Lady Gaga

Photo Credit: Mengwen Cao | Daily Texan Staff

The music portion of South By Southwest is the most unpredictable aspect of the festival. Unlike traditional music festivals such as Austin City Limits or Fun Fun Fun Fest, where schedules are solidified months in advance and seldom change, the schedule given out by SXSW is more of a general guide. There’s no telling when and where Kanye West, Lady Gaga or De La Soul might show up, and half the fun of the music festival is being in the right place at the right time when a surprise guest appears. 

This year’s festival had its share of surprise performances and hyper-exclusive sets that SXSW has become known for in recent years. For the lucky Samsung Galaxy owners and winners of a ticket lottery, Kanye West performed with Jay-Z at Austin Music Hall. Those who made it to The Mobile Movement showcase caught a glimpse of Lady Gaga running the light show. 

The Daily Texan made a list of the best shows of each day of SXSW.


AT&T Interactive Music Showcase at The Mobile Movement

Arguably one of the most rumor-filled nights of SXSW, AT&T hosted DJ Shadow, Machinedrum and Reggie Watts. The venue featured several nights of music in the interactive warehouse on Cesar Chavez Street, all leading up to Monday’s rumors of a secret Lady Gaga or Kanye performance, both of which were just that: infamous SXSW rumors. The lineup kicked off with the always innovative comedian-musician Reggie Watts beat boxing his way through a lively set, leaving room for one-liners between each song. DJ Travis Stewart, performing under the name Machinedrum, followed Watts in what felt like the longest but most cohesive set at SXSW as Twitter was flooded with pictures of Lady Gaga in the building. The rumors were dissuaded altogether just before DJ Shadow’s energetic set, leaving the audience dancing through an impressively artistic, beat-heavy performance.  



Pitchfork Show No Mercy Showcase at Mohawk

Mohawk hosted a showcase that displayed the full potential of what SXSW can be. Highlights included the slow-churning Indian from Chicago and Los Angeles’ Youth Code, a dark electronic act that put on a highly energetic set that resembled a much better version of Sleigh Bells. The best of the night were Brooklyn’s Sannhet, who won over a small crowd with striking visuals and grand and sweeping instrumental black metal, and Texas’s own Power Trip, who delivered the most intense set of the entire week. Vocalist Riley Gale opened the set by announcing that he had just found out a close friend passed away, but that the band was just going to play through it and try not to think about it and, in turn, delivered an extremely heavy and emotional set that easily had the most energetic pit that’s taken place at an official showcase. 



Kanye West and Jay-Z at Austin Music Hall

The first joint performance in two years from rap’s biggest stars made for one of the biggest sets of the week, but, because of poor planning, it was almost a disaster. Samsung, which put on the show, gave out wristbands that “guaranteed entry” to more people than the venue could hold. Hundreds outside left in anger when the fire marshal announced a “one in, one out” policy before half of the people in line with wristbands had entered. Kanye and Jay-Z essentially played greatest hits sets. At one point, each stood on large installations on opposite sides of the venue and went back and forth, playing hits such as “Runaway” and “Dirt Off Your Shoulder.” The two reunited onstage together at the end for fan favorites such as “Gold Digger” before launching into “Niggas In Paris” three times in a row. The fans that made it in were treated to an incredible, rare show from Kanye and Jay-Z. 



Future Islands at the 4AD Showcase at Cheer Up Charlie’s

Like most bands at SXSW, Future Islands played several sets throughout the week. Their show as part of 4AD’s showcase at Cheer Up Charlie’s was their last for this year’s festival, and lead singer Sam Herring announced that it would be their “most punk-rock fucking set” yet. This prompted the audience at Cheer Up Charlie’s to launch into a thrashing mosh-pit that lasted the entirety of the performance. Herring’s on stage energy was not only matched, but maybe even topped, by the vivacious crowd. The band played songs off of early albums as well as their newly released single, “Seasons (Waiting On You).” Future Islands’ set at Cheer Up Charlie’s was quite possibly their best set of the entire festival.




