Gaga’s The Fame Mons†er.

By Adem | November, 17, 2009 | 12 comments

Grrr, arrg.

The Fame Monster

There’s something about Lady Gaga. Something so remarkably captivating and enthralling that, in the last few weeks, it’s been hard to escape her spell. If you’ve seen the truly outstanding video clip for new single ‘Bad Romance’, you’ll be aware of how much further Gaga has raised the proverbial pop bar when it comes to music video clips. For years we’ve tolerated a lazier blend of film clips from our pop stars; that’s not to say they’ve ALL been lazy, but they’ve certainly all had their moments. And that’s the whole point. From the begining, Gaga has been nothing short of incredibly interesting to watch. The persona, (or rather, the Gaga Enigma) that she has drummed up over the last 16 to 18 months has been truly fascinating. A piece of art-work in progress for everyone to see.

Even if you aren’t taken by her perfect-pop-hooks or incredibly styled video clips, you can’t deny that the creation that is Lady Gaga has changed the current pop climate. And the long-awaited pseudo-sophomore follow-up to last years The Fame, titled The Fame Monster, wipes the floor clean with every other album perched in the charts right now.

Birthing only 8 tracks, The Fame Monster makes up in quality for its quantity issue. First single, the Eurovision homaging ‘Bad Romance’ continues to get better with each listen; its primal chorus and searing shouts from Gaga provide a hungry backdrop of desperation – particularly in the rather full-on but equally as moving line “I wan’t your love, I don’t wanna be friends…” To top it off, the middle-8 is insanely good, and the final one minute and seventeen seconds are some of the greatest closing moments in ANY song of the last 10 years. It’s gorgeous, tragic, sad, energetic, animalistic, passionate, and very definitely the song of the year.

Gaga pushes the Lady Schlager boundaries even further with more Eurovision-esque stompers in the form of ‘Dance In The Dark’, an industrial-goth disco track that combines a gigantic chorus with one of Gaga’s most uplifting riffs to date, complete with a Madonna Vogue/Express Yourself homaging talky-bit where she coos “Marilyn, Judy, Sylvia… Tell ‘em how you feel girls… Find your freedom in the music, find your Jesus, find your Kubrick”, whilst ‘Alejandro’ brings the 1990′s to the naughties in seamless fashion; a semi-central motif through the record.

Continuing with the unrivaled passion, ‘Monster’ is one of the greatest 1980′s pop songs that never was actually from the 1980′s. “He ate my heart; that boy is a monster” she sings with such tortured conviction – all through a vocoder. The deceptive ‘So Happy I Could Die’, a stand-out highlight, comes along with its marching band leanings, and takes that mid-tempo ballad feel of the 1990′s and gives it a proper, exciting new lease of life. This is divine electropop at its finest. Then, the only conventionally proper ballad on the album, ‘Speechless’, although sounding a little out of place on the record, serves as a classy piano-led affair (much like her often overlooked yet genius ‘Brown Eyes’ from the first album) that, after the first listen, warms on you instantly. ‘Teeth’, which seems to be leaving some feeling a little cold (I’ve no idea why), manages to do in just over three minutes what Christina Aguilera tried to do – and failed in trying – over a 2 bloody disc CD. That’s how you do it Bitch. To top it all off, “Teeth” sounds like a classy re-rub of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” in places, particularly through the chorus.

One of the most interesting moment on The Fame Monster is Gaga’s collaboration with Beyonce, ‘Telephone’. If you’re looking for a proper club-banger on Monster, then this is it. Like the hotter, younger sister to Gaga’s debut ‘Just Dance’, this is the next single and rightly so; it’s an immediate stand-out on here. Beyonce’s rap sits comfortably; it sounds like it BELONGS to her whilst still very much being Gaga’s vehicle. And what a bloody chorus…

Without a doubt, as the lovely Will Wongster said in his ace review, this is 2009′s answer to 1984’s ‘Like A Virgin.’ Gaga’s been compared to Madonna since the beginning. And whilst taking a quick glance at her portfolio of work taken from that debut album, it can actually be a bit puzzling as to where such claims came from. But then again; there always HAS been that something about her. Whether it was humping a blow-up whale in the ‘Just Dance’ video, or using Eric from True Blood in the ‘Paparazzi’ clip, it’s always been evident that there is a swag more determination and drive running through Gaga’s veins than any of the pop stars vying for our attention at the moment. It’s that drive and ambition some would say they used to see in a young(er) Madonna…

