Archive for Lady Gaga

45. ‘Trick Me’ by Kelis (2004)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on October 12, 2010 by G.K. Reid

I just turned on the TV and there was Kelis.  She’s mid-song, and standing imposingly strong while under attack from blue and green strobelights apparently operated by a drunk.  She’s dressed in a fashion that I can only describe as ‘Grace Jones-puking-up-Madonna’.  But amid all this sartorial and epileptic frenzy, there’s no distracting your attention from that strong jaw and steady, diffident gaze.  

Despite being – as she pointed out in the slight misstep that was Bossy –  ‘the first girl to scream on a track’ (a track that heralded the arrival of a star but somehow ended up casting a shadow over her output for years), Kelis has always been characterised by a certain understatement, or detachment. Not detachment from the music she’s making, because there’s no doubting the passion and resilience she’s shown in just getting the fucking stuff out there. Rather, it seems fair to say that she’s displayed little-to-no interest in the limelight; it’s there in her voice, and that aforementioned gaze. 

Before you-know-who (i.e. Gaga) crashlanded on the planet at the end of the decade, Kelis was the most unusual, consistently creative female presence that mainstream American music had to offer, yet seemingy incapable of sustaining a high level of public interest in her. People went crazy for Milkshake, and songs like Millionaire and Lil Star were bigger hits than you remember, yet once she’d issued them you didn’t really know whether you’d hear from her again.  And nobody ever seems to be demanding new Kelis material. 

Which accounts for my delighted surprise at turning on the telly at 5.30 in the afternoon, in the last leg of the year 2010and seeing her there. Offering the world her NEW SINGLE.  On The Alan Titchmarsh Show.  As well as being hilariously incongruous, it’s also an infinitely more prominent platform than I expected Kelis to be occupying by now. And, to her credit, she still doesn’t look, or sound, like she cares where she is. (Which is crucial with these new David Guetta collaborations – compare her husky, unfussy delivery with the subtlety-of-a-brick, furrowed-brow bawling of Kelly Rowland on Guetta’s Commander or When Love Takes Over).

  Kelis likewise opted for unshakeable cool over laboured yelling on Trick Me, my favourite of her singles, enabling it to play as one of the most succinct and subtly empowering of dismissals ever set to a (completely genius) cod-reggae beat.  She even makes the sketchy rap work.  Just about.

Bonus points: Perfect video – lots of orange, cool-ass dancing.  Also, research tells me that Trick Me reached Number 2 in the charts, kept at bay by F.U.R.B by Frankie. But seeing as that song didn’t exist… TRICK ME WAS A NUMBER ONE SMASH. Congrats, Kelis!

 

47. ‘Overload’ by Sugababes (2001)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on September 18, 2010 by G.K. Reid

It’s easy to forget what an odd and welcome prospect the original Sugababes were in the pop landscape of the early Noughties.  Although they projected a casual, desultory vibe in the vein of All Saints before them, it was in a less obviously contrived fashion (no combat pants here). And, unlike Shaznay et al, in 2001 there was no peppy world-dominating Spice Girls equivalent for them to be marketed as the “cool” alternative to.

The very uncoolness of the Sugababes set them apart.  Far removed from the feints to rap and American R’n’B that were the stock-in-trade of All Saints, Sugababes seemed to emerge suddenly, to provide a voice for bored, lovelorn, and inescapably mundane schoolgirls the UK over.  Indeed, ‘Overload’ sounds like what would’ve happened if the Shangri-Las had been British and born in the 80s – still totally hung up on a guy, but altogether more weary and postmodern about it.  The Sugababes skip the melodrama and head staight for the (muted) misery.

Unsurprisingly, they didn’t have much commercial reach beyond this debut, but – minus Siobhan – retained something of their idiosyncratic charm (let’s call that “Mutya”) while exploding into zeitgeist-popmakers extraordinaire.  But then, of course, it was all downhill until the final (and least interesting) original shuffled off the Sugababes coil, and we were left with a trio of leather-clad, gyrating desperados screaming ‘RED ONE!!!’ in the vain hope that people mistake them for Lady Gaga.

 

Bonus points: My tenure as a Sugababe is scheduled for sometime in late 2011. If they thought Keisha was a heinous bitch, they ain’t seen nuffin’ yet.

93. ‘Paparazzi’ by Lady Gaga (2009)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on December 9, 2009 by G.K. Reid

Although Poker Face has all the hooks and the more immediate attractions, Paparazzi has proved itself to be quite the enduring slow-burner in my addled brain. One of my favourite things in song is when an artist not only insists that the object of their affection should love them, but when they assert that they are going to make said object do so (an excellent example of which is given in the aptly-titled I’m Gonna Make You Love Me, by The Temptations and The Supremes). It’s something that is specifically special to pop music.  It offers the only real safe space for a person to express such nigh-on psychotic obsession without restraining orders being applied for.

Gaga puts a shrewd (and of-its-time) pop culture spin on this by applying the paparazzi metaphor, which seems so simple yet works so well. And all the squelchy, jerky noises around her help create an appropriate vibe of severe mental instability. And for all that, it’s probably Gaga at her most understated.

The video, however, isn’t.

 

Bonus points: Best fucking actual popstar in yonks.