Pitchfork Official Showcase at Central Presbyterian Church

Friday at SXSW hosted one of the biggest showcases in the world of independent music. Pitchfork’s 2014 SXSW showcase at Central Presbyterian Church started with an up and down set from synth rockers EMA. Angel Olsen followed, delivering a powerful performance with songs off of her newly acclaimed album, Burn Your Fire for no Witness. The surprise of the night was a wonderful set from Hundred Waters, combining beats and synth lines with piano and soaring vocals from frontwoman Nicole Miglis. The electronic beats and raw emotion of Mas Ysa and the ethereal textures of Forest Swords complimented each other well, setting the stage for an impactful set from Sun Kil Moon frontman, Mark Kozelek. The ringing guitars of Real Estate closed out the night as they combined hits from their previous works as well as tracks from their newly released Atlas.



Phantogram at the Guitar Center Rooftop Sessions

Phantogram’s Saturday rooftop jam session was easily one of the most authentic acts of all the official SXSW showcases, but due to some technical difficulties and a lack of audience participation, it was also vastly underappreciated. The duo owned the stage with a killer vocal presence, despite a microphone malfunction midway through their set, after which vocalist Sarah Barthel yelled offstage, “I guess we’ll just take care of it, all by ourselves.” The noticeable lack of energy from the audience could be blamed on the performance being taped for television. The looming TV cameras and restrictive boundaries around the stage made any sort of excitement, outside of an occasional cheer, almost impossible. Regardless, Phantogram delivered with a powerful, punchy set heard across the rooftops of downtown Austin.   

For the rest of the Daily Texan’s SXSW music review, see the Daily Texan Life & Arts website.

Photo Credit: John Massingill | Daily Texan Staff

The Wes Anderson Collection by Matt Zoller Seitz and Michael Chabon, Book People, $40

For the friend who claims “The Royal Tenenbaums” was based on their family, or that they would marry Max Fischer from “Rushmore” in a heartbeat. This hardcover gives a chronological journey through all of Wes Anderson’s iconic films, from “Bottle Rocket,” which Anderson started writing while at UT, to “Moonrise Kingdom.” Given the fact that it’s constantly on back order, every good hipster living in Hyde Park will probably have this on their repurposed vintage coffee table by January. 

—Hannah Smothers


Famous People Prints, Kayci Wheatley’s Etsy shop, $12-$80

David Bowie, Lady Gaga, Tupac, oh my! Local artist Kayci Wheatley refashions the famous mugs of pop culture icons into her own hand-drawn, brightly-colored prints. Wheatley prints not only posters but also items like bags, pillows and bow ties. Because who doesn’t need a Pee Wee Herman cooking apron or Aladdin Sane leg warmers? 

—Elizabeth Williams


“Holy Land” by Rauan Klassnik, Malvern Books, $12.95

Brutal, yet beautiful, “Holy Land” is Rauan Klassnik’s first collection of poetry. A perfect gift for a reader but not for the faint of heart. You can find it at recently-opened local bookstore, Malvern Books, at 613 West 29th St.

—Dylan Davidson

Playlist of the week: week 10

A weekly playlist made from songs released the week before, complete with commentary by Kris Ohlendorf.

Lady Gaga feat. R. Kelly – “Do What U Want”

With every new Gaga album comes a typically outlandish Gaga event. To elaborately release Artpop, she held the artRave, which was a huge concert complete with a giant statue of herself (if Kanye had done that, everyone would have thrown a hissy-fit). Of course, there had to be a coupe-de-grace of Gaga-ness at this event, so she debuted a bizarre flying dress that hovered her a few feet above the ground, because the only thing better than Lady Gaga is flying Lady Gaga. Anyways, this is  the big single off of her new album, featuring the always magnificent R. Kelly. 

Blood Orange – “You’re Not Good Enough”

British musician and producer Dev Hynes, A.K.A. Lightspeed Champion, A.K.A. Blood Orange, released his second album under his third moniker, Cupid Deluxe. The songwriter has spanned quite a few genres during his career, and on his newest release he finds himself fulfilling an `80s new-wave funk role. “You’re Not Good Enough” covers these grounds well, with a slapped bass and muted guitar fueling the background music. Hynes’ airy vocals lay on top, creating a song that is of the past but could only have come out in the present.

