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A Star is Reborn again on Chromatica and How I Became a Fan of the Enigmatic Lady Gaga

In 2008 Gaga emerged into the world of pop music and nothing was the same again! Now 12 years later she is about to release her latest album Chromatica, to celebrate, I thought I’d write about how I became a fan and giving a short recap of her career so far.

‘Just Dance’ was Gaga’s first big hit and also the first single from her debut album ‘The Fame’ (fun fact it’s “RedOne” the tracks producer that she shouts at the start of the song not “Red Wine”) ‘The Fame’ is about well fame. the good the bad and ugliness of it. I was absolutely obsessed with ‘Poker Face’ the follow up single, which has one of the catchiest pop choruses, combined with a genius Boney M sampled “Ma Ma Ma” hook!

It was however the VMA Performance of Paparazzi which cemented my status from casual fan to hardcore fan! I’d never seen anything like it – it was shocking, entertaining and Gaga’s Voice was INCREDIBLE. I also was very touched that she used her platform to thank the gay community dedicating her VMA win to “God and the Gays”, which is a good precursor to the great LGBTQ activism she would later be involved in.

‘The Fame Monster’ technically Gaga’s second LP was released a year after her debut album, I say technically as the album was in most places tacked on to ‘The Fame’ as a deluxe edition. Gaga requested the album was also released separately as she believed the 8 track record stood as a separate body of work. These 8 songs each represent a different metaphorical ‘Monster’ in Gaga’s life eg fear of love and fear of death. This album contains my favourite Gaga track of all time, ‘Bad Romance’ which is in my mind pop perfection. The song combines catchy melodies, dark lyrics, a killer bridge and also manages to name check 3 Alfred Hitchcock films! (Iconic)

The Gaga/Motorcycle hybrid combined with super 80s style text album cover will probably go down as one of the most controversial album covers of the 2010s! The cover taken from Gaga’s 3rd album ‘Born This Way’ really split the fanbase, I personally do like the cover it’s strange, and incorporates the 80s feel of the album. Title track ‘Born This Way’ is an empowering anthem of self love and includes a shout out to the LGBTQ community. On release ‘Born This Way’ was criticised by certain people as pandering to the LGBTQ community, which I completely disagree with. Even just back in 2011 when the album was released LGBTQ rights were not where they are now, gay marriage wasn’t legalised in the UK until 2014 after all.

Some may question why hearing positive LGBTQ lyrics in a pop song is that important, but just think about how many places pop music is played, shops, restaurants, the radio ; for anyone struggling with their sexuality or gender identity to be told you are perfect as you are is very comforting message.

Themes of self love and empowerment are weaved throughout the rest of the ‘Born This Way’ album, on ‘Hair’ Gaga sings “I just wanna be myself,And I want you to love me for who I am”, Scheiße’ is a female empowerment anthem about wishing to be confident in yourself and ‘Marry The Night’ is about taking on your own demons. Other highlights include the controversial super catchy ‘Judas’, Lesbian love song ‘Americano’ and my favourite of the album ‘The Edge of Glory” inspired by her grandparents love.

Born This Way’ is personally my favourite album of Gaga’s as I’m sucker for 80s style music, the concept of reinvention, rebelling against a society that sometimes makes you feel you don’t fit in and it’s empowering message of self love.

“I don’t remember ARTPOP” Gaga tweeted last year referencing her 4th album, which wasn’t Gaga’s smoothest album cycle to say the least! The album came only 6 months after Gaga broke her hip and had to prematurely end her Born This Way Ball Tour. After the first single ‘Applause’, Gaga and her team had planned to release ‘Venus’ as the next single off of ARTPOP, but when Promo single ‘Do What U Want’ started gaining traction they decided to release the latter as the second single. The video that was shot for ‘DWUW’ was never released as it was too controversial and in hindsight was the best thing considering the featured artist on the track (the song has now been taken off streaming platforms and removed from any new CDs/vinyls)

Anyway…Even though there were issues with the rollout of the ARTPOP cycle I do still like album and don’t think it deserved the harsh reception it got from critics. I also appreciated how Gaga released a final music video mainly for fans – “G.U.Y (An ARTPOP Film)”, which featured songs ‘ARTPOP’, ‘Venus’ and ‘G.U.Y.’

