Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Truth About Jedward

The post X Factor reaction to those big haired boys John and Edward Grimes has been really interesting. And quite fun to watch. From appearing on the Late Late Toy Show ("ohmygodican'tbelievewe'reonthetoyshowthisis..sooooexciting" etc) to opening the Arnotts sale ( you know how it is) and doing a mountain of club appearances in between these boys are having so much fun with their new found fame it that is hard to resist.

I do particularly love this clip (which I saw when The Bubble Boy posted it on Facebook, thanks for that) of the boys on The Graham Norton Show (airing tomorrow for those of you not going out for NYE or who have a Sky+) where they manage to hold their own against Graham Norton, Joan Rivers and Sarah Jessica Parker (who is on fine form it must be said).

Watching the boys careen around big name TV gigs reminds me of someone else. Another dynamic duo that were a hit with all ages and had no problem just being themselves and doing their own thing and cracking up the audience while they were doing it. I do of course mean Zig and Zag. Thanks to YouTube and the DVD they released last year I've noticed that their brand of zany humour and fun has been missing from TV in many ways. Its hard to watch this:

and not think of this:

I'm telling you, these boys have the Zig and Zag magic. And that is no bad thing.

And speaking of Zig and Zag this is priceless, I wish somebody, anybody would do TV as harebrained and effortless as this:

Six Pack: Six Great TV Shows This Decade

I really get freaked out by top ten lists as much as I love reading them. I always get an inferiority complex about all the amazing stuff I haven't consumed. But I had to throw my hat into the ring somehow. And given my strange obsession with the Six Pack idea here on Pop Culture Platinum it seemed fitting to do some kind of list. But I got freaked out about writing about music because I just didn't know where to start, so.... instead we have six of my TV faves of this decade. By no means definitive and certainly missing a few things but a bit of fun nonetheless

Without further ado:

30 Rock: Plenty of great sitcoms this decade as the traditional styles of Friends and Will and Grace that were so popular made way for less of a reliance on canned laughter and traditional camera set ups. This gave us The Office (UK & US), Curb Your Enthusiasm and Arrested Development and many more. But 30 Rock is my personal favourite. A genuinely brilliant ensemble cast and a fantastic lead performance from Tina Fey backed up with whipsmart pop culture references and a fine mix of one liners and surreal moments it is an endlessly rewarding watch. And it is always hard to argue with The Muffin Top Song.

Mad Men: I had to have one "proper", "serious" drama on this list! And it might as well be this. In a decade were serious character driven drama won awards and audiences (you can thank DVD boxsets for that) from the big daddy The Sopranos to the most name dropped series of the decade, The Wire there is no shortage of innovative dramas that demand your time. Mad Men is my pick of the bunch. The period detail is sublime and the world of Sterling Cooper is brilliantly drawn. Throw in the complex, multi layered character of Don Draper and the lovely, lovely Joan and you have a show that has truly earned all of the praise heaped upon it.

Gilmore Girls : One of the most underrated shows of this decade. A genuinely sweet but still sharp comedy drama that brought a small town to life with an ease other comedies would kill for, the real ace in the hole for this series was the dream team of Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel. A too good to be true pairing they may have been (who talks like that with their mother? Nobody) but they brought the sparkling and oh-so-fast scripting to life with style. Put aside any preconceptions you may have about a family drama set in a small town and dig in, Gilmore Girls is one of the most tightly scripted TV shows you'll ever see.

The Hills: There had to be one reality show here. In a decade when a new genre of TV was born The Hills brought gloss, glamour and lots and lots of blank stares to our screens. Compulsive and beautifully shot The Hills may appear to be about very little but that is part of its charm. One of the few shows looking at 20 something life and connecting with our new found celebrity culture it really is no surprise this show struck such a nerve. Whether Team Heidi or Team Lauren of just Team I Really Should Not Be Watching This, The Hills was the reality show to beat this decade.

The O.C.  It may now be a bit of a TV relic but it would be a shame to dismiss the quality of the show when it got things right. The O.C. gave teen drama a warmth, humour and knowing quality that was very of the decade. Happy to engage with a passionate online fanbase and as comfortable with comedy as it was drama The O.C. is every bit a teen classic as My So Called Life or Buffy (in its own in joke heavy, overly soundtracked way) and the TV show that made using "hot new bands" acceptable as way of scoring a show (we're looking at you Grey's Anatomy).

