Photo by G. “I Won The Internet!” art by Troy Gua.
Rebel Heart vs I Won The Internet!
Hello! Remember me? Since we last spoke, I released my third book, “I Won The Internet!” which is available now on sites like Amazon.com. I took a break after the release of the book to do some promotion and also to get my nervous system back. For 5 years, I’ve been going out pretty much 7 nights a week in search of letting you all know the best art and music you should focus your energies on. To this day, there is not another website on the internet that has ever done the things I have done – experiencing, photographing and writing about all the content that appears on their site. It’s really sad to me that the world isn’t any the wiser as they continue to read sites written by people who rip off and re purpose content off the web and try pass it off as their own, but that is not my problem – it’s yours for supporting it! Readers have kindly been nudging me to return to this site for a few months and the love has been overwhelming. I thank you kindly for your love and support. You shouldn’t consider this my full return to According2g.com, but I will try pop in from time to time and let you know what’s up. You can also follow me on Instagram or Twitter @according2g for updates.
What better way to kick things off than with one of my favorite love-to-hate subjects – Madonna. I’ve been a fan of her since the beginning of her career and to her death, I will probably always be interested in what she’s up to. What I despise about her is that she has never lived a “practice what you preach existence,” and pretty much anyone that has been around her that has not signed a non-disclosure agreement rarely has a nice thing to say about her. It’s a shame since she is always singing about love and peace, but it fascinates me that people (myself included) continue to be captivated by someone whose only care for you is how she can carefully take your money. If you think that sentence is egregious in any way, you are in serious denial and you need help.
Regardless, I go into all of her albums with an open mind, because I will not lie, when her music ‘does it’ for me, it makes my world a happier place and I will always be grateful for that, and this new album has those moments from time to time, although fleeting. Her 13th studio album “Rebel Heart” has been a disaster since before the album even had a title. In December 2014, before the record even had a release date or a title, 13 songs in perfect quality, but in demo form, leaked to the internet in full. To try and do some damage control, Madonna oh so kindly, finished up 6 tracks and let people who pre-ordered the album have those songs instantly. She called it her Christmas present to fans. Insulting since her real fans (the people still interested in supporting her career) downloaded the songs for free days before (deny it all you want, but you and I both know that is the truth – not just for her but for any veteran act), but I digress…. In the interim, she announced the full album would be 19 songs long (except for a 26 song deluxe edition) and would be released in March of 2015. Before the end of 2014, an additional 19 songs leaked in full, so the grand total of songs that were “out there for free” at this point was 32. Madonna’s PR team went on a manhunt to find the person that hacked into her computer and released these songs into the wild and a person was captured. Leaks over, right? Not! A few days later, the finished version of the deluxe edition (25 songs) leaked onto the internet in perfect quality. And before the official release of the album, an additional few songs leaked, bringing the grand total number of tracks (including multiple different versions of certain tracks) to over 50! Makes you wonder – was the leak a publicity stunt? Is she having trouble with her mega-deal and she wants out? Rarely any information “officially released” these days is the truth, and so many of her fans are sheep that actually believe she’s a kind hearted person, so we may never know the truth.
It’s a good time to be a fan because there is certainly a lot of material to choose from and some of it is her best work in over a decade. Whoever sequenced the album and chose certain producers did a really crappy job as many of the demos were great and subsequently ruined by over (or under) production. Also many great songs were scrapped from the official release in favor of much worse songs. She’s been pulling the ageism card in interviews to try and gain sympathy and attention for the album, and to some extent she is right – the world caters to the youth and that sucks – but awesomeness always rises to the top. Frankly I think, Madonna looks amazing “for her age” (since she went there). Her plastic surgery doesn’t look as scary as it used to and she works out so much, she has a really great body. I am not really sure if I enjoy seeing her put her tits and pussy on display anymore, but sex sells and that’s always been part of the winning formula for Madonna, so why stop now?
After the jump, see my brief track by track review, as I try and make some sense out of this mess.
Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hey According2g.com readers! I know it’s been a minute since we’ve seen each other. I’ve been exploring other projects and I’ll be sharing the details of my latest book (or how I spent my summer break) very soon, so please stay tuned. But let’s get back to the matter at hand which was the Retro Futura Tour, which made a stop in New York on August 21, 2014 at the Best Buy Theater. We were treated to sets by 1980s music titans Katrina and the Waves, China Crisis and Midge Ure before Howard Jones (and Tom Bailey of Thompson Twins – more on Tom coming soon) took the stage. Decked out in a fabulous orange suit, Howard played a bunch of his hits including “Everlasting Love,” “What Is Love?” “Like To Get To Know You Well,” “The Prisoner,” “New Song,” “Things Can Only Get Better” (and after he played the version we all know and love from the 80s, he played a dance version of it, which was thumpin!) as well as the video you are about to see “No One Is To Blame.” The set showed that Howard has so many other great songs that there was not time to play (read: come back soon Howard!) including “Look Mama,” “Life in One Day,” “You Know I Love You… Don’t You” and more recent songs such as “Tomorrow Is Now” and “Let The People Have Their Say.” If you get the chance to see the Retro Futura Tour, I recommend it as you’ll have many flashbacks to our beloved 80s and you’ll see how great these bands and their music have aged.
And now, the mega-hit “No One Is To Blame.”
Enjoy, dear readers! I know I did!
Howard Jones and Geoffrey Dicker 2014. Photo by Joe.
I am so proud of Sam Smith! In August of 2013, he was playing to 250 people at Mercury Lounge and less than one year later, he headlined the legendary Apollo Theater! The very sold out show took place in Harlem on June 17, 2014. The blue-eyed soul singer is 21 years old and in this important year of his life, he’s traveled around the world and back, had a few club hits by lending his voice to songs by dance duo Disclosure, was outed by the media after he matter-of-factly mentioned that the songs on his album were about a guy that didn’t love him back (how come the media doesn’t make straight people do this?), and of course on June 17, 2014 his debut album “In The Lonely Hour,” was released officially in the USA and will be battling with Lana Del Rey for the #1 spot this week.
During the show, Sam Smith thanked the crowd multiple times and mentioned how mind blowing it was to share the same stage that so many of his heroes (including Luther Vandross and Michael Jackson) have performed on. He told the stories of the songs before they were played with his tight band (that featured 3 backing singers and a string section), and he played nearly every track from “In The Lonely Hour” whilst also throwing in “La La La,” a stripped down version of “Latch,” “Nirvana” from the EP with the same name (and below, you can see a video of it) and for the final song of the night “Stay With Me,” Sam Smith brought out Mary J. Blige to perform the song as a duet, which of course was the perfect cherry on top to a fantastic evening. Apparently the show was being recorded, so let’s hope for a DVD or live album because the show was EXCELLENT!
Mary J Blige and Sam Smith
I wish Sam Smith tremendous success and I have no doubt that he will be a name you won’t be forgetting. And now… let Sam Smith take you to Nirvana!
The setlist was:
Intro / Nirvana / Together / Leave Your Lover / I’m Not the Only One / I Told You Now / Like I Can / Restart / Good Thing – Berlin / La La La / Lay Me Down / Money On My Mind
Latch / Make it To Me / Stay With Me (with Mary J. Blige).
One of the most reclusive figures in music came out of hiding last night on May 21, 2014 as the Red Bull Music Academy hosted “A Conversation with D’Angelo” at the Brooklyn Museum. The auditorium was packed with fans, like me all who thought we’d finally get some of our questions answered – namely “WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN FOR THE LAST 14 YEARS?!”
Nelson George and D’Angelo
Music critic Nelson George moderated the conversation and it was super fascinating, even though extremely light on subjects such as the two solo albums D’Angelo has released over the last 20 years, 1995’s “Brown Sugar” (which was mentioned very briefly) and 2000’s “Voodoo” (which was discussed for much less time than D’Angelo’s first band – I.D.U. which stands for Intelligent, Deadly, Unique). Name-checked during the conversation were Jesse Johnson, Alan Leeds, Prince and Questlove (who came up to the stage twice to help fill in D’Angelo’s stories). It was also amusing that D’Angelo smoked cigarettes on stage inside the auditorium of a museum! This is the second time I’ve seen someone smoke cigarettes near art (the first being Courtney Love).