Gaga went for a singer-songwriter approach for her next solo studio album Joanne which was released after Gaga’s jazz collaboration (Cheek to Cheek) with Tony Bennet. The album’s title track ‘Joanne’ comes from the name of Gaga’s late aunt and the song deals with her father’s loss of losing his sister begging ‘Joanne’ to stay with the lyric “Girl where do you think you’re going?”. Another popular song off the record ‘Million Reasons’ is a country inspired ballad about a relationship that is near breaking point but the song’s character will stay if give one good reason over a million not to. Some fans were a bit disappointed due to Gaga’s departure from electro-pop on this record, but I’m glad it exists as I enjoy vulnerability and stripped backness of this record.

Now it’s almost time to go to Chromatica! ‘Chromatica’ Gaga’s latest album comes off the success of her role in Bradley Cooper’s ‘A Star Is Born’ and promises a return to the electro pop sound of her early career. The highly danceable first single ‘Stupid Love’ highlights is a precursor to the fun, feel good record that Gaga is serving up this time. ‘Rain On Me’ the second single featuring Ariana Grande (another fave of mine) was released two days ago as of writing and is getting a great response, seems like the perfect uplifting song for these current times.

Other collaborations to look forward to on ‘Chromatica’ include ‘Sour Candy’ featuring Korean group Blackpink and pop legend Elton John on ‘Sine From Above’, Sine referencing a sine wave the mathematical symbol for sound. A sine wave is also found on the album cover for ‘Chromatica’ as Gaga found that making the music healed her, Gaga said in recent interview with Zane Lowe for Apple Music regarding the album “I’m making a dance record again. And this dance floor, it’s mine and I earned it. And all that stuff that I went through, I don’t have to feel pain about it anymore. It can just be a part of me, and I can keep going.”

Illustration of Rain On Me Video

I’m sure the album will be brilliant (it is a Gaga record after all) hopefully this album will also provide some healing for others just as ‘Born This Way’ helped me.

I leave you with the tag line of the album, a simple but lovely message.

“In Chromatica no one thing is greater than another” – Lady Gaga

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It sounds like OA – Six Fanarts and Free Quarantine Cards

In my blog post before last, I posted about my contribution to the #SixFanarts challenge and mentioned that I would create an edition based on The OA. I’ve now finished The OA edition which you can view below.

This as, with the first #SixFanarts challenge was a lot of fun, giving me an opportunity to experiment with my style a bit. Also good practice as I usually draw animal characters so drawing 6 humans was slightly out of my comfort zone!

I also this week decided I’m going to work on a set of Quarantine inspired designs which I will be posting for free on this blog once I have finished. These cards will focus on LGBTQ couples and positive messages, while we are in this weird time in the world.

Below is the first of the quarantine designs – which is based on my previous card design A Whole Otter Love!

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#SixFanarts Challenge

Hello! I hope you are well and staying safe. I recently took part in the latest art internet trend the #SixFanarts challenge created by twitter user @mcapriglioneart – who provided a template for the challenge consistomg of six boxes to fill with fanart of characters suggested by your followers.

Below is the finished result!

BBA (The Oa), Rosalina (Super Mario Galaxy), Anju (The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time), Celestia Ludenberg (Danganronpa), Eggman (Sonic The Hedgehog) and Rick from Rick and Morty. A strange but varied mixture of characters! I did have a lot of requests for other characters from The OA so I’m planning on doing an OA edition too!

I had a lot of fun with this challenge as it gave a me a chance to try out a slightly different style, I experimented with a more consistent black outline, which I think works well.

Below is the template for the challenge if you want to take part.

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Memeow Gifts Greetings Cards Events Directory!

This a directory of the events/holidays Memeow Gifts currently caters for. I hope to add more designs/cards to the list as the year progresses. You can shop the full range at: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/MemeowGifts!