Veronica Mars: One of my favourite shows EVER and one that I will consistently rave about if given half the chance. A sharp, witty, moving, noirish, addictive thrill ride and one that will hook in the most cynical of viewers. The first season is a masterclass in how to build a mystery over a season of TV while still have plenty of time for one liners, relationship drama and father-daughter bonding. This should have so much bigger than it was. You owe it to yourself to check it out. Not least for the lead Kristen Bell who is several shades of amazing. She should become a huge film star, like many a great TV actress, but whether she does or not she will always have her winning performance in this to fall back on.

Some honourable mentions (that didn't qualify for date reasons or they didn't jump out at me at first, which is part of the qualification for this spur of the moment list) : Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Alias, Sex and the City, Undeclared, The Rachel Zoe Project, The City, America's Next Top Model, Life As We Know It, The Simple Life, Chelsea Lately, My Life On The D-List, The Dead Zone, Firefly, Dead Like Me,  Gossip Girl, Samantha Who?, The Osbournes, (this is an awfully trashy list is it not?)

Not Exactly News BUT the video for Rihanna's Hard is...


I meant to watch this a few weeks ago when it leaked but how balls out amazing is Rihanna's video for "Hard"? Skillfully shot, effortlessly sexy and with a neat mix of slight plot and supremely fierce fashion, its a masterclass in how to do a big name music video. Take note other popstars. "Rated R" has had a fantastic visual campaign to add to the brilliance of the music and I can't wait to see what RiRi brings for us in the coming year. Apparently Rude Boy is to be the next single for the UK/Ireland presumably followed by this, but until that video surfaces lets enjoy bad ass military chic Rihanna in all her glory:

The Wonderful World of Wynter Gordon

Wynter Gordon came to the attention of eager pop fans at the start of last year when Popjustice mentioned her still-sounds-brilliant pop gem "Surveillance". It seemed to be a sure fire winner in the "best singles of 2008" lists but the track was never properly released and Wynter has yet to release her own material. She has built her own profile slowly but surely with new tracks and demos for other artists (including Jennifer Lopez whose new album features a number of tracks co written by Wynter) as well as guesting on Flo Rida's hit "Sugar" and a track on David Guetta's "One Love" ("Toyfriend" one of the highlights).

I've been keeping an eye on her stuff on and off and found this leaked track today (which seems to be knocking about for the last few weeks). A sprightly piece of club pop (produced by David Guetta allegedly though I'm not sure if that is true), not unlike "Celebration" by Madonna, "Dirty Talk" feels like a track that would sound very good blasting out of the radio and even better on a sweaty dancefloor. I'm not sure why Wynter hasn't taken off yet but I hope 2010 finally gets to be her year.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Lady Gaga Phones A Fan. Mid Concert.

Saw this on Twitter earlier (thanks to Ian Healy) and I do love it. Lady Gaga whips out a phone and gives an over-excited fan a quick ring. I do love that she did this but found myself wondering throughout just HOW she got his phone number. It is a bit stalkertastic if you ask me.

And can you imagine Britney doing this? Or Madonna? Hilarious.

I'm aware that this should lead into a searing sociological style analysis of how this ties into the rapid way Gaga hs built a community of loyal followers by reconfiguring how we view fame culture and pop starlets.

But really... it is Lady Gaga. Resplendent in feathers. And phoning a probable homosexual who chants down the phone at her. While she sits at a piano mid concert. So really, my work here is done.

Tyra Stops Smiling With Her Talk Show Eyes

Well this is quite the development. Tyra Banks has just announced today that this season of her talk show, The Tyra Banks Show (she should have called it I Wish I Was Oprah if you ask me) will be her last.

What. A. Tragedy.

The Tyra show never really took off because in all honesty it is muck. Even compared to other talk shows. Tyra for all her self belief does not know how to interview people. It is always about her during each segment to an embarrassing degree.

Still it is a shame that now D list celebs will have to hawk their wares elsewhere, that girls who used to be on Top Model won't have this show to fall back when they need the bills paid or when Tyra wants to wear a swimsuit and tell people she IS NOT FAT. Forshame.

In honour of the annoucement watch this utterly cringealicious interview with TyTy and Miss Janet Jackson from last year. It sums up her fawning, utterly crap approach to interviewing quite succintly:

Monday, December 21, 2009

Why This X Factor Against the Machine Stuff Is Missing The Point

So... where to start?

At this point it might be old news that Rage Against The Machine have wound up at top of the UK Singles chart for that much heralded Christmas number one (they'll likely end up doing the same thing in the Irish chart this week coming). Joe McElderry has gotten his pop career off to an interesting start at the least.

