Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”

The music world has been talking about this for months – from the moment she first belted out a few lyrics at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards to her “New Year’s announcement on Twitter”… Let’s be honest, nobody knows how to hype up her fanbase like Lady Gaga.

And now it’s finally here – the first single off her highly, highly anticipated album of the same name. It’s Born This Way.

Listen to it below, then I’ll have my ten cents.

The danger of over-hyping a song is obvious. When it drops, it’s going to be scrutinised to the absolute last. And it’s happened here with Gaga. Born This Way will undoubtedly be one of the big club anthems of 2011 – but real-life music critics (a) Not the drunken crowd at a bar at 3am or b) myself) are divided.

On first listen, it seemed a little average to me – well, average for Gaga but miles and miles above the over-produced Britney single Hold It Against Me – but on a second listen, the song clicked. Yes, it could come across as a little preachy but my god, is she sincere about what she’s singing. She truly writes from the heart, and even though they may get lost in the thumping dance beats, the lyrics are hands-down the strong point of the single.

And of course, the inevitable Madonna comparisons. It draws inspiration from the spoken-word segments of Vogue, sounds very much like Express Yourself and even has a bit of a Like a Prayer mixed in at times. And in an artist who is constantly trying to outdo the crowd and prove she’s wildly original, it seems to be a bit of a slip. Gaga and her team definitely knew what they were doing – Gaga repeatedly refers to Madonna as one of her icons, and she’s no idiot – she would have seen the similarities. So no, I don’t think it’s a “rip off”, no matter how much the Twitter-sphere got their panties in a bunch. It’s a tribute in the purest form, and entrenches Gaga as the Madonna of this generation.

And now I’m dying to see the actual video – because I reckon we’re going to be blown out of the water.

Advertisements

Reviewed: ‘Black Swan’

Black Swan movie posterOriginally published on iafrica.com.

Natalie Portman delivers the stand-out female performance of 2010 in the breathtaking psychological thriller Black Swan – a film which is at once wickedly sexy and deeply disturbing.

Directed by Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan is set against the backdrop of a prestigious New York dance company and their performance of the classic ballet Swan Lake. It is, as Vincent Cassell’s character says, a ballet that has been “done to death … but not like this”. Not like this indeed. It is the intention of Cassell’s character – sexy, ruthless dance director Thomas – to strip the ballet and make it more visceral, and it’s something that Aronofsky parallels in his direction of the film.

Black Swan tells the story of Nina Sayers, an immensely fragile ballerina with only one goal – absolute perfection. She spends hours alone in the studio and in front of the mirror at home, refining her technique. The only world she knows outside of the studio is the cramped apartment she shares with her proud and overprotective mother, played by Barbara Hershey. When Thomas announces that Nina will be the ballet’s Swan Queen – and will dance the demanding dual role of the Black and White Swans – we watch her already fragile state of mind begin to fracture further. She is constantly reminded that she is too innocent, too uptight to successfully dance the Black Swan – despite Thomas’ attempts to seduce her and his encouragement that she explores her as yet untapped sexuality. The presence of the free-spirited and wildly sexy Lily (Mila Kunis in a charged performance) only pushes Nina further over the edge, as she convinces herself that Lily is out to steal her role.

Superbly cast, intensely filmed and set to an exquisite score by Clint Mansell, Aronofsky has pulled together a powerhouse of talent to produce Black Swan. The outstanding supporting performances by Kunis, Cassell and Hershey and a brief but terrifyingly memorable appearance by Winona Ryder make this one of the best cast films of 2010. Aronofsky and his cinematographer, Matthew Libatique – who worked with Aronofsky on Requiem for a Dream and The Fountain – combine uncomfortable close-ups, shaky hand-held shots and epic wide-screen shots to create a charged atmosphere that doesn’t relax for even a frame.

Continue reading