Monday, February 28, 2011


Why Britney Spears' "Hold It Against Me" triumphs over Lady GaGa's "Born This Way."
By Alex Nagorski 
There's not even any competition Before we really get into this, allow me to preface this article by saying that I love Lady GaGa. When The Fame Monster first came out, I didn’t listen to any other album for weeks. I’ve seen her in concert twice and have tickets to see her again in April. I performed the entire “Bad Romance” dance in a hunter-green jumpsuit in front of 2,100 people. Trust me, I dig the Gagz.

That being said, Britney Spears has always been my number #1 pop diva. Since the very first day I heard “Baby One More Time” back at Tamarack Tennis Camp in New Hampshire in 1998, I’ve been sickly obsessed with everything about her.

I’ve gone to six Britney shows. I own her Vegas special on DVD and her coffee-table book, Stages. I’ve even read the novel she “wrote,” A Mother’s Gift. During the days when Britney was all bald and layered in Cheetoh dust, I stood by her side and argued that Blackout was one of the most progressive and influential pop albums in history. When MTV premiered the documentary, Britney: For The Record, I hosted a viewing party but wouldn’t let anyone talk unless it was a commercial break. 

So last year when I heard that Britney and GaGa would be releasing new albums a few months apart from one another (Brit in March and GaGa in May), I immediately knew that critics and fans would pit the popstars against one another. GaGa is Britney’s ultimate competition. This isn’t like back in the days where it was just Britney vs. Christina – a simpler time when one clearly had a lifelong career ahead of her and the other one … well … made Burlesque.

Britney has always pushed the envelope with her music. She’s raised the bar so high with her degree of slick pop tunes that most have completely failed even attempting to reach for it. With the arrival of Lady GaGa, someone was finally worthy and able to grasp the precedent Britney had set.

In the time Britney has been on hiatus, GaGa’s stardom has skyrocketed. She has already achieved Britney’s status of being a household name literally wherever you are in the world. Now, with the releases of their albums’ lead singles, Britney’s “Hold It Against Me,” and GaGa’s “Born This Way,” the princesses of pop have stepped into the rink of a true celebrity death match.

(Britney Spears' music video for "Hold It Against Me")

“Hold It Against Me” pays homage to classic Britney while also pushing the boundaries of contemporary pop music and paving the path for an exciting future. By incorporating dubstep to her song, Britney is bringing an underground form of dance music into the mainstream. Like she did with previous hits such as “I’m A Slave 4 U” and “Toxic,” Britney is once again boldly redefining what pop music is capable of.

On the contrary, “Born This Way” challenges no musical conventions. It’s so safe, in fact, that thousands have responded negatively to how much of a carbon copy it is of Madonna’s 1989 hit, “Express Yourself.” Not to mention, the song itself is just BORING. It’s barely catchy enough to stay in your head after a few listens, and hardly worthy to compare to any of GaGa’s previous brilliant singles.

Appearing on The Tonight Show on Valentines Day, Lady GaGa was asked by Jay Leno about the allegations that she stole from Madonna. She dodged the question by simply saying that Madonna was a huge fan of “Born This Way,” and that Madge in fact sent her an e-mail giving her full blessing for the single. As it turns out, this was completely false.

Looking back at the VMAs in 2003 and a little song called “Me Against The Music,” it’s rather clear who the Queen of Pop endorses.
So on one side we have a song that takes risks and sets new musical standards, while on the other, we have a song that is being widely accused of plagiarism and whose credibility is being protected by lies. As far as the musicality of these two songs go, it’s a no-brainer that Britney hit a homerun while GaGa has released the weakest single of her career thus far.

The other debate that I’ve been hearing in regards to which one of these songs is superior is found in the lyrical content. Many are saying that GaGa deserves to go out on top because of her song’s “inspiring lyrics,” whereas Britney has just released another vapid club banger to dance to -- rather than take to heart.

My favorite lyric in GaGa's far too-preachy-for-comfort single? The part where she says, "safety," bookmarked by long pauses. Thanks for sharing your flatulence habits, GaGa.

I understand this point. However, I just can’t buy into what GaGa is feeding us anymore. I applaud her for her contributions to the GLBTQ community. She is a fantastic activist and inspiration for countless people. There’s no arguing that. But it has gotten to the point where I feel that her “love for the gays” has become as important to her as a way to market herself, as it is an important cause.

You can’t self-proclaim that you’ve written a “gay anthem.” An anthem becomes an anthem because its message is felt and leaves an impact on an entire community. To release the single declaring it as a “gay anthem” before anyone even hears it forces people to feel they should have a very specific reaction to it – even if they don’t.

(Lady GaGa's music video for "Born This Way")

Joe Waddell of the Orange County Equality Project says, “Britney Spars is a genuine gay icon. She is genuine in her affection for us and doesn’t need to exploit us as a marketing tool like some other current Madonna-like icon.” These comments comply with many complaints that if Lady GaGa were as true of an activist as she claims she is, she wouldn’t have partnered up with Target -- a chain widely criticized for their funding of anti-gay politicians and anti-gay causes -- to release a deluxe version of her album.