There has been plenty of discussion about how this is a "victory" for "real music" and shown that silly Simon Cowell who is boss. I'm not quite sure to start with this and I've already had a few sneaky rants here and there about the stupidity of of it all. But surely now that it about to become old hat why not blog about? That is just how on the button I truly am!

First of all get the gist on the story here without much of the inherently snobby writing that has marred much of the newspaper coverage of this (more on that later).

It is nice that some interest has been sparked in the charts after the dullness of X Factor claiming the top so many years in a row. I love pop music and am always interested in the charts because it is always great to see what isn't and isn't selling. I've never liked "campaigns" to get a certain song to chart. The chart should work off of people buying songs they like and want to spend their money not what they are told to buy. This has underpinned my problem with this RATM business.

The RATM side argued that X Factor fans were "sheep" buying the song because Simon Cowell et all had manipulated the charts every year for the last 4. This is just ignoring the fact that obviously hundreds of thousands of people bought the song they liked by a singer they had watch on tv for a few months and grown to love. Of course. But if you see on Facebook that someone tells you to download a song to make a point you do. "Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me" indeed.

To get too worked up about how blind people were to go along with this is missing the point. And the fact that the band will donate their profits to charity is nice and almost (almost) takes the sting out of the fact that BOTH The X Factor track and RATM are on Sony and therefore they've doubled their end of Xmas single sales. Nice one.

The real disappointment about this is how it boiled down to people pointing fingers at Simon Cowell as some kind of Grinch figure out to ruin the music world for everyone. Of particular interest is the NME cover story where many musicians lambast Simon for what they see as ruining the music industry.

But surely Simon is not to blame? Ultimately he is a businessman selling a product. And people are buying. Simon at least is getting people to get out and buy music. and with things the way they are for the music business someone who can knock that? Many will moan that the music is awful/cover versions/not credible but at the very least people are willing to buy it and that has to count for something.

Also for all the blathering on that the X Factor dominates, in reality it is merely reflecting the tastes of those who are consuming popular music. Plenty of artists performed on the results show this year and didn't have it reflect in their sales. Janet Jackson is a great example. Her single didn't dent the top 40 despite a high profile slot on the results show the same night as Lady Gaga who who climbed to number one following her performance. Gaga was already enyjoing huge success with "Bad Romance" before her appearance and this performance was clearly the last part of a huge push for the song. X Factor is offering up the platform and the final bit of promotion to tie in with the radio play and public interest in acts they obviously like. Its why Alexandra Burke and JLS have connected with the public with post show releases and become successful and Leon Jackson and Eoghan Quigg haven't. The fact too that the show clears well past 15-16 million viewers at the moment and the winner clears around the 500,000-200,000 (depending on their popularity) in sales in the first week suggest there is a huge chunk who never go on to buy the winner's single and shows that just because people watch the show does not mean they will buy the song which is the main crux of the RATM argument against the series.

Instead of getting worked up about one successful music business man and the hit TV show he oversees it would be much more interesting to look at other things going on with popular music and the record industry. Why is radio so insisting on playlisting and not supporting new artists or follow up singles by acts who have one hit? Why is that somebody like BBC Radio 1 can effectively make or break an artist with a flick of a playlist? Why is that nobody is bothering to make a comprehensive fast paced music TV show with a broad range of genres? Why do we still insist of calling one form of music real and the other manufactured? How about realising that anyone releasing music commercially in any way is playing into the same system? It is about time we looked at how little value we place on music instead of giving someone who can still find profit in the system. Jealousy is never a good look.

And ALSO, why can't we have proper pop tunes with a festive feel? Many hate the "manufactured pop" of the 90s but its hard to argue with tracks like 2 Become 1 and Too Much from the Spice Girls or Stay Another Day from East 17. Genuinely huge pop acts who remind you of their success in a given year with great pop songs that are both festive but stand on their own. It would be great to see the X Factor do something like this or even take on an original track. The best track to come out of any reality TV show this decade is still Sound of the Underground by Girls Aloud. Surf guiter, distorted bass and a big chorus it is a proper piece of superstar pop and not the typical "here comes the key change ballad".

Sigh. All I know is that this should have been Christmas number one:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Is This The Future of TV or Is Ashton Kutcher Desperate?

