Aural Fixation (Music You Need to Know) 9/2


Lady Gaga performed a set of seven new songs at the Roundhouse Theater in London for yesterday’s iTunes Music Festival, and I’ve decided to use clips from the show for this week’s Aural Fixation for a number of reasons.

First of all, it’s all new music, which is exciting. Secondly, the variety is staggering—the blend of genres and musical influences is really interesting and evocative, and that so many sounds are coming from a single artist from a single album is quite an exciting thing in pop music, so I’d like to highlight that and share it all with you, because I think that’s an important message.

Limitations and expectations and archetypes are tricky and danerous things, and Gaga’s attempts to stretch, break, paint, and redefine those things has caused some serious critical backlash, most of which has only been amplified because of her sex.

But to the people still rolling their eyes at her because she is or isn’t one thing or another, I’m just going to break it down for you with some pop music Real Talk: She sings live. (And sounds GOOD.) She writes her own music. She promotes the artistic side of pop music in an effort to garner more respect and prestige for a genre that’s easily and frequently dismissed by critics and consumers alike as being vapid or hollow. This is especially the case for women.

And, most importantly, she believes in what she does and she believes in the people who listen to her music.

I’m not saying she’s Susan B. Anthony, but to those who continue to turn the other cheek and diss Gaga while she works her ass off (arguably more than a pop star has in a VERY long time), I say this: Maybe you’re the problem.

We certainly don’t all have to like each other, but respect is essential. A multitude of critics have already given Gaga’s forthcoming music and last night’s performance lukewarm reviews, dismissing a true star as everything from “a figure diminished” to washed-up.

Maybe we were watching different performances.

The show was many things: sexy, confusing, creative, odd, erratic, alluring. And it was sensationally entertaining. Was it what I expected? No. But why does that have to be a bad thing?

Gaga’s idea of a world where art and pop music don’t have to be mutually exclusive is an awesome vision, if you ask me.

I’m not going to offer too much commentary on the clips, because I don’t want to ruin any of the visual elements, but definitely check out this dizzying array of sounds from Gaga’s set at the Roundhouse—the music speaks for itself.

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Dipped in delicious throwback melodies, plenty of claps, and some tongue-in-cheek choreography, the song is reminiscent of Gaga’s pre-Fame effort Red & Blue, which had a more rock-centric vibe that she began reincorporating into her overall sound on Born This Way. I dig.


This seriously left my mouth hanging open. This is what I’ve been waiting for from Gaga, much the way “Applause” was—I love the dark, sexy, and slickly produced sound, and I can’t wait to hear more of the album after getting a taste of the title track.

Sex Dreams

Already a fan favorite, and understandably so. It’s different, and it’s unusually sensual and vulnerable for Gaga. Exploring sexuality through music is a hallmark of evolution in the careers of many megastars, and if “Sex Dreams” is any indicator, Gaga definitely seems to be… evolving.

Jewels & Drugs (feat. T.I., Too $hort, and Twista)

Definitely an interesting choice, and I’m still on the fence about how I feel about it as a song, but it’s a brave foray into hip-hop territory that I’ve been bracing myself for since the leaked pseudohood clip of “Cake Like Gaga.” Clearly, established hip-hop artists are willing to lend the Lady their cred, and it probably isn’t a bad idea to have urban fodder on her album while the industry landscape begins to shift in favor of that sound.


Whether or not it’s about Perez Hilton as it’s rumored to be, “Swine” is undeniable catharsis for Lady Gaga. It’s absolutely bizarre—particularly with the accompanying visual elements—but it works in its own weird, angry, and still-somehow-very-pop-at-points way.


Make it real loud.


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Aural Fixation runs new music every Monday, right here on Literally, Darling. 

Tweet and follow me on Twitter @Litzwich to give your feedback, comment on the column, or just to share your favorite Britney .gif.

I’d love to hear what you’re listening to.

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