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The video (it’s really a short film, if you ask me) for Lady Gaga’s “Marry The Night” premiered last month on the “E!” Channel. In my opinion, the television premiere for a film like this is appropriate, because of the amount of effort Gaga has put into the video. These videos deserve more than a simple YouTube upload. It is a 13-minute opus that provokes a strong sense of perseverance in the face of struggle. The film is about the day Gaga got dropped from her first record label, Island Def Jam. The video starts with a scene of Gaga getting whelled into a psychiatric hospital on a gurney. She is narrating during the first two minutes explaining the film’s union of reality and fantasy. The interesting aspect of this, is that it works to Gaga’s advantage. Here she is, telling a story that is so personal and dark. According to her, it really happened. But did it happen the way we see it in the video? Did Gaga really go to the hospital? Maybe, maybe not. The point is, it doesn’t matter. The privacy of celebrities is something that isn’t in existence anymore. So, Gaga is defying the current laws of celebrity by creating her own private life while being very public about it at the same time. She is telling her story through her work. And, because she says it’s told through a surrealistic lens, the actual details of that story is protected by the artist herself. She’s a smart girl.

She also provides her fans with a special gift. Because Gaga insists on the reality of her life to be told through the surrealistic, fantasy, imaginative landscape, her army of Little Monsters can mirror this video onto their own lives. As with any art piece, an artist’s work can be identified with by many different people for many different reasons. However, when Gaga explains her philosophy behind the video’s way of telling the story, it’s like she’s giving her fans pemission to interpret the video however they wish. As Gaga always says, everything she does is for her fans.

So, if you haven’t already seen the video, you can watch it above. The criticism the video is getting about being too long seems hypocritical to me, since Michael Jackson did films that were much longer and they didn’t seem to had a problem with that.

The universe (yes, UNIVERSE! We are that large…) of Little Monsters should rejoyce in celebratory happiness today. The pop music powerhouse, better known as Lady Gaga, has released, “Born This Way: The Collection.” It is a collection of 2 CDs and 1 DVD. The Monster Ball tour is chronicled in the DVD, “Lady Gaga Presents The Monster Ball Tour At Madison Square Garden.” It features the concert special that aired on HBO in May. It also contains some never-before-seen footage from the backstage goings-on. Liza Minelli was at the Monster Ball show in New York and greeted Gaga backstage prior to showtime. Gaga told Minelli how inspirational she was to her when she was a theater student at New York University. Minelli’s words of advice for Gaga: “Concentrate and fuck ’em up.” The bonus material also featured a touching moment between Gaga and one of her Little Monsters. He told Gaga that she helped him come out. Gaga gave him a hug and an autograph. This is one of my favorite moments of the whole DVD. Not very many people give to their fans the way Gaga does. That’s something to be applauded.

The concert itself is an extravaganza. The singing, dancing, playing. It is amazing how much talent exists in Lady Gaga’s being. She is the real deal. No lip-syncing, either. When you pay money for a ticket to Gaga’s show (or even the DVD), you’re getting your money’s worth. Another part of the backstage bonus material features Gaga warming up her voice before the show. The hard work and effort she puts into her work is also to be commended. She takes good care of her voice and makes a great role model for aspiring singers.

The entire 17-track album, “Born This Way,” is also featured in the set. The album is filled with pop anthems, incredible vocals, and amazing production. The opening track, “Marry The Night,” talks about Gaga’s love of her hometown, New York. The title track is an anthem of acceptance and love. Regardless of the external (or sometimes internal) factors that seperate us, we’re all born this way. So, any form of hate and judgement can be forgotten. “Judas” is a song that’s about forgiving your betrayer and accepting your past mistakes as a part of your identity. Songs like “Americano” and “Highway Unicorn (Road to Love)” discuss social issues such as same-sex marriage and immigration. While “Hair” and “Bad Kids” tackle the turbulent and tough years of adolesence. A time when you’re growing into yourself and figuring out how to be an adult. Songs like “Electric Chapel” and “Black Jesus † Amen Fashion” seem to celebrate art as a religion. “Yoü and I” showcase Gaga’s true talent as a singer, songwriter, and pianist. A guitar solo from the legendary Brian May only enhances this already outstanding song. The late Clarance Clemons played on “Hair” as well as the album’s final cut, “The Edge of Glory.” It’s a song Gaga wrote about her Grandfather who passed away recently. It’s a dance-pop anthem that speaks about facing your fears and recognizing that there is another world after this life is over.

