Lady GaGa: The Fame Album Review

Lady Gaga: The Fame Album Review (The tracklist is from the international version)

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Score: 88/100

Top 3 Tracks: Poker Face, Paparazzi, Beautiful, Dirty Rich

Just Dance: 8/10 – A great first single and a good start to an album that incorporates themes of clubs, partying, excess and music. While the song gets a little boring on repeat listens (part of the reason why it’s not a top 3 track,) what I like is that it seems to have a darkness to its party atmosphere — the feeling of so much excess that it becomes all-consuming and almost destructive. It makes it stand out a little more from other party songs of the era.

LoveGame: 8/10 — Love the refrain “Let’s have some fun/This beat is sick/I wanna take a ride/On your disco stick” that has now become iconic for Gaga. It’s classic provocative pop with its cheeky innuendo, that it’s a trashy guilty pleasure. The production is slick, but I wish it was a little faster.

Paparazzi: 9/10 — This song, I feel, captures the entire essence of the album, probably a lot better than the other songs on the album about the same thing. It revels in celebrity pop culture, fame and attention, yet makes it sound dark and dangerous. The only thing that makes it a little less than a perfect ten is that sadly, the song just sort of fades into the distance.

Poker Face: 10/10 – Flawless. Right from the intro (and the way it just beautifully builds on itself) to the “muh-muh-mah’s” all throughout the whole song — it’s just flawless. The song came to define GaGa and really prove her as a viable pop artist and a force to be reckoned with. With the metaphor of love and sexuality as a poker game, the lyrics are coy, clever and fun to sing along with. The robotic voice that GaGa puts on is a fun addition to the song and doesn’t necessarily detract from the vocals. The song even works in a meta sort of way, with GaGa telling the listener that they really haven’t seen anything yet.

Eh Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say): 4/10 – This song is a head-scratcher, not just why it was released as a single, but why it’s even on this album to begin with. It’s an entirely different sound for GaGa, influenced by island music mixed with a cutesy bopper tune, making it more Rihanna-esque. I don’t mind the different sound, but there’s nothing else on the record like it, and it just brings the album to dead halt. It’s like somebody stopped the party to belt out a karaoke version of a Celine Dion song. It would have worked better as a bonus track and put in “Disco Heaven” or “Nothing on (But the Radio)” in its place. Only the lyrics show GaGa’s cold side — “Eh eh, that’s all I can say” . . . about dumping you.

Beautiful, Dirty, Rich: 9/10 – This is definitely one of my faves on the album and is probably one of her most underrated singles. I love the beat, love the guitar riff. It continues the themes of “Just Dance,” but making them even more provocative, isolating and dark with its lyirics, such as “Daddy, I’m so sorry, I’m so s-s-sorry, yeah” “We’ve got a red-light pornographic dance fight” and even the ominous “Bang, bang.” It’s grittier, dirtier and sexier.

The Fame: 7/10 – I think why I put this song a little low is that it just feels a little messier than the other songs on the album. My personal taste is slick, clean beats. I do like the guitar riff throughout though. It’s another song that encapsulates the theme of the album, basically hitting the nail on the head. GaGa wants to be famous, but like “Paparazzi,” she also notes the double-edged sword that comes with it, and it feels like a part of her is sad about that. “We do it for the fame/Isn’t it a shame?/All we care about is pornographic girls on films and body plastic.”

Money Honey: 6/10 – Makes a good companion to “The Fame,” though it’s at this time that you kinda wish GaGa would sing about something other than excess wealth and luxury and how much she really wants it. I like the 80’s feel to it as well as the refrain “That’s M-O-N-E-Y/ So sexy I” Very similar musically to “Just Dance” and “Poker Face,” but not as good.

Starstruck: 8/10 – Another favorite on the album that comes just under the top 3. It has a catchy refrain with that “Groove, slam, work it back/Filter that, baby bump that track.” It’s a good club thumper that’s a little messier than other songs on the album, but still feels slick and polished. The lyrics show Gaga’s love for the underground clubs. Could do without the Flo Rida verse though.

Boys Boys Boys: 7/10 – Being GaGa’s response to Jay Z’s “Girls, Girls, Girls,” this track just has a great 80’s throwback feel. The retro-ness of the song just feels so great, fun and fresh. It’s fun, girly, teenage GaGa, kind of like “Eh, Eh,” but much better. It’s an infectious track and it’s hard to not sing along to that anthemic shouting of “Boys! Boys! Boys!”

Paper Gangsta: 7/10 – There are a lot of things to like about this mid-tempo song — the brooding piano, the quick pace with which she sings the lyrics — that make it a pretty good filler song and elevate it just above average. GaGa uses the metaphor of a man not letting her be who she is, but underneath it’s also about record labels not letting her be the artist she wants to be.

Brown Eyes: 7/10 – I think I only really like GaGa ballading if it’s with a piano. That’s where she really shines as an artist. Stripped down, songs like this show that above all, through all the gloss and pretense, GaGa is a great piano player and singer. Even here, she still incorporates imagery of the stage, show and performance.

I Like It Rough: 6/10 – One of the few B-sides that really just doesn’t stand out too much when you’re done with the album. It’s feels too “Money Honey”-like and it falters in being too much like other songs on the album. I don’t like the synth or the “cherry cherry boom boom” lyric at the beginning. It makes it feel cheap.

Summerboy: 6/10 – Kind of a feel-good disco throwback song. I like the guitar and I like the fact that GaGa is completely unapologetic in this summer fling she has. The song does get a little grating towards the end and I certainly prefer the verses over the chorus.

Conclusion: The Fame is a great cohesive pop album. While the only real clunker is “Eh Eh,” the rest of the songs are pretty great and most would be fine being released as singles. A lot of the songs are similar to each other musically, but they never get boring or repetitive. GaGa presents herself as different type of blonde popstar: she ain’t no Britney. She doesn’t present herself outright as a sex symbol, but instead as a vessel to bring the underground to the mainstream. She creates great hooks, great beats, and while the lyrics may verge on the silly or nonsensical, they never go cheesy, which can be hard with pop. For the most part, GaGa sounds incredibly sincere in what she sings and brings a different theme to the pop landscape. The Fame is one of the better pop albums of the last half of the decade, if not the whole decade. An album that was right on the pulse of what music was in the late 2000’s.