Album Review: Lady Gaga needs more pop than art on 'Artpop'

Album Review: Lady Gaga needs more pop than art on 'Artpop'

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It's a spacy, cold album badly in need of more heart and fun

In many ways, Lady Gaga has always been a performance artist posing as a pop act these last few years. On her newest studio effort, “Artpop,” out Nov. 11, she concentrates more on the art, than the pop, and the album is worse for it.

The majority of “Artpop” is a meditation on fame, culture, fashion, sex, drugs, music and pop art (hence the Jeff Koons cover). That high-flying intersection may be where Lady Gaga lives now, but it’s feels like the end of lonely street. Largely cold and soulless (at least until the final few songs)—whether from the clinical, loud, electronic production or from Lady Gaga’s often mannered delivery and stilted lyrics —”Artpop” is for her the Little Monsters who loudly embrace their outside status buffeted by the shelter of Momma Monster’s umbrella.  In some ways, Lady Gaga can be applauded for making an album that in no way aims for radio acceptance (though first single, “Applause” found it), but it’s going to be a hard sell to her mainstream fans.

Even when she’s poking fun at herself, as she does on “Mary Jane Holland”: “I know at the moment they think I’m a mess/but its alright because I’m rich as piss,” she sings, there’s a part that rings true. She used to be one of us, but now she is one of them, even if she wants to joke that she’s not. And don’t get me started on the pretension of having an album title in all caps.

Some of Lady Gaga’s biggest hits, like “Bad Romance,” or “Paparazzi” have featured different patches of songs stitched together, bonded by her mannered vocals. Along the beats or weird synths, there was usually a melodic chorus that glued the whole song together. That happens far less often here and the result is an collection of songs that sounds intentionally cacophonous and chaotic. She may be saying exactly what she wants to about the state of pop culture, but that doesn’t mean we’ll want to listen.

Working with a phalanx of producers here, from DJ White Shadow to Zedd, David Guetta, will.i.am, RedOne, Madeon and even Rick Rubin, what Lady Gaga could have really used here was a great editor to craft her ambition a little more tightly.

Track-by-track review of “Artpop”:


Aura: The opening salvo, also heard in “Machete Kills” is a campy, fun invitation to go on this trip with Lady Gaga and see her naked underneath the covers.  The shape-shifting song opens with a sultry voice over by Gaga that recalls Shirley Bassey before switching to a kitschy, synth-laden, stuttering vocal portion. Eventually it moves into a catchy sung portion, where she questions if you want to see the girl who lives behind the aura. Rinse and repeat. Final word: Artpop. Welcome to the album.  GRADE: B

Venus:  Go on an interplanetary journey with the goddess of love in this trippy, EDM number around the planets. Sample lyric: “Uranus, don’t you know my ass is famous?”  There’s a great disco tune in here centered around the “When you touch me I die...This could be love” chorus, but it gets buried in the space mission. Fun fact: “Venus” samples Zombie Zombie’s cover of Sun Ra’s “Rocket Number Nine.”  GRADE: B

G.U.Y.: From Venus, we go to Eros, Greek god of love. “Let me be the girl under you that makes you cry,” she sings in this dancey track that features a refrain redolent, but less catchy, than “Bad Romance. She’s still on her space travels, but this track feels far more weighed down by its clunkiness. GRADE: C

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<p>Zac Brown at the CMAs</p>

Zac Brown at the CMAs

Dave Grohl jams with Zac Brown Band on freewheeling 'Day for the Dead' on CMAs: Watch

Is this what their Grohl-produced album will sound like?

In case you’re wondering what Zac Brown Band’s new music, produced by Dave Grohl, will sound like, we got the first listen Wednesday night when the Foo Fighter joined ZBB to perform “Day For The Dead” at the CMA Awards.

The jam rock song has, appropriately enough, slight Grateful Dead-like guitar line, but with Grohl behind the drums, it quickly took on a hard rock vibe. It’s a chugging ramble of the song, especially at the 3-minute mark, when it goes into a round before slamming back into full-on rock mode, complete with fiddles.

In an edited version, the song could fit in at radio. No word yet on it if is a potential single.

Hitfix broke the news last week about Grohl producing Zac Brown Band
.