Cut Copy – “Meet Me in a House of Love”

Cut Copy’s newest album Free Your Mind is possibly their best yet. This is evident on huge club-thumping tracks like “Meet Me in a House of Love.” The gigantic track starts off with a simple beat and early-00’s era trance riff, before falling into an 80s pop epic. Crank that bass and hit the dance floor.

Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs  – “Our Lips Are Sealed”

The third volume in Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs’ collaborative Under the Covers... album cycle comes with another set of covers. Following suit with Blood Orange and Cut Copy, this album is another throwback to the `80s. Their cover of The GoGo’s “Our Lips Are Sealed” is a fun listen, and makes one question just how much pop music both has and hasn’t changed in the past thirty years.

Moonface – “Barbarian”

Ex-Wolf Parade frontman Spencer Krug’s solo project Moonface just released their fourth album, Julia With Blue Jeans On. A record composed entirely of Krug’s voice and piano, it’s a tour de force in expressive songwriting. The album’s powerful opening track “Barbarian” is a swooning tune that displays Krug’s talent. His intricate piano playing and emotional voice combine perfectly with the song’s heavy metaphorical lyrics to create a style at the crossroads between Elton John and Bon Iver. 

Grizzly Bear – “Taken Down (Marfa Demo)”

Brooklyn band Grizzly Bear just released Shields: B-Sides, a collection of songs recorded during their Shields sessions that didn’t make the cut. The band is no stranger to releasing side-albums, having put out their previous B-Side collection Friend EP and even an album entirely remixing their debut Horn of Plenty. The B-Sides found in their most recent collection are more than just scraps, though. They still form a coherent narrative of unfurnished tracks. “Taken Down” is a classic Grizzly Bear melancholic pop tune, and sounds like a throwback to their Yellow House days.

Mount Eerie – “House Shape – Pre-Human Version”

Phil Elverum’s project Mount Eerie has gone through low-fi folk, dream pop, drone and black metal since its conception in 2004. He continues the eccentrics of this act on his newest album Pre-Human Ideas, which are re-recordings of previous Mount Eerie songs through programs on his Mac. His new version of “House Shape” sounds something like a 90s MIDI tune. His strange vocals make for a questionable but interesting listen.

Taylor Swift performs at the Frank Erwin Center as part of her Red Tour on Saturday night. 

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

There were a few things I knew going into the Taylor Swift concert at the Frank Erwin Center last night. I knew I was going to be surrounded by mostly preteens, there was going to be glitter and a lot of red. I didn’t know, however, that I was supposed to paint my body red, wrap my self in Christmas lights or recreate my own version of outfits she wore on stage.

My neighbor was about a foot and a half shorter than me, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the transcendent experience that is a Swift production. It’s easy to picture the curly headed blonde teenager on a stool with her guitar, but her newly straight hair and blunt bangs seem to make a much more sleek and sexy Swift. The black and red wardrobe and sets also contributed to a more mature feel. And when her silhouette appeared and the first sounds echoed through the arena, we were all in agreement: we would never be the same after this concert.

She opened with “State of Grace” and followed with “Holy Ground,” so the audience was thoroughly energized for the two hours ahead. Swift took moments throughout the show to smile into the crowd and soak in her screaming fans. She was also fresh off the Billboard Music Awards where she took home eight trophies, including Artist of the Year, so that could’ve been partially responsible for the sparkle in her eye. Then there was the strange and very sexed up version of “You Belong With Me,” where Swift and her back up singers stood in a row performing 1960s girl group arm choreography.

The next stand out number was “22.” I fear Swift has created a generation of young girls who are very much looking forward to an age that is mostly tinged with financial worries and getting your first job. But, “I Knew You Were Trouble,” immediately followed by “All Too Well” was perhaps the best part of the night. The first during which Swift’s dress was torn off to reveal a little black number underneath. Swift got about as sexy as you’ll ever see her get. “All Too Well” was deeply dramatic. Chandeliers hung from the top of the stage and it reminded me of Lady Gaga at her piano singing “Speechless” during the Monster Ball in 2011. I’m pretty sure there was fire and blood involved in Gaga’s performance, though.