D’Angelo and Questlove
The most fascinating fact of the night had nothing to do with D’Angelo’s music and instead it was about Sly Stone (of Sly and The Family Stone). D’Angelo mentioned that he’s met with Sly and Sly’s played him some of the “vast amounts” of unreleased music that he’s consistently recorded over the years including Sly’s experimentation with Auto-Tune, but D’Angelo said that he takes the vocal enhancer to a whole new level of weirdness – and could we expect any less from Sly? Will those Sly songs ever see the light of day? We have no idea. Will any new studio material from D’Angelo ever see the light of day? We have no idea. Though I thoroughly enjoyed watching the talk, I learned less about D’Angelo than is on his Wikipedia page, which was not just disappointing, but it left me scratching my head wondering why “the elephant in the room” (aka “why has there been no new music in 14 years aside from a surprise concert here and there over the years”) was not the focal point of this discussion.
Until there is new music, at least the world has the classic “Voodoo” and “Brown Sugar” albums to help us groove and make babies to. Any time you want to release music, the world is ready, willing and waiting!
Apparently the conversation was streamed live over the internet and I am not sure if it will be archived for later viewing, so check Google.
Gaga ooh la la! On May 13, 2014 Lady Gaga made her return to New York’s Madison Square Garden with a sold out “ArtRAVE” as part of her ArtPop Ball Tour. For nearly 2 hours (and for those wondering, she went on around 9:45 pm – doors were at 8), Lady Gaga and her dancers hosted the biggest party Manhattan had to offer for the night.
Lady Gaga featuring Jeff Koons’ Gazing Ball
The stage had ‘legs’ where Gaga and her dancers were able to run around the whole of the floor of Madison Square Garden and they didn’t stop moving for the duration of the show, save for when Gaga sat down at the piano. The bad part about the stage set up was that there were large portions of the show where depending on your seat, you only got to see the backs of everyone. My only complaint was that I really didn’t get to see a lot of the visuals that were shown on the screens behind the dancers. As you can see below, this was my view of Gaga for a large portion of the show.
My view for the majority of the Gaga show.
The best part of the show for me was Gaga’s love for her fans. She is truly grateful for the position she is in and she expressed her gratitude to the audience throughout the show. And unlike other superstars who say those things and then when you catch them with the cameras off, their actions are quite the opposite, Gaga puts her money where her mouth is, so to speak, and treats her fans with respect and love. At one point in the show, fans threw gifts and letters to her on stage and she read a few letters to the crowd. She invited those people to come party with her backstage after the show! What other superstar does that? Crickets chirping…
Before a piano rendition of “Born This Way” (not unlike this version that I saw earlier in the year), she mentioned that many of her friends and early supporters were at the show and she tearfully thanked them all for believing in her. She inspired the audience to keep being her inspiration and she told the crowd so many times to be who you truly are without apologies. Clearly, you can’t and shouldn’t compare Gaga’s show to Miley Cyrus’ concert, but for someone with such young fans who don’t know tons about the world, the message Gaga puts out is inspiring and empowering and Miley’s message is basically “please degrade yourself for attention.”
Gaga had a ton of costume changes, including an octopus-like outfit which you can see above, but to be completely honest, after seeing Gaga a bunch of times in concert, I don’t think this was the best Gaga show I’ve been to. Perhaps she’s done so many outrageous things that she is having a hard time topping herself and perhaps because her newer material is not that strong, that made for some lulls in the show.
Lady Gaga balancing chairs on her head.
There were many highs though. She performed all (or bits of) most of her great songs including “Poker Face,” “Just Dance,” “Telephone,” “Alejandro” (of which a video will be coming soon, so stay tuned!), “Paparazzi,” “Bad Romance” and a large portion of “ArtPop” was performed including the title track, “Aura,” “Mary Jane Holland,” “MANiCURE,” “Swine,” “Sexx Dreams,” “Applause” “Do What You Want,” and rapper T.I. came out for a guest appearance on “Jewels N’ Drugs.”
Did you go to the ArtRAVE? What did you think? Tell us about your experience in the comments section.
Lady Gaga – The Merch
The setlist was:
Artpop / G.U.Y. / Donatella / Fashion! / Venus / MANiCURE / Cake Like Lady Gaga / Just Dance / Poker Face / Telephone / Partynauseous / Paparazzi / Do What U Want / Born This Way (Piano Version) / Jewels N’ Drugs (with T.I.) / Aura / Sexx Dreams / Mary Jane Holland / Alejandro / Ratchet / Bad Romance / Applause / Swine