Music

Those Flashing Lights... Kanye West and Lady Gaga

The Yahoo! commercial set to Kanye West's "Flashing Lights" shows a young office drone escaping his dull gray world via a purple door bearing the company's logo. The Yahoo! entertainment news portal thereby releases him into the magical realm of modern fame, a world of limousines, red carpets, music video shoots, Jacuzzis, and, of course, the flashing lights of the paparazzi. Actual celebrity photographers have probably grown accustomed to their subjects' middle fingers as well as the smiles and waves of the would-be famous. On August 31st, the anniversary of Princess Diana's fatal car accident, the paparazzi also encountered the restraining hand of the state. The California State Assembly passed a measure that imposes a heavy fine and up to a year in jail for violating existing traffic laws "with the intent to capture any type of visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression of another person for a commercial purpose" (Assembly Bill No. 2479). In reporting news of the bill's passage, blogs vigorously circulated a 2008 video of Kate Moss being mobbed by photographers at LAX. The sight of a 5'7" woman shielding her children from a massive pack of paparazzi might make even the Yahoo! ad's would-be star yearn for the solace of his cubicle.

Three days after the bill's passage, Lady Gaga released a video called "The Left Eye" through SHOWstudio.com, a "fashion and art internet broadcasting channel" created by the British photographer Nick Knight. Shot from her point of view, the short video offers a rare sense of what it means to be the subject of the blinding blur of flashes, to have one's "physical impression" be so desired and so profitable. Amid the clamor of paparazzi calling her name, one hears the frenzied cry of a fan, quickly followed by the hush of a plush hotel lobby. Just a year ago, at the start of her performance of "Paparazzi" during the MTV Video Music Awards, Gaga sang, "Amidst all of these flashing lights I pray the fame won't take my life." This prayer apparently went unanswered, given that her performance concluded with a bloody simulated hanging. For this year's VMAs, to be broadcast on Sunday night, Gaga has earned the most nominations ever received in a single year and is now "the number one pop star in the world," as Kanye described her in a recent tweet. The middle fingers that she offered to the paparazzi at a Mets game this past June made clear that Gaga shared other celebrities' annoyance at the camera lenses and shutter clicks that are in step with their every public movement. But if pop commentators' predictions of Gaga sweeping Sunday's VMAs prove accurate, those flashing lights will only multiply and grow brighter.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

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Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

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Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

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A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

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Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

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