Feature Response: We blinked… and Poof! Gaga took over the world

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

New York Magazine’s Vanessa Grigoriadis is responsible for “Growing up Gaga;” a feature story about… yes, “her.” Lady Gaga currently reigns as the biggest pop star in the world. In March 2010, Grigoroadis published the story that had been in the works for a year.

Rewind to March 2009: Grigoroadis landed a one-on-one interview with the then up-and-coming Gaga, who had just released her low-budget video for “Just Dance.” This is the basis for the first part of the feature story.

Grigoroadis begins by giving a detailed description of where she met with Gaga; The Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood. This is where the rendezvous took place, and this is what will carry her story. She gives a brief bit of background on Gaga at the time (“opening for New Kids on the Block), which gives emphasis to how quickly Gaga rose to fame, and literally how far she has come. Grigoroadis also recalls some of her own expectations for Gaga back in 2009, before meeting with her: “I assumed that someone with a stage name of “Lady” was going to be a bit standoff-ish.”

The bulk of the first page of the story is derived from the interview itself. In both detail and content, Grigoroadis paints a clear picture of both the scene and the mood of the meeting. She also does well quoting Gaga, implementing her banter strategically throughout the piece.

Moving on, Grigoroadis focused her research solely on Gaga’s claim to fame over the course of the last year. This was part of her section called “How a pop-star is manufactured.” In this part, she writes about how Lady Gaga was in the right place at the right time with the right sound and the WAY right look, calling her “visually iconic.” Sayonara, Madonna! Grigoroadis also gives credit to Gaga for her willingness to be “a mutant, a cartoon.”

The rest of the feature focuses on the true transformation from Stefani Joanne Germanotta to Lady Gaga, even going so far as to detail where she got her stage name from to how she channels Andy Warhol (another subject of her research for the piece).

Other aspects to the feature story were a few multimedia pieces (i.e., a “look-book: 101 Gaga Outfits”). The pictures chosen in throughout the story are brilliant and really add emphasis to Grigoroadis’ idea of how Gaga was “manufactured.”

Grigoroadis did a brilliant job at taking the reader on Gaga’s journey from an amateur New York singer to nearly overnight sensation. From the organization of the article to the detail Grigoroadis uses to elucidate to the research that was obviously done, this piece is an iconic look at the biggest modern day icon.

‘Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album’

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

With the holidays coming up there’s no doubt that there’s going to be tons of shopping, awesome new toys and gadgets to purchase, and of course new Christmas music albums to listen to.  One holiday album that many are excited to get their paws on is that of ‘Glee.’ In case you’ve been in a hole for the past year or so, this show is a huge hit on Fox. It’s focused on a glee club in a high school, and they remake popular songs.  Not only do teens and kids tune into the show but adults do as well. JSYK.com, a teen website, is all up on Glee. Recently they did a little review of the album (read it here) and they had a listening party for it too. If you aren’t sure what a listening party is, it’s where all of the songs from whatever CD they’re reviewing is available on the site for you to listen to for free and usually before the album or episode is released.

I liked this article because it’s short and to the point, like most blog posts are supposed to be. Not only does the writer Nadine Cheung not try to be too promotional but she also added in comments to the article, which I really like. It shows that the website is interested in knowing what they teens have to say. The comments she threw in the short review were from the JSYK teen readers and were posted on the previous Glee Christmas album post that simply announced that there would be a Glee X-mas album. Also the fact that you can listen to EVERY song from the CD without buying it makes it stand out from other reviews too.

As I glanced through the other ‘Glee’ articles on this site, I noticed that they preview almost all of the Glee songs, a week or two before every episode. I think if you are a total Gleek you should definitely check out Nadine’s reviews and listening parties of the Glee tunes, that way you can make your own judgment in the end. Not only do the JSYK Glee posts allow you to do that but they also help you learn the songs before the show airs, that way you can sing along with Cory Monteith and Lea Michele all you want.