I blogged briefly about US TV failure The Beautiful Life a while back. It was one of the most uninteresting pilots I've ever seen, taking a great idea and mangling it beyond belief. The first episode rated badly and so did the second. The show was pulled from the schedule of The CW while they tinkered with Melrose Place to make it a hit and gloated about how big the Vampire Diaries had gotten. There was some of the usual moaning from the cast and producers about how "we weren't given a chance" that may or may not have been accurate and promises of the remaining episodes being screened elsewhere. I don't think anyone took notice and the lack of any fan buzz around this seemed like a sign that was a permanent favourite for the "shows nobody cared about" list.

But now, we have a new development. Ashton Kutcher, the executive producer has struck a deal to have the remaining episodes of the show put on YouTube. Kutcher's logic as discussed in the video below (and here) is that nobody knew about the show in the first place. Now with YouTube he think he can get a name for the show and get sponsors to greenlight more episodes.

How cringey is that video? It screams "big budget marketing firm try to recreate lo-fi web videos". Shudder.

I'm fascinated by this idea for a number of reasons however. There is alot of guff about how web content being the new TV that for the most part doesn't seem to really have impacted in a way that there is an actual show everybody follows online in the same huge way as network TV (I have a feeling I right be wrong here and in fact there is a wealth of hit online shows I'm not watching). But what we do have is loads of people watching their TV on YouTube and loads of other sites instead of on TV. These videos are not being uploaded by their makers like this show but that doesn't stops thousands using it to catch up with their favourites. Its the reason why some key US imports get screened immediately on our shores as opposed to the month long wait other shows endure. If this goes well it might lead to more streaming of shows being done on YouTube. Though given the issues with rights etc its not likely to happen to shows that are actually on air.

If Kutcher can get enough hype for this show, it will be interesting to see what it does for web content in general. Will it build audiences for them and get them hard cash to make TV stations truly nervous? Or is this just a way to dump poorly made dramas in a place where even less people will watch them?

It is undoubtedly a great gimmick and it will be fun to see how this develops. I have a horrible suspicion that I'm going to get hooked on this show if only because Mischa Barton's performance is so bad it is frightfully entertaining. And as far as I'm concerned somebody needs this to get Veronica Mars and Popular brought back to life. (Can you imagine?)

At the very least it gives Ashton something other to do than tweet all the time. It'd be great if Demi Moore could do the same thing.

Just saying.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Why Wasn't This Huge?: thecocknbullkid "I'm Not Sorry"

I'm casting my eyes over the end of year, end of decade and what will be huge in 2010 lists as we all do at this time of the year. There are plenty of acts, many of whom how have been flitting around the pop world for the best part of this year and look set to break (or not break) as 2010 unfolds. The scrapheap of each year is always quite high as tastemakers see predictions fall flat or just not as high as they'd hoped.

This got me thinking about this rather amazing track from one of those hopefuls thecocknbullkid. Her track I'm Not Sorry is a proper belter. It has a menacing quality as well a chorus that lodges in your head for days at a time. I remember first hearing about this track at the start of last year and it just never caught on. I'm not quite sure why. The general "campaign" (to quote a messageboard cliche) never seemed to happen. And that is a shame, "I'm Not Sorry" is as strong anything La Roux, Little Boots et al and Anita Bray, the lady behind thecocknbullkid, sounds like an interesting and talented person if this Guardian article is anything to go by.

While you muse over where it all went wrong have a listen to the track, I've only remembered it over the last few days but I'd put it down as one of the best things I've heard all year:

Britney Leaks A New Video

The rather great MuuMuse has pointed out that a New (NEW!) cut of the most recent Britney video "3" has leaked online. How exciting! The original video is here ("embedding disabled by request" of course. I'll never understand the reason for this. Never) and while many fans aren't mad on the video I think it does the job well, providing us with lots of shots of hair flipping Britney (amazing) and sultry close ups (amazing x 2)

Phwoar etc. Still this new cut is quite exciting for the fact that it features way more dancing than the first version which when it comes to Britney is no bad thing. There is also a whole new scene cut throughout too with Britters resplendent (there. I said it) in lace and a very tight hair bun which makes her look classy as classy can be:

So classy she had to lie down obviously. I actually love this look on Britney. It doesn't sit so well with the looser tone of how she looks elsewhere in the video and the general flapping about suggesting a threesome but I'll take what I can get.

There are loads of different shots in this cut that aren't in the original. My favourite is one where Britney spins into the arms of a dancer who is at Britter's crotch and stares as if looking for his keys. Or just needs somewhere to rest his head for a minute. Shoddy screen cap alert:

Who hasn't been having a bit of a dance party and needed a few seconds to relax? Even if that relaxing takes place at crotch level. Try not to judge.