Swift took time between songs to share some of her feelings and give young fans advice on life and love. When she looked out into the crowd and said surely we must have all felt the same love and heartbreak that she writes so poetically about, the screams in reply were deafening. All I could think was that at 8 years old, I certainly didn’t know heartbreak.

She closed the night with “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” The knowledge that she gets to end every night with the revenge of singing her triple platinum break up song, thousands of fans echoing in her ears and heart-shaped confetti falling from the ceiling is enough to make any girl, boy, man or woman want to be Taylor Swift. 

See slideshow of Taylor Swift w/ Ed Sheeran here!

Students enrolled in the Videodance series at Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School learn music video choreography. Photo courtesy of Vicki Parsons.

Beyonce and the “Single Ladies” hand. Britney Spears writhing on the floor in “Toxic.” Lady Gaga’s monster arms from “Bad Romance.” These are just a few of the iconic dance moves many of us have spent countless hours pausing, rewinding and repeating music videos in hopes of mastering. Music videos have been teaching the youth culture how to move since the 1970s, but modern videos that incorporate intricately choreographed routines are much harder to duplicate without a little help. 

Enter the Videodance series at Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School. These classes take famous choreography from the likes of Britney Spears and Lady Gaga and teach them in several class sessions.

Vicki Parsons, director of the Butler Community School, and Kody Jauron, a Ballet Austin II dancer and the Videodance instructor, created the series together in fall 2011. 

“[We] wanted a fun contemporary class that was less about teaching technique and more about just coming to dance and have fun,” Parsons said. “Due to the popularity of ‘So You Think You Can Dance,’ dance is a big interest. With the interest in pop singers and their music videos the idea came to combine the two.”

When creating a new Videodance series, the choreography selection is left up to Jauron. He said the real difficulties don’t arise in learning choreography, but in choosing which dances to teach.

“Because the class is marketed through the artists and the particular singles, it’s always hardest to decide exactly what would be the most successful in terms of numbers of students and which piece would be the most enjoyable to dance,” Jauron said.

Videodance has spanned genres and age groups, bringing in an unexpectedly diverse audience of dancers.

“The audience is so broad because the music videos range from the early 1980s to present day,” Jauron said. “It’s interesting to see how each video brings in different dancers and different generations. Despite this difference, the energy is always high and vibrant which is my favorite part.”

The classes also take on seasonal twists, Parsons said.

“Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ was popular at Halloween,” Parsons said. “We try to offer songs that will be familiar and artists people know. We even did a piece from ‘Mean Girls’ around the holidays. Santa hats and all.”

Jauron cites the King of Pop and recent Superbowl queen Beyonce as the series’ biggest crowd-pleasers. The most recent series is Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” which Jauron said has been a huge hit.

“Just recently we began our ‘Single Ladies’ workshop with over 40 dancers in the class,” Jauron said. “Talk about high energy.”

Despite the crowd favorites, Jauron admits to having his own favorite artists to teach.

“My personal favorite is always Lady Gaga,” Jauron said. “Her choreography is a really great fusion of hip-hop, jazz and of course plenty of theatricality because it is Gaga. I think the ‘Marry the Night’ choreography is my favorite because of its energy and choreographic versatility as music video choreography.”

Videodance is currently teaching Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” and is set to begin Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” in March.

Published on February 25, 2013 as " Music video dances taught as Ballet Austin".

Lana Del Rey released her first album with her current name. She had previously released an album as Lizzy Grant, which didn’t appeal to listeners.

Photo Credit: Rauqel Berteritz | Daily Texan Staff

As quickly as she became Internet famous, Lana Del Rey has become a divisive songstress. Her “gangster Nancy Sinatra” (as her publicist would have it) eyebrows, music video vamping and droning, and sultry bellowing come across as either the top of the pops or unremarkable. When she croons, “It’s you, it’s you, it’s all for you ... everything I do,” on her breakout single “Video Games,” you believe every word of it, but it remains elusive where those intentions lie on her album Born to Die.

Formerly as the singer of plaintive, Fiona Apple-like songs under her given name, Lizzy Grant, she released an album in 2010 that didn’t gain any traction, and she quickly performed an about-face. Lizzy Grant failed, and Lana Del Rey emerged a polarizing Internet-buzz artist.

