If you follow the Minneapolis music scene, you’ve probably seen Polaroid pics of shows and parties shot by Serene Supreme. She’s the IT girl photographer of the music scene and she’s amazing. She shot Sarah and I last weekend for our music project DENNIS. Check out the post here and take a look around her website because she has some really cool shots of a ton of talented artists.
We wanted to include the t-shirts and sweatshirts that I hand paint with glitter on my bedroom floor and sell on our website. They started out as theme shirts for our last album “Don’t Fall in Love,” but the fun just didn’t stop. We kept creating more beyond the original “YUCK” shirts and went on to make “BARF,” “WORST,” and a new one “U.F. FAUX.” Take a look at our website here and see if any fit your fly ass style.
New fashion: DENNIS “Don’t Fall in Love” crop tops and t-shirts for summer
You may or may not know this, but I am an electronic pop artist that goes by the name DENNIS. My girl Sarah and I are releasing a full-length electro-pop album this summer out of Minneapolis that is srsly gonna murder you (in a good way) when you’re hate-singing about your ex in the car. It’s called “Don’t Fall in Love” and is a collection of bangerz produced by me and written by me and Sarah that are all huge electronic pop jams about how much love/lust/life can SUCK.
Along with the album, I have designed a concept line of crop tops and t-shirts that go along with the essence of “Don’t Fall in Love”. You can wear a crop that says “YUCK” or “NO“, “UGH” or “DENNIS“. They are hilarious, hand painted by us and glittery as fuck. If you’re a glass half-empty type of person, you’re gonna love this shit. They are only $10, and all the proceeds go to funding the album release.
PLUS, you get a free download of our first electronic pop EP “Ice Cold”. Or you can just download all of our weird pop music for free here. But for real, you’re gonna look so hot in this shit that your shitty ex will probably die or at least tell you that you were right all along and are super hottt.
Plus, a drunk guy once told me that if you support independent music, an angel will bless you with millions of kisses and good luck for like 20 whole minutes. I wouldn’t pass that kind of a deal up bc you never know when you’ll need some KOOL karma.
Oh Gaga. I don’t know if it’s just me or if it’s a growing trend by former Little Monsters, but I have been fully uninspired by everything she’s put out related to ARTPOP. Let’s examine why the fuck she’s falling out of weird pop star grace, starting with her latest album release.
ARTPOP is a disaster
There are a handful of great songs on the album like “Aura”, “G.U.Y.”, “Venus” and “Applause”. But there are some REAL terrible things on this album, like “Jewels and Drugs” and “MANiCURE”, which both haunt the shit out of me. Sometimes I’ll just wake up with a riff from “MANiCURE” in my head and I am instantly annoyed. That song is a goddamn leper in her catalog, but she apparently loves it because she just put a part of it in her “short film” of a music video for “G.U.Y.” UGH.
The G.U.Y. ARTPOP Film
I can’t even deal with this. It was boring! The most frustrating part is that I don’t even know why exactly. Maybe it’s because half the themes are very apparent (fallen angel, industry folks who luv money) and half the themes are WTF but not in a fun way (housewives, Andy Cohen). The fact that she is calling this a film is absurd. I hate to be the kind of fan or person that’s like “why can’t you just release a music video?” but for real girl. Has she never considered that doing something insanely simple would actually be shocking for her brand instead of constantly releasing awkward try-hard grandiosity?
Beyonce’s surprise album and music videos are what Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP should have been if she was actually on the cutting edge of the commercial music scene. ARTPOP was supposed to be a next level game-changer in pop music because that’s what she told us it was going to be. ARTPOP then had a lackluster release, AND on top of that, Beyonce released one of the most exciting pop events of all time a month after AP was supposed to blow our minds. Yikes. Ouch. One more example of LG talking herself up and not being able to deliver. And then this ARTPOP “film” release? Girl, if you’re gonna release something and call it a film, plz make sure it’s actually a film and not just a bunch of pretty ideas that you puked onto a dream board and call cinema.