I went through a couple of minutes of indecision over which of these cuts was better. And after that torment I realised that obviously the new one is best. Not only does it feature all the great qualities listed above it has an exclusive air that will give Britney nerds major bragging rights for years to come. "Well true fans know that the director's cut of 3 is actually one of her best videos. Its a rare find but a real gem" they'll say as their friends debate silly musical questions such as "Is Kid A the best album of this decade?" or similar.

Without further ado (or pointless rambling) here is that director's cut. And if you find some track from "Kid A" playing through your head while you watch this that's your problem. Don't look at me. It's not like I ever listened to it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Rihnna "Rated R" album review

When Rihanna had a hugely successful third album in "Good Girl Gone Bad" and a string of hits including the monster hit "Umbrella" there no doubt some label bosses who struggled to think how they would top its success. And when at the start of the year Rihanna was assaulted by her then boyfriend Chris Brown it sent everything into a spiral. Many assumed Rihanna would lay low and not release any music for awhile but reports emerged that she was working on a harder, edgier sound for a new album due this year.

And with that we have "Rated R", an aggressive, powerful pop album layered with emotion and stunning songs. You’ll already know the moody and show stopping Russian Roulette, an unusual choice for a lead single but a suitable one that sets out what this album is about. The album itself follows a similarly chilly mood. There’s hip hop swagger in “Hard” (the next single) and “Rude Boy” a cheeky, flirty song with real punch that should really be a club friendly single at some point.

But unlike most pop albums this album really shines in the mid-tempo numbers. “Fire Bomb” sounds like the theme song to the best road movie ever and would sound great coming out of a radio near you this summer. “Photographs” is one of the best productions Will.I.Am has lent his name to all year. A simple, delicate number on lost love Rihanna puts that new found vocal depth to good use and sells this one to the utmost degree.

The real highpoint though is “Cold Case Love”, a sweeping and epic track that explodes into a bit of Timbaland style beatboxing near the close. Taking a rather literal crime scene metaphor to a rocky relationship it’s a reminder that while this album does not have an “Umbrella”, “Don’t Stop The Music” or “Disturbia” it does have moments like these.

"Rated R" works because it marries top producers doing strong songs with a keen sense of something different. From the sleeve decked out in saucy photos to the blunt but effective lyrics it’s a reminder that pop music can have a bit of grit and still aim squarely at the top of the charts. A triumph and a contender for best pop album of the year.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Six Pack: Six Songs to Get Excited About

Here you are, six songs I love at the moment. Just a selection but a fine bunch of tunes nonetheless.

Wiley feat. Chew Fu - Take That

At the risk of coming over all Annie Mac (no bad thing I suppose) this is a TUNE. I've been obsessed with Chew Fu for the last six months with his pile of mindblowing remixes getting bigger and bigger every week. Not least his work on many of Lady Gaga's recent singles. Still this collaboration with Wiley (he of "Wearing My Rolex" fame and darling of the UK garage/grime scene) is undoubtedly going to swallow the charts and the clubs whole over the next few months. And quite right too. Surprisingly off the wall and bonkers for a mainstream dance track, this is an abrasive, agressive slice of upbeat grime pop. Harder than some of the recent Chew Fu mixes and no doubt a bit of a retort to critics on Wiley's part it sounds a bit like Dizzee Rascal's "Bonkers" put through a blender and bashed off a wall several times. If that makes any sense.

The video is suitably bonkers too:

Janet Jackson : Make Me

Janet is one of my favourite artists of all time and my feverish love of her is mocked sometimes. But with the release of a new career spanning best of those who doubt her contribution to pop might do a double take. I don't want to bore anyone or go off topic but Janet has had a significant hand in shaping the last 10 years of pop videos, genre hopping R&B/pop and dance routines. Thankfully her new single, Make Me sums all this up in a few short minutes. Infectious, brash and charming this is a bouncy piece of effortless pop. The MJ references are obvious but its totally Janet too. And a new video that manages to make Janet look contemporary but not like mutton dressed as lamb (which has eluded Janet recently if I'm being honest) this should be the song to remind many what they've been missing. But if not its another treat for the long time fans. And the video is like a masterclass in how to wear shoulder pads. Work.

