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Music

How Being Too Socially Conscious Too Soon Caused Lady Gaga’s Demise

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Lady Gaga has always stood as a present day pop anomaly.

As an artist, Gaga – born Stefani Germanotta – has carefully skated on commercial relevance by offering an EDM-wrapped package similar to the radio’s top offerings, yet qualitatively different in its decoration with undeniable vocal talent and stage presence oft-lost on her pop competitors.  These qualities, much like her ever-changing image, saw her inaugural years court as much positivity for her eccentricity as it did negativity for claims of being gimmicky.

Yet, for as meteoric as her rise to pop dominance was, her slide down the slope of commercial relevance has seemingly met similar acceleration.  Indeed, the years that followed her blockbuster ‘Born This Way’ album don’t see her every “hairdo and don’t,” on-stage antic, nor music release greeted with the same level of intense media coverage they once received.  While the cause of this shift has seen many-a-finger pointed toward the allure of “her gimmick fading,” others even argue that her inconsistent choice of sound (i.e. departure from “black music”) is to blame.

I, on the other hand, will argue that neither are the primary perpetrator, but instead wish to place a lens on Gaga’s aggressive social agenda which, in turn, caused the drift of her faithful buying audience.  Full analysis below:

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Music

Vote: That Grape Juice Ranks Whitney Houston’s Top 5 Covers & Remakes

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The week brought with it the third anniversary of the untimely passing of pop icon Whitney Houston.  Lauded as a stentorian vocal performer whose prowess knew few (if any) rivals, the diva’s 30 year career saw her become the standard for all singers to follow.  From her self-titled debut album (released on this day in 1985) to 2009’s ‘I Look To You,‘ Houston sailed to the top of the charts with a discography of hits that includes many of the most memorable numbers imparted to pop music over the last three decades.

Interestingly, many people do not know that a great number of said memorable tunes lining her discography are, in fact, remakes.  Borrowed from the likes of Diana Ross, Donnie Hathaway, Dolly Parton, The Isley Brothers, and many lesser known acts, Whitney’s catalog shines with a collage of covers that were done so well most assumed her versions were the originals.

Since February 2012 fans, celebrities, and more commemorate the anniversary of her death by sharing remakes of her top hits.  But, now we’re coming to you – That Grape Juice faithful – to ask:

What’s Whitney Houston’s best remake (of other artists)?

Tuck in below to see our top 5 picks and sound off:

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Music

Why Isn’t Gwen Stefani’s Comeback Sparking Any Interest? TGJ Weighs In

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It was billed as the comeback of a Pop Titan. However, under performing singles, so-so videos, and invisible radio support, confirm that Gwen Stefani‘s return to the Pop sphere is officially in the danger zone.

Let’s peruse the numbers…

Comeback single ‘Baby Don’t Lie’ peaked at a paltry #46 on the Billboard Hot 100, while its follow-up ‘Spark The Fire’ was released to such a frosty reception in December that it’s yet to chart a month on. Neither track is fairing much better on VEVO. The visual for ‘Baby’ has been lodged at the 13 million views mark months after debuting and ‘Fire’ isn’t generating any heat with just 3 million plays worldwide.

Stefani’s current predicament marks the second time in as many years that the singer has found herself on unstable terrain. No Doubt‘s 2012 comeback effort resulted in shocking sales and an axed tour. Hope for another reunion was quelled upon the announcement of Gwen’s new solo venture – which at the time felt like a fair payoff. Yet, with that now a mucky mess of sorts too, it brings the questions of what went wrong and can it be fixed to the surface.

We weigh in below…

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Music

Everybody Hates Iggy Azalea…But Why?

Has "winning" caused Iggy to lose hip hop's respect?

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Some of rap history’s biggest sellers, from Nicki Minaj and Rick Ross to Nelly, Pitbull, and Flo Rida have all had their rap (and street) credibility questioned at one point in their careers.  None listed, however, were rebuked with the intensity of criticism like that aimed at Iggy Azalea.

