Lady Gaga, Pussycat Dolls and a Taxonomy of Vacuous Pop

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed
Not all messages are displayed: show all messages (465 of them)

is the development of solo artists seen as more worthwhile from a record company perspective? the boyband/girlgroup format implies a limited shelflife, whereas investing money in a solo act like chris brown, who is effectively a one-man boy band, can potentially pay off in a longer career?

lex pretend, Thursday, 23 October 2008 22:48 (nine years ago) Permalink

im not sure if this has any traction or not but maybe male r&b groups died here because it just became to inexpensive and not profitable enough to employ 3 or 4 guys who are singing songs written by people who have to be paid and dancing in choreography devised by someone who had to be paid etc

it seems like all success here in the US in terms of male r&b is coming from a few minds- ne-yo, the-dream, t-pain, akon even timbaland- who write songs for other people as well as themselves. i'm not sure what the business side of that is but r&b from a male perspective is so so concentrated now (even female r&b too since ne-yo, t-pain and dream all write tons of songs for women). otherwise the big stars are like, usher and justin who are holdovers from the era of earlier this decade. chris brown seems to be the only mega star i can think of who only sings songs written for him.

jordan s (J0rdan S.), Thursday, 23 October 2008 22:49 (nine years ago) Permalink

you can see that there are a LOT more solo women doing well now compared to 10 years ago (people used to joke about the Brit Award for Best Female because of the lack of candidates but now, irrespective of how you feel about their music, there's so much more choice).

Annoying Display Name (blueski), Thursday, 23 October 2008 22:50 (nine years ago) Permalink

Sounds about right. Used to be a boyband was launched, main dude went solo (possibly as bands were in and solo acts weren't at the time? and maybe things have changed around). Now labels don't expect bands to last long enough so they just have a conveyor belt of solo acts from the likes of X-Factor and the like?
x-post

Pfunkboy Formerly Known As... (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 23 October 2008 22:50 (nine years ago) Permalink

Certainly the times suit solo voices: it would be difficult to do an autotune track with a whole group (though in theory the result could be awesome), and solo singers can more easily make space for guest rappers in their songs.

Now I can't remember if Danity Kane use autotune at all. But the fact that they come across as so robotic (which would be a plus only for some listeners) is a good demonstration of the "dangers" of group format right now.

Interestingly, PCD songs are to all intents and purposes solo tracks with back-up singers. This may not simply be because most of the Dolls can't sing; perhaps it was just felt that this structure was easier to fit to chart-ready pop songs circa 2006-2008.

Tim F, Thursday, 23 October 2008 22:52 (nine years ago) Permalink

the boyband/girlgroup format implies a limited shelflife, whereas investing money in a solo act like chris brown, who is effectively a one-man boy band, can potentially pay off in a longer career?

also much easier (and cheaper) to manage only 1 person rather than 4

Annoying Display Name (blueski), Thursday, 23 October 2008 22:52 (nine years ago) Permalink

not that we should give much, if any, credit to the labels imo. t-pain and ne-yo have been two of the most bankable r&b minds of the past two or three years and t-pain was signed by akon after t-pain parodied "locked up" and i'm willing to bet ne-yo got a deal out of courtesy for writing hits but the label mad minimal expectations for his solo career

jordan s (J0rdan S.), Thursday, 23 October 2008 22:53 (nine years ago) Permalink

because it just became to inexpensive and not profitable enough to employ 3 or 4 guys who are singing songs written by people who have to be paid and dancing in choreography devised by someone who had to be paid etc

good point when taking into account the market decline (piracy + saturation)...altho the number of guitar-based quartets seems the same if not greater

Annoying Display Name (blueski), Thursday, 23 October 2008 22:54 (nine years ago) Permalink

um that should say too expensive btw

jordan s (J0rdan S.), Thursday, 23 October 2008 22:55 (nine years ago) Permalink

I don't want this to get into a pop vs rock rockist bands should write their own songs "debate". But when did pop groups stop writing their own songs? Cathy Dennis writes loads of songs as does betty boo, but their chart careers didn't last long really. Are labels too scared about their investments to allow pop stars to write like say Madonna did? Gary Barlow is the last one I can think of. (Does Ronan Keating write his songs?) I can't believe there aren't some talented people out there in the pop world that could write or produce their own stuff. (if any do exist please point them out as it's not a genre I'm an expert in obviously)