Zac Brown Band weren't the only ones rocking out at the Country music awards ceremony: Eric Church introduced a new song, "The Outsiders," tonight that ha a wicked guitar solo straight out of a metal song in the middle.

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<p>Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood rock their Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus gear at the CMAs</p>

Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood rock their Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus gear at the CMAs

Credit: AP Photo

Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley skewer Miley Cyrus, Obamacare on CMA Awards

What rhymes with truck?

Even though Miley Cyrus's twerk heard around the world occurred more than two months ago at MTV's Video Music Awards, there was no way the CMA Award hosts Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley were going to leave that alone. 

Paisley pretended to pull a muscle during their opening sketch and when he announced "I twerked my back," Underwood set him straight and before long, out came a foam finger and the pair has cleverly figured out a way to combine Cyrus and Robin Thicke's performance of "Blurred Lines" with Duck Dynasty to come up with "Duck Blind." 

The pair performed the parody and were shortly joined by members of "Duck Dynasty's" Robertson family, including Willie, who twerked up against a slightly unnerved Underwood.

They weren't done dissing Cyrus yet, however. Paisley thanked Taylor Swift for growing up in the public eye without resorting to "humping a teddy bear or grinding against Beetlejuice," in a reference to Thicke's black and white striped suit he wore on the VMAs. 

 

"Duck Blind" wasn't the only parody the pair performed. Country music artists by and large stay away from discussing politics, sex and  religion (other than to always thank God first when they win an award), but  Underwood and Paisley threw that dictate out the window when the pair -- hosting together for the sixth time -- skewered the computer issues that have plagued the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

Performing “Obamacare by Morning” to the tune of George Strait’s classic “Amarillo By Morning,” they sat side by side at a laptop pretending to try to log on to the health care registration site.

The pair sang: “Obamacare by morning/why’s this taking so long?/I’m going to wind up with hemorrhoids if I sit here til dawn/We’ll have cataracts and dementia/oh this is getting on my last nerve/Obamacare by morning/over six people served."

In some ways, it was a risky move for a genre that usually plays it safe, especially when it comes to politics, although Paisley and Underwood are seen as so nice and good-natured by the country community and fans that they can get away with jokes that may seem too barbed when delivered by others.

Also, this is a generalization, but by-and-large, country fans are a fairly conservative lot, so poking fun at Obamacare’s registration woes is a little like preaching to the choir. Plus, while they made fun of the utter disaster that the online registration has been, they were careful to not criticize or applaud the actual plan.

Regardless, reaction on social media was swift with conservative organizations like The Heritage Foundation quickly linking to a video of the performance and country music fans positively chiming in on the song, although a few people Tweeted their displeasure

What do you think? Too much or just right? 

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<p>Lorde</p>

Lorde

Lorde's Royals remains atop the the Billboard Hot 100 for sixth week

New Zealand singer fends off a charge from Eminem

Lorde’s reign with “Royals” extends for a sixth week at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, but she may be facing a serious challenge from Rap God, Eminem.

“Royals” continues to be a multi-format smash, along the lines of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” for sheer breadth of appeal: this week the song debuted on the Latin Pop Songs airplay chart, adding that to it a format list that already spanned dance, R&B and rock charts.

But the big news belongs to Eminem. “Monster,” his new collaboration with Rihanna and the newest single from “The Marshall Mathers LP 2,” bows at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. That mirrors the No. 3 start “Berzerk,” the album’s first single, had in September. “Berzerk” rises 25-15 this week, spiked by the release of “MMLP2,” while emphasis track “Survival” zooms 67-16 and “Rap God” moves 21-17.

That gives Eminem four songs in the Top 20 at the same time, making him only the sixth artist in the history of the chart to do so, according to Billboard. Other than the Beatles, the other acts to achieve the feat are all rappers: Eminem protege 50 Cent, T-Pain, Lil Wayne and Ludacris. The rappers, however, got help from being featured artists on cuts, whereas the Beatles and Eminem are the only artists to do so as lead artists.

The only other debut in the Top 10 belongs to One Direction’s “Story of My Life,” which enters the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 6 and is the British boy band’s fourth Top 10.