From barely a buzz to a bulls-eye, she went from obscurity to enemy #1 in just a year.

Besides the unique position of being a white female emcee from Australia who rapped with a southern U.S. accent, not much else surrounded the newcomer’s name initially. In fact, this time last year she seemed poised to take rank with the many other unsung female rappers trying to find a place in the male-dominated game.

Despite backing from one of the genre’s frontrunners (T.I.) and a number of well-prepared videos to boot, success would not knock on the rapstress’s door until the unveiling of the pop-cloaked number ‘Fancy’ and its ‘Clueless’-themed music video. In conjunction with a timely “assistant role” on rising pop starlet Ariana Grande‘s hit ‘Problem,’ Iggy, seemingly out of nowhere, was thrust to the top of mainstream music consciousness.

Undoubtedly a dream come true for any female rapper, especially a Caucasian one traipsing a path so many before her had failed (see:  Sarai, Kreayshawn), that dream would prove itself a nightmare as all but the very genre she pursued would openly embrace her.

Has “winning” caused Iggy to lose hip hop’s respect?
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Music

Pop Music & And Its Rejection Of Dark-Skinned Women

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Back in September, the New York Times’ Alessandra Stanley ruffled the feathers of TV producer Shonda Rhimes when she took the position that the star of her latest series ‘How To Get Away With Murder’, actress Viola Davis, was “less than classically beautiful.”

“Less than classically beautiful” perhaps being a politer way of branding the “darker skinned”, full-lipped, Afro-wearing Davis as…ugly.

Scoring responses from both Rhimes and ‘The Help’ actress shortly after, Stanley‘s remark-albeit “well-disguised”- saw her place a megaphone to whispers uttered just as much by casting directors in Hollywood as they are by sales-hungry A&R execs in the world of music.

“If it ain’t light, it ain’t right.”

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Music

Barks & Bytes: Do Azealia Banks’ Social Media Beefs Help Or Hurt Her?

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Oh, Azealia Banks.  Hair is certainly the nicest thing the ‘Yung Rapunxel’ has let down since her eye-popping debut onto the rap scene.

In addition to letting down fans with innumerable pushbacks of her debut album ‘Broke With Expensive Taste,’ the fiery femcee has (not so gently) let down any Twitter user who’d dare cross her path.

Oft-attributed with dispensing unforgiving and, at times, well crafted shade, the ‘ATM Jam’ maestra has taken to Twitter on many occasion to light into many-a-well known pop culture figure from Lady Gaga and Perez Hilton to Pharrell Williams and now T.I.

Love her or hate her, one thing you cannot deny is Banks’ ability to cash in on and court public attention.  With discussions of her host of eccentric yet lukewarm-received singles/videos at a minimum, news that incites ridicule from nemeses, haters, and spectators alike, Banks – the cultural figure at large – still remains a talking point.

So, it begs the question:  is Azealia Banks winning?

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Music

Weigh In: Gospel Sex Scandals Rock the Net

Paging Olivia Pope & Associates!  You are needed for clean-up on aisle 3!

In a time where gospel music permeates mainstream in more ways than ever (see: reality shows, Urban/pop music stylings, secular collabos), what has unfortunately come with some of those breakthroughs are headline-grabbing breakdowns.

Indeed, just weeks after the controversial, hit Oxygen reality series ‘Preachers of L.A.’ rocked television, the show’s star Deitrick Haddon was embroiled in a scandal that saw alleged nude photos of the ‘Have Your Way’ hitmaker hit the net in a big way.

Now, thanks in part to R&B songstress Lil Mo’, gospel star Kevin Terry has set the net ablaze with a viral video of him rocking the mic  with no stage in sight.  The video and accompanying story already had moderate traction, but after the ‘Superwoman’ songstress tweeted about the incident to save her friend, that traction went from buzz to boil…

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