, don't put labels on it. You are what you are." (In case you were wondering, that is, in fact, a personal quote.) But that's so ridiculous; we live in a world of labels. There's nothing wrong with labeling others, the only thing that can hurt someone is when they label themselves. We can't understand others without boxing them in. It's a sad truth. We have our pothead friends and our party friends and our fratty friends and our just-in-school friends...this is getting a little self-righteous.

To finish up this (rare-ish?) personal rant, I'll go back to the whole "look" thing, since it seems to make the most literary sense. Bottom line, we all have a look, or at least an image we (prepare yourself) project for others to interpret. It doesn't ultimately matter, but it's important to anyone's self-actualization to meet physical needs. In fact, that's like Maslow's first pillar. So by meeting one's "look" requirement, one really is meeting a need. We need self-definition; different than labels, different than faking it: we are who we want to be.


A work in progress

Lost the light, so we'll be trying again next week.


Review: The Sticky and Sweet Tour

Madonna is a transcended human; she is beyond labels and above critique. She is a mother, but perhaps a misguided one; she is a wife, but publicly tears her soon-to-be-ex to shreds; she is a woman, but is more domineering, muscular, and offensive than even the most masculine figures in modern culture. She is a humanitarian, but garners nearly $5,000,000 per concert. (hence her Hard Candy alternative persona, "M-Dolla.") So who--or what--is Madonna? Why do I even care?

There's something magnetic about Madonna. I can't explain it in written terms; it takes sweeping hand gestures and a little caffeine. But I was not musically aware of Madonna until this April, where I compared her to "a fine cheese." She is fine but not cheese. Dear Lord, I can't believe I just wrote that.

Fast-forward to November 16th, in Houston, at the The Sticky and Sweet Tour.

Following Hard Candy, an album far inferior to Music and Confessions but a definite slow-burn, expectations of her performance were high. I wanted to witness Madonna's power in action, I wanted to understand her better. Well, she's still an enigma, but maybe that's the point.

Madge appeared on a throne for the opening act of the show, singing "Candy Shop." I get the choice of "Candy" as the opener--"Come on into my store/get up off of your seat, come on onto the dance floor"--but whether it was an effective way to energize the audience, I'm not so sure. She followed that with the disappointing "Beat Goes On" (THERE WAS SO MUCH POTENTIAL!) and an odd but decent version of "Vogue" meshed with the trumpets of "4 Minutes." "Vogue" was a blast, but she disappeared so quickly after the final note that the audience kind of just stood there with eyes glazed over.

It's worth noting that the video interludes--in other words, Madonna's wardrobe changes--were excellent, so there was truly never a moment without stimulation. Especially good was "Get Stupid," where Obama flashed onscreen alongside MLK and JFK (so many Ks), without a bit of irony considering they were both assassinated at the prime of their influence.

The second portion of the show, dubbed "Old School," was fantastic (whew!). She played "Borderline" on a candy-coated electric while jumping rope and wearing the single greatest pair of little red shorts ever invented, died and rose again for "Heartbeat," and in one of the show highlights, semi-raped a bunch of Madonna lookalikes onstage for "She's Not Me." Her voice lowering to a bitter growl, she screamed "Bitch!" and "Wannabe!" to her lookalikes while tearing off their clothes--all classic Madonnawear. There was a sexy bride, a cone-boobed amazonian, and a reformed-pre-Sex-Spanish-influenced-red pantsuit Madonna. (Sorry, there's really no other way to describe it.) "We all know girls like this. You know, the kind that wear your clothes, act like you. F*** your boyfriend."

After a brief repose, Madge rose from the floor on a piano singing "Devil Wouldn't Recognize You," a weak track from Hard Candy. The music was not memorable here, but the effects were stunning--water splashed from screen to screen, swirling up a center screen of tiny digital bulbs around her piano. This led into the weakest portion of the show, "Gypsy," but there was one exception: Madonna gave a beautiful performance of "Miles Away," believably speaking with the audience about her trip to Texas. "I wasn't sure if I wanted to come to Texas this [tour]. I'm kind of glad I came!"

