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.

The Beatles are Now on iTunes

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

After years of waiting and speculation the Beatles catalog is now available on iTunes. Check out this article from the Hollywood Reporter about the legal dealings behind it all. Are you excited the Beatles music is now available for download?


Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Four long years after their last full-length release “Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs!”, the boys of Hellogoodbye are back and better than ever.  “Would It Kill You” will probably come as a surprise to long-time HGB fans who grew accustomed to their electronica/pop sound.  This record is a lot more mature.  You can stream the album in its entirety here.

Step In Some Stereogum

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Have you ever found yourself looking for a place to find new music that is a bit off the beaten path? Look no further than Stereogum.com. Stereogum came on the scene in 2002 and remains at the forefront of mp3 blogs. In addition to mp3’s you can also find music videos, photo galleries, and music news stories. Stereogum has also issued a number of tribute releases for free download.

CLICK HERE to check out “OKX”, a tribute marking the tenth anniversary of Radiohead’s “OK Computer” featuring bands like Vampire Weekend and the Cold War Kids.

Stereogum’s news stories are often clever, short and sweet, a characteristic that makes this site appealing in today’s ADD ridden society.  The majority of news stories are accompanied by a video or an mp3 by the band or artist the story is discussing. Stereogum often operates as an aggregate news site at times frequently linking to longer stories on music magazine sites like NME and Pitchfork. My favorite aspect of this site is the lists section. Here you can find lists compiled by Stereogum staff as well as other sites like Amazon, Spin, and Rolling Stone and artists like Morrissey.

CLICK HERE to see Stereogum’s list of their 69 Most Anticipated Albums of 2010.

One of the downsides of Stereogum is that it does not act enough as an independent news source. They do have a great selection of original content like their review section “Premature Evaluation” and their Op-Ed section. I feel that if they were to put a stronger focus on music news they would become even stronger than they already are. Another weakness of the site is that when navigating the site it is difficult to get back to their original content, which makes it seem like more of an aggregate site than it really is. They would benefit strongly from adding a side bar that links to “Premature Evaluation” and their other sections.

CLICK HERE to read the “Premature Evaluation” review of the forthcoming Kings of Leon album “Come Around Sundown.”

Unfortunately Stereogum does not accept freelance writers but here are a few stories that I would pitch if I could write for them:

1. I would with a feature that would be a pop music retrospective from 1980-2010.  In this story I would take a look at pop music over the last thirty years. The trends in pop music would be examined and evaluated to see what elements have stuck and which ones did not last that long. I would also include an aspect that covers the pop princesses of the 80’s like Madonna and the pop princesses of today like Katy Perry.

2. I would examine in an op-ed piece my theory that the popularity of pop-punk bands today stems from the late 90’s popularity of boy bands and how the teenage girls that currently swoon over bands like We The Kings or All Time Low today would be swooning over *NSync ten years ago.

3.  Lastly, I would write a feature that examines the rising popularity of pop-dance music from bands like Neon Trees and Phoenix and how the evolved from dance-punk bands that originated in the early 2000s like Death From Above 1979 and LCD Soundsystem.

Critic Profile: Rob Sheffield

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Rob Sheffield and the cover of Love is a Mix Tape

Rob Sheffield and the cover of "Love is a Mix Tape"

Rob Sheffield a current contributing editor and music and pop culture blogger for “Rolling Stone” magazine. His blog can be found at http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/rob-sheffield/blog/79703/16. Sheffield has a wealth of experience in the music journalism field.  Prior to working for “Rolling Stone” he was a contributing editor at “Blender” (RIP) and “Spin” magazines.  Sheffield can also often be found as pop culture “talking head” on various VH1 specials.

Sheffield’s blog “Pop Life” consists of humorous looks at musical pop culture events, like the MTV Video Music awards and the American Music Awards. “Pop Life” also features pop music reviews from artists like Pavement, Katy Perry, M.I.A., and Lady Gaga. In addition to  “Rolling Stone” Sheffield has also written two books, 2007’s “Love is a Mix Tape” and 2010’s “Talking to Girls About Duran Duran.”

One of the most clever examples of his writing is his entry on Adam Lambert’s 2009 AMA performance. As he describes the performance he crafts clever gems. In one instance he refers to Lambert fans as “glamskanks” and describes the performance as a “full frontal Glambgasm,” both plays on Lambert’s nickname of Glambert.

Fellow music journalist, and personal favorite of mine, Chuck Klosterman speaks highly of Sheffield’s body of work.  Klosterman states, “No rock critic, living or dead or otherwise, has ever written about pop music with the evocative, hyperpoetic, perfectitude of Rob Sheffield.”

And I couldn’t agree more.

Katy Perry . . . at Starbucks?

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Katy Perry "Teenage Dream" Album Cover

Katy Perry "Teenage Dream" Album Cover

For as long as the modern coffee shop has existed there has been music in coffee shops. Often, the best part of walking into the shop to purchase a delicious, warm beverage is hearing the smooth tunes of a hardly known indie band. Today, as I stood in line I was slightly appalled to see that Starbucks was selling the latest offering by Katy Perry, Teenage Dream. While, I love the upbeat, dancibility of Perry’s music I would hardly associate it with coffee, or the early morning hours. Leaves me to wonder what is next for Starbucks. Will I walk in next week to find a DJ spinning at 7:30 am? I certainly hope not.