Music Reader: Katy Perry vs Lady Gaga, Elliott Smith, John Mayer, Babylon Zoo, more

A recurring weekly feature where we highlight some of the most interesting music articles from across the web.


The Great Avalanche of Thinkpieces about the Lady Gaga vs Katy Perry Showdown by various writers (in various publications): It's the Blur vs Oasis '95 of the new millennium. 

Lady Gaga (pictured) and Katy Perry released new singles ('Applause' and 'Roar', respectively) from upcoming albums in the same week! Predictably, this had led to a lot of coverage of the two songs - and especially Gaga's, because, let's face it - a new Gaga album is basically meant to be thinkpiece-bait. 

So Kristen Yoonsoo Kim and Steven J. Horowitz compare the two at length at Myspace's Thinking To Pieces, while Ann Powers situates the two songs within the current pop Zeitgeist, arguing that it's only because Gaga and Perry have been a bit quiet that upstarts like Macklemore got a foothold on the charts. 'Applause' is apparently so unusually 'more of the same' for Gaga that Spencer Kornhaber at The Atlantic thinks she's actually trying to parody Weird Al Yankovic's Gaga parody 'Perform This Way', while J. Bryan Lowder at Slate points out that Gaga being a postmodernist means she probably will use elements of other music - that's what postmodernists do! 

Finally, Flavorpill's Tom Hawking points out that he's not concerned with the song being derivative; he's more concerned about it being pretty awful. For better or worse, I should point out that I'm probably going to be writing about Perry's 'Roar' next week in my Number Ones column, rather than Gaga's 'Applause', judging by what seems to be selling briskly over at the (updated every hour or so) iTunes charts.


When Did The Song Of The Summer Become A Thing? by Chris Molanphy (Slate): Down here in Australia, the race to be the Song Of The Summer in the US is mildly amusing; it's winter here! But Molanphy here looks at the history of the concept of the Song Of The Summer and why people might care about it; in a lot of ways, it's the race to find something that will define a certain period of time, and the arguments about it are often arguments about what actually defines that time. 


You Will Not Hook Up At The Show by Luke Winkie (Rookie): Being into weird, odd, obscure music is often a lonely business for teenagers - it's rare that anyone else at your school will have heard of that cool band you like. So when they come to play live in your town, people often fantasise that they'll be able to meet other likeminded people who'll want to have sex with them. 

Winkie passionately argues, however, that this is a mistake. Just because they like similar music doesn't mean you have that much in common. And, basically, you should go to the show for the show, rather than distracting people in the crowd trying to pick up. 


Somebody That We Used To Know by Sarah Larson (The New Yorker): People have this idea that Elliott Smith is the most depressing of depressives, as far as music goes? (I bought XO on vinyl recently, and the guy at the counter said "whoa, that guy's intense! he stabbed himself in the heart!"). So it's fascinating to see all the happiness and love in the room that Larson quite eloquently describes here, discussing a show that commemorated the 10th anniversary of his passing; for someone so apparently sad, he seems to be bringing a lot of happiness into the world.

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