I won't linger on this portion of the show, where she butchered "La Isla Bonita" by mixing it with some random "Fiddler On The Roof"-like dance routine and a Gogol Bordello-inspired dance track called "Dolli Dolli." Yeah, I don't know it either, and yeah, it wasn't that great.

Keep in mind, when Madonna isn't "that great," she's still phenomenal. I was on my feet the entire show, and never once did I feel a tinge of disappointment. I was soaking with sweat by the end, and I would pay double my original ticket price to see her again. The "Gypsy" sequence was just messy, with too many dancers and too many songs mashed into one.

The final concert theme, "Rave," was just that. If you can picture thirty thousand people jumping up and down to "Ray Of Light," laser lights searing the stadium fog and a bass so heavy your beer quakes, you've got a pretty decent idea of the "Rave" sequence.

Madonna had clearly saved the best for last. A more-exciting-live version of "4 Minutes" was the kick-off, followed by the strongest performance of the show, "Like A Prayer." "Prayer" is not my favorite Madonna song by any stretch of the imagination, but in person, it was--buckle up people, it's about to get punny--spiritual. Energetic and (*gulp*) rapturous, the room was on fire. It was electric.

After a bittersweet modified performance of "Hung Up" with electric guitar, Madonna finished on the highest note possible. "Give It 2 Me" was musically alive. M-Dolla flung herself at the center stage, enveloped by her backup dancers in a robotic interpretation of Far Eastern videogaming. That song is hyper, but live? It's almost hard to handle.

The show ended with the entire stadium buzzing. The concert was mind-blowing--there were weak moments, no doubt, but for a 50 year-old pop star, Madonna's on the top of her game. She's authentic and, at least on tour, a tangible icon.

Although, no matter how quickly she gyrates or how many times she mocks Guy Ritchie, she still is and may always be a complete mystery.


New Music: Beyonce and Britney, bitches

So Beyonce's new album dropped today. And it's not that great. There isn't a single song that even compares to "Upgrade U" or "Ring the Alarm," and forget about "Crazy In Love"--there's just no denying that I Am...Sasha Fierce is a major step down in musical quality from B'Day and Dangerously In Love.

THAT SAID, however, it's still a solid R&B/pop album with some seriously sick tracks. (I feel I must mention Beyonce's position in the industry is officially at risk; Rihanna offers everything Beyonce offers, except authenticity, and garners a helluva lot more publicity.) While "Radio" is a ripoff of Fergie's offbeat musical style, "Diva" is ridiculous good. Like, number-one-for-twelve-weeks good. With a simmering high hat and one of the best hooks in recent memory, "Diva" is simultaneously a signature Beyonce track and a complete departure; it's grimy and rough, but believable. I mean, really, she's Jigga's wife. There's no one in the industry more qualified to sing "a diva's a female version of a hustla/of a of a hustla" than Beyonce, the now and forever Queen of Hip Hop. Rihanna may be a style goddess, but she doesn't command power like Beyonce.

After a few listens, though, one does wonder how it would sound with Rihanna's of-the-now vocals.

Now, we all knew it would happen, but who thought it would be so soon? Britney's entire album Circus leaked online this week, and I'm not the only one voicing my opinion of the new tracks. In general I'm gathering a lukewarm reception among Britney fans--lots of "more of the same" comments--but I couldn't disagree more. I think the tracks are fantastically produced and Britney sounds wholly present in every song. I forgot what a non-drugged, non-drunk, non-digitized (LOLZ yeah right.) Britney sounded like, but listening to "If U Seek Amy," the last four years of bald, paparazzi-dating-Britney seem to just disappear. Aside from "Amy," truly her most lyrically clever song ever and one of her most fun, "Kill The Lights" and "Mannequin" are just killer. The chorus of "Kill The Lights" is particularly strong, with a sequence of heavy breathing reminiscent of "Break The Ice" off Blackout.

