Feature Fridays: The Fame Monster by Lady Gaga

Feature Fridays: The Fame Monster by Lady Gaga

Welcome to Feature Fridays! Every week, the AU music library staff will be highlighting a different CD or artist from our collection.

This week, Student Assistant Elisabeth McCarren reviews The Fame Monster by Lady Gaga.

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“I used to walk down the street like I was a f*cking star,” Lady Gaga told Rolling Stone for her first cover story in 2009.  And my good sis, you are.  Gaga was referring to her state of mind before her huge breakthrough when she claimed her seat on the pop throne.

Lady Gaga’s The Fame Monster is a reissue of her debut album, The Fame, which catapulted Gaga from yearning for stardom to embodying it.  The music featured on both albums was the result of Gaga’s self-professed narcissism and artistic perfectionism.  She uses star power, the desire for it and her lack of it at the time as inspiration, while also using fame itself as a metaphor for love, sex, and her identity.  A pop album, The Fame Monster has influences of disco, glam rock and synth-pop music of the 1970s and 1980s, as well as industrial and gothic music.  The album was also inspired by fashion shows and runways.  According to Gaga, the album deals with the darker side of fame, with its theme lyrically expressed through a monster metaphor.

The album opens with “Bad Romance” which, according to Gaga, is about the various paranoias she faced while on tour, her loneliness in relationships and her attraction to men with whom romance is nearly impossible.  Continuing through the album, “Telephone” contains a feature with none other than the queen herself, Beyoncé.  Gaga says she was inspired by her fear of suffocation, stating that in the song she prefers relaxing on the dance floor to answering her lover’s phone call.  This is a metaphor, the phone call representing the fear of not having worked hard enough to succeed.  “Paparazzi” is arguably one of Gaga’s most underrated songs.  She becomes the paparazzi in question when it comes to the obsessive, immersive love she has for the man at the center of the song.  It’s a classic pop tale of toxic love.  “Poker Face” is, in my opinion, one of Gaga’s most iconic songs.  She originally claimed the main idea behind the song was simply gambling and sex, however, during her Fame Ball Tour performance at Palm Springs, California on April 11, 2009, Gaga explained to the crowd the true meaning behind the term “Poker Face” used in the song.  She suggested that the song dealt with her personal experience with bisexuality.  The idea behind the song was to be with a man but fantasizing about a woman, hence the man in the song needs to read her “Poker Face” to understand what is going through her mind.

It’s rather difficult to describe in one review the lasting and iconic impact Lady Gaga and this album have had on music and culture.  To attempt this, I’ll simply quote the woman herself, Miss Gaga: “talented, brilliant, incredible, amazing, show-stopping, spectacular, never the same, totally unique, completely not ever been done before, unafraid to reference or not reference, put it in a blender, sh*t on it, vomit on it, eat it, give birth to it.”

 

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Feature Fridays: Currents by Tame Impala

Feature Fridays: Currents by Tame Impala

Welcome to Feature Fridays! Every week, the AU music library staff will be highlighting a different CD or artist from our collection.

This week, Student Assistant Jacob Tracey will review Currents by Tame Impala.

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There are many great bands and musicians who have come from Australia, but none can top the psychedelic pop-rock stylings of Tame Impala. The group formed back in 2007 as a home recording project led by frontman and lead vocalist Kevin Parker. The group then grew from a small recording project to a five-piece touring band. Tame Impala blends the styles of rock and roll with psychedelic synths and vocal effects making their sound very unique and easy to relax or dance to! Tame Impala’s first album Innerspeaker was released in 2010 and landed them a spot on Pitchfork’s top 100 albums of the decade. This album also threw them into the American mainstream with some radio play and a growing fanbase in the states. Their second album Lonerism was released in 2012 which helped them gain more attention throughout the music scene.

 

In 2015 the band hit the music scene by storm with their third studio album, Currents. This album became an instant classic with one of the best opening tracks to an album ever to some perfect singles and hits. The album opens with “Let It Happen” which is a seven-minute track full of beautiful synth lines letting the listener know right away this album will be a new step in their career. The track talks about when things begin to change around you without giving you any warning, and how sometimes it is best to just let it happen. This track also shows off the story of the album which follows Parker (or a fictional man) leaving behind his old self and striving to be someone new.