More than ANYTHING, it just really pisses me off watching rich musicians bitch about the music industry. POOR YOU WITH ALL YOUR MONEY AND NOTORIETY AND FAME. I’m an independent artist and it’s a struggle, but it’s even more infuriating watching big time stars complain about all the people who work for them. I don’t fucking care one bit about the specific woes of famous rich people because life and art are hard for everyone, but not everyone has the world stage and power that they do. While every other artist and person mostly has to worry about paying rent or putting food on the table, Lady Gaga is complaining to the world that her record label wanted her to put out better music and how dare they question her genius. EYE. ROLL.
Lady Gaga’s music isn’t that great
Her visuals are always fantastic, but she straight up doesn’t make interesting music. I’m not saying it’s bad because I really like some of her shit. It is standard in the culture of pop music albums to have a few songs that are killer as fuck, and then the rest of the album is full of B-sides. But the fact that she talks herself up so much, talked ARTPOP up to be this fucking grandiose marriage of ART + POP only sets herself up for more criticism because she can never deliver.
Every time I feel let down by what Lady Gaga claims to be and what she actually is, I think to myself (and out loud nearly every Saturday morning to my roommate) what is she such a great artist at? Really? Sure, she dresses in weird outfits and is a really, really great live performer. But if you just take the recorded albums which she claims is her main raison d’être, they are fucking infuriating. Here’s why:
Gaga’s music isn’t that weird or interesting. If you’re gonna sit there in a fucking teflon-inspired mock duck hammock skirt and tell us for like 5 years that you’re the weirdest and best bitch on the block, then fucking deliver. “MANiCURE” is one of the worst songs I’ve heard in my entire life. The second half of The Fame is terrible. Her country-inspired songs, her weird foray into show tune-esque songs like “Hair” and her embarrassing attempts to mix rock and EDM like “Electric Chapel” on Born This Way are all amazing examples of the grandiose mediocrity I’ve begun to associate with her.
All of Gaga’s albums have a few good pop songs, but so does every other pop album that has ever been released throughout the history of man. It’s no secret that huge pop genre releases have historically spent most of their money on the couple of big hit singles, leaving the rest of the album to sound like the producer had only 20 minutes in between jerking off and eating a boring sandwich to compose a track (for reference, any of Britney’s first few albums, Backstreet Boys, Xtina, Shakira, Rihanna, One Direction, etc). Gaga’s “other” songs aren’t that bad, but they’re not as great as she would have us believe.
Quotes like this about her latest album: “To make ARTPOP there must be an exchange between two auras: one from the sphere of ART, and the other from the sphere of POP.” Bitch what are you even talking about. This isn’t even a question of her being on another intellectual level and the masses having a hard time understanding. This shit just doesn’t make sense. Like, thanks for the definition of a compound word. America really needed that explanation.
Her obsession with the fashion and performance art world
You know what, it’s great that she likes fashion and performance art so much, honestly. But when she spends so much time in those worlds, she neglects her “first passion”–music. It’s like, that’s nice honey. You go scream in a forest. You do you. And then come back and be our Mother Monster plz.
It’s really neat that she’s modeling in a campaign for Versace, and that she hung out with Marina Abromivic and learned some performance art shit. But what she doesn’t realize is that all of that other malarky is negatively affecting her music career because she’s not spending the time on it that she used to (The Fame Monster was brilliant. Where that brilliance at?). And also, don’t continually ask or expect your music fans to be super engaged with all of your mediums. Please please please express yourself in any way you see fit, but pop music fans are pretty much just lookin’ for some feel good dance hits to get drunk to from people who describe themselves as pop stars. I’m not saying that no pop star can change the game, but there have to be less seemingly desperate ways to do so.
Katy Perry vs. Lady Gaga
It was a really sad day when I finally had to admit to myself that Katy Perry is a far superior pop star to Lady Gaga. LG was quoted at SXSW saying that:
“I don’t know what the f–k-all I have to do with Katy Perry. Our music is so completely different. I couldn’t be more different, really. I really don’t fit in pop music in a way, but I came through it and I’d like to think I changed it in some way so you can feel like you don’t have to fit into a mold.”
Lady Gaga’s music is different from Katy Perry’s in that on the whole, KP makes really solid pop music and Lady Gaga makes slightly less good pop music. I don’t even want to like Katy Perry, but shit, you can’t knock her pop songs because she works with solid producers and songwriters. Lady Gaga may be way more involved in the production and songwriting process, which is definitely respectable, but does she really make better pop music because of it? LG comes off as a bratty shit head most of the time who complains that people don’t get her art or that she alone is held to ridiculous standards in the world of pop music.