It's both a good and bad time for music. On one hand, superstars are releasing albums left and right (The Killers and Kanye are next), but our expectations are high. Beyonce could not reach them, but I sincerely hope the others can.


A few things, 2nd edition

1. Ghostland Observatory put on an amazing show last night. Their opening act, I think named DJ Boothe, was actually amazing as well, something I didn't expect. He totally transformed Stubb's from a BBQ rock venue into what I image a rave in Buenos Aires would be like, complete with glowsticks and diet coke with a little "extra."

2. My new boots. They will kick your ass.

3ish. Old, old picture. I took an old sweater and cut it in half to form a deconstructed cardigan. This photo also demonstrates two other design details I've taken on; wearing dark blues with black and voting pins. The voting pin thing, eh, it ended on November 4th. But I thought it was kitcshy and of the moment, and the tilted, thrown-together look was perfect for the summer-to-fall transition.

4. My favorite detail. I no longer tie around shoes. Not my boots, not my Lacostes, nor my cons. I tie around the lip in a circle or around my ankle. It freshens up what I consider a waaaay overplayed shoe. Really, Converse is not an attractive shoe. Especially the black and white versions, essentially substitutions for "style" when people have none. This elevates the look a bit and catches the viewer off guard. I certainly don't think this would be for everyone, but with shorts or long jeans (where you tie outside the pant), try it out.

5. The Great Magazine Die-Off needs to end. Now. Two of my favorite reads--including Men's Vogue--have been canceled by Conde-Nast. Clearly, I subscribe to a few magazines, ranging from TIME to Entertainment Weekly to Bon Appetit. Reading magazines is simply the easiest way to read, and the layouts and designs of some inspire me in my advertising work.

Dear internet,

Don't kill the magazines.


The H.A.


New Music: David "lil' Archy" Archuleta, Paris Hilton, and far more relevant artists

The past few weeks of music releases have been strong. Not strong in the lasting sense--no one's going to care about Lloyd or David Archuleta's new releases ten years from now--but as a sensory distraction, nothing can beat "Year of the Lover," off Lloyd's Lessons In Love, functioning as this fall's "Bed." It's dirty, but it's beautiful. Lloyd comes off a little lizardy in my opinion, slithering around in a manner far too like a salmonilla-spreading komodo dragon, and that detracts from the believability of the track. (I'm not sure calling Lloyd "lizardy" constitutes an argument, but listen and you'll get me.)

If there's one thing studying at UT has taught me, the weekends are all about letting loose. Interpret that as you will, but two songs I never would have listened to have been brought to my attention by the kind DJs of 6th. "Swing," from some irrelevant "rapper" that is too unimportant to be named, is an infectious track with a bass line so deep is basically encourages drunken girls with fake IDs to grind until one of them passes out. Literally, I (or he, or she, or you) walk into a venue, and if "Swing" is playing, I (or he, or she, or you) will follow his commands: "Oh sh**/shake that a**/now move it like you're tipsy/...drop it low, down to the floor..." Sick. The only knock I have against "Swing" is Soulja Boy's verse, the musical equivalent of vomit on a birthday cake. Watch out, SB wants you to "let him" pull "yo hurr." Really, pull her hair? That's hot now?

The other track is an ancient Jibbs number called "King Kong." Funny story: the first time I ever heard this track was in Finish Line Sports with two friends of mine. One of them, Kevin, was bobbing to the beat (=faggoty sentence, sry), and I totally blew it off. That was over two years ago.

"King Kong" is a blast. It's so straightforward. There's really nothing beyond a chopped and screwed vocal sample as a clever metaphor for massive car speakers. In fact, speakers so heavy they flatten tires and make the "doors fall off." Jibbs, like the rapper behind "Swing," is certainly not a player in the industry this year, but he's got a great sense of humor. Remember "Chain Hang Low?" You know, the creepy track with children singing modified nursery rhymes about gangster bling?