 

Some other tracks to note on this album are “The Less I Know the Better,” “Past Life,” and “’Cause I’m a Man.” “The Less I Know the Better” brings back Tame Impalas roots with a catchy and funky guitar riff. The riff follows throughout the song and is one of the none synth-heavy songs on the album. “Past Life” is one of the most intriguing tracks on the album. The only lyric that Parker sings is “From a past life.” The song features a distorted voice talking about relapsing into the past after you tried your best to move on. The voice talks about a time he thought he saw a past relationship and how it triggered old memories. It’s haunting and brilliant all at once. The last song “’Cause I’m a Man” is very interesting lyrically. The chorus has him shouting out “Cause I’m a man, women/Not often proud of what I choose.” Parker commentates on how men often have no excuse for when they do stupid things, so they just say “it’s cause I’m a man and that’s what men do.” It’s showing the listener how stupid that sounds and sometimes it’s best to admit you messed up.
Psychedelic rock is a niche genre and can easily be done wrong. Tame Impala has seemed to find the right sounds and keys to keep that genre not only alive but growing! Their album Currents, as well as their debut album Innerspeaker, are both available for check out at the Music Library! Be sure to give both albums a solid listen!

Feature Fridays: ABBA

Feature Fridays: ABBA

Welcome to Feature Fridays! Every week, the AU music library staff will be highlighting a different CD or artist from our collection.

This week, Student Assistant Emily-Claire Nemmers will review ABBA’s definitive collection.

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Today I would like to feature the definitive collection of ABBA. This CD features 37 different songs by ABBA in 2 discs. This 1970s band achieved 10 Top Twenty hits on the American charts, which was impressive for the Swedish group.  With each track, the listener gets transformed back to the 1970s.


Many of these songs are also featured in the movie/musicals Mamma Mia! and Mamma Mia! 2: Here We Go Again. The movie, set in Greece follows the story of a young time trying to figure out who her father is, right before her wedding. The entire soundtrack of both movie/musicals strictly features ABBA music. The classic songs are given a modern twist as they are sung by Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried and Cher and many more. All songs that are featured in the movie specifically connect to the plot of the movie.

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For example, in the song “I Do, I Do, I Do”, the movie features a proposal scene. This begs the question was the movie plot based around the ABBA songs or it purely strategic and coincide that the songs perfectly reflect the plot.


For an upbeat listening experience that transforms you back to the 1970s, I recommend checking out this album and singing along to ABBA. The music library is also home to the score and original cast recording of Mamma Mia! the Musical. If you’re interested in more 1970s music, visit the music library to browse pieces from Billboard Number 1 Hits of the 70s.

Feature Fridays: Nuggets

Feature Fridays: Nuggets

Welcome to Feature Fridays! Every week, the AU music library staff will be highlighting a different CD or artist from our collection.

This week, Student Assistant Emily Langlois will review Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era.

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Today I’d like to feature one of the many box sets the Music Library has to offer: Nuggets – Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era. This 4-CD collection features a wide range of rock n’ roll in the late 1960s and early 1970s. With each volume striking a different tone, the listener goes on an adventure through the groovy lyrics and punchy drum kicks.

 

Volume 4 is my personal favorite because it contains catchy tracks like “Get Me To The World On Time” by the Electric Prunes and “Open Up Your Door” by Richard & The Young Lions. These songs are upbeat yet romantic and make me want to boogie on a sunny day. Volume 1 contains the “original Nuggets”, as this collection has apparently been on turntables for a number of decades. My favorite part of this set is that it features artists who aren’t too famously knownbefore listening to Nuggets, the only artists I could name from the psychedelic era were big stars like Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, and The Grateful Dead.

 

The information booklet inside of the box set is almost as interesting as the CDs themselves. It includes explanations of each song, the legacy of the Nuggets collection, and a deeper look into music in the psychedelic era. There is also beautiful art included in the booklet as well as the album covers.
If you’re interested in the history of rock n’ roll or the 1960’s-70’s, I definitely recommend checking out Nuggets. It’s authentic, unique, and informative!

Feature Fridays: STRFKR

Feature Fridays: STRFKR

Welcome to Feature Fridays! Every week, the AU music library staff will be highlighting a different CD or artist from our collection.