Feature Response: Terrible Things

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

CWG Magazine recently published a feature on their site on the band Terrible Things, which can be read here. The writer, Kendra Beltran, used some interesting techniques in terms of composition and the online presentation of the feature story. In order to write the feature, Beltran interviewed drummer Josh Eppard and attended the band’s first local L.A. show.  She did background research on the formation of the band, which can be seen in her introduction in which she talks about the members of the band and the previous bands that the members played in.

Beltran’s voice comes through in the feature, which is one of the reasons it is so enjoyable to read (for example at one point she writes, “In the end, we ran out of time because Josh had to load his shit (his words not mine) and we continued our gabfest before he took the stage in L.A.”).

I think Beltran chose a type of composition for this feature that is well-suited to blog-type postings on the Internet. While most magazine features tend to be much more linear, this particular feature was composed of six very short paragraphs that introduced the band and why Beltran was writing about them (they recently played their first local show).  The next part of the story then transitions into list format, in which a title presents a given topic (for example, “Josh Eppard on the Terrible Things”) and then subtitles below setting up the response to certain questions (for example, “Missing loved ones” and “Talking shit on other bands”).  This type of format would appeal to the casual online reader who can easily skip from point to point.  It would not be necessary for the reader to sit down and focus on reading the article start to finish.

Beltran’s interview seemed to be very free-flowing and the topics varied greatly. I think it probably would have been interesting to see if the drummer would have cooperated with a more formal sit-down interview.  I think Beltran probably let the drummer dictate the course of the interview more than a normal feature writer would, but in this case it worked well.

Feature Response: Halle’s World

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Back in September, women’s fashion magazine Vogue published a feature article on a celebrity who had been MIA for quite some time: Halle Berry.

Jonathan Van Meter, the assigned (and lucky) reporter for this feature, jumps right into the main idea with the question “Where have you been, Halle?” He wastes no time in asking her why she hasn’t done any interviews lately. Van Meter should be happy he writes for Vogue, because Halle mentions she would be gracing the cover of the magazine’s biggest issue of the year. How could she possibly turn that offer down?

In order to get a feel for Halle’s life, Van Meter roams Beverly Hills with her for a couple of days. He gets full access to all her planned events and day-to-day activities, including being the first writer to ever enter her home. The organization style and reporting was excellent, because unlike a phone or Skype interview, Van Meter got to see Halle’s true personality without any restrictions as he shadowed her on a daily basis.

The article starts off with the writer and actress having lunch in Beverly Hills, where he questions her whereabouts in the last 3 years. The next day,  Van Meter finds himself at a gym with Halle and her personal trainer. That evening, Van Meter gets invited to dinner at Halle’s place in Malibu. The writer gets a tour of the house as the actress explains details about meaningful statues and pictures framed in her home. Next, Halle takes Van Meter with her to the domestic violence center she has a charity for. The feature story ends on a discussion about the right age to conceive children between Halle and Van Meter. Basically, the writer puts together a print documentary of Halle’s daily life.

Van Meter did his research prior to spending time with Halle. He knew about her recent breakup, about her infamous car accident in 2000 and consequences that came with that; he knew about bad movie reviews that critics wrote, and by asking about why she decided to give birth in her 40s, Van Meter even finds out what the “one thing God got wrong” is during his experience with the actress.

I love Van Meter’s writing style for this feature. Everything he mentioned had imagery to it. I could picture myself sitting eating dinner with Halle and her closest friends at her weekend place in Malibu; I could also see her working out intensively in her hot-pink top and “funny-looking split-toe sneakers.” Van Meter masters the style of emotional attachment in this feature by giving such visual details.

In my opinion, I don’t think there is anything I’d wish Van Meter should have or forgot to ask the Hollywood star.  He answers the main topic of where in the heck Halle has been, and what’s in store for her next. After reading this feature, I feel like I’m BFFs with her. Halle shared intimate secrets about her ex-relationship, being a mother to her daughter, and how to survive the curse of winning an Oscar. I think Van Meter successfully put together a feature article that presented everything a Halle fan would want to know.