Kelis : Acapella

She set the internet abuzz with this David Guetta produced track a couple of weeks ago. And rightly so. A tad more stripped down than some of his recent big hit productions this is joyful and hard to resist. A simple laid back vocal from Kelis meshes with the blippy and smooth beat. Kelis has been hard at work with a gaggle of top producers (as is her style) including Crookers (see recent dubstep track "No Security"), Boyz Noize, and Burns for an album that will be released next year through Interscope. Kelis is one of the most interesting people in modern pop, handing out hits alongside offbeat gems and the signs are good for this new album to be another stonker.

Lady Gaga: Telephone feat. Beyonce

The Fame Monster is another piece of perfect pop from Miss Gaga. And this second single, a breathless piece of pounding dance pop is kind of brilliant. Featuring an urgent cameo from Beyonce (returning the favour for Videophone I'd imagine) it sounds ridiculously good blaring out of club speakers and features more hooks catchy chorus than your average pop single. This will be everywhere during the next six months and its easy to see why.

Not only that but this amazing unofficial video has been doing the rounds, a truly interesting piece of pop art:

Name The Pet : Club Kid

Found this rather lovely electro pop track over at Dödselectro. It seems a tad low key at first but this one works it way into your brain and is something of a floor filler. A sharp piece of electro to start of a particularly great weekend. And a track that makes me want to check out this artist in a bit more detail.

This song has really really grown on me. The Rated R album is one of the years best and this slow burner power ballad is one of the standouts. The emotion ripples throughout the track and it is hands down one of the best vocals Rihanna has ever done. She may not have as big a voice as other pop singers but she can sell songs like this with ten times more intensity. One of the best pop singles of the year.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Fame Monster: Review

I meant to post this when the album was a little less widely talked about but given how much I love this at the moment it only seems right to share it now.

Good god Lady Gaga doesn’t take time to stop does she? This album, originally announced as an adjunct to The Fame (already a hugely successful release) is now being touted as Gaga’s official second album. It may clock in at only 8 tracks but this is a breathtaking effort, dripping with characteristic Gaga charm and plenty of new tricks.

You already know lead single Bad Romance (and THAT video) by now but needless to say it’s a fantastic track. An aggressive beat, lyrics laden with twisted imagery it manages to sound like what we expect from Gaga and take it to the next level.

Next up is Alejandro, a whirling dance track that has recalls Ace of Bass and Madonna’s La Isla Bonita. Its catchy to the point of distraction and would make a brilliant summer single next year if Gaga isn’t on her 5th album at that stage.

Monster follows, a dark but deceptively upbeat track about a girl and a guy whose nightclub dalliance takes a turn for the twisted. It sums up much of the theme of this album while sounding like the younger cousin of Poker Face. This is a good thing.

Speechless sounds even more disappointing coming off the back of this number. Billed as Gaga’s big ballad it is a hard song to warm to. There is a beautiful idea in this one and some great lyrics but it all gets drowned out in layers of awful production that make it sound like some kind of Michael Buble track. This is one of those songs that cries out for an acoustic reswizz to make you see why it should be great.

Dance In The Dark swoops in straight after and helps rub away some of the cheese left bySpeechless. This is easily the darkest track on the album. A heavy synth line weaves around lyrics about a girl left broken by her man. It uses some deliberately heavy imagery and throws it against a Eurovision chorus but it works brilliantly. It’ll make you dance like a loon but has a fragile quality that makes it oddly haunting.

Telephone slides into view and its mindblowing. And that’s even before Beyonce (yes, BEYONCE) turns up to kick things into high gear on the second verse. This is slated to be the next single and it will literally swallow the charts whole for most of next year. A slamming piece of electro pop it throws around several hooks and bursts with frenetic energy.

So Happy I Could I Die is a bubbly almost ballad that manages to be both tender and make your head bob. It might not stand out as much as some of other tracks but it is still very very good and that says more about Gaga’s own high standards more than anything else.

Teeth is an odd but strangely appropriate closer. A loping R&B beat mashed with growling, suggestive lyrics (‘Take a bite of my bad girl meat” she suggests, which might turn some of you vegetarian) and a burlesque swagger you feel must be left over from Gaga’s early days in the New York clubs. It’s a neat reminder of how far she has taken herself from her first album and a teaser for some of the ideas she might play with on her next album.

So is this worth your time? In short, yes. It might come attached to an album you already own but that won’t matter once you give this collection a listen. This is an (almost) perfect follow up to a truly stellar release and one you will go back to frequently. Despite the huge pile of new releases sitting on my desk begging to be listened to (the joys of music journalism) I’ve come back to this album numerous times over the last few weeks, its brief running time making me come back for more and more. If you like your pop music at all this is a must have.