Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

Dance diva showdown


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Katy Perry has traded in the faux-Pink pre-fab rock snarl of her inexplicably popular debut album and has aimed her shameless sights on Lady Gaga's dance diva crown on her sophomore spin Teenage Dream (Capitol). The third-runner-up in the Zooey Deschanel lookalike contest is a little long in the tooth to be anyone's (inappropriate) "teenage dream," but  she does her best Ke$ha on "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" First single "California Gurls," featuring Snoop Dogg (why?), is a sticky summer confection, but "Peacock" never takes wing. "The One That Got Away" is yet another cookie-cutter Max Martin composition, and "Hummingbird Heartbeat" gets downright squirm-worthy. In an effort to find something nice to say (I can if I try), centerpiece "Circle the Drain" is a knockout, and the album's true standout track, ballad "Not Like the Movies," is the "reel" thing.

Lady Gaga has nothing to worry about from the Katy Perry camp. She's too busy milking every last drop from her 2008 debut The Fame, including the expanded reissue The Fame Monster and the new 10-track The Remix (Streamline/Konlive/Cherry Tree/Interscope). Essentially what happens here is that via remixers including Richard Vission, Chew Fu, the ubiquitous Stuart Price and others, Gaga's tunes take their rightful place in dance diva history. That said, Gaga, darling, you proved you could hold your own when you headlined Lollapalooza in early August. Now get your ass into the recording studio before all the queens lose interest.

Of course, Gaga and Perry could still learn a thing or two from the extraordinary Alison Moyet and her co-conspirator Vince Clarke, of Yaz. Reunited in 2008 for a concert tour after more than 20 years apart, working on their own musical careers (Moyet as a solo performer, Clarke as one half of Erasure), the pair picks up where they left off on the double-disc live set Reconnected Live (Mute). They perfo

rm trademark electro-dance tunes such as "Good Times," "State Farm" and "Bring Your Love Down (Didn't I)" before an enthusiastic audience. Less dance-oriented numbers "Nobody's Diary" and "Only You" also make the transition to live performance well. Moyet sounds as genuinely thrilled to be there as her devoted fans.

It's evident from listening to reality TV vet Zayra's full-length disc Baby Loves To Bang (Brando) that she is focused on dance-floor culture. Hovering just below the Top 10 on the Billboard dance chart, her "V.I.P." track makes some unusual claims about Mick Jagger set to an irresistible beat. The title track does, in fact, bang, as does the Adrian Benavide club mix of "Sexy Super Mini Skirt" and the four (!) remixes of "V.I.P." (especially the DJ Pablo Alain Jackinsky Club Mix).

Also going by one name, Lolene welcomes listeners to The Electrick Hotel (Capitol) but doesn't have the power to sustain interest over the course of more than a dozen unmemorable tracks. "Radio" is worth turning on, and "Under the Bus," featuring gay dance artist Sam Sparro, comes closest to having some kind of spark.

Nothing but a big old tease (like most EPs), the self-titled five-track disc by Deluka does what it's meant to do, which is to get our attention. Consider it done. Now if the forthcoming Deluka full-length can maintain the new wave disco momentum of cuts such as "Cascade," "OMFG" and "Wake Me Up," then Deluka could have a long and happy road ahead of them.

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