Lady Gaga: The Fame Monster Album Review

Lady Gaga: The Fame Monster Album

The_Fame_Monster

Score: 90/100

Top 3 Tracks: Bad Romance, Dance in the Dark, Speechless

 

Bad Romance: 10/10

Probably the most iconic and catchiest single of Lady Gaga’s career. It was the single of the year, if not the decade, mostly due to the fact that it sounded like nearly nothing else on the radio by sounding more like Marilyn Manson gone pop. Gaga’s ode to Psycho, complete with synths that echo the famous strings in the movie, “Bad Romance” grabs you right at the beginning with her Oh-oh-oh’s and doesn’t let go til the last iconic “rah, rah, ah-ah-ah.” It’s a song that no other artist could have done. Who else in the pop world would have turned their name into an iconic hook?

And dat video!

Alejandro: 8/10

Some have disregarded this song as an Ace of Base meets “La Isla Bonita” ripoff, but I think it deserves more credit than that. “Alejandro” feels like a weird combination of Latin and Swedish pop thrown together, but it’s a risk that, for the most part, pays off. The beautiful violins make the song for me, evoking loneliness, sadness and despair. My only hang-up with it is that after awhile, it gets repetitive and goes on for too long.The same melody line over and over again gets boring.

But dat video . . .

Monster: 9/10

A nearly pitch-perfect track that brings 80’s synth pop into the 2010’s. Probably one of the moodiest tracks on the EP, “Monster” starts off simple with Gaga’s campy yet classic voice-over of “Don’t call me Gaga/I’ve never seen one like that before.” As the song progresses, it gets more and more layered, building up beautifully to the bridge with Gaga saying “He ate my heart and he ate my brain” continuing the theme of love gone dark that “Bad Romance” began. It’s a signature RedOne production without feeling like a rehash of similar Gaga songs.

Speechless: 9/10

Gaga gives listeners whiplash by changing it up to an 80’s arena ballad for “Speechless.” For me, Gaga’s always at her best when she’s just at a piano. She has one of those rare qualities few pop stars have to be even more interesting when all the bells and whistles are eliminated. Probably one of her most personal songs, “Speechless” is in the vein of “Brown Eyes” and “Again and Again” from The Fame, but carries more evocative lyrics such as “I can’t believe how you slurred at me/With your half-wired broken jaw/You popped my heart seams/All my bubble dreams, bubble dreams.” It feels personal and Gaga puts you right in the emotion of the moment. It’s Freddie Mercury meets Elton John and it’s nearly flawless. I just would have put it at the end of the album. Personally, this will always be one of my favorites since this is the song that really started me stanning for Gaga.

Dance in the Dark: 10/10

Should have been a single. It’s wonderfully chaotic and messy and I don’t usually go for songs that feel so cluttered, but here it works for me, evoking the mood expressed in lyrics such as “Baby loves to dance in the dark/But when he’s looking, she falls apart.” Running with the theme of escaping sorrow and emotional abuse in the excess of the dark club life, it’s the darker cousin to “Just Dance.” While her debut single sounded more fun and deceptively safe in its hedonistic themes, “Dance in the Dark” plays up the tragedy. It even pays tribute to Madonna’s “Vogue” with the spoken bridge of Gaga name-dropping celebrities who have met tragic ends.  Plus this beautiful performance.

Telephone: 9/10

“Telephone” is the lightest song on the album, playing up the cheesy and fun side of pop with little telephone effects, making it just a really great and unpretentious dance track. Plus, who would have thought Gaga and Beyonce went so well together? I only wish there was more interaction between the two of them on the track. At points, it feels like they weren’t even in the studio at all together and I would have liked it to feel more like a duet instead of a feature. Of course, “Telephone” is typical Beyonce fare. The girl can’t stay away from those female empowerment anthems. What I love most is that when you deconstruct the song, it has so many competing elements to it — blaring horn synths, sweet flowing harps, vocal and telephone effects that, when put together, blend so well. Plus, R&B/hip-hop is a genre that Gaga should explore further. But the cynic in me can’t help but feel that the song was only written to cash in on cell phone sponsors.

I don’t know where I got that idea from.

So Happy I Could Die: 8/10

Just as moody as “Monster,” this dark dance track dives back into the theme of losing self to excess and loneliness. It’s minimal, moody and littered with masturbation references and contains those heavy Eurotrash influences that pervade the album as a whole. It’s easy to lose yourself in the atmosphere of the track, but the lyrics about taking care of yourself and the idea of masturbation as a form of control when things are out of control raise the song to more than just album filler.

Teeth: 7/10

Most aren’t big fans of this sexy, fleshy tribal ode to rough sex. Where The Fame was somewhat subtle in its references to Gaga’s proclivities in bed, “Teeth” puts it unapologetically in your face and actually shows Gaga’s progression as an artist. She doesn’t have to play it safe anymore and that is front and center in the seduction and carnal imagery. The song isn’t as catchy as others and feels a bit tacked on and unfinished, but if  it’s album filler, it’s pretty good filler. This is actually what I wanted Kesha’s Cannibal to sound like — enjoyably perverse and dirty.

Conclusion:

The Fame Monster is where Gaga found her voice and her niche and just completely captured the public’s imagination. As a continuation of The Fame, this EP feels like it has more personality and more to say than its predecessor. It could have benefitted from a tracklist revision, but for the most part, it isn’t repetitive like The Fame and feels like an album where every song mattered. It’s first and foremost a conceptual and theatrical album with stories and visuals that go with each song and that make the album and era instantly memorable. The Fame Monster is bold and in-your-face. It isn’t afraid to hide from the demons and fears that it wishes to explore. It’s an album that knows that it matters and is able to complement meaningful lyrics with catchy pop hooks that sound just as good on the radio. Here, Lady Gaga has transformed as an artist — these are songs not written just for any other pop artist, they are written for Lady Gaga.

 

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