Monday, July 26, 2010

Music Notes

So aside from my obsession with Interpol, a band I listen to every day and that I'm listening to as I write this, I like to think I'm musically "aware."

But not in the usual, "I know the names of this artist's parents" sort of way. I like to do analysis per se. So, I just heard Kylie Minogue's latest song, "All the Lovers," and remembered the woman has been in the music industry for 20 years. She's essentially the Australian and European Madonna. A cancer survivor who has always, and will always, done pop but not because her voice can't allow her to do other music, but rather I think because her personality is young, energetic and happy as that of a teenage girl. And because that's what's sold her millions of records.

Anyway, as I was thinking this I jumped on the YouTube and preceded to watch my favorite Minogue videos. Videos to songs dating back to my junior year in high school (yikes!) and that are certainly better than the "songs" today's teeny boppers sing about texting numbers to go out, or dancing at a club at 15. I mean, really?

And I also noticed that Minogue could very well be a Lady Gaga of the 90s and 2000s. If you watch her videos she is certainly a singer that never played it safe. Well, never played it "too safe" at least. In her "Can't Get You Out of My Mind" video we see the early tries at futuristic wardrobes. Face masks, cut outs and flashy lights included. In fact, so much did her video ( for this song remind me of Gaga's video for "Bad Romance" ( that I looked for other similarities to fight my thesis of: Lady Gaga is cool, yes, but I feel she has taken bits and pieces from artists everywhere and meshed it together to make herself "different" and people are getting tired of her act.

Now, before you die hard Gaga fans rip me a new one, I am not condemning her actions. It's a fact that EVERY singer takes bits and pieces from other artists to make a new image or find "inspiration." And Gaga has done this and pushed the boundaries much more to seem new or edgy or unique. But, I just can't be in the Gaga bandwagon any longer. I think that her initial tunes were the most original and, like any artist, she's just singing what she's given nowadays to exploit her image of crazy unique little songstress form NY. To be quite honest I am half expecting her to pass out on stage soon because the girl is doing so much at once.

If you watched the two videos I posted a few paragraphs above you will notice similarities as I mentioned. Still, I am OCD so I will point them out anyway according to what I noticed. If you noticed something new, by all means share it too.

-To begin with there's a lot of use of white; lights, costumes, skyline or props. White seems to be a color that sets the mood even though the songs are not peaceful or "white." As in the meaning of the color not the race.

-There's also the use of contrast colors in costumes, both singers use red to enunciate a change and take us to the next chapter or scene of the video, a scene where things get juicier and dance numbers heavier.

-Speaking of the dances, look at the dances! True Minogue ain't Britney Spears or anything but her routine is so robotic, boxy, purposely defined. And do you see the hands towards the end of her video? She gestures with her hands, her fingers, her motions are very much similar to what Gaga does through the whole of her own video, using fingers to point or look monster-ish.

-And as far as camera angles, Minogue gets real close and personal. Her eyes may not be altered with contacts to look larger that life, like Gaga's, but the point is the same. She is front and center in the screen, overtaking the shot completely. Just as Gaga does in this and other videos of hers.

-Finally, their outfits. Like I said, Minogue pushed the envelope to the limits the late 90s and 2000s allowed. I remember watching this video and thinking, "holly crap she's almost naked!" Well, now that I watch any pop star I am no longer surprised because they really DO appear naked in their videos. But the point is Gaga is as revelatory as 2010 will allow her, just as Minogue was back then.

All in all, the videos are not 100% equal but you get the idea. Either Gaga or her managers found "inspiration" in other artists and this is the result. Videos that make detail obsessed people, like me, write columns about there being a lack of creativity. But again, I can't blame Gaga of not being creative. Her video for "Telephone" was seriously one of the best I've seen this year. Yet, you wonder how long it took to come up with that "new" concept and how many brains had to be cracked to truly pull it through. And, to her fan's sake, I'm sure that in 10 years some new pop star will copy that video idea.

So what can you do, right? I mean after all Minogue has also been blamed of copying Madonna, and X-tina (don't even get me started on her) has been blamed of, blatantly, copying Gaga ( It's all in the game and Minogue's label, Capitol, and Gaga's label, Interscope, are rivals that must serve to the same audiences who want the same material from different people. I guess that's the key. As music consumers WE must ask for the true original, the true new, the true unique. But that's easier said than done.

And well, Gaga will continue being "unique" until a new artist comes and takes her spot because people, like me, get tired of her act. However, when that happens I hope Gaga "reinvents" herself and makes a ballad album or something that vindicates her as an actual singer. Sort of what X-tina did with "You Are Beautiful" that made her likable by the masses for no longer copying Britney. Poor girl cant get a break can she? And it will bring the copy cycle full circle!

Hopefully when she reinvents herself, though, she'll be able to change the Gaga nickname to something more smoother, mellower, and that would truly be a reinvention. Unfortunately it's not like she can do much with Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. That's a name full.