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March 27, 2012 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-03-27

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 5

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 5

INTERSCOPE
Attack of the clones!
No love for 'MDNA'

UNIVER SA L REPUBLIC
A typical day in Sweden.
Miike Snow will make

Latest release from
pop legend can't
live up to the hype
By GEOFF MARINO
Daily Arts Writer
Madonna has been getting a
lot of attention lately. Her Super
Bowl halftime show conjured up
controversy,
though mostly
about M.I.A's
scandalous
antics. But it's Madonna
undeniable that MDNA
the paparazzi
are back in full Interscope
force patrolling
Madonna's every move. While
her new album, MDNA, sees
her reemerge onto the popular-
music scene, with collaborations
from more contemporary figures
such as Nicki Minaj and M.I.A.,
it doesn't justify all the scrutiny.
It's a lackluster musical effort,,
coming off more like a dumb pub-
licity stunt than anything with
character.
The beats underlying Madon-
na's voice are sparse and uninter-
esting productions. They seem to
combine hangovers from the'80s
and '90s with bass tactics more
characteristic of popular music
today. "Turn Up the Radio" is

a pop song that begins with an
evenly spaced synthesizer remi-
niscent of techno hits from the
'80s and eventually transitions
into the chorus, "Turn up the
radio," with a wash of bass much
like you would hear from a dub-
step song today.
It's not the combination of
musical genres that makes it bad
- obviously, great musicians do
this all the time with success.
Likewise, picking and choosing
from the past can be a source of
innovation for the future. But it
would be laughable to suggest
this album breeds invention. It
seems as if the tinny-sounding
beats were made in two minutes
from contemporary producers
who listened to some of Madon-
na's old hits and mixed them with
a bit of what we're used to listen-
ing to today.
"Gang Bang," the album's
second song, is a miserable
effort that truly epitomizes the
lack of musicality in this work.
Madonna is trying to sound like
a badass over a pumping beat
resembling the soundtrack of a
Nintendo Game Boy game. For
a song to prompt video game
nostalgia rather than apprecia-
tion for the actual production is
certainly bad news, and unfor-
tunately, Madonna does little in
the rest of the album to grab our
attention.

Her voice is an instrument
of annoyance throughout the
album, airily floating around the
corny beats. It fails to exhibit
any significant contrasts, and
she sounds like she's sing-
ing a bad lullaby instead of a
pop song most of the time. The
offensive simplicity of the back-
ground music demands Madon-
na to infuse some energy, but
she doesn't. Her voice seems
detached and childish. Are
we watching the intermediate
rounds of "American Idol," or
listening to one of the biggest
pop artists of all time? Where's
the energy? Not in MDNA.
The lone highlights of the
album come not from anything
Madonna'offers, but rather from
Nicki Minaj - whose charac-
teristic pizzazz generates some
welcomed energy in "Give Me
All Your Luvin' "- but the posi-
tive experience is over too soon,
and we are left with the bare,
bare bones of Madonna and silly
techno beats.
Considering Madonna's larg-
er-than-life celebrity status, it
would've been nice to justify it
with an engaging album. Instead,
we're left scratching our heads,
asking depressing questions
such as "why is this person so
famous?" and "why does our soci-
ety put her on a pedestal?" Sadly,
MDNA gives us no answers.

Club-go(
By KATIE STEEN
DailyArts Writer

The first thing you should
know about Miike Snow is that
it's not one guy - it's a band
consisting of
Swedish pro-*
ducers Chris-
tian Karlsson Mike Snow
and Pontus
Winnberg Happy to You
and Ameri-
can vocalist Universal Repubic
Andrew Wyatt.
The second thing you need to
understand is they aren't afraid
to break their backs for their
music - after they released their
first, self-titled album in 2009,
they began touring and record-
ing, only pausing to rest on
Christmas Eve and Christmas.
The last thing - and this one's
the most important - is this is
not a band to-be taken too seri-
ously. With a name derived from
a Japanese director and a young
engineer they had only met
twice, the men of Miike Snow
are an offbeat team whose lat-
est album is unassumingly fan-
tastic.
The group's first LP was full
of poppy, mostly unmemorable
dance tracks, but its hits estab-
lished a loyal following and were
remixed by artists such as Fake
Blood, and Peter, Bjorn and John.
Not to mention, Miike Snow
worked with pop stars such as
Madonna and Britney Spears in
the past (you can thank or blame
Miike Snow for "Toxic"). Now
Miike Snow has created a Swed-
ish label called INGRID, which
the band used as a foundation to
release its second album Happy
to You.
With INGRID, Miike Snow