Looking at the returning entries: Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” moves 3-2, while Katy Perry’s “Roar” slips 2-4, pushing Avicii’s “Wake Me Up!” down one spot to No. 5.

Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” featuring Majid Jordan, drops 5-7; Imagine Dragon’s “Demons” moves 9-8; OneRepublic’s “Counting Stars” switches places with “Demons,” sliding 8-9, while Lady Gaga’s “Applause” retreats three spaces to No. 10.

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<p>Taylor Swift</p>

Taylor Swift

Credit: Ap Photo

Seven things to watch for on tonight's CMA Awards, including Taylor Swift and Dave Grohl

Will Luke Bryan and Zac Brown be on their best behavior?

Tonight’s Country Music Assn. Awards promise to be full of great performances and some very interesting showdowns. The show, which includes appearances by Taylor Swift, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, The Band Perry, Lady Antebellum, and even Dave Grohl and Jason Mraz, will once again be hosted by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood. The festivities begin at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

We’ve highlighted seven things you should keep your eye on for tonight:

Taylor Swift’s performance: Tonight, the CMAs will honor Swift with the Pinnacle Award, a trophy it has only given out once before to Garth Brooks. It’s bestowed upon someone who has taken country music to new commercial and international heights. While it’s debatable how much of a country artist she still is (see “Today’s” snipe at Swift today, which felt more like NBC pettily raining on ABC’s parade more than anything else), Swift has always showed up at the CMAs and tonight, in a great move, she is surrounding herself with hardcore country royalty, including Vince Gill, Alison Krauss, and Sam Bush. She is seriously punching above her weight musically here and she knows it, which makes me like her ever more. 

Zac Brown Band with Dave Grohl: No word on what the two acts are performing together in advance, but as we broke last week, Grohl will produce the new ZBB album. This will be our first public look at their chemistry together, and, perhaps a hint at a new song.

Kacey Musgraves:  On her first album, she’s managed to upset the country apple cart a little with her sometimes edgy lyrics about smoking pot and kissing girls, but she’s caught everyone’s attention: to the tune of scoring six nominations tonight. Should she win big, it may be time to officially anoint her as the face of where young country music is headed, but my guess is that the nominations will have to suffice. The CMA voters are ready to publicly praise her, but other than New Artist of the Year (which could go to her or the more commercially successful Florida Georgia Line), she might not want to clear off mantel space just yet.

Zac Brown vs. Luke Bryan: A few weeks ago, Zac Brown started a firestorm when he called Luke Bryan’s mega-hit, “That’s My Kind of Night,” one of the worst songs” he’d ever heard. Bryan didn’t write the song, which went on to spend more weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart than any other song in the last 50 years, but watch for Brown’s reaction tonight if Bryan performs the tune  (EDITOR'S NOTE :  Bryan just announced that he'll be doing a new song, "Drink A Beer." )  The two aren’t aren’t going head-for-head on any awards tonight, but it could be fun just to see how they react to each other. Sadly, country artists are known for their civility, so everyone will probably be on their best behavior.

Eric Church: He will debut the title track from his forthcoming album, “The Outsiders,” on tonight’s show. He’s discussed how rock the song is, but it’s not so much of a departure (in fact, to us it sounds like something that Hank Williams Jr. could have done... well, until the bridge when it cranks up to a heavy metal-like guitar solo) to cause the potential debate he might want it to. Given his strong live appeal and the song’s anthemic chorus, it could be a water-cooler moment.

George Jones Tribute: So for all you youngsters who don’t even know who George Jones was, it’s time to listen to Alan Jackson and George Strait pay homage to the greatest singer of all time. The two artists- who are the CMAs’  most nominated acts—will perform together in what is sure to be a touching moment and a gratifying one for long-time country music fans.

Entertainer of the Year:
Always a very hot race. Reigning champ Blake Shelton is nominated again and it seems the CMAs like to award him for the spotlight he’s shown on country music as mentor on “The Voice” as much as for his live show.  It’s Luke Bryan’s year and he stunned everyone by capturing this award at the Academy of Country Music Awards this spring, so he has the momentum. However, my guess is this is a race between Swift and George Strait, who is nominated, in part, because he is on his last tour, so it might be nice to honor him again before the cowboy rides away.