This week, Student Assistant Jake Tracey will review STRFKR’s self-titled album.

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One of the most strange and provocative indie/electronic band names also so happens to produce some equally strange but fantastic indie/electronic music! STRFKR (Pronounced Starf**cker) is a group straight out of Portland, Oregon who hit the music scene by storm back when they began in 2008. Their debut self-titled album is one of my favorite CD’s in our collection and is a stellar album from start to finish.

The album is quite diverse in terms of songwriting and style. The opening track titled “Florida” starts the album off strong with a great synth drum opening leading into the full band coming in with electric guitars and bass. The sound of their guitars almost sounds like a keyboard which gives the band a unique placement different from any other indie/electronic band. One song to note from this album is “Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second” which is a highlight for me from this album. One of STRFKR’s most famous songs, it features beautiful dueling guitars, a catchy bass line, and simple lyrics which causes the song to remain in your head for weeks! The closing song for the album titled “Isabella of Castile” is one of the chilliest and most beautifully composed songs taking a more shoegaze approach to electronic music. The guitars have a beautiful dreamy vibe to them making the melody and lyrics echo beautifully.

If you haven’t given this album a listen, make sure to come by and give it one! I promise you will not be disappointed!

Feature Fridays: Carrie and Lowell by Sufjan Stevens

Feature Fridays: Carrie and Lowell by Sufjan Stevens

Welcome to Feature Fridays! Every week, the AU music library staff will be highlighting a different CD or artist from our collection.

This week, Music Library Coordinator Cameron Betchey will review Carrie and Lowell by Sufjan Stevens.

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I selected this CD from the collection not just for its singular merit, but also for the evolution of one artist’s journey that it represents. Sufjan Stevens is one of the most innovative and unique artists working today. He is unafraid to bend genres and experiment with new styles of music that one would not expect based on his past work. Each of his albums is completely different from the last and yet they each are as thoughtful and filled with the same emotional depth and purpose. Carrie and Lowell is no exception. Each track on this album is overflowing with emotion and meaning. The general mood of this album could be described as sentimental and reminiscent. Stevens reflects on his past while writing this music. It is in many ways a return to the style of his earlier albums The Avalanche and Illinois, a quieter more thoughtful sound than that of electronic-based The Age of Adz.

 Stevens wrote this album as a tribute to his mother and stepfather, Carrie and Lowell. The album is a reflection on his childhood and on the life of his mother Carrie, who lived with schizophrenia and bipolar. She was also a drug addict and abandoned Stevens when he was a year old. This subject matter alone can explain the heavy emotion displayed in each song on this album. One that stands out is the track Fourth of July that describes the death of a loved one in an extremely intimate and beautiful way. It is a song that the listener could easily reflect upon his or her own life and experience. This is a common theme in all of Steven’s music, no matter the style or genre.

Along with receiving critical praise, this album has a been able to reach a new audience for Stevens. Given his recent Oscar nomination, his popularity and that of this album will surely increase and expand his base in a new way.

Come by the Music Library to check out CDs from Sufjan Stevens, Neutral Milk Hotel, The Cinematic Orchestra and more!

Feature Fridays: Altar Boyz

Feature Fridays: Altar Boyz

Welcome to Feature Fridays! Every week, the AU music library staff will be highlighting a different CD or artist from our collection. 

This week, Camille Cote will review Altar Boyz (music and lyrics by Gary Adler and Michael Patrick Walker).

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Altar Boyz is basically, what happens when you combine an era musical with a Disney Channel boy band, and that is why it was one of my favorite things to listen to in the music library last semester. We have a huge variety of musical theatre CDs in the music library including many virtually unknown musicals, and so far, this is the most enjoyable “obscure” musical I have listened to.

Honestly, if you are having a rough day, listen to this musical and enjoy a bit of a laugh. The musical satirizes both Boy Bands and Christian Rock bands. A particular favorite of mine is “rhythm in me” which is very reminiscent of the “Boyz in Motion” from That’s so Raven, so honestly, you cannot go wrong. I highly recommend giving this a listen!  

The AU Music Library is home to musicals and boy band CDs alike, such as Book of Mormon and No Strings Attached by N Sync. Come check out our selection, or browse using the link below:

https://subjectguides.library.american.edu/c.php?g=174982&p=1155529