The third and final installment in this powerful set is, “Born This Way The Remix.” It contains 14 club-ready remixes that put an interesting new spin on some of the tracks on “Born This Way.” The most impressive of the mixes is the “Wild Beasts Remix” of “Yoü and I.” The original is almost unrecognizable. It truly takes on a life of it’s own. It’s original and that’s what a good remix has to have, in my opinion.

So, Little Monsters should not pass this up. It will surely be a collector’s item in the years to come! It also makes a great gift to open on Christmas morning. No, I’m not trying to advertise this product, but you’ve got to admit that this would make any Little Monster’s holiday more festive!

I Wanna Get In the Zone

On Novermber 18, 2003, Britney Spears released her fourth studio album. “In the Zone” was the result of, as VH1’s “Behind The Music” put it, “a young woman coming of age.” In the years since her first single, “…Baby One More Time,” Spears had undergone several personal changes that reflected and influenced the direction in her music. Just a year before the album’s release, Spears had broken up with her “self-proclaimed first love,” Justin Timberlake. The two were the epitome of teen pop and a match made in Heaven. The ending of their relationship helped both grow as artists and entertainers. The breakup helped them move past the bubblegum world they started in. They were growing into adults and it was time for a change.

On Spears’ third album, “Britney,” the pop star spoke of yearning for independence. She was clearly going through a progression as the album’s style was divided into the bubblegum (“Bombastic Love,” “Anticipating,”) and adult (“I’m a Slave 4 U,” “Boys”). “In the Zone” seemed to confirm this transformation from little girl to grown woman. If Spears was “not a girl, not yet a woman,” she was clearly a woman during the writing and recording of her next project. A certain sexuality that was hinted at on “Britney” was taken much further on “In the Zone.” Songs like “Showdown,” “Breathe on Me,” and “Touch Of My Hand” are fine examples of Spears’ sexual expression. Everything from heavy breathing to masturbation was covered. Even bonus tracks like “Don’t Hang Up” touched on phone sex. Despite all the criticism Spears got for her sexy image, the sexual desire expressed on “In the Zone” was done in a tasteful, almost romantic way. On “Touch Of My Hand,” for example, Spears found a way to take a subject matter so many people sweep under the rug and make it sound poetically beautiful.

The album also saw more progression as Britney Spears, the songwriter. With each album leading up to “In the Zone,” Spears had shown more and more growth as a contributer to the music she was performing. On “In the Zone,” she has shown her greatest creative contribution to date, co-writing 8 of the 12 tracks. Spears also co-wrote the bonus tracks, “Don’t Hang Up” and “I’ve Just Begun (Having My Fun).” In a recent interview, Spears called “Everytime” her most personal song. She’s also cited it as the first song she’s ever written. The song talks about the loss of a love who still haunts your memory. The sadness and heartbreak are apparent in the song and conveys a real life message listeners can relate to.

The various musical genres “In the Zone” covers are also significant to note. From trance (“Early Mornin'”) to reggae (“The Hook Up”) to techno (“Brave New Girl”), the album saw a rare accomplishment of putting together an album that had a diverse set of musical influences, while still remaining a cohesive whole. The album also had an “all-star cast of contributers” with everyone ranging from Madonna to R. Kelly to Moby. Fans surely remember the infamous kiss shared between Madonna and Britney at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards. What better way to follow up that kiss than a collaboration between the two pop icons in the form of a song and music video? Another single from the album, “Toxic,” won Spears her first Grammy Award for “Best Dance Recording” in 2005.

For fans of Britney Spears, the promotion machine for the “In the Zone” album was kicked into high gear. Memorable moments from the “In the Zone” era include the 2003 VMA performance, Britney’s “Behind the Music” special on VH1, the “All Eyes on Britney” interview on MTV, the “Primetime” interview with Diane Sawyer, the ABC special, the 2003 Rolling Stone cover, the performance at the 2003 American Music Awards, and the “Live from Miami” special of the “Onyx Hotel Tour” on Showtime. Spears also performed “Me Against the Music” and “(I Got That) Boom Boom (featuring Ying Yang Twins)” for MTV’s TRL in NYC’s Times Square. And who could forget the “In the Zone & Out All Night” special for MTV, where Spears gave surprise performances at 3 different clubs in Manhattan?

The “In the Zone” album surely gave fans of Britney Spears plenty of wonderful memories and they are still as special today as they were 9 years ago… if not more so. The album also reflected a growth, creativity, and sexuality that plenty of fans could probably relate to. With an honest exploration of feelings and a need for pure fun, escapism, “In the Zone” remains one of pop music’s most significant albums of the past decade. A successful move away from the bubblegum pop Spears sang of when she was 16. It’s an album that sounds just as timeless and fresh today as it did when it came out nearly a decade ago. THANK YOU BRITNEY!