I’m a 24 years old music school graduate, currently living in San Francisco. Born in Wisconsin, lived in Beijing for 9 years of my childhood, have an unhealthy obsession of taking pictures of every moment of my life and putting them online (for some kind of subconscious validation), developing an insatiable appetite for performing and being successful with music, don't have an easy time keeping emotions to myself, I believe everyone is beautiful, boys with pretty eyes an innocent faces really get me, good food is a total weakness of mine, and I cry a lot. I care too much about things but sometimes have trouble showing it. As a result, I’m an asshole, but I think my blog is decent and hopefully you'll think so too. Just be sure you can handle someone else's opinions. Don't take me too seriously.
Imogen Heap | “First Train Home”
“Turn Me On” | David Guetta ft. Nicki Minaj
Haven’t heard a chorus this exciting since “Only Girl (In The World)”.
"Love on Top" | Beyoncé
Sooooo groovy. So. Many. Modulations.
WHO RUN DIS MUTHA? Beyonce.
First off, I doubt anyone will read this.
Second, I’m normally not one to perpetuate any competition between these two, but I’m bored and this is what I do best.
(And because BTW has 17 tracks and FF has 16, I’m just going to skip track 15, “The Queen”, on BTW. Because it sucks.)
1) “Marry The Night” - “Till The World Ends”
Both excellent choices for an album opener. MTN shows Gaga exploring ideas and sounds she hasn’t utilized before (rustic harpsichord, epic coda closing the song) and as it progresses just keeps getting bigger and bigger. But this is Britney’s first real foray into the beat-driven pop of the 21st century and has that monster of a hook in the chorus that doesn’t wear thin. Plus, with Dr. Luke and Ke$ha on your side, you can’t lose. Gaga loses points for shoddy production as well.
2) “Born This Way” - “Hold It Against Me”
How perfect is it that both of the leading singles off of their respective albums would both be track #2? I’ve written a lengthy essay on how HIAM is a pop music and a production/engineering masterpiece and I stand by that. But I have to say that Gaga takes this one based purely on the joy and exhilaration that the song exudes that transcends anything it may lack in production quality.
3) “Government Hooker” - “Inside Out”
This is an interesting pairing because the two songs could not be more different. Britney takes the dubstep exploration from the previous track to another level on this one and toys with a lot of brilliant rhythmic ideals, both with the melodic phrasing and the underlying beat. Gaga, however, creates a vocal hook tour de force, with nearly every section containing a memorable melodic line that you might find yourself humming subconsciously. Not to mention GH has more intriguing imagery and a more captivating pulsing beat.
4) “Judas” - “I Wanna Go”
While “Judas” is more instantly attention-getting with it’s manically aggressive “JuuuDAAAAAS” hook, but loses a lot of steam once the chorus hits, sounding like “Bad Romance” with less conviction. Religious imagery also feels contrived. Once you hear the infectious whistle hook in the prechorus of IWG, there’s no contest. This is one of the most explosively awesome songs of Britney’s career, while “Judas” is possibly Gaga’s most significant flop to date.
5) “Americano” - “How I Roll”
Though Britney easily stole the last round, the tables turn for her on this low-dynamic, chilled-out electronic romp. It’s a pleasant song but is one of the least attention-grabbing on the album. Props for the interesting percussive ideas, but Gaga takes a truckload of ideas and throws them all together into what should be an absolute hot mess of a song, but actually managed to create mariachi-techno music with incredibly pleasing results. Although cramming gay marriage and immigration into the social message is a bit much for one song, it is easy to over look it.
6) “Hair” - “Drop Dead Beautiful”
This is an interesting one, as both tracks are both ridiculously stupid but also devilishly enjoyable. The whole “free as my hair” movement Gaga is clearly trying to start falls flat, not to mention she made some very poor instrumental choices toward the beginning. By the time the uber-catchy chorus kicks in is when you really begin to enjoy yourself, but she crams just too many ideas into one song for it to be truly memorable. On DDB, Britney keeps things downright minimalistic. The driving beat rarely varies throughout the song but manages to give just enough of a kick in the nuts (you know… the good kind) to leave you satisfied. Only request: They should have given guest rapper Sabi some more room to breath. She’s confined to 8 short bars. Hardly enough time to really make for an effective guest spot on such a high profile album.
7) “Scheiße” - “Seal It With A Kiss”
The strength of SIWAK lies within the instrumentation and production. The production, rhythmic ideas, and little hooks are relatively affective, but otherwise this song remains relatively tame and feels a lot more like it could have been on a Britney album from days gone by. Unfortunately the vocal hooks never really settle in and make it truly power, which is is exactly what “Scheiße” excels at. Easily one of Gaga’s strongest choruses on the album, if not of her career, and thats saying something on an album dedicated to catchy choruses. The faux-German spoken intro makes no sense and was potentially risky, but you just know all the gays will have it memorized and the dark industrial German dance club vibe works perfectly.
8) “Bloody Mary” - “Big Fat Bass”
This is a round that I’m sure many will disagree with my opinion on. Upon first listen I considered this one of the strongest tracks off of Gaga’s album, as it certainly explores a multitude of styles and textures that she hasn’t attempted before (most notably the Ti Burton-like plucked violin intro). But after a number of listens I just didn’t find it getting any more exciting, like many of the other songs. As for BFB, it is easily the most polarizing tracks off of Femme Fatale, largely due to the inclusion of will.i.am. But I can’t help it. I love it. The layering of the instruments, the breakdown, the crispness of that big fat fucking bass. Sure, it drags on for a little while, but it’s so fun that I don’t even care.