Pfunkboy Formerly Known As... (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 23 October 2008 23:00 (nine years ago) Permalink

I can't believe there aren't some talented people out there in the pop world that could write or produce their own stuff. (if any do exist please point them out as it's not a genre I'm an expert in obviously)

― Pfunkboy Formerly Known As... (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, October 23, 2008 6:00 PM (27 seconds ago) Bookmark

i mentioned these a few posts ago, but t-pain has basically written and produced every song that he's sung for himself or been featured on in the past 3 years. ne-yo and the-dream write a ton of songs for themselves and others, and though they don't produce most of them they have each have a reliable team to do the production. akon is the same as t-pain but he doesn't work at the same clip.

jordan s (J0rdan S.), Thursday, 23 October 2008 23:03 (nine years ago) Permalink

yeah i think the trend is actually towards pop stars writing more of their own material! and to let a lot of the songwriters out from behind the curtain as viable pop stars in their own right, like ne-yo.

lex pretend, Thursday, 23 October 2008 23:05 (nine years ago) Permalink

Any British equivalents?

Pfunkboy Formerly Known As... (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 23 October 2008 23:05 (nine years ago) Permalink

basshunter

jordan s (J0rdan S.), Thursday, 23 October 2008 23:06 (nine years ago) Permalink

Sugababes write many of their own iirc. All Saints did too.

Annoying Display Name (blueski), Thursday, 23 October 2008 23:07 (nine years ago) Permalink

All Saints is going back a bit!

Pfunkboy Formerly Known As... (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 23 October 2008 23:09 (nine years ago) Permalink

from a rock perspective, there are no boyish guitar bands that are successful anymore on a massive scale like blink-182 was. panic at the disco fell the fuck off and fall out boy are in the process of doing the same on a huger stage, so right now majors have nickelback and american idol rockers or one offs like hinder and finger eleven. i'd say, contrary to what herman has proposed, pop/r&b are far far outpacing popular rock in terms of "writing their own hits"

jordan s (J0rdan S.), Thursday, 23 October 2008 23:09 (nine years ago) Permalink

only 2 years! xp

Annoying Display Name (blueski), Thursday, 23 October 2008 23:10 (nine years ago) Permalink

there aren't that many british commercial pop acts left any more. girls aloud don't write their material, generally, but they're a holdover from a different time. the saturdays are the only other act in this vein having any sort of success, i have no idea whether they write their songs but given how pointless they are it prob doesn't matter.

lex pretend, Thursday, 23 October 2008 23:10 (nine years ago) Permalink

jonas brothers, jordan

lex pretend, Thursday, 23 October 2008 23:10 (nine years ago) Permalink

i wonder how the game will change as and when all these insanely popular disney stars grow up and forge their own artistic paths outside the disney umbrella

lex pretend, Thursday, 23 October 2008 23:11 (nine years ago) Permalink

oh true i forgot about them

but that's still not the same as a perspective a rockist would take cuz jonas bros and the disney-arm are like a parallel universe version of the music business. traditional majors are still flailing

jordan s (J0rdan S.), Thursday, 23 October 2008 23:11 (nine years ago) Permalink

Are many of the fall out boy type bands having hits written for them? I know that Bon Jovi (in the mid 80s when they got mega) used to have Desmond Child write songs for them until Jon Bon Jovi wrote a no1 single for them and took over. (i wouldn't be surprised if they get someone in to write for their hits now though) Kiss had others write for them too, didn't they?

Pfunkboy Formerly Known As... (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 23 October 2008 23:14 (nine years ago) Permalink

i think when it comes to the success of pop we're really going to start seeing two distinct strains:

-megastars who are promoted traditionally, like britney who had no promo budget because she was always in the tabloids, or chris brown scoring a huge hit out of a commercial jingle. i guess rihanna is the outlier here, but usher and pcd were both promoted really traditionally here and didn't live up to sales expectations. i'm not sure how many huge vacouous pop stars are going to appear in the ways we are used to.

