808s

The Problem with Bonus Tracks Pt. 1

If you have paid attention to my twitter feed for the past few weeks, you will know exactly what album I have on repeat. Lady GaGa is back, and with an album that backs up at least some of her self hype. But there is one thing that erks me about Born This Way, probably the best album of 2011 so far, and that thing is the ‘Special Edition’ and its Bonus Tracks.

I have always had a thing against bonus tracks. The idea that including extra tracks that weren’t good enough to make the final cut will somehow make your product more desirable is just backwards logic. It is true though that on occasion such extra tracks can be so good that you wonder why they were cut in the first place. either way, I understand that extra content isn’t going away, especially with so many deluxe editions of albums being released to make up for lost album sales. There is a time and a place for Bonus Tracks, which is most definitely after the last ‘main’ track has finished.

This leads me onto the issue in hand, where Lady GaGa, in an attempt to make both versions of her album as special as each other, has integrated 3 extra tracks into Born This Way. At 14 tracks, the original wasn’t short but worked extremely well as an album. Only one of the 3 new songs truly deserved to be included in the first place, Black Jesus + Amen Fashion being a much better fit than Bad Kids for example, the other two songs both ending up as some of the weakest tracks on the record.

It frustrates me when I compliment the album on working as a complete ‘experience’ when the artist herself goes against this by creating two completely different versions of Born This Way. Which version is the ‘real’ version? My iTunes is set up so that I separate the main album from a set of Bonus Tracks which can be heard in it’s own ‘album’. This set up is something I have done with Britney for example, who has one of the largest selection of ‘bonus tracks’ from each of her albums. Britney in particular has many brilliant songs that should have made the album in the first place, but they avoid the risk produced by those lesser tracks by placing everything at the end of the CD.

I’ve given the ‘new’ version of Born This Way a few listens but I’m yet to decide whether I’m going to keep the bonus tracks in with the rest. BeyoncĂ© is known for getting her album tracklists drastically wrong, just one look at the ‘deluxe’ version of I Am Sasha Fierce is all you need to see that, so expect another twitter rant once 4 comes along.
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