Events and Holidays

February 14th – Valentines Day – Bearfriends, A Whole Otter Love, Gillfriends, I Only Want To Bee With You!, Call Bee Maybe!, Bee mine!

March 22nd Mother’s Day (UK) – Kangaroo Mums, Mother Duck and Ducklings

March 31st – Transgender Day of Visibility – You’re Purrfect!, Trans Pride Butterfly

12th April – Easter- Easter Bunny

June – LGBTQ Pride Month – LGBTea, Rainbow, Rainbow Sheep, A Whole Otter Love, You’re Purrfect!, Pride Pandas, Trans Pride Butterfly, PostcardsFriends of Dorothy

21st June Father’s Day – Lion Dads

Weddings – Husbuns

Birthdays – Happy Birday!

December – Christmas/Holidays – Polar Bear, Penguin and Robin, Deer Boyfriend, Deer Girlfriend

Miscellaneous – Snapcat, Meowilyn Monmeow, Uniloon

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Memeow Gifts New Year Giveaway!

To celebrate the new year I’m running a giveaway for Memeow Gifts, I’m running this give away through Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. The prizes are as follows! 1st prize – £10 credit for Memeow Gifts 😺
2nd and 3rd Prize £5 credit for Memeow Gifts.


Check out the links below to enter!

Good Luck!

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Pride, Pride Pony, Pride, Pride!

Hello I’m back with a new blog post after a month of being ill twice and a short holiday to Wales! 

I’ve recently finished my series of Pride Ponies representing the identities that make up the LGBTQ acronym. I’m thinking I will initially sell the series as greetings cards but tempted to do a postcard set of the series. 

As well as finishing this series I have also designed a new Christmas card coming soon to my Etsy shop!

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Charli – XCX-iting Futuristic Experimental Pop at its best

Charli XCX dropped her latest album on Friday 13th September 2019, her new album ‘Charli’ promising to be her most personal work to date.

Charli XCX is most well known for song ‘Boom Clap’ which featured in he film the fault in our stars. Charli is also known for her hit features on Iggy Azalea’s Fancy and Icona Pop’s I Love It (which Charli originally wrote) 

Charli’s musical career changed when she dropped Her Vroom Vroom EP in which she debuted her new style inspired by PC Music and produced by experimental pop artist/producer SOPHIE.  The song Vroom Vroom features loud,clunky, metallic beats with a super pop chorus, the hard instrumental and spoken word verses giving the song an extra edge. These songs won her a cult following, but not so much mainstream success.

Charli later released two mix tapes ‘Number 1 Angel’ and ‘Pop 2’, these mixtapes were met with critical acclaim especially ‘Pop 2’.  A. G. Cook Head of PC Music was a producer on both mixtapes and also co-produced Charli’s new album. In between these releases she released stand alone single ‘Boys’ a more digestible offering for the mainstream crowd. 

Anyway…After a hacked a google drive, a few standalone singles and two mixtapes the much talked about 3rd album has finally now been released!  And this album is crazy in the best way! I imagine this glitchy futuristic pop style to not be everyone’s cup of tea (Click’s outro sounds like your speaker exploding) but I love how fresh it sounds especially in today’s pop music landscape. 

A vast amount of the album features collaborative tracks with artists such as Christine and the Queens, Lizzo, Haim,Cupcakke, Brooke Candy and Troye Sivan.  On the collaborations Charli is in full on party mode and on the solo tracks she seems to be brought back down to reality as she sings on ‘White Mercedes’ “I hate the silence, that’s why the music’s always loud” which perfectly sum up these quieter, more stripped back solo tracks. 

Social anxiety anthem ‘Gone’ featuring Christine and The Queens, finishes with an brilliantly addictive glitchy break down, which perfectly replicates the feelings of the song’s protagonists. 