9) “Black Jesus/Amen Fashion” - “Trouble For Me”
Throughout the entire Born This Way album, Gaga manages to namecheck Jesus, Judas, and Mary Magdalene in just the titles of her songs. Out of all the religion-bases songs on the album, this is easily the weakest. It doesn’t really seem to settle on any truly great ideas and it is easy to see why this was a “bonus track” on the special edition copy of the album. TFM, on the other hand, is an under rated danceable gem wedged in between a group of larger production numbers, but still hold out remarkably well on it’s own. The sharp, attention-grabbing snare drums motioning the start of a new verse or chorus are extremely effective and the classic theme of a man being bad for you works extremely well under the playful tone in Britney’s voice.
10) “Bad Kids” - “Trip To Your Heart”
This is possibly one of the most sonically soothing and pretty songs Britney has ever put out. The fact that it so heavily reminds me of Kylie Minogue certainly doesn’t hurt either. The synths used in this one are like the musical equivalent of floating on a cloud and the soft vocals in the chorus are so bittersweet that they make you want to smile. Gaga goes for the complete opposite technique putting out the angriest song she’s ever recorded. She manages to bridge the gap between aggressive rock and dance pop amazingly well with a verse that keeps you on your toes and an absolutely joyous contrasting chorus that reminds the listener heavily of “Holiday” era Madonna. In the end, Gaga’s adventurous streak pays off.
11) “Fashion Of His Love” - “Gasoline”
Definitely of of the more “badass” tracks of Britney’s career. The strength of the song lies within the prechorus and the way in which the song builds up tension with the use of line cliches and a beat that keeps the listener on their toes, but never really pays off with an equally satisfying chorus. Sadly, it never really stood a chance against the ridiculously joyous and powerful FOHL, an unapologetic homage to “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”. Key change and all. I would honestly put this in my top 5 favorite drum intros of all time. This is as ’80s of a song that you will ever hear in 2011. In all the right ways.
12) “Highway Unicorn (Road To Love”) - “Criminal”
Gaga is really letting the Springsteen fan inside of her run free on this album. This track is perfectly serviceable and decently catchy but feels a little too disjointed between the chorus and the verse. I feel like each of them could have made into two separate songs, each much stronger than this one. Biggest redeeming characteristic is the drum beat, which is one of the loudest, heaviest, and most powerful you’ll hear in pop music. Britney takes the opposite route and delivers the closest thing to a ballad on this album yet. The use of an acoustic guitar, a synthesized flute, and an array of other electronic patches all mesh together in a way that feels so wrong and so right. Everything about it is simple but unexpected. In a good way.
13) “Heavy Metal Lover” - “Don’t Keep Me Waiting”
This is where the Femme Fatale album tracks end and the bonus tracks begin. Thankfully they get off to a strong start, thanks to an uncharacteristically heavy rock song with drum assistance from Travis Barker. The whole song maintains a high energy and works out incredibly well, considering Britney is not a rock singer by any stretch of the imagination. Sadly, a flimsy bridge section keeps it from being truly awesome. HML is another polarizing Gaga track. She’s often had mixed results with slower tempos, but the beat is hypnotizing and the hook is one of the best she’s come up with. Just sit back and let it intensity of the dark ethereal synths build up and wash over you.
14) “Electric Chapel” - “He About To Lose Me”
I may very well be unable to choose between the two. Easily the most poignant Britney song since “Everytime” with lyrics that actually make you stop and think about who is say what, to whom, and what position their speaking from. Simply from a musician’s standpoint, the instrumental guitar arrangements are absolutely gorgeous and it’s the best Britney’s voice has sounded in ages. Gaga, on the other hand, decides to go dirty, heavy, and filthy. I’m a sucker for straight-8th note drum beats and the “do-do-dooo”s in the verses resonant strongly in the verses. Her vocal tone has also never sounded so interesting. The guitar solo detracts from what would have been a really incredible song, but is powerful and driving enough to keep you satisfied throughout.
15) “You & I” - “Selfish”
The musician in me tells me that I should instinctively go with Gaga on this one. One of her gimmicks has always been to show off catchy dance pop songs to pull you in, then whenever she gets lauded as “talentless” or a “one trick pony” she pulls out the piano and wails out a power ballad. “You & I” sounds like Elton John meets 80’s hair metal and is one of her strongest songs to date as far as lyrics go. This one has had Gaga fans going crazy since she debuted it in concert almost a year ago and features Brian May of Queen on guitar, but in the end almost feels a tad too “power ballad by numbers” to me. Something just to shut the dance pop haters up. It sounds like a fun drinking song. Long story short, when it comes down to it, when given the choice I would much rather listen to the bouncy, carefree, Stargate-produced “Selfish” than “You & I”. Sometimes less is more.
16) “The Edge Of Glory” - “Up N’ Down”
Kind of sucks for Britney in this round to be going up against TEOG, the most powerful song on an album with more balls than most all-male bands. Honestly, there isn’t much to be said. TEOG has some of the strongest melodic and musical ideas Gaga has ever come up with and you’d have to be heartless not to be at least a little bit moved by the upward chanting of “the edge, the edge, the edge.” Definitely her most Springsteen-esque song. And not just because it includes the word “glory”. It’s easy to see why “Up N’ Down” was a bonus track. It’s well produced and well executed and reasonably catchy, but it’s a middling song at best when thrown up against Gaga’s strongest.
Born This Way: 9
Femme Fatale: 8
That was indeed a close one, but it looks like Born This Way just barely takes it in an epic photo finish due in large part to musical adventurousness. At the same time, Britney delivers what is (in my opinion) the strongest album of her career. For all I know my opinions on this could change tomorrow depending how I feel because these albums are both that good.
(by Joe Bissell, 2011)