 

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The top 5 reasons Eminem still matters
Credit: Interscope

The top 5 reasons Eminem still matters

Here's why "The Marshall Mathers LP 2" will open huge

Eminem’s new album, “The Marshall Mathers LP 2,” comes out today. In addition to receiving primarily strong reviews, the album is expected to be one of the year’s top sellers, with opening week sales projections to be as high as 750,000, according to Billboard.

That will give “MMLP2” the second-highest sales week of the year, behind Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience,” which sold 968,000 copies. Eminem’s first week numbers should easily eclipse the current second-place  holder, Drake’s “Nothing Was the Same,” which sold 658,000 in its opening frame.

It’s been 14 years since Eminem’s major label debut, “The Slim Shady LP,” arrived (that will be his only studio album not to reach No. 1, by the way) and he’s captivated and repulsed listeners ever since, but he’s never bored us. Many  superstar rappers such as Kayne West, Kendrick Lamar and Drake have come after him, but he's still at the top of his game.

Here are the top 5 reasons why Eminem still matters:

1. His delivery: Just listen to any number of Eminem’s songs, including the tongue-in-cheek “Rap God” on the new album. It’s dizzying to hear how quickly, cleanly and smoothly he raps. He has a dexterity and flow that many other rappers don’t (though Kendrick Lamar gives him a good run for his money on “Love Game.”). Even if you don’t like what he’s saying, it’s often astonishing to hear how well he says it.

2. He’s not afraid to show his vulnerability: Many rappers are more concerned with showing their swagger and their invincibility, whereas Eminem really puts it out there just how severely screwed up he is...and people respond to that. Yes, his homophobic and misogynistic comments can get tiresome (even if you buy, as he insists, that he’s merely playing a persona), but the one thing that is very clear: he saves his greatest amount of vitriol and loathing for himself.

3. He is a great rap lyricist:
While some folks would say Nas or Jay Z are rap’s best lyricists (and Tupac was its No. 1 poet), Eminem definitely comes out at the very top. Yes, plenty of what he says is puerile, but his mind works in a fascinating pattern. As he says in “Legacy,” it’s as if he’s linking crossword puzzles.

4. He can write both beats and melodies:
This, of course, is not a trait that a number of other rappers don’t share, but Eminem just seems to have a better sense of melody than others. And while he’s not the strongest singer, he also is among the elite group of rappers who can sing as well as rap.

5. He lets his music do the talking: Part of Eminem’s appeal is that he doesn’t care about being a celebrity. If anything, he wants to be left alone. Some of that may have been because of his substance issues, but if we hear something about his personal life (yes, we're talking to you, Kanye), it’s certainly not because he’s let it out. In this age of oversharing, it’s a relief.

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<p>David Bowie</p>

David Bowie

Win a David Bowie 'The Next Day' Extra CD prize pack! Enter our Retweet contest

Receive the 3 CD/DVD 'The Next Day' Extra and three rare vinyl singles

David Bowie’s album, “The Next Day,” is one of the year’s most acclaimed releases of the year. Songs like “Where Are We Now, “ “The Stars (Are Out Tonight,” and “Love is Lost” showed the legendary British visionary still had plenty to say, and said it in his beautifully unique style.

Today (5), Bowie releases “The Next Day” Extra, a deluxe 3-CD/DVD package that includes eight bonus songs, two new remixes, a DVD containing all 4 music videos from “The Next Day,” exclusive artwork, photos and more.

But wait! You don’t have to buy it because we’re giving it away for free to one lucky HitFix reader.

And there’s more!

The prize pack includes:

“The Next Day” Extra
AND 3 rare David Bowie vinyl singles:
-“The Next Day”
-“The Stars Are Out Tonight
-“Valentine’s Day.”

Here’s how you enter:
RETWEET the below tweet about the contest AND follow me @HitfixMelinda

 


AND/OR:
RETWEET this tweet and follow @HitFix

 

 


RULES:  You must be a U.S. resident, 18 and older to win. Tweets from Private Twitter accounts will not be counted (because we can't see them). Contest ends Nov. 8 at 11:59 p.m. PT. HitFix retains the right to discount any tweets we deem inappropriate or suspicious. Winner will be selected randomly from retweets of both the above tweets. Winner will be contacted via Direct Message on Twitter.

