Posts Tagged ‘Born This Way’

Written by James Christopher Sheppard

As a music critic and reviewer, I tend to write a review as soon as I have an album in my possession or have some way of listening to it in it’s entirety. Therefore, what I write tends to be based on an intense listen or two to each track. Now that I have reviewed around thirty albums, I now sometimes reconsider my reviews. Of course, the reviews I have written represent my first impression and most of the time, that opinion sticks, but sometimes an album grows and grows on me, and other times I don’t listen to them after reviewing them.

The main album that springs to mind that I would now give a hands down 10/10 rating is Charlie Simpson‘s debut Young Pilgrim. The more I have listened to it, the more I enjoy it. Having given ‘I Need a Friend Tonight’ 7/10, it would now easily get a 10. The album words together so coherently, it really deserves to be heard. If you haven’t yet given it a listen, I would strongly recommend that you do.

An album that I would potentially give a less favourable rating to now is Lady Gaga‘s Born This Way. On first listen, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the album, but I have only revisited it a handful of times since its release back in May. In reflection the album is instantly likeable, but does little to keep you wanting to return for more. I will admit to having a love/hate relationship with this album. I have struggled to appreciate ‘Born This Way’, ‘Judas’, ‘Hair’ and ‘You and I’ at all. To me, they are not a patch on anything on The Fame or The Fame Monster. Gaga’s recent car crash appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards as her alter ego Jo Calderone has not helped to re-instate my desire for more. Poor Britney Spears looked petrified as Gaga presented her with the ‘Michael Jackson Vanguard Award’.

Albums I am listening to at the moment that will be reviewed soon include The Sea by Melanie C, the new self titled Evanescence album and Torches by Foster the People.



James Christopher Sheppard
on his Top Ten musical highlights of 2011

As we hit the mid-point of the year 2011, James Christopher Sheppard takes a look back and charts his top ten musical highlights of the year so far. With stellar performances, standout single releases and albums that will be listened to for years to come, here’s how James’ top ten shapes up, in descending order, starting with the tenth best highlight.


P!nk ‘Fuckin’ Perfect’

New Mum, P!nk, released the second single from her Greatest Hits… So Far!!! album in March, to much critical acclaim. The video portrays a girl with self-confidence issues, who dabbles in self-harm, but ultimately grows into a beautiful women and mother. As corny as it sounds, it really is a moving song and video and incredibly apt for P!nk at this time in her life. I can not wait for the follow-up to the incredible Funhouse album.





Britney Spears ‘Hold it Against Me’

Britney smashed back onto the scene after a short break at the beginning of the year with the dub-step tinged monster hit ‘Hold it Against Me’. The song is a new direction for Britney, and while the album Femme Fatale may not live up to the standard set here, ‘Hold it Against Me’ is one of the best Britney singles ever.







Lady GaGa ‘The Edge of Glory’ performance at Radio One’s Big Weekend.

Lady Gaga had run into all sorts of critical indifference at the beginning of the year as the response to the first two singles from her album Born This Way were not met with the same ecstatic reception in the UK that she was used to. While ‘Born This Way’ slowly built on people and sold steadily, it still was the least original single she had put out, and ‘Judas’ didn’t do a great deal to help matters. Cut to May and Gaga headlined Radio One’s Big Weekend in Carlisle and performed a piano only version of third single ‘The Edge of Glory’. With no gimmicks, no crazy outfit or political message, ‘The Edge of Glory’ proved Lady Gaga’s musical talent was still as evident as ever and stands as one of her most emotional and powerful performances to date.



Blondie Panic of Girls

Returning with their ninth studio album, Blondie proved on their stunning new album that they are still a force to be reckoned with. The band sound younger and fresher than they have done in years, with Panic of Girls being innovative and full of energy. Stand out tracks include ‘Mother’, ‘What I Heard’, ‘Girlie Girlie’ and ‘Wipe off my Sweat’. Get the limited edition collector’s pack if you haven’t already, featuring an exclusive magazine, prints, a poster and bonus tracks.





Lower Than Atlantis World Record

The second full-length album from melodic hardcore band, Lower Than Atlantis, arrived in April and saw Mike Duce and his band-mates establish themselves as one of the leading alternative rock bands in the UK, getting air-play from Radio One and Kerrang, amongst others. World Record managed to outshine their outstanding debut, Far Q, with killer tracks like ‘Beech Like a Tree’, ‘(Motor) Way of Life’, ‘Another Sad Song’ and ‘Deadliest Catch’. World Record is only the beginning for these guys, which makes them so exciting to watch. Definitely a band and an album to check out if you haven’t already.