It seems that ‘I Got It’ from Pop 2 was a blue print for ‘Shake It’, looped sample from charli? Check! Cupcakke, Brooke Candy and Pablo Vittar?Check,check,check! Big Freida also teams up on the track. A completely bonkers track which gets crazier and crazier with Charli’s vocals getting chopped and changed through out, 

On 2099 Charli teams up once again with Troye Sivan to gives us a weird, crazy, chaotic, alien sounding Bop! The beginning sounds like an alien spaceship engaging the tractor beam and it literally ends with a bang! (And some alien interference)

Track 10 from ‘Pop 2’ gets a re-working on ‘Blame It On Your Love’ with a new instrumental and verse from Lizzo. I wasn’t sure what to think of this new spin on ‘Track 10’ when it was released as the first single but it has definitely grown on me, I do wish Lizzo’s verse was slightly longer though! 
One of my favourites of the album has got to be White Mercedes, but then again who doesn’t love a good ballad? Its a sweet a song and probably the most for lack of better words ‘normal’ of the whole album.

My top 3 songs from the album are White Mercedes, Gone and February 2017 (I love how different the structure of this song is to most songs)

For me this album cements Charli’s status as a great experiment pop artist finally creating the kind of music they want to make.

P.S. I have recently added some new cards to my etsy shop including the “Happy Birday!” and “Toucan do this!”, I’ve also added some more pocket mirrors. Click here to check out my shop!

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A Shop is Born – 5 Reasons Why I Set Up My Own LGBTQ+ Inclusive Business

At the end of last year I set up my own LGBTQ+ Inclusive Greetings Cards business Memeow Gifts, Here are 5 reasons why I decided to start my own business!

1.My Partner

I was unemployed and looking for work after finishing a temporary job. As any job seeker knows you can spend hours upon hours on applications to receive little to no responses! (#Rude) I was relaying my job seeking frustrations to my partner who asked if I had thought about setting up my own business perhaps with the help of The Prince’s Trust. I had considered running my own business previously but I wasn’t completely familiar with The Prince’s Trust. My partner also inspired my main goal with Memeow Gifts, LGBTQ+ Inclusivity. We had both previously struggled to find appropriate cards for each other for birthdays, anniversaries, valentine’s etc. As mainstream shops rarely cater to the LGBTQ+ market this seemed to be a gap in the market worth exploring.

2.The Prince’s Trust

I followed up my partners’ suggestion and reached out to The Prince’s Trust, The Prince’s Trust is a UK Charity that helps young people (11-30 year olds) with getting jobs, training or starting their own business. The Trust responded to my application swiftly and I began their Business Enterprise programme within a few weeks. Through out my Prince’s Trust journey (so far) I have found the staff extremely helpful and supportive every step of the way, from the 5-day initial business course, to helping with my business plan. Since I have now passed all of the stages of The Trust’s Business course I have been assigned a business mentor for 2 years. I meet with my mentor once a month to discuss how the business is developing and to address any business related queries/concerns I might have. I find these sessions with my mentor incredibly useful as my mentor is very supportive and helps me to progress with my business.

https://www.princes-trust.org.uk/

3.Art

Being an Artist who had studied Animation and Design, I wanted a creative outlet/job that allowed me to put my skills to good use. As many artists/creatives know, attempting to break into the creative industries can be a near impossible feat with the incredible amount of competition out there. So setting up my own business has allowed me to further explore and follow my creative passions.

4.Be My Own Boss

Having previously worked various temporary jobs, I liked the idea of running my own business to have another source of income to fall back on. I’m a big believer in a having a few iron’s in the fire, where possible. It’s true being your own boss has risks, but don’t all jobs? There are quite a few benefits to working for yourself, for example being able to work from home, flexibility of your working hours and freedom to make decisions.

5.Represent the community

Lastly being a member of the LGBTQ+ community myself I feel very proud to create products that represent and cater to the community. I do hope to keep adding to the collection of LGBTQ+ designs as the business grows, as I strongly believe there is just not enough LGBTQ+ representation out there currently, especially in mainstream outlets, representation is gradually improving but its still not quite there yet. My hope with Memeow Gifts is that I can make some impact on changing this!

Thanks for reading, You can check out Memeow Gifts at memeowgifts.com!

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