February 2006 


4 posts from November 2005

Nov 24 2005
For The Birds Comments (0)

Legendary vocalist Yma Sumac is probably one of the only singers I've heard whose throat might actually be packing the oft-advertised, never-achieved four-and-a-half octaves. Certainly, Cyndi Lauper and Mariah Carey don't have the ability to sing in Ymafrequencies that birds understand, a legend associated with Yma. I discovered her music in the '80s and literally weeks later, she was making a totally rare appearance in Chicago, conveniently close to where I was attending college. I went to her show (alone), she sang lower and higher than I've ever heard a human sing and I later requested permission to kiss her hand when she received fans after the show. She dramatically extended a heavily lotioned and perfumed mit for me to smooch and graciously, perhaps too, signed my program. I was in a phase where I was fixated on collecting Ysgorman_3autographs...I was at Field's for Cher's perfume launch and got to ask her a question, met Ultra Violet and had her sign a lightbulb (so it'd be an Ultra Violet lightbulb) and wrote away to Shana to praise her "I Want You" 12-inch single (she replied with a lengthy, handwritten note and dubbed me "a good fan"), had authors inscribe their first (and last) books to me, gnashed my teeth in envy when a roomie stuck around a few minutes longer than I after a Eurythmics gig and got Annie Lennox's bored scrawl. So as you can see,Ysdivapose_1 I was all over the map when it came to autographs. But collecting Yma's autograph(s) was a favorite pair of memories. "Pair" because I doubled my pleasure, turning up as the first person in line at her Rose Records signing the next day or so. Behind me in line was a crazed fan with a little trunk FULL of Yma vinyl singles. Obviously I was not the fan he was, so why did I need to be first? I think stardom is fascinating, but it's been devalued by phony stars like Tara Reid and Anna Nicole Smith and any guy from Laguna Beach. Yma Sumac is a star, whether she's an Incan Princess or a New Jerseyan named Amy Camus, and even if she admits on her site to enjoying Jerry Springer. I'll probably never appreciate Yma's singing as much as our avian friends, but I did a Google search on a "lark" and found she's very much alive, still warbles on occasion and looks pretty damn good for 78ish. Catching site of her made me feel like a bird-watcher spying a rare species: It's a pleasure to behold and just to know it exists.

Nov 09 2005
Confessions On A Dance Floor by Madonna Comments (0)

It’s official: Madonna’s fans have received the continuous-mix ear candy they have demanded as a ransom for continued devotion, even if Confessions On A Dance Floor turns out to be anything but superficial. She’s sneaky like that. Overall CD Rating: 9/10


“Hung Up”

The album opens with the ticking of a clock, ballsy for a 47-year-old in a field where her rivals are in their teens and twenties. Though she claims that “time goes by so slowly,” the exact opposite impression is conveyed, a sense that if you don’t seize the moment, it will pass you by. This feeling is helped along by the legendary call to action that is ABBA’s bassline from “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight),” sampled here to the point of saturation. In the original, it was “half past twelve,” while in “Hung Up” it’s “a quarter to two”—maybe time really does go slowly, since in the 26 years from the original’s invention to “Hung Up”’s addictive reinvention, only an hour and 15 minutes have elapsed! The song is an irresistible pop perfect storm with a stop-start quality that manipulates you as easily as the tide toying with driftwood. It’s musical crack, and if there is anything to complain about, it’s that it’s so exactly what the doctor ordered that it’s not as surprising as previous lead singles from “Like A Virgin” to “Like A Prayer” to “Music.” At one point in “Hung Up,” Madonna sings with conviction, “I don’t know what to do.” It’s a lie. She knows. 9/10

“Get Together”

I’ve never heard a more perfect club song than this euphoric piece, which drips with a sexuality so open it’s innocent and begins with a ringing bell that could either be a neat outro providing closure to “Hung Up”’s 60 Minutes intro or a school bell indicating class is in session/let recess begin. Sampling Stardust’s “Music Sounds Better With You” (itself known to have had a passionate affair with Madonna’s seminal hit “Holiday”), “Get Together” exudes optimism, boiling down club-hopping to love-seeking. The song is a fantastic example of Madonna’s songwriting abilities—here, she writes simply but with feeling: “Can we get together?/I really wanna be with you/c’mon check it out with me/I hope you feel the same way, too.” This chorus perfectly communicates what we all seek in the darkness of a club—and in life. What else is there? 10/10