It’s curious, her decision to scrap her career plans for a redesign: Has she shrewdly taken hold of the media-management behemoth necessary to become a successful singer these days? Or is she just its latest, most tragic victim?

Del Rey is no Lady Gaga. Gaga craftily pulled pop’s greatest bait and switch by first serving up middling dance music so she could turn around and do what she really loved: pure ’80s bombast. But she’s no Rebecca Black either: In a post-“Friday” world, where little production companies churn out slapdash music videos for young girls, we, Del Rey included, are all a little too smart to play the helpless victim.

Lana Del Rey (artist, image, person) and Born to Die are a completely disinterested Lizzy Grant playing along just enough to meet the minimum requirements of a pop star. She’s reached the third wave of self-awareness in the pop canon, where meta becomes self-loathing, where Lizzy Grant knows she has to be Lana Del Rey to be a star and hates every second of it.

Occasionally, she makes the best of it, including on “Video Games” and “National Anthem,” a campy, summery burst that includes the bizarre interpolation of rap verses, a la “Friday.” However, on most of Born to Die, she goes for artificial sweetness; those budget-spy-movie echoes and trills in “Blue Jeans” underline the album’s trifling, forgettable production effects. Not that it’s not a blithely enjoyable song — everything about the Del Rey personage and Born to Die seem engineered to be just the right amount of stirring for everyone to pay attention but not quite enough to be convinced of its greatness.

Those purely synthetic qualities make the album nearly impervious to curdling. On “Diet Mountain Dew,” it’s like Del Rey is taunting us: “Baby you’re no good for me, but baby I want you, I want you.” And “Off to the Races,” in which she embodies kitsch in the form of a “barrio” sex kitten, is a meandering, off-the-wall blitzkrieg. It’s her “Friday”: abhorrent but tuneful; a parasite awaiting your aural host.

It’s her voice, both vaguely operatic and restrained, that draws you into Born to Die’s diminutive sonic and narrative breadth. There’s only one score: moody chamber room strings. All the lyrics tell of her longing, pining, needling for the guy (or is it us?) to come back and love her and that she’s barely dressed and a little drunk. The production and hand wringing is exhaustive, but her voice deserves its own character study; it seems to exist and operate from a completely different place than the person it pours out of.

Born to Die is an album of probing fascination that’s hard to love. But when examined purely as an exercise in the production of a pop artist in 2012 — or what Lizzy Grant and her producers and agent think constitutes a modern pop act — it becomes an intriguing process album. The artist behind the music in this album, this experimentation, this construction, ultimately comes across as removed; but her voice comes through. Perhaps at some point, Lana Del Rey‘s levels of managerial- and self-negotiation will reach a mutual agreement.

Dena Greenwalt and Haylan Teel are the creators and organizers of Gagarazzi, a Lady Gaga-themed show that will be held Friday night at the Highball. The show, with proceeds benefitting Equality Texas, will include live performances and a raffle.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

“If not you, then who?”

That was the phrase Haylan Teel and Dena Greenwalt kept in mind when creating Gagarazzi, a burlesque and variety show this Friday at The Highball to benefit Equality Texas.

Both Teel and Greenwalt said they were inspired to create a benefit for Equality Texas when ranked Lady Gaga the most charitable of 2010.

Equality Texas aims to notify elected officials of existing policies that are negatively impacting people because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, said Chuck Smith, the organization’s executive deputy director.

“So any of the proceeds we receive from Gagarazzi will be used to help us in our public education efforts,” Smith said.

To organize the show, Teel and Greenwalt worked with the team at Homespun Horror, an Austin-based production company, to organize the show. They have created some short films for the event and also made the show’s promotional video.

“While making horror movies, it takes a certain creativity and a lot of intense, detailed planning, alongside a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants attitude,” Teel said. “All of that worked well for this event, even though it’s drastically different from filming.”

The two women recruited premiere burlesque groups from around Austin and San Antonio including The Jigglewatts, Austin City Showgirls, Brass Ovaries and others. Teel and Greenwalt said they offered the groups no guidelines for the type of performances they wanted, simply telling the groups to be inspired by Lady Gaga.