Adele 21 and that Brit Awards Performance

You must have been in a coma for the past six months if you’ve failed to notice to phenomenal success of English singer/songwriter Adele’s second album, 21. The album is now established as the longest running UK number one album since Saturday Night Fever in 1978, that’s sixteen weeks so far, and as it stands 21 is still #2. First single, ‘Rolling In The Deep’, was a huge success pretty much everywhere, and has just spent its seventh week at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, while ‘Someone Like You’ rocketed to number one in the UK following the heart-wrenching acoustic performance at the Brit Awards in February. There’s even more to 21 that the massive hits however, with gems such as ‘Turning Tables’, a cover of The Cure’s ‘Lovesong’ and ‘Set Fire To The Rain’. 21 is a record-shattering album, with over seven million sales since its release in January, and its obvious why- just seriously good music.



Incubus If Not Now, When?

Following a five year gap since their last studio album, Incubus finally ventured back into the limelight over the past few months to announce the forthcoming release of their seventh studio album. If Not Now, When? is delicate and mellow, yet mesmerising and powerful, with new Incubus classics such as ‘Adolescents’, ‘Isadore’, ‘ Defiance’ and ‘In the Company of Wolves’ to add to our already lengthy Incubus playlists.




Complete the Top Ten and see the final top three highlights, including Kylie Minogue, Patrick Wolf and Within Temptation, at Eyewear.



James Christopher Sheppard reviews Born This Way by Lady Gaga

At last, after months of ultra-hype, Born This Way, the brand new Lady Gaga album, has arrived. Let’s see if it lives up to the expectations and hype.

‘Marry The Night’

Straight into a haunting melodic club track, Gaga sets the pace for the album in style. This is a great song to bridge the gap between The Fame Monster to Born This Way, showing evolution in sound, but playing to Gaga’s strengths. ‘Marry the Night’ eases you into the new album with a soft start, but that quickly turns into those hammering beats Gaga has been promising for months.

‘Born This Way’

The title track and first single, which went on to become Gaga’s biggest hit in the USA, was met with controversial comparisons to Madonna’s ‘Express Yourself’. While it is less edgy to her previous headline grabbing singles, ‘Born This Way’ seems to have established itself as THE guilty pleasure. You shouldn’t love it, but eventually, with every listen, you crank it up and dance like the empowered little freak you really are.

‘Government Hooker’

Beginning like a track made for the cult film ‘Repo: The Genetic Opera’, the dirty bass and futuristic messy industrial distortion establishes Lady Gaga’s progression as an artist. This sounds like nothing she has ever done before, yet it somehow seems to be a natural fit. ‘Government Hooker’ quickly dispels the feeling of guilty pleasure from the album.


Second single, which at first received only a luke-warm reception and disappointing sales, now seems to be building momentum. It just proves that it doesn’t matter how big you are, you still need to promote to sell. Gaga performed ‘Judas’ on Graham Norton last week, which was her first UK performance of the song. It definitely gets better with each listen and logs itself into your brain, particularly the ‘Juda Judaas Juda Judaas’ part. Still, an odd choice for second single, but not bad as an album track.


Five tracks in and the tempo shows no sign of slowing down or altering. The hammering beat is still present, but this time has a Mexican flamenco touch to it. Possibly aspiring to be this album’s ‘Alejandro’… it’s not bad, but it’s the least most striking yet.


Released already as a promotional song on Itunes, ‘Hair’ has received generally positive reviews from fans all over the Internet. Lady Gaga has said in interviews that it is some people’s favourite track from the album, but I personally just don’t really connect with a song that’s chorus is passionately singing ‘I am my hair’. The song sounds great however, with punchy ultra-electro elements that thump along next to a piano and a saxophone.


Oh my goodness. German language, german accented speaking, bass heavy hammering industrial beats that smack against a 90s techno beat with synths that Felix’s ‘Don’t You Want Me’ would be proud of. This is the most dance that Gaga has ever sounded. Kind of addictive and kind of bonkers. ‘I don’t speak German, but I can if you like’…

‘Bloody Mary’

The tempo slows down momentarily for ‘Bloody Mary’. Religion returns as the main theme, but is far softer than ‘Judas’. While this is mid-tempo, it is dark, synth-orientated and very dance-friendly.

‘Bad Kids’

Sounding the most like Gaga’s earlier tracks, ‘Dirty Ice Cream’ anybody? Perfectly listenable, fun and danceable, ‘Bad Kids’ is just not a stand out track from the rest of this collection. Still, considering the quality of this song and it not being a standout, that is something quite admirable.