-more artists in the t-pain/akon/ne-yo/dream writer/singer etc. mode, though even this may be dying out as neither t-pain or akon are really taking over this year and someone like sean garret flopped earlier last year

jordan s (J0rdan S.), Thursday, 23 October 2008 23:15 (nine years ago) Permalink

or i guess we have seen these strains i suspect that they will continue

jordan s (J0rdan S.), Thursday, 23 October 2008 23:15 (nine years ago) Permalink

megastars who are promoed untraditionally, jeez

jordan s (J0rdan S.), Thursday, 23 October 2008 23:16 (nine years ago) Permalink

Jim Steinman is probably looking for a younger band to take on the Bat Out Of Hell franchise haha

Pfunkboy Formerly Known As... (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 23 October 2008 23:16 (nine years ago) Permalink

jazmine sullivan wrote her own huge r&b hit this year, whereas ciara, keri hilson and cassie have all had huge megawriters behind their singles which have all been relative flops

dunno if this means anything though

xp to myself

jordan s (J0rdan S.), Thursday, 23 October 2008 23:17 (nine years ago) Permalink

hang on keri hilson had a megawriter behind her single? b-b-but she IS a megawriter! she's part of the clutch, the only reason she has a career is because she's doing a ne-yo-style move out from behind the curtain. wtf is the point if you're just going to hire someone else?

lex pretend, Thursday, 23 October 2008 23:20 (nine years ago) Permalink

maybe she's trying to groom a new her

Annoying Display Name (blueski), Thursday, 23 October 2008 23:21 (nine years ago) Permalink

wtf yeah i totally blanked about hilson breaking in as a writer

she didn't write energy though

jordan s (J0rdan S.), Thursday, 23 October 2008 23:22 (nine years ago) Permalink

but she did hire the producers of "no air"

i think energy is great though so :/

jordan s (J0rdan S.), Thursday, 23 October 2008 23:22 (nine years ago) Permalink

kind of back to the original topic of the thread...listening to a few of the scherzinger's finest moments over the years, i'm struck by how incredibly versatile she is, and this is because she commits so fully herself to whatever style she's working in at whatever moment. she's so subservient to aesthetic - particularly formalist within an ultra-formalist genre - everything's in the correct place and done in the correct way. 'i hate this part' is their epic groove/ballad, so we got those opulent extended syllables and flowing half-rhymes culminating in heartbroken semi-whispers. 'bottle pop' is their blackout-style banger so all vocal pyrotechnics are abandoned in favour of robotic intonation. 'stickwitu' is all tender candyfloss, the breathlessness of 'whatever you like' makes it overwhelmingly visceral, &c &c.

lex pretend, Friday, 24 October 2008 09:34 (nine years ago) Permalink

'whatever you like' is such a great lost banger, the video was amazing too and t.i.'s verse is so raw and sexy. "somethin' 'bout that cock, you think you got me wanna see what's goin' on"

lex pretend, Friday, 24 October 2008 09:37 (nine years ago) Permalink

T.I. said that?!

Annoying Display Name (blueski), Friday, 24 October 2008 11:09 (nine years ago) Permalink

Always the romantic.

Eric in the East Neuk of Anglia (Marcello Carlin), Friday, 24 October 2008 11:13 (nine years ago) Permalink

I would imagine breaking a manufactured pop band in this day and age is a very expensive and highly risky activity unless you have a ready-made marketing tool like a popular TV show there in advance. In today's market, its not really surprising that British record companies don't really bother.

Matt DC, Friday, 24 October 2008 11:33 (nine years ago) Permalink

no it's nicole singing about t.i.'s cock obv

lex pretend, Friday, 24 October 2008 11:34 (nine years ago) Permalink

i'm also v fond of this lost scherzinger track, a duet with rihanna called 'winning women' which exhorts women to represent their culture, keep their last names and buy homes in geneva

"where the word DIVA DIVA means VIVA VIVA, we run las vegas"

lex pretend, Friday, 24 October 2008 11:45 (nine years ago) Permalink

great thread.