“I think the thrill of doing something Gaga-related is you don’t have to emulate, you can do whatever the heck you want,” Teel said. “They’re not only taking time to come up with new material, but taking time out of a night that they could be getting paid to do a performance somewhere else.”

Greenwalt said Lady Gaga’s background in burlesque as well as the historical aspects and unique appeal of burlesque performance were the inspiration for Gagarazzi.

“I’ve always wanted to do a benefit,” Teel said. “And how has it not been done before? She’s the most famous woman in the world.” 

The benefit will also include a raffle featuring one-of-a-kind items such as local Gaga-themed art, a handmade Gaga-inspired soap basket and a Lady Gaga doll Teel created. 

“We are hoping people come away with smaller wallets and a really good time,” she said. “I just hope people show up, be themselves — just in costumes — and have fun and that’s that.”

While this is the first Gagarazzi, depending on the success and smoothness of the event, it may not be the last, according to the organizers.

“In the theme of the whole show, that’s exactly what Gaga did, she was nothing and she told everybody she was something and blew up,” Greenwalt said. 

Printed on September 30, 2011 as: LGBT community goes Gaga for burlesque benefit

When Lady Gaga sings “there ain’t no other way,” she isn’t mincing words. Her second album, Born This Way, is devoted to her two favorite sonic levels: over-the-top and bombast. She likes her pop with rolling dance beats, grandiose lyrical adages and hooky, arena-sized choruses. Born This Way is her love letter to ’80s and ’90s pop-rock anthems, with plenty of tributes to Bruce Springsteen and Madonna.

Although most critics were divided, her army of “little monsters” didn’t need any convincing. They gladly turned Born This Way into a platinum-certified hit. To wit, Nielsen SoundScan reported Tuesday that Born This Way will debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 1.11 million copies in its first week — the highest since 2005, when 50 Cent’s The Massacre sold 1.14 million. It’s an impressive showing: Born This Way is only the 17th album to sell a million in a week since SoundScan started tracking sales in 1991.

For an awards ceremony that seems to carry as much gravitas as the Peoples’ Choice Awards, it had some serious star power: Rihanna and Britney Spears arm-danced together in a blitzkrieg of sparks, chains and canned vocals. Cee Lo Green at one point performed upside down at a piano. And if there was doubt before of Beyonce’s talent, then watch her elaborate dance number, inspired by a YouTube video of Italian artist Lorella Cuccarini.

(The following contains spoilers from recent TV show season finales.)
The TV season wrapped up with some long-awaited (but not always on-camera) consummations, lame, anticlimactic fake-outs and the dullest trip to New York ever.

On “The Good Wife,” Alicia and Will, finally (finally!) released their sexual tension in a brilliantly done elevator ride to a $7,000 presidential suite. Also (finally) having sex: Booth and Brennan on “Bones,” but the show maddeningly withheld their copulation for a surprise scene of Brennan announcing her pregnancy.
Meanwhile, “The Office” chickened out of their months-long buildup of a replacement for the departing Steve Carrell. The finale didn’t even make good use of its star-studded lineup of guest stars, including Ray Romano and Jim Carrey. Twice as infuriating was the finale for “How I Met Your Mother,” which included the key piece of Bob Saget narration we’ve all been waiting for (“And kids, that was how I met your mother”), with a slap-in-the-face “psych!” It would have been funny had the season not been so mediocre.

On the terminally uneven “Glee,” New Directions finally made it to Nationals in New York. The season came to a close as expected. Rachel and Finn rekindled their relationship; Mr. Schue’s plot line was swiftly abandoned for the sake of the kids (if the producers don’t do something soon to give Matthew Morrison more to do, he’s just going to be a singing vest); and the team just barely lost the competition — but they all had fun in New York, so who cares! Also, Sam and Mercedes are secretly dating, but it’s difficult to believe the romance will last. Mercedes would be the third cast member Sam has dated over the course of the season.