I'm so sick of writing about Kylie Minogue. I don't like her near as much as my blog would lead you to believe. She's fun, but I can only use the word "glittery" as her musical description so many times before...well, before I just stop writing about her. "Nu-di-ty," a track I resisted for a while, is wholly worth a $1.07 purchase. Off X, her now-defunct "comeback" album (that I don't hate), "Nu-di-ty" sounds like a better version of Britney's "Piece of Me." Admittedly, it's odd hearing a fully-grown, married mother commanding, "let me see nudity," telling her partner to "expose it," but at least she hasn't developed that scary stretched-face muscleman syndrome so common in her elderpop counterparts. You know who I'm talking about. The beat hops and changes tempo constantly, synchronizing with the jumpy vocal samples; the production on "Nu" is better than your typical pop track, which is why it won't be a hit, but it's also why it's worth your time.

The Killers have a new single out called "Spaceman," and it's kind of a disappointment. I was really hoping for a Sam Sparro-esque influence for their upcoming album, but it sounds like they'll be going for a Sam's Town/Hot Fuss hybrid. Blippy production with cryptic lyrics and obnoxious vocal flourishes from Flowers.

David Archuleta released his debut album this Tuesday, and while it's getting ravaged by critics, I happen to like a few of the tracks. "Running" is nice--the critics' darling--but, like the rest of the album, it's boring. Nice, though. "Touch My Hand" is scaled-back and emotional, hinting at a bright future for Archuleta. It's clear by the cover art that Clive Davis will be pushing for a more grown-up image--the Jonas Brothers have the tween market carved clean--and I wonder how radio will respond. "Crush" was fluttery and accesible, but "Touch" will be the real test of his mettle.

Now, for the grand opus of guilty pleasures. Paris Hilton, in case you didn't know, released a horrid album a year or so ago, to little commercial fanfare. She had some random reggae track called "Stars Are Blind," which was too lyrically confusing to be enjoyed by a Paris Hilton fan, who's reading experience likely chalks up to the back of cereal boxes and the track listings for old Backstreet Boys' albums. BUT, her second single, "Nothing In This World," is one of those irresistable tempations in life, like reading People at the checkout line or watching Into The Blue, and after two years I gave in and downloaded it. The chorus is, um, kind of like an exploding pinata, and if the song was a pinata, "Nothing In This World" would definitely be made out of paper mache, and would definitely contain those nasty candy neclaces. If you can tell, I'm avoiding any direct compliments to this track, which is simply a reflection of my natural instincts telling me to avoid humiliation.


New Britney Promo=FAIL

I'm not sure what Britney's camp was going for here. Kind of creepy/ugly/"Is this how you want me to pose?"

None of those things are good things.

For many good things, however, here's a link to a full-on stream of five songs from Circus. It's going to be good. And, as always, all seven of you can look forward to a full review come December 3rd.

"Mannequin," "Kill The Lights," and "Out From Under" are looking like early standouts.

Yeah...not sure that "don't rape me" face expression is helping things.

UPDATE: The more I listen to that stream, the more excited I get. "If You Seek Amy" (get it?) is fantastic. "Circus" is fantastic. Like, I guess that means they're all fantastic. Ugh. Need new descriptive adjectives.


The Purchase 11.07.08

In three days, these will be on my feet.

A few things

Firstly, has anyone else ever visited Hipster Runoff? I found it, literally, by coincidence, completing a project for the agency I'm working for. It's one of the most authentic blogs I've ever found on the internet. Inspiring, too, considering the writer is pretty much me if I shopped at Urban Outfitters more often and blogged about Bjork. He writes stream-of-consciousness, and shortens every word. It's refreshing.

I shorten words, too. I have an entire lexicon I'm slowly integrating into society. Mug, tran, OOC, DTS, FML, SB, DBJ my life, mench. The list goes on.

