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Lady Gaga killed the Video Star

Lady Gaga is changing pop music and culture.

When she appeared in the mainstream with The Fame back in 2008, I thought she was just another weirdo who got all flashy for the camera, hot on the heels of every other neo-glam 80’s excess kickback artist that was (and is to some extent) dominating the charts. Her songs were catchy, somewhat crude, but ultimately forgettable. Her music videos were also somewhat weird, but understandable and fairly common fare.

Paparazzi changed that.

Paparazzi was a video that was raw, disturbing, and full of a fairly subversive narrative. Gaga then took this narrative to the stage at the MTV Music Awards where copious amounts of fake blood were on stage at its finale. It was gross and provocative, and Gaga had found an empty niche left by Manson and the Shock Rock of the late 90s.

Then The Fame Monster came out.

Bad Romance, followed by Telephone and now Alejandro, are showing a progression into the various themes of abuse, power, prostitution, and taboos that are now really getting people’s attention. Everyone’s locked in to what is being shown in these videos (734,586,919 views on Youtube as of writing).

Looking back, it’s hard not to see a master plan here. With The Fame, her first videos seem like forays into pop star tropes that saturate the industry. These are capped by what is almost surely the most disturbing paparazzi trope video/song ever created. A song that made everyone turn their heads. It is at this point that things get subversive. Gaga’s latest over-sexed, violent, profane, and nearly unintelligible music videos seem to be revealing a dark and twisted world under the pristine guise of pop music. She’s changing and reforming the industry by pushing it to its limits. And to some extent, this is a good thing.

Lady Gaga a good thing? Let’s set a little straight first. The music itself isn’t really different from anyone else. Her music videos are not appropriate for children, but neither has anything anyone else has done in the past 10 years very appropriate either. The difference is that Gaga is not pulling any punches on any level, making everyone uncomfortable. Because we were sucked into The Fame, The Fame Monster has got us. That monster is feeding on us, dragging us into a world where Madonna and Marilyn Manson had a kid named Gaga. Too much sex, too much violence – something has got to give, and soon.

When will that be? Where is rock-bottom? I don’t know. I’m looking forward to it, though, because when you hit the bottom, the only thing to do is go back up.

I want to see some light in a pop music video again.Go go gadget gaga!

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This entry was written by Will, posted on June 24, 2010 at 10:57 pm, filed under Culture, Music and tagged , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink.

Good King Wenceslas

This is one of my favourite carols. It’s a favourite because in its verse you find the legend of the Saint Wenceslas, Duke of Bohemia, better known in Czech as Svatý Václav. The act of giving and the miracle found within the song are deep, subtle, and wonderful.

95% of people out there don’t know more than the first verse, so may I present the whole of the carol, using DC Comics’ 2008 Holiday Special:

Good King Wenceslas looked out, on the Feast of Stephen,
When the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even;
Brightly shone the moon that night, tho’ the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight, gath’ring winter fuel.

“Hither, page, and stand by me, if thou know’st it, telling,
Yonder peasant, who is he? Where and what his dwelling?”
“Sire, he lives a good league hence, underneath the mountain;
Right against the forest fence, by Saint Agnes’ fountain.”

“Bring me flesh, and bring me wine, bring me pine logs hither:
Thou and I will see him dine, when we bear them thither.”
Page and monarch, forth they went, forth they went together;
Through the rude wind’s wild lament and the bitter weather.

“Sire, the night is darker now, and the wind blows stronger;
Fails my heart, I know not how; I can go no longer.”
“Mark my footsteps, good my page. Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter’s rage freeze thy blood less coldly.”

In his master’s steps he trod, where the snow lay dinted;
Heat was in the very sod which the saint had printed.
Therefore, Christian men, be sure, wealth or rank possessing,
Ye who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing.

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This entry was written by Will, posted on December 24, 2009 at 12:07 pm, filed under Christianity, Music and tagged , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink.

Advent #5 – Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds, The Christmas Song.

This is one of the most emotive Christmas (-y) Songs out there.

She was his girl; he was her boyfriend
She be his wife; take him as her husband
A surprise on the way, any day, any day
One healthy little giggling dribbling baby boy
The wise men came three made their way
To shower him with love
While he lay in the hay
Shower him with love love love
Love love love
Love love is all around
Not very much of his childhood was known
Kept his mother Mary worried
Always out on his own
He met another Mary for a reasonable fee, less than
Reputable as known to be

His heart was full of love love love
Love love love
Love love is all around
When Jesus Christ was nailed to the his tree
Said “oh, Daddy-o I can see how it all soon will be
I came to she’d a little light on this darkening scene
Instead I fear I spill the blood of my children all around”

The blood of our children all around
The blood of our children all around
The blood of our children all around
So the story goes, so I’m told
The people he knew were
Less than golden hearted
Gamblers and robbers
Drinkers and jokers, all soul searchers
Like you and me

Rumors insisited he soon would be
For his deviations
Taken into custody by the authorities
Less informed than he.
Drinkers and jokers. all soul searchers
Searching for love love love
Love love love
Love love is all around

Preparations were made
For his celebration day
He said “eat this bread and think of it as me
Drink this wine and dream it will be
The blood of our children all around
The blood of our children all around”
The blood of our children all around

Father up above, why in all this anger do you fill
Me up with love
Fill me love love love
Love love love
Love love
And the blood of our children all around

WK

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This entry was written by Will, posted on December 15, 2009 at 9:01 pm, filed under Christianity, Culture, Music and tagged , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink.

O Come Emmanuel

Since coming to grips in my biblical studies with the implication of what a Jewish Messiah was to do and what they were to look like, and how Jesus both fulfilled and changed it, this has come to be one of my favourite Christmas carols.

In the 1st Century, The Jews had been in exile for nearly 600 years, and were wondering what God was up to, letting them toil under foreign oppressive evils for so long. They were constantly trying to remind themselves that God was still their god, and that his Messiah would come as promised. It was messy, since many ‘Messiahs’ came along and inspired many for awhile, only to fail miserably, like the Maccabees.

This song is a true advent song: It is all about the waiting and the hope for Israel and the World. Rejoice is reflective here, it’s a command: despite trial and oppression we need to rejoice in the coming of God’s Messiah.  Once more, this song illustrates how Jesus is the Emmanuel, the Messiah, and the Saviour, not just in the freeing of Israel the people, but of all people from Death.

In this day before the joy of the Incarnation of God, Emmanuel (God is with us), let us remember our need to rejoice out of obedience and not feeling, as we wait for the Second Coming of our Emmanuel, to help usher in a new creation and the fullness of his Kingdom.

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height,
In ancient times did’st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

WK

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This entry was written by Will, posted on December 24, 2008 at 9:00 am, filed under Biblical Study, Christianity, Music and tagged , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink.

A simple song, with a good message

Sufjan Stevens, Put the Lights on the Tree

Put the lights on the tree
(Put them on the tree)

Put the ribbon on the wreath
(Put it on the wreath)

Call your grandma on the phone
(Call her on the phone)

If she’s living all alone
(If she’s all alone)

Tell her Jesus Christ is here
(Tell her He is here)

Tell her she has none to fear
(There is none to fear)

If she’s crying on the phone
(Crying on the phone)

Tell her you are coming home
(You are coming home)

WK

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This entry was written by Will, posted on at 12:41 am, filed under Music and tagged , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink.

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