“I’m sorry I didn’t sell a million records the first week. I have before…..When it comes to me, everyone forgets where the music industry is now. You come see me and it’s like you’re time-warped to the 70s.”
There are so many things annoying about this, but above all it’s the fact that she’s blaming the state of the music industry on her shitty album not selling. Lame. Taylor Swift, Adele, Katy Perry, and alllll of her other contemporaries have fine album sales. And does anyone really still hold artists to album sales standards from the turn of the millennium? I know I don’t. I don’t even care. I just want a good album.
ARTPOP part deux (plz god no!)
What is EVEN MORE frustrating than everything I’ve posted above is that the ARTPOP era is not over. She’s planning a second act to ARTPOP that might actually be good because lucky for her, expectations are already low.
All in all: yes it may be hard to live up to pop perfection standards in the music industry, but nobody is forcing you, Lady Gaga, huge millionaire and world star, to stay in that industry. Nobody is forcing you to be a shit head in interviews and talk up your art like it’s a direct line to God. Do what you want with your body, girl, but PLZ if you continue to want to be a “pop star”, put out a cohesive album that can live up to the ridiculous standards you’ve put on yourself as being some kind of ethereal high priestess of ART and POP. Us lil monsters just wanna dance to some cool tunes from you, and maybe see some cool outfits and fun videos in the process. But if you can’t handle the simplicity of that, then I don’t know where our future together lies. Breakups are tough, but time heals all.
Britney released the video for her latest single, “Work Bitch” and it’s a step in a good direction. In the vid, Britster moves her legs way more in the dance scenes than in past videos of recent history. See “Till the World Ends” for the modern Britney arm wave dance-like reference. So yeah, this is pretty huge, folks. I can’t help but think every single time I see her perform in a video or live that her dancing just isn’t there anymore. But in this video, her dancing is creeping back to almost good again. As you may or may not know, in 2004 Ms. B broke her knee on the set of the video for “Outrageous,” thus leading into the downward spiral we all sort of lovingly remember. In the knee breaking video, you can see how FUCKING AWESOME she was moving. But she just can’t do it like she used to. Of course I feel like a shit fan for wishing and hoping she would dance like the old days.
Hope is such a dangerous drug.
“Work Bitch” also raises important societal questions like:
Will Britney’s new song inspire millions of people to work?
Will everyone who has been avoiding the gym finally get out of their laptop/couch coma and get to sweatin’?
Will Congress finally get their shit together after a Britney dance party?
Let’s hope so. I know I’ve gotten through some weird times by listening to Britney. There’s something ethereal and existentially comforting about listening to a woman ask a stranger to fuck her in the back room of the club, all over super hot club beats. The air of “Fuck it” and “Imma get what I want!” is so inspiring. When you’re knee deep in quarter-life crisis, it’s important to have Britney there as a reminder that you REALLY, REALLY can make it through anything.
CAN a pop song inspire a nation to quit being lazy shitbags on a personal and professional level and “Work Bitch”? Time will only tell if our Godney will deliver us from evil.
Here is a comp I found on Youtube that was suggested after watching “ashlee simpson singing live” videos.
BRITNEY ROCKS 4 EVER.
I happened upon this marvelous B Spears vid after torturing myself by watching a ton of Ashlee Simpson live performance videos. Because, you know, I wanted to remind myself that I once loved Ashlee Simpson, drove an hour and a half to meet her AND got her autograph. To this day it remains my darkest pop culture hour.
But for real. Ashlee Simpson. Could America could have crafted a less compelling performer? Like, to start, bitch doesn’t even have good style. She was like a watered down pop version of a pretty attractive, “i like 2 ware black n dark green cuz its edgy and my sister is a pretty blonde singar so i gotta stand out sum how,” pretending to be emo because of market trends, dad hooks up everything cuz he’s a closet gay minister and gays have weird powers, hot topic loving kind of gal, which is probably just the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever seen in my life. She must be just the most vapid and undeserved person in Hollywood, because everything was without a doubt handed to her. There’s one thing to be a pop star who follows the trends and gives the audience what they want to hear and see. It’s another to expect that your audience will follow your weird, manufactured “punk” persona and shitty music because of your formerly B+ famous family. People posing as punks are so fucking lame, because it’s not even that hard to be a punk. That’s how dumb her career was.
