She's not particularly original either as a singer or as a song writer, but what she does is good for what it is. Yet to focus solely on this profoundly misses the point and appeal of La Gaga. If you watch her early videos you can see lower budgets highlight her musical weaknesses. She comes across as a rather low rent Madonna. From the 'mini opera' video for'Paparazzi' onwards, with larger amounts of revenue behind her, her visual imagination seems to have just gone berserk. This reached new heights with the video for 'Bad Romance' which is simply the most gloriously barking video yet made. There are also real moments of jaw dropping beauty in it, particularly when she's encircled with floating jewels, or the intersecting circles of metal. If she can top this in future remains to be seen. I personally have not tired of seeing this one yet. The 'Bath Haus of Gaga' like the high fashion houses she's aping and obviously loves, is all about style as content. Lady Gaga's visual richness bellows loudly who she is, much more than her musical production, tunes or song lyrics ever will. She dresses to kill.
RU PAUL'S DRAG RACE
In the same sort of territory as La Gaga, i.e. dress outrageously over the top, and have a huge gay following. This Channel 4 import from America became addictive viewing for Jnanasalin and myself. Sometimes these drag queens behave just simply appallingly towards each other, and at other times there is something very touching about how supportive they are towards their fellow contestants. For me Nina Flowers was always the winner, even though it was Bebe who actually won. So here is her original audition video for the show.
NORAH VINCENT - Self Made Man
I bought this cheap (£3) in Fopp, and what a peach it is. Simply the best analysis of the masculine predicament I've read, by a man or a woman. Any stereotypically 'feminist' responses are largely absent here,or come under renewed scrutiny in the face of her experience being male. Norah Vincent possess a high degree of empathic observation and real sympathy for her fellow human kind. So she attempts to really see,hear and bear witness to how men cope with being the so called 'dominant gender'. Dressing as a man allows her to go places and experience things no woman would normally hear or know about in close detail. There were a number of real 'Yes!!!' moments when she really nails something very clearly.
FLORENCE & THE MACHINE
Much hyped, but she did live up to it, Florence Welch's album 'Lungs' dominated my CD player for several weeks. Bold, brash and broad in its emotional range and the styles it takes on and conquers, it is such a confident debut it seems hard to envisage how she can better it. She is currently in great danger of overexposure, and in some of her recent appearances on TV her singing has sounded sloppy and careless, which she does not on this early BBC session.
By far the best new comedy on the BBC for quite a while. The little girl Ramona Marquez won the best comedy newcomer in the Comedy Awards for 2009, which was well earned. Her semi -improvised responses are often very witty, yet unknowing, and hence frequently spot on.
Yet another bonkers fashionista, who occasionally says something which cuts right to the nub and makes you think. Early on in 2009 he became a new found heroe of mine, if only because this man is in his seventies, and there's not a knitted cardigan in sight. This photo also proves he's not without a self-deprecating sense of humour either.
Has become a bit addictive for me this year, there's hardly a week goes by without a visit to a back episode of this long running archeological investigation programme. I just love Phil, Tony, Mick, Helen and the small but perfectly formed,but forever in the background Henry (the Hunk).
CORMAC MCCARTHY - The Road
This week the film version of this book has just been released. The reviewers have remarked on how bleak it is, but that the film softens some of the books real grim power. From what I've read of his other writing, which isn't admittedly much, 'The Road' is different in style, with a much stronger narrative, evenness of authorial tone, and no gross out blood strewn grotesques. But my god it is unremittingly desolate none the less. Powerful stuff.
THE KNIFE & FEVER RAY
Late entries into my years favorites, The Knife - Olof Dreijer & Karin Dreijer Andresson, and Fever Ray - Karin Dreijer Andresson on her own. Both these electro outfits have a distinct air of bleak beauty, arty, but not without a slightly off kilter sense of humour. None of the people singing in these videos is either The Knife or Fever Ray, for instance. I find them both sometimes deeply impressive and moving.
Before Jnanasalin became Jnanasalin, before he left for the Ordination Course, we had a long weekend together in Brighton. These were five really delightful days, where we hung out together, shopped, went to cafes, relaxed, viewed the Brighton Pavilion which was amazing, ate out in superb vegetarian restaurants, saw the film 'The Watchman' which slightly freaked me out, and saw a National Theatre touring production of 'Gethsemane' by David Hare, which both
of us were deeply impressed with. We stayed in a great B&B, the weather for early April was bright and clear. Definitely a major highlight.
AND IN CONCLUSION.......
THE ESSENTIAL SANGHARAKSHITA
An excellent introduction to this deeply complex but impressive man's writing about the Dharma. He's not always easy to find acessible, but this compendium is.
KAORU NONOMURA - Eat, Sleep,Sit.
I always wondered what it would be like living in a Soto Zen Monastery, let alone the one that Dogen founded. But Nonomura does so for a year, and what an eye opener it is.
VAMPIRE WEEKEND - COUSINS
It was available in 2009 on YouTube almost two months before its actual release. The new album is due out on Monday 11th January. So strictly speaking its a favorite from 2010, but I'll put it in here because I so love this track.