Speechless Romance Game Face-arazzi
November 24, 2009 11:05 PM   Subscribe

I've noticed that Lady Gaga likes to link up future singles with current singles in live performance. What other pop artists have employed this tactic?

A couple examples: she snuck a preview of Bad Romance into her SNL performance of Love Game, and her recent AMA performance of Bad Romance seems to indicate that Speechless will be her next single. It seems like an insidiously clever, almost evil way of getting the public primed for her next release, like all her songs are mere fragments of some giant ur-pop song. Anyway, I figure she can't be the first person to use this tactic, just the latest to employ it with devastating efficacy -- so who else has done this? Who was the first?

In short, I'm looking for other pop artists who have combined two or more songs this way in high-profile performances. To clarify, I'm not looking for just any mashups or medleys, which are commonplace, but specifically instances where a non-single song is seamlessly linked to a current single in order to get listeners to pay attention. Links to video or audio are especially helpful. Thanks in advance, hivemind!
posted by speicus to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Not the best answer, granted, but I recall the Foo Fighters did the inverse of this with their music videos for a while. That is, you'd hear some of the previous single at the start of a music video. One notable
posted by wackybrit at 11:42 PM on November 24, 2009

Rap and R&B artists do this very often, often in music videos and tv appearances- usually just performing the first verse and chorus of the track they're teasing.
posted by ryaninoakland at 12:22 AM on November 25, 2009

Best answer: missy elliot did this a lot with her music videos

get your freak on @ 3:19

one minute man @ 3:41

lose control @ 3:00
posted by laptolain at 12:54 AM on November 25, 2009

I've seen enough bands do this live that I've really started losing track, but The Tragically Hip do this fairly often when performing.
posted by backwards guitar at 4:59 AM on November 25, 2009

Best answer: After 1973, "Dark Star" fell out of the normal rotation at Dead shows, and after 1974 became quite rare. Being present for a "Dark Star" performance became a Holy Grail for Deadheads. The song became so legendary that it was often referred to as "IT" by dedicated Heads. Knowing this, the Dead would sometimes tease the song's introduction before switching into another song, finally bringing it back in the end of the seventies with New Years 1978, the closing of Winterland.

This seems like a live audience version of the same trick: maintain antipication for Song A by teasing snippets of it in Heavy Rotation Song B, and then make a big hairy event out of bringing Song A into heavier rotation itself.

People don't like to talk about what the Dead did in terms of marketing, because it sounds crass and unspontaneous I guess, but they were really geniuses at it. They must have known they were selling more tickets and keeping a bigger share of their fans' attention by setting up this sort of artificial-scarcity high-demand situation.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:40 AM on November 25, 2009

Response by poster: laptolain, thanks for the Missy Elliott videos. It makes total sense that this tradition comes from R&B and hip-hop since I know those are big influences on Gaga.

nebulawindphone, that's an interesting precursor, not one that would normally occur to me, though it makes total sense. It sounds like they actually integrated different songs with one another, which is more similar to what Gaga's doing in a way (as opposed to the hip-hop videos which slap on an obviously different song at the end).

wackybrit, ryaninoakland, backwards guitar, do you have specific examples you can point to, preferably on the youtubes?

I still think there's something different, maybe even novel, specifically about Gaga's SNL performance:

-the version of the new song was drastically different than the ultimately released version
-it was seamlessly integrated into other songs, and not immediately clear where the boundaries between songs were

This allowed Gaga to seed the public consciousness with awareness of the song on an almost subliminal level, before it even really existed. It strikes me as very savvy since, in my experience, even the catchiest songs don't become earworms until after you've heard them a few times. This way, when the song came out it already seemed familiar, without necessarily knowing where you had heard it.

So in that sense, it's different than what the Dead were doing -- they were creating anticipation for a song everyone knew (or at least knew about), while Gaga was creating anticipation for a song that no one even knew existed (or very few).

Also, I know bands try out new songs live all the time, but this seems far more calculated than that.

So, I know that's more specific than my initial question, but has anyone else done that -- teased a snippet of a hypothetical/imaginary/incomplete song in a subtle way?
posted by speicus at 2:33 PM on November 25, 2009

Yeah, now that you explain the Lady Gaga thing better, I think you're right that it's not the same. The Dead were targeting people who already knew how Dark Star went — the effect would have been lost on people who didn't.

What about classical opera overtures? Wasn't the point of the overture to make the next few hours of newly-composed music more comfortable and likeable for the audience? It's the same sort of priming effect, and it's a better example of the seamless transition thing too. But those were still teasers for songs that had already been written, so again it's not quite the same thing.
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:30 PM on November 25, 2009

Response by poster: You may have something there. It's almost like a Wagnerian leitmotif that appears near the end of one opera, only to become a full-blown theme in the next opera in the cycle (I have no idea if Wagner actually did this). In a way, The Fame and The Fame Monster have characterists in common with the beginnings of an opera cycle, but with the stage and scale exploded across several media. Maybe I'm beanplating about this, but it's entertaining to think of Gaga as the heir to the Wagnerian Gesamtkunstwerk tradition.
posted by speicus at 5:12 PM on November 25, 2009

Response by poster: And it looks like Wagner was a Freemason, which ties into the whole Gaga-as-Illuminati-puppet conspiracy theory! Sweet!
posted by speicus at 5:26 PM on November 25, 2009 [3 favorites]

Best answer: OK, so there is a theme that appears in the Ring Cycle only twice, the so-called "redemption of love" theme -- once in the middle of Die Walküre and then again in the finale of Götterdämmerung. Fuck it, I'm marking myself as best answer.
posted by speicus at 11:37 PM on November 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Here's The Tragically Hip performing "New Orleans is Sinking" with "Nautical Disaster" in the middle, then finishing off with New Orleans again. Nautical Disaster was, I believe, not yet released at the moment. They definitely performed these together pre-ND, if that's important.

Tragically Hip - New Orleans Is Sinking - Nautical Disaster - NOIS
posted by backwards guitar at 3:11 PM on November 27, 2009

Response by poster: Sorry, doesn't count, they're Canadian.

Just kidding! Thanks, backwards guitar, that's exactly the kind of thing I'm looking for.
posted by speicus at 9:34 PM on November 28, 2009

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