The only thing she really ever earned was all the times she got booed for being a shitty performer. She also married Pete Wentz, who is kind of annoying on Twitter so you can only imagine how annoying they must have been IRL together. *shudders*
You can even see her “A” for Ashlee in an anarchy symbol. Hahahahahaah WUT?! Nobody performing at a televised half time show for a football game is an anarchist. Take a shit on stage at a televised half time show screaming “WE ARE ALL SHIT” while setting a football player on fire and you’ve got yourself a genuine moment of anarchy brought to you by MTV. She wasn’t even trying!
What a horrible pock on the last decade in American pop culture. Music industry Gods willing this lady never puts out another single, EVER.
There seems to be a special alignment of the planets (or corporate music industry strategy. whatevz) when a huge pop star releases an album. Madonna vs. Cindi Lauper, Britney vs. Christina, and now Gaga vs. Katy Perry. What would be the fun in releasing a major diva studio pop album without some healthy competition?! GOD THIS FALL IS GOING TO BE AWESOME.
Lady Gaga and Katy Perry rose to fame together, both have two albums under their sparkly belts and are slated to release their third albums this fall, respectively titled “ARTPOP” and “Prism”. I have no idea which one I’m more excited for. Dare I say I’m excited for both? Pop blasphemy! Pop music tyrant! To the VMA stakes!
I’m excited for Gaga’s “ARTPOP” because:
I like all of the aesthetics so far. Her first single titled “Applause” has a fresh look to it. I’m digging the white a lot. It’s a whole lot better than her “Born This Way” album art, that’s for sure.
Gaga lives for art. She puts a lot of effort into her artistic process. “ARTPOP” is said to be a journey through collaborations with famous artists like Inez & Vinoohd (worked with Björk in the music biz and a lot of fashion photography), Robert Wilson, Marina Abramovic (famous performance artist and recently in Jay Z’s latest video release) and Jeff Koons.
Girlfriend ain’t afraid to get a little weird, which is always makes for an interesting time.
I’m excited for Katy Perry’s “Prism” because:
She is a quintessential pop star. I get the vibe that Katy Perry will (and does) do everything she is directed to do by her label. I like her music a lot, but it is very cut and dried classic pop music. It will be like 200 feet in front of new trends, but won’t stand anywhere near what would be called innovative. She is here for one purpose: Sexy. Hot. Pop. Star. And we love her for that.
You know she’s gonna have the best pop song of fall on her new album. She works with the best pop music producers in the business (Max Martin, Dr. Luke) and the best pop music songwriters (Sia, Bonnie McKee). She gets the best of the best of the BEST to help produce and write her music.
Her fashion sense is good, even though it’s completely fucking commercial “I’m a sexy lady! Gee whiz! Boobs! Firework!”
“Born This Way” and “Teenage Dream” were both great sophomore releases but totally pandered directly to “troubled” and “bullied” teens and less towards an artistic, grown up sound. I think both of their upcoming albums will show long overdue maturity, however Gaga probably has more freedom to grow up in the limelight than Katy Perry. Katy Perry is the pop music, number 1 hit maker slave, and Gaga is the weirdo artist but still has to appeal to a wide audience. Life is hard in Pop World, y’all.
All things considered, I think Gaga’s album will be way more interesting and creative than Katy Perry’s. It’s like if Madonna from 30 years ago (holy fucking shit it has been THAT long) split in half, birthing two opposing pop star molds: with Gaga you get the edge, the art, and the cravings for controversy. With Katy you get the “I’m the Queen of Pop now” who releases really great but kind of predictable #1 hits that are about as stimulating as a cold Diet Coke with a really great sandwich. Sure, everyone loves Diet Coke and good sandwiches, but it’s no orange San Pellegrino with a side of classical piano training and a penchant for performance art. Only time (internet leaks) will tell which album will prevail. BRING. IT. ON.
