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Lady Gaga’s debut album was a worldwide smash, and the 5th single off the record, “Paparazzi” continued a streak of hit singles that would last for years. The song was written by Gaga and former manager Rob Fusari, who also co-produced the track. The mix was done by Robert Orton and mastered by Gene Grimaldi at Oasis Mastering. Here’s what to listen for.
1. The vocal in the first verse has a short stereo 1/16th note delay to give it some space, yet keep in almost dry and in your face.
2. An additional longer delay (sounds like an 1/8th note triplet) is added to the vocal when the choruses begin. This fills the spaces in between the phrases towards the end. Mixer Robert Orton likes to use delays much more than reverbs, and this track is a great example of that.
3. The bridge changes to a lightly flanged vocal that’s panned fairly wide (about 10 and 2 o’clock) leaving a big space in the middle.
4. There’s a fair amount of compression on the vocal but it’s really done tastefully in that you hardly hear it pump or pull. I don’t know for sure, but I would guess that there were several compressors used in series to keep it so steady without any side-effects.
Isn’t it fun to listen inside a big Lady Gaga hit?
Most mastering engineers start in recording before they transition into mastering, but Gene Grimaldi took a different route, beginning his career at Sony’s New Jersey CD pressing plant instead.
But Los Angeles called and Gene’s mastering journey began at the venerable Future Disc, from there eventually working his way up to chief engineer at Oasis Mastering. Along the way he’s lent his talents to big hit albums by Lady Gaga, Ellie Goulding, Niki Minaj, Ne-Yo and many, many more.
In the interview we cover everything from working production in a mastering studio (a big and expensive part of the job in the pre and early-digital days), to working exclusively in-the-box, and doing it without using limiters.
On the intro we’ll look at an upcoming hot controversy – Warner Music and Avenged Sevenfold going to court over California’s arcane “7 Year Rule.” I’ll also talk about evaluating monitor speakers and what to listen for.