Hopefully Arnold Schwarzenegger has no further political aspirations: the bomb he dropped has ruined any chance he might have had. With his run as governor of California coming to a close, he announced that he had fathered a lovechild with one his housemaids 14 years earlier and he’d been secretly financially supporting them. His wife of 25 years, Maria Shriver, announced the couple’s separation shortly thereafter. His comeback animated series, “The Governator,” which was set to start production, was cancelled. “Hasta la vista,” never seemed so prescient.

Lady Gaga’s bad romance just got a bit more sinful. “Judas,” the second single off the soon-to-be-released Born This Way takes the melody of “Bad Romance” and adds religious controversy as any wannabe Madonna should. Instead of screams of “ra, ra, ah, ah, ah,” Lady Gaga cries “Judas, ah, ah, ah!” Instead of the Euro-tinged industrial beats, producer RedOne mixes in tribal drums and New Wave influences. Already inciting controversy over Gaga’s worship of the devil, the song uses Judas as an analogy for a deceitful lover and brings absolutely no subversive value to the song. While “Judas” is sinfully delicious as a pop single and hits harder than “Born this Way,” maybe we just went a little bit too gaga over Gaga. The single exposes the innate stupidity of Gaga’s music.

Continuing the chill phase of their career, Radiohead released “Supercollider” on April 16 for Record Store Day. For its entire seven minutes, the song has about as much movement as lava. Built around glitchy electronics and synthesized piano chords, “Supercollider” describes particles smashing into one another. There is an eerie quality beneath the song with Thom Yorke’s echoing lyrics. Though “Supercollider” has a pulse greater than half of their latest album, King of Limbs, that is not saying much. Damn, what happened to the Kid A days when the band had a bit more urgency?

Far removed from the buzz that surrounded their arrival onto the music scene four years ago, The Arctic Monkeys feel free to experiment on “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair,” the first single off of their upcoming album Suck It & See. The band abandons their sugary, hook-heavy Brit-rock sound for heavy, clanging ’90s-tinged rock. Lead singer Alex Turner does his best Eddie Vedder with his deep, foreboding vocals while the guitar chord rollicks along to a Clash-inspired melody. The Arctic Monkeys have moved on from being cute British boys to the rebellious teenagers trying and successfully growing up.


Doomsayers of the state of pop music may prophesize the end of the world because of the emergence of Ke$ha, but they don’t have to look too far for a savior in Robyn. She has the ironic foolishness of Lady Gaga without the bombastic intentions, the nonsensical playfulness of Ke$ha and the distinctive voice of Christina Aguilera, without the nauseating vocal runs.

Even in her presentation of new material, Robyn perfects the format by choosing to release three eight-song albums in one year. Instead of one drawn-out album of filler, Robyn gives listeners quick shots brimming with hits.

Now, after fans have had time to digest Body Talk Pt. 1, Robyn serves up a second shot with Body Talk Pt. 2. Whether it was intentional, the second part is the peppier sibling to its moodier, solemn predecessor. Although that may indicate an emotional void, Robyn’s wit and confidence are strong enough to mollify such worries.

In “U Should Know,” Robyn hilariously tweaks history by making herself the protagonist during important events, bringing down Nixon during Watergate, for example. As if that weren’t enough, she raps to the song’s frantic beat with Snoop Dogg. Their duet is strangely harmonious.

Although “U Should Know” exemplifies the ease with which Robyn adapts to different genres, the entire album represents her versatility, from the ‘80s kick-drum machine beats of “In My Eyes,” to the M.I.A-inspired, dance funk of “Criminal Intent.”

Under the sweeping, classical violin crescendos in “Indestructible,” Robyn puts together words to make them sound natural, even beautiful, that would otherwise sound jarring.

Although most of the songs are heavy on four-on-the-floor beats, Body Talk Pt. 2 has its share of tear-inducing moments. Continuing in the same vein as Part 1’s “Dancing on My Own,” “Hang with Me” recounts the healing process of unrequited intimacy over towering, glittering synths. It has easily taken its place as the album’s highlight.

Body Talk Pt. 2 can almost be seen as Robyn indirectly taunting current Top 40 singers. As long as she continues with this level of quality, pop music’s doomsday won’t occur any time soon.

For fans of: Lady Gaga, Lily Allen, M.I.A.

Grade: A