Lady Gaga—”The Edge of Glory”
Everything I’ve read about this record points out the Springsteen influence (how could it not with Clarence Clemons’ presence?) but I’ve yet to see anyone mention the band who are an equal influence on the sound of this record: Journey. Which is just another way of saying that though I’m impressed by GaGa’s talent, I have my doubts about the sources she taps for her highly skilled, perhaps even meaningful pastiches. Golden-era Madonna is one thing, and maybe even Elton John, but I have my doubts about Abba and Journey, and I even have doubts about Clarence Clemons, at least in this case. Like too many of the records that this is modeled, and admittedly improves, upon, the sax solo sounds stuck in because it’s expected, not becasue it fits. What saves her is the fact that she turns the meaning of the music she’s imitating on its head: what once seemed an echo of the narcisstic, grab it while you can, Reagan ’80s, is now used to promote individuality, tolerance, and freedom of expression. Of course, that’s how the ’80s started, too.
Enrique Iglesias with Usher featuring Lil Wayne—”Dirty Dancer”
Better in many ways than Iglesias’ previous records, but except for Lil Wayne it still lacks in personality. Not that machine tooled dance music is a bad thing, and this is better than most, but I can only just tell Iglesias and Usher apart. But I admit I’m not trying very hard.
“Rolling In the Deep”, #29
“Jar Of Hearts”, #49
“Isn’t She Lovely”, #65
“I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend to Dance With You”, #72
“Dancing Queen”, #74
Steven Tyler—”(It) Feels So Good”
Steven Tyler – Aerosmith = John Cougar Mellancamp + vocal range.
Rick Ross featuring Lil Wayne—”9 Piece”
The problem isn’t the track, and it certainly isn’t Lil Wayne, though his rap is nothing special. It’s Ross, and his inability to inject any sort of meaningful emotion or subtlety into his voice. It isn’t exactly a monotone, but it’s damn close, and since he repeats himself a lot, it gets boring before he finishes the first chorus.
The Lonely Island featuring Michael Bolton—”Jack Sparrow”
Like most comedy records, this is funny the first time through and becomes progressively more tired each time after that. Which only makes you notice how obvious and incompetent some of it is (stupidest move: they actually stoop to explaining the joke at the end of the record). If I had ever cared about Michael Bolton one way or the other I might be impressed by his willingness to make fun of himself, but I never did so I’m not. Besides, there’s nothing in the world more hackneyed and worn out at this point in time than Forrest Gump and Scarface jokes. This is the modern equivalent of the borscht belt schtick that comics like George Carlin and Richard Pryor revolted against in the ’60s. Let’s hope someone new comes along and kills this zombie comedy as soon as possible.
Zac Brown Band featuring Jimmy Buffett—”Knee Deep”
Reviewed in Bubbling Under, 5/21/11
Jordin Sparks—”I Am Woman”
A word of advice to all would-be divas: when it comes time to record your feminist anthem, do not, repeat, do not ask Ryan Fucking Tedder to write it for you. It’s one thing to suggest, as Beyonce and Lady GaGa do, that glamor and high fashion are symbols of feminine strength and tools of feminine power; it’s something else altogether to imply that women were put on earth to wear stiletto heels.