Good GOD. I love summer songs. They are full of life and love and sex (maybe, probably, HOPEFULLY). The first time I heard Olly Murs’ song “Troublemaker” I instantly loved it. It’s a refreshing move away from the synth-crazed hits of the radio over the winter. Plus there is not even one note in any of the melodies that is questionable. It just winds around the simple yet full instrumentation so sweetly. Plus PLUS Flo Rida adds a little FLORIDA FLAIR (oh god) making it a perfect A+ summer hit. Extra points for have a strong-willed female in the vid.
“Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke ft. Pharrell and T.I.
This song is pure sex. Robin Thicke is hot as FUCK, Pharrell is awesome and I guess T.I. is okay. Along the same lines as “Troublemaker”, the instrumentation is simple yet compelling and PHRESH because it’s not the same electro stuff we’ve heard for the past billion years on the radio (don’t get me wrong I love electropop but JESUS, instrument diversity is cool too RADIO). This song is just so fun. You can’t help but move around to it, and maybe kiss ur honey in the process.
BUT, the more I listen to the lyrics, the more I started to like the song less:
ok he was close
tried to domesticate you
but you’re an animal
Baby it’s in your nature
just let me liberate you
Knee-jerk reaction: bitch PLEASE.
One terrible part of loving pop music is the antiquated and rather dull views on gender roles and sexuality. A woman who was unhappy with a controlling man should let you liberate her because she can’t do it herself? COOL STORY BRO. NO, REALLY. I’m so glad another mainstream pop/r&b artist has written a song alluding to the fact that women can’t think for themselves. Real neat. SO 2013.
The uncensored video is kinda really fuckin lame too. I mean, it’s pretty and well shot, but super objectifying and YAWN. It’s full of topless and naked models with fully clothed men. Hey, here’s an idea dudes: why don’t you stop being so insecure about your stomachs/biceps/dicks/manhood and flop them around for a change? IDGAF if it isn’t as pretty as women being naked. EQUALITY MOTHAFUCKAS.
I know it’s a pop song and it IS a fun and catchy tune. But sometimes it’s still hard as a human, who respects not only herself but everyone regardless of gender, to hear lyrics that once again play into gendered stereotypes of sexuality, i.e. men are strong and women are weak. PUKE. All it tells me is that Robin Thicke and co. are living in a fantasy world where they think women need men to save them from other dudes cuz we can’t make a decision for ourselves. EW. YUCK. We’re all just human beings, man. Cut this gender shit out. It’s SUCH a bore and pretty intellectually embarrassing.
A- SUMMER HIT because the music is awesome but the lyrics are so 1873.
If you can imagine what Barbie would be listening to in her lumped out jeep, it would be this album (which gives Barbie a lot of cool cred but let’s face it, bitch was fierce).
I AM OBSESSED WITH “Prima Donna” by Marina and the Diamonds. It is the most beautiful pop song that is SO POP that I’ve heard in a very long time. Pop music has definitely taken a more electro/dubby route in recent years. Which I don’t really have an opinion on right now because I haven’t had coffee yet. I also realize I’m about a fucking DECADE late hopping on the Marina train. Whatevs, I work through pop stars on my own time bc I Am Not A Robot.
My newfound Marina love began when I finally burned a new CD for my car after months of listening to weird mixes and Taylor Swift’s “Red”.
(It’s really fun to discover new favorite music in your car, especially if you live in a big city. Traffic is kind of like an album anyways. It gets slow, you get stuck behind big trucks and you’re outraged, or you’re driving super fast on the highway and blasting anthems.)
Anyways, my favorite tracks from Marina’s Electra Heart are hard to pick because I’ve only been obsessively listening to the album for 3 days (granted the first day and a half was spent with “Prima Donna” on repeat and feeling invincible). BUT early favorites are: Teen Idle, Radioactive, Sex Yeah, Valley of the Dolls, and Bubblegum Bitch.
Pop music and escapism vs. reality
I love Marina’s take on pop music. Electra Heart is one of the most poetic pieces of pop I’ve ever listened to recently. Not because she’s trying to sound poetic, but because that is the way she writes and the art that she wanted to make. If Marina truly wanted to be a “pop star” in the traditional sense that we know them to be, she’d have worked with Max Martin and adopted some sort of British Ke$ha persona. However it’s easy for many people/audiences to forget that pop stars and pop music don’t have to come out of a machine: they can come from the heart too.