 

And after you enter, check out David Bowie's latest video for "Love is Lost," made for $12.99.

Te

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<p>Lady Gaga</p>

Lady Gaga

Credit: AP Photo

Lady Gaga splits with longtime manager on eve of 'ArtPop's' release

Troy Carter had represented the singer since 2007

A week before the release of her fourth studio album, “ArtPop,” Lady Gaga and her longtime manager, Troy Carter have split.

Carter had managed Lady Gaga since 2007, before the release of her first album on Streamline/Interscope.

Showbiz411, which broke the news
, attributed the split to creative differences, adding that Lady Gaga had not sought Carter’s advice on the “ArtPop” campaign and had cut him out of the loop.

Lady Gaga performed “Dope,” a new song from “ArtPop,” at Sunday’s YouTube Awards. It was an emotionally charged rendition of the ballad, but, as always with Gaga, it’s hard to tell if her becoming slightly unhinged was part of the performance or something more.

In the past, Lady Gaga relied on Carter to make the bulk of the business decisions, allowing Lady Gaga to focus on the creative, according to The Hollywood Reporter. From the start, “she was very specific about her vision, all of the music was there, and all she needed was someone to help translate it ot the rest of the world,” he told the Reporter earlier this year.

Among the other artists Carter manages are John Legend. He also has a label through Capitol, and had invested in such music tech companies as Spotify and SoundCloud.

We’ve emailed Carter requesting confirmation and a comment.

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<p>Eminem</p>

Eminem

Credit: AP Photo

Track-by-track review: Eminem's 'The Marshall Mathers LP 2' is a compelling return to form

HitFix
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Readers
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Is there anyone who can match his rapping dexterity?

Eminem’s head has always been an intensely troubling place to visit and, despite getting sober and turning 40, Marshall Mathers seems to have found little peace, but his irreverent sense of humor is definitely still in place amid the freak show.

On “The Marshall Mathers LP 2,” out Tuesday (5), Eminem, Dr. Dre and Rick Rubin have made an album that is not so much a sequel to his 2000 classic, “The Marshall Mathers LP,” as it recalls his unselfconscious stream of consciousness from an era when he  was less concerned with spouting a mood and message as he was with taking you on a wild and, often, very darkly entertaining ride. For some, it will be a welcome return to form; for others, it will be a reductive step back. I'm in the former camp.

Eminem’s fluid style and ADD delivery have always seemed as if someone shot a pinball into his brain and it’s bouncing from synapse to synapse, bringing forth a blitzkrieg of disparate, manic spillage as it pings willy nilly all over the place. But on “Marshall Mathers LP 2,” the level of word play and nimbleness are, at times, exhilarating to hear. And he still manages to drop more cultural references per song than most artists do in a lifetime. Think of someone: A Kardashian, a Detroit Lions player,  Ray J, Gwen Stefani, even Helen Keller, they’re probably name checked here in some form or fashion.

Sadly, part of Eminem’s schtick is still to bring in personas who are homophobic and misogynistic on songs like “Rap God” and “Evil Twin,” and by now, it’s simply up to the listener to decide if that’s a reason not to listen because he’s not going to change. While it’s not an excuse, for all the hate he may spew at others (and he’s way worse on females than gays; Em still has serious, serious issues with women), he reserves the greatest amount of vitriol  for himself. Time has not seemed to tame his self loathing.

Though he’s a dad with first world problems and he has a little trouble keeping up with the young whippersnappers when it comes to technology, he admits that he’s still got the maturity level of a 13-year old boy, if that. On “So Far...” he raps, “Turned 40 and still sad/teenagers act more fucking mature.” Ain’t that the truth, but I’m not sure his fans would want it any other way.

After 2009’s “Relapse” and 2012’s “Recovery”  seemed almost claustrophobic, on “The Marshall Mathers LP2” feels wide open. Whether it’s Rick Rubin’s production or the smart use of samples, the result is an album that, while extremely dense, feels cohesive and well thought out, even if at times you wish Eminem would just save some of it for his overworked therapist. Let’s face it, he’s never boring.

