In Part 1 I talked about how The Presets, Beyoncé, and The Black Eyed Peas have really impressed me with their latest albums.
Those artists impressed me because their music is unusual, interesting, and, musically simple, powerful, energy filled. The following three artists take a different approach.
Lady Gaga is anything but simple, though she’s no less smart, talented, or powerful than the other three.
Unlike artists such as Katy Perry and Ke$ha, who appear to be victims of cookie-cutter, hyper-sexualized American popular music and culture, Lady Gaga is in totally charge of her own destiny.
In fact, her attitude is more like: “I’ll take your cookie-cutter-ness and hyper-sexuality and will raise them to my own bizarre, cliche-breaking, concept-twisting level. Oh, and I’ll make incredibly catchy and insanely successful music while doing so.”
One of the best ways to compare and contrast Katy Perry, Ke$ha, and Lady Gaga is to read their entries on the awesome TV Tropes wiki:
And since it’ll take forever to go through Lady Gaga’s entry here are three quick highlights from those three pages:
- Check out this awesome mash-up between Katy Perry’s ‘California Girls’ and Ke$ha’s ‘Tik Tok’. It’s worth it.
- Someone described Ke$ha as “Stephenie Meyer to Lady Gaga's J. K. Rowling”.
- Lady Gaga is described as someone who regularly “crosses the line twice” :)
Lady Gaga is awesome. Why? Because Lady Gaga is awesome.
Switching genres completely, someone else who is doing things her own way is Theresa Andersson.
And now for something completely different: the fabulous Linkin Park.
Linkin Park are actually why I started writing these blog posts. A couple of nights ago I listened to their latest single, ‘Waiting for the End’, on YouTube and loved it. And since I also loved their previous album, Minutes to Midnight, I went straight to their website and bought A Thousand Suns (DRM-free 320kbps MP3s!).
I started listening to this once it finished downloading and, frankly, I couldn’t put it down. Why? Because it’s been quite a while since someone’s put together a really good rock concept album.
(I’m not a big enough fan of Green Day to have liked 21st Century Breakdown all that much and Nine Inch Nails’ Year Zero was released in 2007. Oh, and U2’s No Line on The Horizon was more of an experimental album than a proper concept album.)
To reinforce the fact that this is, indeed, a concept album that should be listened to from start to finish at least once, when you download the album you also get an MP3 called ‘A Thousand Suns – The Full Experience’ which is the entire 47:56 minute album as a single track :)
What’s cooler is that this album fits really well with the kind of music I’m listening to and the kinds of books I’m reading these days: Hans Zimmer’s soundtracks to ‘The Dark Knight’ and ‘Inception’ and China Miéville’s ‘The City and the City’. So songs and stories about war, dystopia, human struggle, and human perseverance, not only seem to be the order of the day – thanks to our global political and economic climate – they’re also what I’m into right now.
The best part is that, like any good concept album (or, indeed, great soundtrack), this one contains excellent music and is really well textured, structured, and paced.
Also, it sounds like a mixture of Linkin Park, Nine Inch Nails, U2, and, in one song, Public Enemy. How could you not love that combination? :) My current favourite song from the album, by the way, is ‘Blackout’.
So there you have it: six bands (well, technically, ‘artists’ since that’s the more accurate and more all-encompassing term) that have impressed me most over the last couple of years. I hope you enjoy their music, too.