Girl power in the charts
SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil (The Philippine Star) - February 24, 2014 - 12:00am

Pure Heroine by Lorde. She is all of 18 years old and seems to be very shy but Lorde gave the big stars a big run for their money in the hit charts and in this year’s Grammy Awards.

She got four Grammy nominations and ended up with the Best Pop Solo Performance and Song of the Year trophies for Royals. And that was just the beginning. Lorde continues to make waves. In fact, last week found two of her songs in the Top 10 of Billboard Magazine’s Hot 100, Royals and Team.

What Lorde has going for her is her soulful vocals and amazing writing skills. The latter came as no surprise after I found out that her poet mother brought her up reading the works of T.S. EIIiot, Allan Ginsberg, Sylvia Plath and other great writers. These influences add up to a unique, powerful sound that kids can relate to. Adolescence has a new voice and it is from an authentic talent.

Now, Pure Heroine has a tendency to be repetitive in themes and arrangements, but it is a debut that cannot be ignored. Lorde sings about love, friendship and being true to oneself with total confidence.  She reminds me of a young Fiona Apple, quite hypnotic but more commercial. Best cuts from the album are Royals, Tennis Court and Team.

Am so glad that Lorde is successful and is being discovered by young fans all over the world. I hope she sparks a lot of writing dreams that would drive kids to read, read, and read more. Reading is the only way to learn.

Prism by Katy Perry. She may have lost to Lorde at the Grammys but if you want commercial, the go-to girl nowadays is Katy. The girl has been around for only six years. She is not only innately commercial, she is also a marketing genius who happens to be very pretty. After hitting it big with the fun but shocking I Kissed A Girl, she notched one consecutive big seller after another. California Gurls, Teen-age Dream, Firework, E.T., Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F) and Part Of Me.

Roar is the first single out of her new album Prism, which last week yielded another No. 1 seller with Dark Horse. These feats are only to be expected from an astute music star like Perry. What was not was the fact that she showed off a totally different side to her style in Prism. It is very introspective but she still managed to make her confessions, commercial. 

Fans will love it that the usual cute, perky dancing girl is still here in Roar, Birthday, Walking On Air, This Is How We Do, This Moment and Choose Your Battles. But, take a hint from her serious picture on an album cover. This is her first time to look like this.  Then, you will know that Perry is up to something different in Prism.

Katy is now 29 years old and divorced after only a year of marriage to comedian Russell Brand.  Therefore, it is no surprise that she has written songs and is singing about the heartbreak in this album. Black clouds covered her California sunshine and out of this experience came dark and personal songs that show maturity as a singer and songwriter. These are Ghost, Love Me, Double Rainbow, By The Grace Of God, It Takes Two and Spiritual.

As for those who once dismissed Katy as a bubble gum pop artist, get a load of how her vocals gracefully soar in Unconditionally, International Smile and Dark Horse. The girl can sing.

Artpop by Lady Gaga. Whatever Michael Jackson or Madonna chose not to do because the deed was either too inane or too outrageous, Lady Gaga did. Her every move was art, a serious and all-encompassing performance. And luckily she had the singing and songwriting chops to go with her creations. You can accuse Lady Gaga of being arty or gimmicky but that will not change the fact that she can create good music that sells.

I will not venture to guess what Lady Gaga is trying to say in Artpop. But the album is another total package that explores op-art on the cover and 80 music in the disc. I do not know if she was aware of it during production but Artpop turned out to be a good example of a long-play album from the old days.  There is even a Side A and Side B breaker with Jewels N’ Drugs. This is interesting because thanks to digital downloads, singles are making a comeback and threatening to kill the album.

No way that will happen to Artpop. Lady Gaga is her usual intelligent, campy self as she moves up and down the pop spectrum with great ease. She has the infectious dance beats down pat, G.U.Y., Sexx Dreams.  She rocks in Mary Jane Holland, channels New Wave in Venus, chants in Manicure, goes into trance with Artpop and Swine, walks the runway in Donatella and Fashion!, and is an utterly believable R&B diva in Do What U Want featuring R. Kelly. The first single Applause is typically Gaga dance pop but the best of the batch are the big ballad Dope and the anthemic Gypsy. Includes a bonus DVD that contains her iTunes Festival performance.

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