Sunday 17 November 2019

Loaded: Lady gaga gets fans revved up

Lady Gaga has got people riled over the cover of her latest album
Lady Gaga has got people riled over the cover of her latest album
John Meagher

John Meagher

Villagers fans disappointed they missed out on the Choice Music Prize (won by Two Door Cinema Club) will be heartened by the news that mainman Conor O'Brien has been nominated for an Ivor Novello award.

The long-running, prestigious prize purports to recognise the quality of songwriting rather than commercial sales, and that has certainly been the case this year. Villagers are nominated in the Best Song Musically and Lyrically category for the very fine title track from the album Becoming A Jackal. They're up against unexpected opposition: Manchester electro-rock outfit Everything Everything for the curiously titled MY KZ UR BF and Oxford post-punk revivalists Foals for Spanish Sahara.

O'Brien has been talking about the difficult gestation of the song: "It was very long and arduous, I have about six or seven different demos of it in different arrangements. It was initially a drawing, and that became a chord structure. It's build around the idea of human beings as scavengers. It came from a cynical place, and I wanted to create something beautiful out of it. Now people are offering me prizes for it!"

The winner will be announced at a ceremony in London on May 19. And after supporting Elbow last month, Villagers will be playing a 5,000-capacity marquee in Marlay Park, Dublin, on July 23. Support is from the exceptional Beach House, whose song 10 Mile Stereo is soundtracking a Guinness TV ad near you.

  • MP3 culture has helped diminish interest in album artwork, although designers still produce exemplary work. The Decemberists' The King is Dead, James Blake's self-titled debut and Norabelle's eponymous first album (reviewed on page 11) are a few personal favourites from this year to date.

It would be difficult to argue for the aesthetic merits of Lady Gaga's forthcoming album, Born this Way, but it has managed to do something rare these days: get people riled. For some reason, the sight of her head superimposed on the handles of a motorbike has caused more outrage than any number of provocative outfits or outlandish statements.

For most of its history, popular music and 'offensive' album covers have gone hand in hand. One need only think of how the Pistols' Never Mind the Bollocks caused consternation in the conservative British (and Irish) retail scene of the late 70s, or how The Strokes tacky cover shot of Is This It was altered for the American release.

Meanwhile, the NME have got in on the fun with their striking Gaga cover this week. Certainly beats the identikit indie boys that usually feature on that magazine.

  • There's been a glut of new names added to the country's main festivals this summer.

Electric Picnic welcomes three top female-fronted American bands Santigold, Blonde Redhead and Best Coast, while Oxegen's line-up has been bolstered by the addition of Glasvegas, Manic Street Preachers and Slash.

Moving down the food chain, Indiependence (Mitchelstown, Cork, July 29, 30, 31) -- to be launched on Wednesday -- is headlined by Editors and The Coronas. Meanwhile, Forbidden Fruit (Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin, June 4 and 5 weekend) will see the excellent Dublin label Richter Collective curate the Lighthouse stage on the Sunday with Cast of Cheers, Not Squares, Bats, Enemies, Squarehead and "special guests" Tera Melos performing.

  • A big thank you to one of Dublin's newest music venues, Grand Social, for all their help in hosting a charity quiz I organised in aid of Froebel Hope Foundation. €1,360 was raised. And thanks too, to all who turned out on a balmy Tuesday evening and for the nice folk in the music biz who donated great prizes. You know who you are.

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