Whatever, the bottom line is that The Hipster Runoff is far funnier and more clever than I will ever be.

The shortlist:
1. Jibb's "King Kong" from 2006's ...featuring Jibbs is my new favorite work of art.
2. Jordin Sparks' "Freeze" is not that bad.
3. Cut Copy's remix of CSS's "Move" is horrid.


Maybe the best thing ever

Medic Aesthetic by Gwendolyn Huskens. Why hasn't anyone thought of this before?


Matt Drudge can't spell, conservatives don't notice

I've never drank champaign before. It must be Republican juice.

Effing. Idiot.

Music: Long overdue

So, a new music post has been forthcoming for about...two weeks. Yes, I posted on Beyonce and Fedde Le Grand, but that doesn't even scratch the surface of the best new music this fall.

Firstly, faux-lesbian duo t.A.T.u. released a new album a few weeks ago, and while they are essentially the most irrelevant pop artists on the face of the earth--hell, they aren't even popular in Russia anymore--they do have a half-decent single off Happy Smiles, unanimously voted by myself as the most inane album title of the decade.

"Fly On The Wall" is a well-produced, tonally-dated track about a male lover "naked in the shower" and sleeping alone and...you get it. It's Clay Aiken's haneous "Invisible" with an injection of squealy sex appeal. How ironic, though, that both Aiken and the t.A.T.u. girls faked their sexual orientations for the majority of their career?

Anyways, the track has the typical bleeps and boops you'd expect from an irrelavent Russian pop duo from the 2001 era, with a bit of muffled buzzing--you know, the kind Timbaland used in 50 Cent's "Ayo Technology"--as a failed attempt at modernity. Overall, it's worth a look, if only out of curiousity at how these girls still have a job.

I have been successful in resisting the appeal of Lady Gaga, a pop figure of far too much style (like, enough to gag anyone with a hint of sartorial instinct) and shockingly little substance, until now. Her debut The Fame is of no interest to me (see the HA comparison on the right); the track "Paparazzi," however, is fun enough to warrant the 3:28 seconds it takes to listen. Gaga has an annoying, shrill voice, but "Paparazzi" sounds like a decent remix of Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone." I use that comparison loosely--there are no lyrical similarities--but the urgent tone is there. I'll be honest, this track impresses me, so if Gaga can make an album of pop this accessible (and without references to anything dirty, rich or beautiful ever, ever again), perhaps I'm not taking her seriously enough.

Now, time for WHATS GOOD! Kylie Minogue, the undisputed queen of all that is ridiculous and tedious about pop music--in other words, all that is not Madonna! ( n00b obesss1on LOLZ)--has a few hidden treasures in her past album music vault. For the record, this vault is rainbow colored, with ill-placed jewels and paper mache unicorns pasted on the lid. But enough about the vault.

"Burning Up," from 2001's Fever, is beyond the brink of fun songs. Like, beyond beyond. Celebratory? Check. Unabashedly saccherine? Check. Nonsense lyrics? Check. Gay club play potential? Check. It must be EUROPOP!

Beginning with a light guitar strum and the ubiquitous "disco" reference, Kylie explodes with a two-word chorus extraganza. And get this: the beat builds. Not in any clever way, but in the expected, Cascada-esque "bum. bum. bum bum bum bum bum bum!" sunny days ahead kind of way. It's a blast.

I highly, highly recommend "Burning Up," if not only to own a slice of music so sweet it could literally give you a cavity. An ear cavity.


New shoots!

Love Julia. More shots at The Visualist.

Check 'em!


Britney Spears' "Circus" cover makes me hmm.

I don't really get the image being projected here--Faith Hill at prom?--but I think it will sell. Again, though, after seeing this and the cover for Blackout, I have to wonder: Who the hell is her graphic designer and why is he so bad??

UPDATE: Oh my god, I just figured it out. It's Kevin Federline.