A track by track review follows:

“Bad Guy”: All it takes is one song on the radio, Slim Shady says, and before you know it, he’s up to his old antics from the early days: killing people with a shovel. It turns out the psycho killer spiraling downward here is Stan’s little brother (remember “Stan” from The Marshall Mathers LP?) No Dido here on the track produced by The Dividends and Street Runner (there’s a clear dramatic division between the song’s two styles). It’s a bracing, hands-off-the wheel story of someone coming unhinged that serves as an interesting, though not particularly compelling, introduction: GRADE: B-

“Parking Lot”: A 55-second skit composed mainly of sounds of footsteps of Eminem running as sirens come after him,and, horrifically, the sound of him shooting a dog before he’s taken out. GRADE: D

“Rhyme Or Reason”: Built around the Zombies’ “Time of Season,” Eminem answers back to such lyrics as “What’s your name” and “Who’s Your Daddy,” before going into his very credible Yoda impression to reference Rick Rubin. A seamless amalgam of the rock classic and Eminem's singing and rapping that really shouldn’t work, but it does. “There’s no rhyme or no reason for nothing,” Eminem declares in this exercise in working out his still-raging Daddy issues. Eminem's “a white honky devil with two horns that don’t honk” who has come to take back what’s his.  GRADE: B+

“So Much Better”: Oh, let’s face it, who hasn’t thought “My life would be so much better if you just dropped dead.” This is a lurching, supposedly comedic look at someone who’s broken his heart and he’s not about to get over it. “If it wasn’t for blow jobs/you’d be unemployed,” he declares and in reference to Jay Z, she’s all 99 of his problems. Musically, it’s a fun romp, but his misogyny runs so rampant here, that it’s tough to take and when he ends with “I’m just playing bitch, you know I love you,” he only makes it worse.  GRADE: C

“Survival”: An in-your-face track that opens with ringing, throbbing guitars. Lyrically, Eminem details his rise in music and his devotion to his craft in stark life-or-death terms: “If I don’t do this music shit/I lose my shit,” in his usual intense, matter of fact way, as compares rhymes wit "coming into battle" with him compete with the automatic weapons. He warns any newcomers that taking him on will be a lost cause. A chorus, sung by the New Royales’ Liz Rodrigues, reinforces the “Survival” theme, as she sings, “This is survival of the fittest...this is winner take it all.” GRADE: B

“Legacy”:  A trip into Eminem’s past  as he discovers rapping will be his legacy and maybe having his brain wired differently was all worth it. He addresses his ability to link “lines like crosswords” declaring “I ain’t halting until I die of exhaustion,” to all who came after him on this skipping track. New York singer/songwriter Polina plays Dido’s ethereal part here. It’s as close as Eminem gets to a self-empowerment song. GRADE: B-

“Asshole” (featuring Skylar Grey): One of Eminem’s best rants as he runs through his career like a freight train (check out the percussion on the track) on this hard-charging track taking on everything from Helen Keller to Gwen Stefani to mass murderer James Holmes. “Sometimes I forget I’m a parent,” he says, admitting he probably should never have been one. It’s a bit of a “many a truth is said in jest” song with Grey’s light-handed touch adding to the levity. GRADE: A

“Berzerk”:  Producer Rick Rubin’s hand hovers over this track more than a number of the other tracks here. The beginning has a distinctly Beastie Boys’ party feel (thanks to some fun BB samples) and the melody, based around Billy Squier’s “Strokin’, brings in a rock element to this chaotic track that lives up to its name. GRADE: B

“Rap God”: His speed, breath control and range here is nothing short of astonishing as Eminem moves from one topic to the next with such dexterity that he leaves you breathless. He wrestles with his demons and takes no prisoners. By the end, he manages to piss off all his detractors, but there’s no denying his supremacy in this six-minute track that comes closest to earning him the Rap God mantle, even if he does want it to appear that the song is tongue in cheek.  GRADE: A 

“Brainless”: Using a somewhat familiar mid-tempo beat and loop, Eminem addresses bullying and “If I could just get my head out of my ass, I could accomplish any task.” Somewhat a cousin to “Legacy,” he revisits high school when he had rhymes falling out of his pocket and no one to listen to them. GRADE: B-