‘Highway Unicorn (Highway to Love)’

Sounding inspired by Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believing’, ‘Highway Unicorn’ is industrial orientated and bass-heavy euphoria. There is so much going on here that it is easy to get a little overwhelmed and lost in it. This one will definitely take a few listens, but after those listens, it could well be a fan favourite.

Read the full review at Eyewear

Written by James Christopher Sheppard

A mere two weeks since the underwhelming ‘Judas’ hit radios and stores simultaneously, Lady GaGa returns this week with another brand new song from forthcoming album Born This Way, ‘The Edge of Glory’. The countdown to the new album’s release date on 23rd May is being cleverly marked by a couple of tracks hitting Itunes prior to the release date. Very nice marketing team GaGa. So how is ‘The Edge of Glory’?

Actually, it appears to be the masterpiece song that the superstar has needed to re-establish her place as monster hit maker. Let’s forget ‘Judas’ for a moment and just listen to ‘Glory’. It’s uncomplicated, uplifting, bass-heavy with just the right amount of quirkiness. By the time the brass kicks in, it sounds like Lady GaGa’s stab at doing something a bit Patrick Wolf, who’s last single ‘The City’ featured a similar uplifting and brass heavy sound.

Where the Madonna comparisons have been quite unflattering, sounding like the female empowered club Patrick Wolf is certainly no bad thing. Ironically, GaGa recently said in an interview that she had been listening ‘a lot to this great British artist, Patrick Wolf’. Maybe there should be a Wolf/GaGa collaboration in the future? Now that would be spectacular. Congratulations GaGa, it seems your damage control has worked. Let’s sweep ‘Judas’ under the carpet and pretend that’s just a promotional single, eh?

What do you think of ‘Edge of Glory’ and a possible Wolf/GaGa collab? Shall we start the petition right here?

The beginning of the end for GaGa?
By James Christopher Sheppard

For almost three years now, Lady GaGa has reigned supreme as the multi-million selling iconic pop star of the age. She has launched four of her first six singles to the top of the UK charts, sold over 12 million copies worldwide of her first album The Fame/The Fame Monster and is still on the epically successful and hugely long Monster Ball Tour. Love her or hate her, the success and buzz around everything GaGa does is something quite spectacular. Having produced credible, edgy dance tracks such as ‘Bad Romance’ and ‘Paparazzi’ and establishing herself as a vocally gifted musician, as well as writer, the mind boggles when hearing the first two singles released from her new album, the hugely hyped, Born This Way.

In February you’d have been hard pushed not to have heard ‘Born This Way’- the first brand new single from GaGa since ‘Bad Romance’, which hit #1 in December 2009. The difference between these two tracks could not be bigger. ‘Bad Romance’ had edge and originality. It captured people when they heard it for the first time and appealed to a mass audience. ‘Born This Way’ is a very camp disco track, suitable for Eurovision in the 90s. It’s difficult not to start singing Madonna’s 1989 hit ‘Express Yourself’ when listening to ‘Born This Way’. Since shooting to fame, GaGa has recruited an army of very loyal followers, her monsters. These fans are passionately standing up for their icon on forums around the net claiming that everyone wants to see Lady GaGa fail, but that simply is not true. I personally was a fan of her work and found her to be an exceptional performer, until I heard ‘Born This Way’, when my respect began to wane. The video of the song is even worse than the song itself, featuring GaGa as ‘Mother Monster’. All that comes across from the video is a huge amount of deeply unpleasant yonic imagery, an uninventive dance routine and most of all – Lady GaGa’s new God complex. For a song as trashy and throw away as ‘Born This Way’, it is alarming to see the star taking herself so seriously and proclaiming herself to be this God-like figure.
Read the full article at Eyewear

The end of the road for GaGa?

Written by James Christopher Sheppard

It has been hard to miss the mega-hype that has been surrounding the new Lady GaGa release for the past few months.

Back in September, at the 2010 MTV Music Video Awards, the out-there performer announced that the title of her new album was Born This Way, and then belted out the chorus of the title track.

Six months later and GaGa’s army of ‘Monsters’ are finally put out of their misery asBorn This Way, the superstar’s first new single since November 2009’s massive Bad Romance, hit the airwaves and online stores.

After clocking up an impressive resume of huge selling singles, such as Just Dance,Poker Face and Telephone, does Born This Way live up to the hype?

Read the rest of the article at NXG Magazine