What’s refreshing about independent/artistic journeys like Marina’s into pop music is you get the lyrical depth that is absent from mainstream pop/dance music. Sometimes it’s great to yell “Mazel Tov!” “Tonight!” or “Dance!” when you want to be enveloped in the total escapism pop music gives you. Shallow pop music lyrics have a purpose, because ain’t nobody want to contemplate their shitty relationship or societal woes on a Friday night dancefloor. But when it comes time to feel again, you can say hello to Marina or Lana Del Rey, where you too can contemplate love and life like a normal, suffering human being.
Check out her soundcloud here because it’s got a lot of songs and remixes up. But I like her originals better than most of the remixes up on her page, except this Passion Pit remix of “I Am Not A Robot”.
First of all, New Order is one of my favorite and most influential bands of all time. I’m an electro-pop artist (Dennis) and a DJ, and “Bizarre Love Triangle” is one of my favorite songs of all time. ALL TIME. This song is fucking beautiful. This band is fucking beautiful. BUT.
As an an electronic artist myself, it is incredibly difficult to translate the emotion and excitement of electronic music into a live performance setting. As I watched New Order perform one of my fave songs on Jimmy Kimmel Live, I was completely underwhelmed and saddened due to the lack of electronic musical stage translation.
I think the lead singer, Bernard Summer, was great vocally; he sounded just like the record did nearly 30 years ago. However, the guy standing in the back of stage perhaps playing a drum machine is the reason this performance wasn’t as good as it could have been. Plus these people are old now. There is something so hard about watching old rock bands perform. I really hate to say it and even admit it to you and myself because these bands are idyllic. But their bodies have grown old. So much of being an alluring artist is a sexual appeal of some sort. Their spirit has changed too. Not worse or better, but different, which naturally causes their performance art to change.
(But then again you can watch modern day Stevie Nicks perform and she still has the passion necessary to keep an audience interested. It’s all a crapshoot.)
I’m not sure how many live DJ sets any of you readers (thank you for reading, i heart you so much) have ever been to. But they are fucking BO-RING. This has nothing to do with the fact that many DJs are SUPER talented DJs and know how to mix some insane, genius-level beats. It has to do with live show translation: it is simply not exciting as an audience member to watch anyone push buttons. (Exception: DJs mixing and pressing buttons for a dance room setting. As openers for other bands DJs tend to always run stale because nobody is drunk and dancing to openers, especially if the set is lacking visual excitement)
This is where electronic bands get into trouble. A drum machine is awesome, but you can’t FEEL a drum machine like you can feel a live drum kit. It gives the audience a mandatory heart beat to the pulse of your music that can’t be recreated through speakers.
Demands of the Modern Audience
Having been to a ton of shows throughout my life and most recently in the Minneapolis area, stage performance is a big part of why many shows are so underwhelming. Where is the creative lighting? Projectors of slideshows put together by the band to represent their aesthetic and therefore their performance art? Anything to keep the audience intrigued?
I don’t know if many artists have gotten the memo, but consumers/audiences are demanding as fuck in this modern age. They want all their senses taken care of. Being a musician isn’t just about making music anymore. You’ve got to give the audience something good to look at, something to feel, something to be, something to strive for.
Why do you think pop stars dress so wild? That’s how they get attention. Being successful is about how much attention you’re getting. Good, bad; it doesn’t matter. And if that means you have to wear a piece of shit on your face so all the blogs are linking back to poor style choice *AND* your song, so be it. That’s how you get famous. That’s the world we live in now, and it’s not changing anytime soon.
Consumers want to be sold a lifestyle (Ke$ha, The Strokes, Lil Wayne, LMFAO etc.), and if your band- new or old- isn’t able to sell that, then sorry! That’s why you see so many pop stars and celebrities selling fragrances or clothing lines (not to mention the fact that music doesn’t make nearly the kind of money it used to): it’s all about the lifestyle brand. Buy this and be like this person. Buy this and you will be accepted by this group of society. Maybe it sucks, but whatever. That’s life. That’s entertainment. A lot of things suck more than pop artists slingin’ perfume. Its the most cliché shit ever, but LEARN THE FUCKING GAME ALREADY. *drops keyboard and walks off stage*