I think as far as the US and where-did-all-the-boy-bands go, the rise of the Jonas Brothers/Miley Cyrus/High School Musical Disney seems to me to have created a cut-off point as far as market demographics. Whereas in '98, the Backstreet Boys and *Nsync would appeal to the tweeners, it still had appeal for high schoolers and even college girls. The Disney thing seems to have a cut-off at around 13 or 14 (pulling ages out of a hat, here, admittedly), and they've got the young'ens sewn up. Past that, you're going to get slightly "edgier" Katy Perry stuff, so the market doesn't exist for that kind of across-the-board boy band. Plus American Idol neatly manufactures groups for the other demographics already, without having to spend the money (Daughtry, etc...). A fascinating look at how the US sees (or the industry tries to sell) "pop" these days is MTV's Friday night show (can't recall the name), where they have a few live performances and premiere videos (IN THEIR ENTIRETY is the hook they give) and interviews, and the way that Rihanna, the Jonas Brothers, PCD, Ting Tings, Maroon Five, Slipknot, and No Age all (uncomfortably) occupy the same space. Not to mention it's hosted by Pete from Fall Out Boy.

The gay aspect of the taxonomy leaves the US a bit wanting for pop stars that can fit into the molds described. Britney holdover, PCD seems more of an abberation, and...anyone else? Not wanting to go back to the old argument of "America doesn't understand camp", but...

Gukbe, Friday, 24 October 2008 12:49 (nine years ago) Permalink

two months pass...

wow lady gaga really is the absolute pits isn't she?

Plaxico (I know, right?), Sunday, 11 January 2009 04:32 (nine years ago) Permalink

this whole thread: tl;dr

miss precious perfect (musically), Sunday, 11 January 2009 04:34 (nine years ago) Permalink

i hear this stuff all day at work. lady gaga is 10000x better than 'i hate this part', which makes me want to kill everyone

Lemonade In Hammocks (electricsound), Sunday, 11 January 2009 04:38 (nine years ago) Permalink

http://www.funnycatpix.com/_pics/no_wai.jpg

Tim F, Sunday, 11 January 2009 06:14 (nine years ago) Permalink

lady gaga is 10000x better than 'i hate this part', which makes me want to kill everyone

there is no statement more wrong than this!

lex pretend, Sunday, 11 January 2009 11:24 (nine years ago) Permalink

Conversely, Lady GaGa's "i'm interesting and arty" angle relies totally on her post-facto justification of it, there's nothing in her music or performances that would point to it. What's the opposite of the the Trojan Horse? The Emperor With No Clothes.

^^this was a very prescient criticism (though as the UK's been spared gaga until now, i've only had to start thinking about her in the past couple of weeks) - people like fergie and the scherzinger are really instructive points of comparison. fergie is the genuinely unpredictable, zany, out-there artist than gaga says she is (how much more inventive and ridiculous is the dutchess than the fame?), and as tim says scherzinger is so permanently ON as a vocalist that gaga just pales in comparison. but fergie and nicole have these extremely vacuous public images, and afaik have never said anything interesting about their artistry in interviews, or gone on about warhol as if by invoking his name they can grasp something of his essence.

apart from the performative/sonic side of it all the other unpackable aspect of gaga is the way she harps on about money fame boys shallow shallow money fame boys in her songs, which i should love, but really the way she acts as though it's some giant art project is so extremely tiresome. you can just hear her trying to layer on the irony ("do i mean it? yes! no!" I DON'T CARE) with heavy hands and fists of ham, much like calvin harris. and then think about genuinely great paeans to shallowness like lil' kim's 'the jump off' and again gaga just doesn't match up.

lex pretend, Sunday, 11 January 2009 11:35 (nine years ago) Permalink

I think 'Just Dance' is a very good record and its success doesn't surprise me. I like the way it has both an r&b and rock element to it (eg the neanderthal, cymbal-laden beat on the chorus). The fusion works very well on that particular song (and the chorus is massive). I listened to a couple of her other songs ('Beautiful Dirty Rich' and 'Poker Face') but found them to be feeble by comparison.