Rumored to be the set’s second single, “Sorry” is, ironically, another unapologetic vacation for the mind and draft notice for theCoadf_back_cover_news feet. Opening with Madonna murmuring “I’m sorry” (or close to it) in several different languages, the song zips along aerobically, as if it were a long-lost Flashdance soundtrack cut. I hear this as a vastly improved take on her admittedly pleasing Erotica tracks “Thief of Hearts” and “Words.” Madonna has held out a long time without a classic woman-scored kiss-off song (“You’ll See” came close). If she was waiting for a worthy cut, her patience pays off with an absolutely grade-A entry in the genre. Pet Shop Boys could have written this for Madonna—it’s that good. If this isn’t a hit, Billboard is no longer worthy of existing and a faggot fatwa should be called on all radio programmers. 10/10

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The Diva, The Dance Floor & Her Wardrobe Comments (0)


For celebrities used to doing carefree backstrokes in a sea of adulation, the last several years have been sink or swim in snark-infested waters—and there’s no indication that help is on the way.

America’s steadily increasing fascination with and love/hatred for celebrities has lately given unlimited exposure to not only the famous and infamous, but also the recently anonymous, creating unprecedented competition for coverage. Entertainment magazines have whittled down the concept of stardom to its barest essentials—a modicum of notoriety, a persona capable of being skewered or celebrated (more often the former) in one sentence or less, pure availability. MTV can get you on Seventeen by handing you a script and filming your “real” life. Blogs are accidentally crafting lifelong public images for stars using strings of stolen paparazzi photos cleverly MacPainted with IMO caps.

Fame is a virus—it’s spreading, and it’s destroying all but the sturdiest of hosts.

This fandemic presents a problem for established stars of every medium. Average folks catapulted into the big leagues are completely willing to do or say anything to grow their household-name status, not caring that most of these newcomers are likely to flame out in record time, whereas bona fide stars have traditionally worked hard to appear aloof, as if fame and popularity are almost a burden, side effects of their true vocations—singing, acting, reporting the news. This will no longer fly. Lasting fame will not be snatched away—Elizabeth Taylor is a star forever, decades after being vital—but pop cultural relevance is decided on a minute-by-minute basis. There is no room for nonchalance.

It’s become more and more clear that older stars seeking to continue to matter must operate within a publicly acceptable creative and expressive framework or risk rejection—there are simply so many other choices available that trying something new might easily lead to failure. And comebacks like Mariah Carey’s (and like Mariah Carey) can be a bitch.

No one is a bigger star—and yet no one has done more to recklessly gamble her stardom over the years—than Madonna.

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Nov 06 2005
"Call Me" (No, Seriously!) Comments (0)

(Test Post Circa 2004)
As the editor of a teen celebrity magazine—considered somewhere beneath pornography by a lot of NYC media elites—I'd experienced pretty much every form of condescension or outright disdain I'd thought were possible. Everything from, "No, we're passing on letting you speak with the band...they're avoiding the cheesy, teenybopper thing," to "Okay, you can speak with him...I'll tell him to brush up on his 'What's your fave color?' answers," to "You're not on the list after all." A stylist, often the least legit of all professionals IMHO, once sniffed to me that while it was "nice" that I had a star on my cover, "Why not give her a real cover? A whole cover? Without all these...faces all over the cover?" Adult publishing types look down on teen celebrity magazines in the same way a sixth-grader considers a third-grader a little baby. They're both children attending the same school, but the elder needs to manufacture distance to conceal self-doubt.

But I heard a new one recently.

I once attended an intimate "AOL Sessions" taping featuring Pink, an artist whose music I like and who I've met before. The first time, she was brand new and was refusing to stop to speak to me at a tiny radio show situated on the Jersey Shore. Her bodyguard actually physically threatened me, and when I told Pink what I thought of that, she told me what *she* thought of *that.* The next time I saw her was at a photo shoot. I sat with her as she had a pedicure (something she'd asked for last-minute as part of the grooming for the shoot) and she gave me a fascinating and funny interview. I liked her very much and we flirted asexually and took a picture together that captured the chemistry we'd somehow concocted for that afternoon. At this "AOL" taping, she was doing songs from her already-expected-to-bomb CD "Try This," and I had zero interaction with her. Instead, I watched in agony from the booth as she tempestuously figeted with equipment and refused to record until everything was "right." Then she sat and did a charismatic if perfunctory set and then she split and so did I, my legs noodles after hours of standing and pretending to be interested in the Process while Billy Bush chatted everyone up and pretended to be interested in them.

Thanks to my support in attending the Pink taping and my positive mention of it in my magazine, I was rewarded with another invite: This time, I was asked to come listen to and watch Blondie record their "AOL Sessions" gig under what would probably be similar circumstances.

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