HOLD IT AGAINST ME
Who? Britney "Enigmatic or just crazy?" Spears
The Song: A relentless club pop stormer that's about as subtle as a bag of glow sticks being ground up in a blender by a gaggle of pilled up drag queens. The underpinning beat is stompy and obtrusive but the vocal gives it a sense of desperation. The first time Britney croaks (and she sort of does, it sounds like they've let her voice sound a bit raspy for some reason) "if we could escape the crowd somehow" it's a weird moment of isolation and dread amid a song that takes a cheesy chat up line as it's main chorus. It combines a slightly disjointed Xenomania style structure with an out of the blue would be dubstep breakdown and a whizzing climax. It is in a word: A-M-A-Z-I-N-G
Sounds like: Britney's Unusual You + Ke$ha's Take It Off + Magnetic Man's I Need Air with a smidge of Rusko for good measure
How has it fared? Insanely good at first. With minimal promotion it broke US airplay records while shifting over 400,000 downloads all in one week and flew to the top of the Billboard Hot 100. It was instantly a top 10 smash in most major territories also. It has started to slide but this is a single that is still in the middle of it's chart run. With the immediate iTunes release this track has garnered a decent chart performance but we'll see how the video and possible promotion from Miss Spears allows this one to shape up over the next few weeks.
The Video : Directed by Jonas Akerlund (squeal) and already the subject of fourteen seperate online teasers to be released daily until the official premiere next week. Sounds like it'll be a chaotic affair, heavy on the dancing according to dance-commander Brian Friedman. Exciting.
Do Say: "It's good for dancing isn't it? It's bit like a rave, a bit like that moment you come off something and feel a bit weird and a bit like that time you ended up at dubstep night and spent the night wobbling around"
Don't Say: "I preferred If U Seek Amy"
BORN THIS WAY
Who : Lady "Why would I take a nap, when there's so much WORK TO BE DONE?" Gaga
The Song : Well to say this has arrived with a bit of hype is an understatement. Gaga has declared this her anthem for a generation, a song about loving yourself blah blah blah. Basically she talked it up way too much. After talk of a deeper heavier side to the music the resulting confection that is Born This Way is a tad dissapointing.
Picture if you will Madonna, Kylie, Gaga and a desire to name check as many minorities as possible combined with a rattling cheesy dance pop beat and you have Born This Way. It's not that's a bad tune. It's actually tremendous fun. Infectious, catchy and feel good it's a pure pop blast that stands well amongst the current batch of chart ready electro inspired numbers. It's well crafted with a strong melody but you can't help but feel the urge to throw the kitchen sink of production at the track makes it too layered. Compared to how Telephone mastered the wall of pop noise alongside an airtight melody Born This Way sounds like a track in desperate need of a pruning. If you can get past the hype though (and let's face it, that's not easy now) this a great little pop tune.
Sounds like: Well, Express Yourself obviously. But also Kylie's Better Than Today. and also quite like Mandy Moore album track from years back You Remind Me. Seriously.
How has it fared: Well it was released Friday, topped the iTunes chart in 23 countries (it just debuted on the UK chart at number 3), broke that radio play record Britney had up until a few weeks ago and looks set to go to number 1 in more than a few places by next week. and there's a small matter of a Grammy's performance tonight, which as I write Gaga has just arrived to in a coffin. And a giant egg. Subtle.
The video: Directed by Jonas Akerlund (Squeal AGAIN), set in New York with talk of Gaga giving birth, trannies and we're sure more than a few jaw dropping outfit choices. Let's just pray it's 100 hours long like some of her previous efforts.
Do Say: "This song is good fun isn't it? and isn't it nice that she just wants us to be loved? Pass the cocktails, this makes me want to dance"
Don't Say : "UGH IT'S SO CONTRIVED, IT'S LIKE A MARKETING EXERCISE MORE THAN A SONG" Really?
To be honest I'm really enjoying both songs for different reasons but the fact that both artists are releasing new albums in the next few months is cause for much excitement. Britney's Femme Fatale feels like it might be a collection of brilliantly produced pop masterpieces with a slightly souless sheen while Born This Way will offer soaring melodies with a side order of cheese that might begin to grate. But who knows? As Gaga arriving to an award show in an egg shows you really can't predict the pop world sometimes.