Album Review: Lady Gaga – Fame Monster

Lady Gaga

The Fame Monster

 
Following the release of her debut album, The Fame in 2008, Lady Gaga became the next big thing, seemingly overnight.  Thanks to her outlandish fashion sense and unabashed sexuality, she’s been gossip fodder since the very beginning.  Like a monster, the public’s blood thirst for details on her private life is insatiable (type her name in Google and “Lady Gaga hermaphrodite” is the second suggestion).  Perhaps this is why she’s named her new eight-song EP The Fame Monster.
 
Like her previous effort, The Fame Monster is full of electronic pop songs, though this time it delves a little more into electronic with a heavy 80s influence.  All I could hear when I first listened to ‘Bad Romance’ was ELO’s ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’.  Then comes ‘Alejandro’, exhibiting tones of Men at Work’s ‘Land Down Under’ and Madonna’s ‘La Isla Bonita’.  While her vocals on The Fame drew comparison to Gwen Stefani, The Fame Monster seems to be channeling Madonna. ‘Dance in the Dark’ even has a blatant modern version of the ‘Vogue’ breakdown.
 
Though the track list may be diminutive, it is definitely not lacking in any manner.  Most of the songs have a track time between 4:30 and 5:00 minutes long, the shortest being just over 3:30.  Of them all, only ‘Alejandro’ overstays its welcome a little.  Some star power is squeezed in with ‘Telephone’, which features Beyoncé.  Though this could be an easy selling-point for the album, it doesn’t seem like Lady Gaga even needs Beyoncé’s help.  In fact, her presence on the song isn’t completely evident.
 
What is very noticeable about this album is its celebration of Lady Gaga’s open sexuality.  Sex oozes from the lyrics of ‘Monster’ “She mumbled something as we got down on the floor baby/ We might’ve fucked not really sure, don’t quite recall”, ‘So Happy I Could Die’ “I touch myself, can’t get enough” and ‘Teeth’ “I’m gonna love you with my hands tied/ Show me your teeth.” In fact, ‘Teeth’ is in my opinion, the best song on the album and possibly the most sexual.  Lady Gaga purrs along with the stomping beat, with muffled snippets of sultry speech in the background.  Its layering is actually a little reminiscent of something off Nine Inch Nails’ Downward Spiral. Wait, did I just compare Lady Gaga to NIN?  It won’t happen again.
 
While Lady Gaga may use over-the-top sexuality as a defense against falling in love, she shows some vulnerability on ‘Speechless’, crooning “I’ll never love again/ Oh boy you’ve left me speechless”.  It’s the only song on The Fame Monster that slows things down and showcases her vocal power, something she did a lot more on The Fame.
 
This album also features Lady Gaga’s signature vocal styling.  Remember the “muh muh muh muhs” from ‘Poker Face’?  They’re back in ‘Monster’.  She also plays with what I’m calling a re-invention of scat (the vocal improv technique made popular by Ella Fitzgerald, not animal poop).  The best example of this is the “Ra ra ah ah ahs” and “Ga ga oh la las” at the beginning of ‘Bad Romance’.
 
With The Fame Monster, Lady Gaga has once again proven that the more you listen to her, the more you want to listen to her.  Even those who don’t normally enjoy pop can’t deny her catchiness.  You can ridicule her oddness, but it’s pointless to mock someone who doesn’t take herself seriously.  Plus, the girl has actual vocal talent, which is a lot more than what can be said about most of her peers.  The only downside to this album is that it’s not a full length LP.  Though knowing her creativity, she probably already has one in the works.
 
(Original publication: Bring Back the Boom Box Magazine- November 30, 2009)

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About J2

What happens when you're a wordsy music aficionado who works for NXNE, CMW, HPX, Olio Music Festival, The JUNOs and Polaris Music Prize? You spend all of your free time blogging about it... Follow on Twitter if you're so inclined: @HearPlugged

Posted on February 24, 2011, in Album Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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