“Stronger Than I Was”: A bit of a change of pace that seems to be about a relationship that went horribly awry. This is the closest Eminem normally comes to a ballad and the closest he comes to singing. “I’ll still be hopeful when I scream Fuck You because I’m stronger than I was,” he sings, in what passes for an improvement in his book. GRADE: B-

“The Monster” featuring Rihanna: “Love the Way You Live” duo reunites on this tale of a man who’s a monster, who’s trying to tame the monsters inside his head. The song, which debuted at No. 1 on the UK singles chart, is a look at fame that’s as chilling as it is catchy, although with none of the heartstopping menace of "Lie." GRADE: B-

“So Far...”:  Shady returns and he just wants to be left alone, especially when he’s dropping a load... so remember not to ask for his autograph when he’s using the bathroom. Eminem raps over Joe Walsh’s “Life’s Been Good,” as he details first world problems, many of them unique to celebrities, others to anyone who’s lucky enough to not struggle in a day-to-day existence. This love letter to Detroit also contains some of his most hilarious lyrics ever. “Turned 40 and still sad/teenagers act more fucking mature,” may be his truest lyric on the whole album. GRADE: B

“Love Game” featuring Kendrick Lamar: Sampling Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders’ 1965 hit,  “Game of Love,” “Love Game” is absolutely irresistible musically. He and Lamar tangle with the intricacies of love and in Eminem’s world, there’s perhaps no more romantic statement than “I f**king love you, f**king bitch,” especially as the girl is holding a gun to his face. He’s dumped a girl because she blew Kanye, Lil Wayne, and seemingly a whole roster of rappers, but neither he nor Lamar, who’s style complements Eminem perfectly here, can let her go. It’s horribly misogynistic, and yet cartoonish in a De La Soul crossed with Digital Underground way. GRADE: A

“Highlights”: featuring Nate Ruess:  As anyone knows, Eminem has mommy issues and they play out writ large here in this slow jam that serves as an apology to his mother, but explains why “I’ll always love you from afar.” There’s no happy ending here. His deadbeat dad still, understandably, raises his ire given that he would (as he has proved) follow his daughter “to the end of the atlas” to find her, yet his father couldn’t be bothered to find him when his mother moved across town.  Fun.s’ Ruess provides a delicate refrain of “I guess we are who we are” that gives the song a lightness and reinforces the forgiveness that Eminem is trying to bestow.  GRADE: B+

“Evil Twin”: A six-minute rant where Eminem manages to name drop Sarahs Palin and Marshall and Jessicas Simpson and Alba, as well as a phalanx of other famous folks, as he tries to convince us that his evil twin is responsible for all the mischief before allowing that they are one and the same. He throws back to "The Real Slim Shady" (note the Burger King reference) in a song that feels like retread.  GRADE: C


 

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<p>Justin Bieber live on Oct. 25</p>

Justin Bieber live on Oct. 25

Credit: AP Photo

Justin Bieber has a 'Bad Day' on new single

Is it another song about Selena Gomez?

It turns out Justin Bieber’s newest song, “Bad Day,” is definitely an apt title. In case you’ve missed the lastest Biebs’ news, in the last 72 hours, he was supposedly caught leaving a Brazilian brothel, then he was struck with a water bottle while performing in San Paulo, and then if that weren’t enough, Katy Perry surpassed him on Twitter to become the new queen of social media.

All that, however, is nothing compared to the pain he’s feeling in the lulling, mainly acoustic “Bad Day,” his fifth release in his #MusicMondays flight of putting out a new song every week.

As the visual below shows, there’s a gray cloud over Bieber and it’s because his lady walked away “like it was nothing, baby.” He couldn’t breathe because “you took away the biggest part of me,” he sings.

The song goes into a sweet falsetto about a minute in as he remains stunned that it was so easy for for her to walk away.

Throughout the tunes we’ve heard so far from Bieber’s diary, he’s taken responsibility for the breakup, but he’s also been decimated by it. And, like the other songs we’ve heard, “Bad Day” is a nice pop song, but there’s nothing so dynamic on it that it feels like required listening.

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