Brit BritBritney has never had to take advantage of her fans to get on top. She’s never had to arrive at the Grammys in a giant egg (and lie about it!) and treat her entrance like a performance (rudely attempting to distract from literally every other artist present) to get to where she is. Sure, she’s turned heads for some scantily clad fashion choices she’s made, but she’s never had to force headlines by wearing a dress made of raw meat. My point is that where GaGa goes above and beyond begging to be edgy and new, Britney achieves that without having to try half as hard.

While both “Hold It Against Me” and “Born This Way” have already hit the #1 spot on the charts in the weeks of their respective releases, GaGa broke records with how fast her song topped the charts around the globe. However, “Born This Way” has dropped significantly in radio airplay, leaving many saying that the the hype of the single was stronger than the end result. How GaGa and Britney will compare in album sales and radio airplay in the long run is something only time can tell.

GaGa pretentiously declared that her album, also named Born This Way, would be “the greatest album of this decade.” Britney made no such promise about her album, Femme Fatale, because … welll … she doesn’t have to.

Originally published on Crazytown Blog


(Jack performs his song, "Harder Than Easy")

AN: Tell me a little bit about your songwriting process. Do you write your music and lyrics separately, or do you compose every part of a song at once?

JS: Every song is different!! Some show up unexpectedly - others take all night. In Nashville, they have a theory that every guitar has a certain amount of songs in it and when you pick one up, you might be lucky enough to find one.

If you could take credit for writing any song from the last five years, what would it be?
It's a close call between "High Road" by The Broken Bells and "The Wild Hunt" by The Tallest Man On Earth.

You started out as a poet and didn’t pick up a guitar until you were 16-years-old. What made you decide to apply your work to music and become a songwriter rather than just remain a poet? 

I dont really know. I am still not sure why. When I come home, the first thing I do is pick up a guitar and write a song.

Songwriters are often exceptional storytellers because they have to work extra hard to condense an entire narrative into a 3-4 minute song. Do you ever foresee yourself stretching out your stories and experimenting with different kinds of writing -- like musician Josh Ritter is doing by coming out with his first novel this summer?

It's definitely something I would love to try later on in life. All my songs have to be experience –based, so for now three-and-a-half minutes is more than enough.

Your first album Between The Minds seems to be a little more acoustically driven than Harder Than Easy – in that it relies mostly on you and your guitar, whereas the following one incorporated a lot of other instruments as well. What type of musical evolution do you anticipate for your third release? 

I’ve always said since making the first record that I never wanted two of my records to sound the same. But I always wanted them to sound like MY record. You wont know how different this one is until you hear it.

Photo: Fabrizio Rainone What else can you tell me about the next record? How far into writing/recording are you? Is there a release date yet? Any surprises that your fans can look forward to?

As of now, I am in the studio with my old friend Steve Booker getting the core of the album finished. There are already some collaborations that might turn a few heads but I can't tell you what or who they are.

Countless critics have praised you as “the next Bob Dylan.” What type of pressure does a label like that put on your artistry? 

I don't think I am anything like Bob Dylan. However, it is always incredibly flattering to be compared to anybody I admire.

If you weren’t a musician/writer, what would you be doing? 

My boyhood dream dream was to be a footballer.

Your music has been played on numerous television shows, such as One Tree Hill, Grey’s Anatomy, The Cleaner, and Greek, as well as in films like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 and Post Grad. How has that type of exposure impacted your career?

I am eternally grateful to shows like these for giving a platform to musicians like myself who don't have many stages to stand  on. They have introduced so many artists to so many people that otherwise would probably never had the chance to hear all the different type of music that are out there.

What musicians and writers have been the greatest sources of inspiration for you?

The first real songwriters to get through to me were mainly the ones from the California scene in the 60's and 70’s -- Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell, Tim Hardin, Simon and Garfunkel, The Bad and Bob Dylan. They all really made me sit up and listen.

Have you ever bought an album solely for the cover art? 

Ben Harper’s The Will To Live. Still one of my favorite albums and album covers.

If you were to be sentenced to a year on a deserted island and were only allowed to bring five things with you, what would they be? 

My wife, my guitar, a supply of wine, a supply of pasta, and a fishing rod.

What do you find to be the most rewarding way a person can react to hearing your music?

When they listen!

Jack's music is available on iTunes
Originally published on Crazytown Blog


It doesn't get smarter than this guy
In the most recent Rolling Stone Magazine, the Biebz was asked about his thoughts on abortion:

"I really don't believe in abortion. It's like killing a baby?"

How about in cases of rape?

"Um. Well, I think that's really sad, but everything happens for a reason."

Thank you, Justin Bieber, future rape crisis counselor.