Ars fans'Happy'
has been able to develop its with "Animal" = undeniably one
sound into something more of their best tracks - "Enter the
than a canvas for club remixes. Joker's Lair" is an introduction to
Wyatt affirmed the band's inde- a stream of successful tracks. One
pendence in an interview with particularly notable song is the
entertainment news website funk-inspired "Paddling Out,"
Digital Spy, saying, "We can do which simultaneously highlights
what we want now." To NME, and distorts the voice of Wyatt.
Winnberg explained, "Before While the vocals of the group's
this album, we were an idea. self-titled LP hardly added to the
This time we were a band." album, Miike Snow has learned
how to avoid the predictable
corniness of a techno singer. In
Sweet beats "The Wave," the chorus involves
the phaser-enhanced voice of
from Sweden. Wyatt, which surges in pitch
for an entertaining headphones
experience.
But Happy to You isn't quite
Miike Snow's status as an actu- as cheery as the title suggests.
al music group rather than an In "Black Tin Box," Miike Snow
oddly-spelled production team brings in fellow INGRID-owner
is evidenced from the very start Lykke Li on vocals for a shadowy
of Happy to You with the song track with rounds of percus-
"Enter the Jokers Lair." The track sion that mimic firearms, muted
is an unusual choir of electronic; steel -drums and lyrics about
moans that gradually build to a sharp metal and black sheep. The
symphonic mix of technologi- track isn't assertively creepy, but
cal pings and what sounds like moodier than most, though when
robotic chipmunks and hiccup- Miike Snow tries too hard to be
ping cyborgs. There's a bizarre serious, the album loses some
variety of electro gibberish and credibility. "Devil's Work" fea-
traditional instrumentation tures aglamorous intro of pound-
found in this song (and through- ing pianos but includes a pulsing
out the album) that manages to synth interlude that attempts
remain fluid and connected rath- intensity, but just ends up sound-
er than overbearing. "Bavarian ing clubby and artificial.
#1" is another track that involves It's unlikely Miike Snow was
an unlikely combination - a mili- trying to make any bold state-
tary drumbeat with the whistling ments with this album. With
of what sounds like a troop of unspecific lyrics and a web of dis-
sprightly boy scouts, mixed with tortion and interwoven instru-
a crunchy breakdown of synthe- mentation over every chorus,
sizers. Happy to You is an album thick
But though the tracks "Enter with all sorts of delights. Happy
the Joker's Lair" and "Bavar- to You might be trying to tell you
ian #1" involve enticing musical something amid its fuzzy lyrics
fusions, that's far from enough and techno intricacies, but you'll
to carry the entire album. While probably be too busy dancing to
Miike Snow's first album began notice anyway.

AAR redefines its musical
niche 'In the Street'

By GREGORY HICKS
Daily Arts Writer
AAR's new album has an agen-
da. Ever since the group's 2005
Move Along, it has never failed
to produce one
or more hits on
a record, but
AAR refuses to The AU-
let that define
them. American
Artists such Rejects
as 30H!3 -
after the suc- Kidsin the
cess of its song Street
"Don't Trust DGC/Interscope
Me" - begin
to generate
watered-down music by aban-
doning style in an attempt to
please a more general audience.
AAR's previous album When the
World Comes Down showed, with
its success of "Gives You Hell"
and the overall radio-friendliness
of its other tracks, that the band
was very close to going in this
direction. After all, there's a fine
line between popularity and con-
formity.
But Kids in the Street aims to
show there is no need to measure
up to any previous mainstream
successes. Given that it's lacking
any of the obvious hits that have
come to be expected from the
group, this is perfectly accept-
able. The band remains true to
its style - with the exception of
some successful experimentation
- and the tracks aren't monoto-
nous.
More specifically, a few of the
tracks are shockingly differently
from any of AAE's other work.
The song "Heartbeat Slowing

The All-American Rejects ... and their reject.

Down"
of ele
for the
for mo
the ba
for not
oversh.
effects
N
But
track"
instrun
cal-the
of the

has an atypical amount the background gives the listener
ctronic instrumentation the feeling of taking a roman-
group, but not atypical tic stroll through the park on a
dern musical trends. Also, beautiful day, and the song works
nd deserves much praise surprisingly well with Tyson Rit-
allowing themselves to be ter's voice. The smooth qualities
adowed by the computer's of his high-ranged voice actually
resemble that of a musical-the-
ater performer.
"Kids In the Street" is the
w hat?! second single to be released off
the album, featuring a more go-
o more dirty with-the-flow, relaxing tone than
former hits such as the vengeful
le secrets for "Gives You Hell," the dramatic "It
Ends Tonight" or the flirtatiously
the fans? coy "Dirty Little Secret." Perhaps
this new perspective will gener-
ate some unexpected commercial
success.
most interesting is the "Too young, too smart, too
Affection," which has the much for this one town, we'd
mentation of a classic musi- get so high we got lost coming
ater piece. The emphasis down," is the storytelling form of
symphony and piccolo in See ALL-AMERICAN, Page 6

THE BIRDS ARE SINGING IN THE TREES.
Follow Daily Arts on Twitter: @michdailyarts
WARN
AFGHANISTAN
COSTS OF FAILURE &
COSTS OF SUCCESS
Ambassador Ronald E. Neumann (reti
President, American Academy of Diplomacy
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
4:00 PM-5:30 PM
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
Annenberg Auditorium, 1120 Weill Hall
735 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, Ml 48109
Free and open to the public.
For more information: (734) 647-3429
Swwwipc.umich.edu
a"torak, aic.com Ipeo setc

t

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