Sweetener is an album that isn’t afraid to experiment. My favorite tracks are the weird ones, like the light is coming and R.E.M. It’s cool to see such a massively successful pop star take risks like these, especially when they pay off.
Much like Ari’s past two albums, the tracklist also includes too many off-the-shelf formulaic songs. Tracks like everytime and borderline (featuring a disappointing Missy Elliott verse) could be sung by pretty much any pop star out there right now.
That’s not to say those tracks are bad. What I’m saying is that next to pop perfection like God is a woman, some tracks just don’t hold up.
Songs cut: blazed, successful, borderline, pete davidson, and get well soon.
Best song: God is a woman
Some say Gaga’s career started to falter during the Born This Way era, which may have been partly fueled by the accusations that the album’s title track ripped off Madonna’s Express Yourself.
Personally, I think these accusations were vastly overexaggerated. We live in a time where so many songs have been created, with so many different combinations of notes used, that eventually some songs are going to end up sounding like others. While the similarities of the songs are clear, I don’t believe it was intentional nor should Gaga have been so heavily criticized for it.
The Born This Way album stands strong in the hall of fame of her 1.5 albums that came before it. The songs are unashamedly danceable pop with that little sprinkle of weirdness that we love Gaga for. There are plenty of out-there experimental tracks that set Gaga apart from the rest of the pop crop (Americano and Scheiße being fantastic examples.)
While I love this album, I’ve still cut six tracks that I found myself skipping with every listen. The eleven-track playlist of remaining songs is a journey of pop excellence. Enjoy!
Songs cut: Government Hooker, Hair, Fashion Of His Love, Highway Unicorn (Road To Love), Electric Chapel, and The Queen.
Best song: Marry The Night
Femme Fatale was released smack-bang in the middle of an era when Britney appears to be phoning it in. I write this in the hope that one day the Britney we know and love will return.
For now, we’ll have to settle for the version of Britney that doesn’t sing, barely dances, and seems genuinely terrified during every public appearance she makes (and I don’t blame her after all she’s been through.)
Britney went from setting trends to following them. Her post-Blackout musical efforts conform to the styles of the moment. They play it safe—much too safe for an artist whose name defines the modern pop era.
Like Circus, Britney Jean, and Glory, we get a mixed bag of hits and misses here. Britney still gets the best songwriters and producers in the industry, so the nine (out of sixteen) tracks that remain are well worth a listen.
Songs cut: (Drop Dead) Beautiful, Seal It with a Kiss, Big Fat Bass, Gasoline, Up N’ Down, He About To Lose Me, and Selfish.
Best song: Till the World Ends (but featuring Ke$ha & Nicki Minaj)
Ariana’s people selected a mixed bag of songs for My Everything. We have some straight-up bangers that will be associated with Ariana’s legacy for years to come. We also have to endure a few generic, meaningless tracks that serve a purpose of padding out the tracklist.
I’ve taken a slightly stricter stance than her record label to present to you a cut version of 11 tracks to enjoy.
Songs cut: Intro, Be My Baby, Just A Little Bit Of Your Heart, and Hands On Me.
Best song: Break Free
Ariana Grande released one of the best pop songs of the century, and Dangerous Woman was the album that came with it.
I’ve talked before about single-artists versus album-artists. Ariana falls firmly into the former category. The album IS good, but five of the songs fail to make any lasting connection. Still, ten songs remain which is just one less track than her previous album.
Songs cut: Moonlight, Leave Me Lonely, Everyday, I Don’t Care, and Knew Better/ Forever Boy.
Song cut before the album was even released: Remember Focus? This carbon copy of Problem was supposed to be the album’s lead single but was quietly swept under the rug when everyone realized that it, well… sucked.
Best song: Into You
Bionic is a whole lot to unpack. Not just because there are a whopping 23 tracks, but because of how very puzzling this collection of songs is.
On Bionic, we have a tracklist of futuristic beats that genuinely did not sound like anything else out there at the time. Sprinkled in, we’ve got five ballads that forcibly pull you right out of the electro-pop mood the album so carefully sets. The only ballad that genuinely tugs the heartstrings is Lift Me Up. The rest fall victim to the skip button.
In a world where Lady Gaga never existed, would Bionic have received the justice it (mostly) deserves? Xtina says of the record:
“ahead of its time… You had to really be a music lover, be a true fan of music and the love of being open to really appreciate that record.”
This may be true, but it’s alienating for the artist herself to make that claim. Let others decide what it takes to be a true fan of music. With the 13-track version above, I can appreciate Bionic a whole lot more.
Songs cut: Elastic Love has the makings of an excellent song if it wasn’t for the strange obsession with metaphors for office supplies. I’ve also cut all three intros: Love & Glamour (Intro), Morning Dessert (Intro), and My Heart (Intro). Only one ballad survived, meaning we had to lose Stronger Than Ever, You Lost Me, I Am, and All I Need (this record is clearly made for the gays, and we don’t want to hear about babies.) Also cut: My Girls.
Best song: Woohoo
When I first went through the process of making a playlist for this album, only two songs survived (Let There Be Love and Cease Fire.)
I decided to sleep on it, after which I started to wonder why I have such high hopes for Xtina. She’s probably my number one favorite pop star ever since the Stripped era. I’ve realized that my expectations build to impossibly high levels during the large gaps between her albums (2002, 2006, 2010, 2012, and 2018.)
Lotus was fine. It had some great moments and it had some forgettable moments. I lowered my expectations and was able to put together a nine-track playlist that is a very enjoyable album. It may be the lowest-selling album of her career, but it’s worth a listen above!
Songs cut: Red Hot Kinda Love, Sing For Me, Around The World, Circles, Best Of Me, Empty Words, and Shut Up.
Best song: Let There Be Love (seriously, how was this not a SMASH?!)
After Bionic and Lotus failed to make any kind of impact (justice for Bionic!), Xtina is herself (tonight) again on Liberation. With this record, she seems to have given up on being the chart-topper she once was and instead is creating the music she wants to create. It’s this IDGAF attitude that makes Liberation so good.
Songs cut: Dreamers (Interlude) is an important message but you’re better off skipping ahead to the good stuff. Also Sick of Sittin’, I Don’t Need It Anymore (Interlude), Masochist, and Unless It’s With You.
Worst lyric: In Like I Do, Xtina sings “We can Marvin Gaye and get it on.” Haven’t we learned anything from Meghan Trainor?
Best song: Deserve
Oh Britney. Musically-speaking, this has to be the low point of her discography. What was billed as her most personal album turned out to be a collection of phoned-in generic pop tracks that lazily followed the radio trends of the time (check out Now That I Found You for the perfect example of this.) You better work harder, b**tch. (Update: she did.)
Songs cut: It Should Be Easy, Tik Tik Boom, Body Ache, Til It’s Gone, Chillin’ With You, Don’t Cry, Brightest Morning Star, Hold On Tight, and Now That I Found You.
Best song: Work B**tch
I don’t understand how some record execs get their job. In the case of Carly’s Emotion, they were sitting on a masterpiece and instead decided to release a poor clone of Call Me Maybe as the first single. All but one track makes the cut for this outstanding album.
Songs cut: I Really Like You
Best song: Run Away With Me