I think she is trying to be the new Madonna. That's the closest comparison I can see. When Madonna first appeared on the scene there was a similar sense of her early songs being very closely related to the funk/club music of the day, but also that she was trying (too) hard to be 'more' than just that. I've never been a big Madonna fan and that 'trying too hard' thing is one of the things that's always annoyed me about her (along with a lot of her songs being just short of very good - as actual songs).

Unlike Madonna, Lady GaGa seems to be quite a good singer technically, but, when you listen closely, rather too conventional for my taste.

--

I missed the earlier discussion about changing artist formats (groups vs solo artists) and I think there is a big, and very obvious, point being missed. Things change primarily because they have to change, to stop being boring. The boyband format, and also the three or four man (or woman) r&b group, died out (or receded) because it became boring, through overkill.

Every format runs its course, be it musical style, or the format of line-ups. When something begins to lose popularity, the labels notice that sales are down. The aspiring artists find they are not getting signed doing whatever it is so they have to shift to something else, or not get signed. Obviously it's more complicated than that (influences bouncing around), but the audience's liking for, or boredom with, whatever it is is what, to a large degree, drives change (in the form of rising or falling sales).

dubmill, Sunday, 11 January 2009 12:11 (nine years ago) Permalink

i think "just dance" is an all time banger but i dont know if i care much about gaga herself. i think the song is extremely well-written in terms of getting across the feeling of being really fucked up and not caring about anything but dancing. you don't really hear lyrics as straightforward as "I love this record baby but I can't see straight anymore/ Keep it cool, what's the name of this club?/ I can't remember but it's alright, a-alright" on pop radio and i think that's the song's biggest strength, esp. compared to awfully generic shit like "hot n cold" and "womanizer"

you down with challo.p.p.? (J0rdan S.), Sunday, 11 January 2009 12:25 (nine years ago) Permalink

it's the same reason why that veronicas song sticks out to me besides being sonically bonkers. "i feel so untouched right now" is arresting in the same manner to me as "i love this record baby but i can't see straight anymore"

you down with challo.p.p.? (J0rdan S.), Sunday, 11 January 2009 12:28 (nine years ago) Permalink

this is an interesting point from tim's OP

"Just Dance" reminds of "Piece of Me" but sounds so rote and bored-with-itself in comparison.

i think this is otm but (not to jump through too many backwards logic hoops here) it's kind of what makes the song attractive to me (lyrically at least). gaga seems bored with everything BUT dancing i.e. "what's the name of this club?/i can't remember but it's alright" - which i read as "this club kinda sucks but let's dance" which i like along with "i lost my phone but let's dance" and "what's the name of this record idk let's dance" etc etc

as it being sonically boring - yeah idk i could feel that. the keyboard bit at the beginning sounds exactly like lollipop/low

you down with challo.p.p.? (J0rdan S.), Sunday, 11 January 2009 12:31 (nine years ago) Permalink

haha ramzi i think u would, she's a pretty scary girl, says them how she sees them

plaxico (I know, right?), Monday, 23 November 2009 00:16 (eight years ago) Permalink

i think she just kinda likes it. and the fact that it still sounds interesting given all the crap she puts on top of it says at least something. you're right tho, her pipes need a little more room in her mixes. good voice.

oops i accidentally made it personal (surm), Monday, 23 November 2009 00:17 (eight years ago) Permalink

six years pass...

ha i've been meaning to bump this thread for the past few days due to my inability to stop listening to the PCDs' 'i hate this part' but i still don't have anything else to say about tim's taxonomy yet

― lex pretend, Thursday, October 23, 2008 1:51 PM (7 years ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

"I Hate This Part" holds up really well, though I associate it specifically with fall 2008 and the falling-off-the-cliff start of the recession.

... (Eazy), Sunday, 1 May 2016 23:00 (one year ago) Permalink

This thread is strongly carbon dated by the subsequent twists and turns in Lady Gaga's career.

Tim F, Monday, 2 May 2016 01:40 (one year ago) Permalink

ugh wow at all the "tranny" language and "ew she's ugly" type stuff in this thread's early days. not ILM's finest hour.

sisterhood of the baggering vance (Doctor Casino), Monday, 2 May 2016 15:13 (one year ago) Permalink


You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.