Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

New Music: Lady Gaga's 'Born This Way' & David Bazan's 'Strange Negotiations'

On this morning's Madeleine Brand Show, NPR music critic Ann Powers talked about new albums from Lady Gaga and David Bazan.

Lady Gaga's album went on sale for 99 cents on Amazon yesterday. "Wait, how much?!" you may be saying. Well, so many others agreed that Amazon's servers froze due to the huge demand, leaving many unsatisfied customers temporarily unable to access the latest pop confection from Miss Gaga.

If you'd like a peak into the world of Gaga, you can listen to a few of her new songs below from this past weekend's Saturday Night Live:

Born This Way:

Judas:

You can also see Gaga in a sketch with Justin Timberlake, "What's That Name?":

And the latest in a series of SNL's popular digital shorts series, as well as the latest in a sub-series of videos featuring Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg as '90s-esque white R&B guys.

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Remembering Randy 'Macho Man' Savage after his death following a heart attack and car wreck

Randy "Macho Man" Savage died Friday morning after suffering a heart attack while driving and crashing his car. As KPCC's resident pro wrestling fan, here are some of my thoughts.

The Wrestling Observer's Bryan Alvarez described his impact in an email. "Randy Savage was one of the most famous wrestlers of all time, a cultural icon of the '80s alongside Hulk Hogan who became even more famous as the public face of Slim Jim."

Randy Savage Slim Jim commercial with his famous "Snap into a Slim Jim!" catchphrase:

Savage was arguably the number two star in the company. He was also known for his signature delivery of catchphrases like "Ohhhhh yeeeeaaahhh" and "Dig it!"

For wrestling fans, he was the embodiment of charisma, as well as a talented athlete. While wrestling's staged, the moves do take a physical toll and require a degree of athleticism to perform. His signature move was climbing to the top of the ring's corner turnbuckle and flying down onto his opponent with an elbow drop.

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Existential quote from freshman Republican on how much power representatives actually have

When someone gets elected to Congress, how much power do they actually have? Not much, according to Tea Party-supported Texas Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold.

“I went in with the youthful vigor that I could single-handedly change the world. But you fast come to the realization that you’re 1/435th of one-half of one-third of the government.”

USA Today spoke with freshmen members of the House of Representatives about how they were transitioning from campaign mode to governing; many noted the difficulties they face in Washington.

Farenthold continued, "I don't know how these bureaucrats sleep at night." Farenthold says there's a lot of power to the status quo. "Nobody in the Washington regulatory bureaucracy gets fired for saying no."

Others express more optimism about what they can accomplish. "I'm not a freshman. I'm just new in Congress," says Rep. David McKinley.

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Why did Obama reveal his birth certificate? One potential reason: Merchandise

Speculation has been running rampant about why President Barack Obama waited to reveal his long-form birth certificate that so-called "birthers" had been demanding for years, days before Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden.

Well, there's a new reason: merchandise. On Obama's campaign site, BarackObama.com, you can now purchase "Made in the USA" t-shirts and mugs with pictures of Obama's birth certificate on them.

In an email to supporters announcing the merchandise, the campaign also went after Jerome Corsi's new book "Where's the Birth Certificate?" Corsi wrote his book long before Obama released his birth certificate, but the book wasn't released until after the reveal.

It uses Corsi to transition into the merchandise: "There's really no way to make this stuff completely go away. The only thing we can do is laugh at it—and make sure as many other people as possible are in on the joke."

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Obama's latest accomplishment: Getting a girl a meeting with Justin Bieber

New York magazine's Daily Intel ran a story last week about how President Obama had just made a promise that he couldn't keep: getting a 14-year-old girl whose father was killed in the attack on the World Trade Center the chance to meet pop megastar Justin Bieber. The girl, Payton Wall, says that Bieber's music helped her survive, despite her loss.

Obama made that promise during last week's ceremony at ground zero, meeting with Payton, her sister Avery and their mother Diane. Obama told Payton that he "knows Justin" and would set a meeting up with Bieber.

Well, Justin Bieber just proved New York magazine wrong – he tweeted that Obama would be keeping this promise.

What I find most notable about this story: it's apparently easier to get a meeting with the president of the United States than with Justin Bieber.

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