Lady GaGa really is the second coming; possibly even the next generations answer to a Madonna or a Debbie Harry. Pop’s BIGGEST hope at the moment and the only artist who is bringing something fresh and original to the table. Whilst Madonna goes off and works with tired Urban producers (that said, boy did I love Hard Mandy), Gaga’s managed to do what Madonna USED to do; putting unique pop music at the top of the American charts. “Look at that; a white girl singing pop music on the tele mom!!” All of a sudden, everyone wants to work (and is) with RedOne.

She treats her fans with respect which is a lot more than you can say for Britney or, even so of late, Madonna. She is loyal and cares about her fans, and in return, she has a very, very strong fan base – probably more loyal than any other artist in the charts now. And that’s because she has proper pop smarts; she knows what her ‘Little Monsters’ want from her as an artist and, in return, they offer her undying love and eternal devotion. THAT’S how you work a crowd.

Fuck what she looks like; it’s not about what she looks like any more because she’s proven well enough now that there is more to her than just an odd face. It’s interesting to see a lot of hatred spread about Gaga via the internet regarding her image, her bodyweight; a lot of women in particular seem to be the instigators of said volatile attacks. Just like Madonna through the 80′s and 90′s, Gaga’s biggest critics seem to be women. It’s quite frustrating when a strong woman comes along in the pop world, it’s usually the Women who hate on them. It’s an awful reflection on the way society pins women up against other women in all aspects of life, not just pop music, and the way some Women can, unfortunately, do it to each other.

This is a proper, bonafide pop star who is not going anywhere any time soon. She is also the first person that has made me question Madonna’s current stance in the pop climate. Although technically The Queen of Pop (overall), she’s certainly not the CURRENT Queen of Pop, is she? And Gaga is too fierce in her convictions to be saddled off into a Princess of Pop tag. That’s not the work of a Princess; that’s the work of a Queen; MAYBE in Training, which is where the Princess tag should come in… But it just doesn’t suit her, does it? A Queen in Training who seems to be trailblazing her way through the charts (and hearts) with proper, catchy pop music.

Read my 1.5 year old interview with Gaga >> here
UPDATE: Read Brad from MuuMuse’s ACE ACE ACE review here

12 Responses to Gaga’s The Fame Mons†er.

  • Mike

    I love this post! I’ll eventually try to review The Fame Monster myself but I won’t be able to do it this kind of justice. I think the GaGa has raised the bar. I love every song. I kind of wish she had just tacked on another two and released it as a whole new album. And the Beyonce duet is the hotness.

    Maybe we should open a two gay Australian GaGa fan club?

  • Will-W.

    Your review is perfect Adem! Thank you for the mention. Honoured! She has truly pulled a fast one on us. In love.

  • Brad

    Spot on :) I’m glad we’re all in agreement here. The fan treatment bit is exactly right: If only a few of our beloved pop stars could be as grateful and giving as Gaga, who knows how great pop COULD be today?


  • Poster Girl

    I’ve never hated GaGa, but I did feel like her first album was a few KILLER singles amidst a lot of filler. Something about her persona bothered me back during that first album era as well. I’m still fuzzy on that, and I think it’d probably take more than a blog comment to try to explain it, but…

    …now either her image is working for me or the music is just so fantastic that I don’t care any more. I can’t believe how strong these songs are–they not just make most of the songs from her first album pale in comparison, they make most of the music being released in the U.S. suddenly seem really lacking. It’s as if I didn’t even know what I was missing out on until I actually heard it–I LOVED “Just Dance” and “Poker Face,” but it’s as if having heard these new songs, she’s made me realize they didn’t have a certain something, and I say that not to take away from how good they are but to highlight how fantastic her new work is–upping the level for herself and for everyone.

    Can you IMAGINE a song like “Dance In The Dark” on American radio? I don’t know if she’ll go there, but the prospect is tantalizing. “Bad Romance” is one of my favorite songs of the year, “Telephone” is one of my favorite songs of the year, “Alejandro” is one of my favorite songs of the year, “Monster” probably too (so glad you made the ’80s reference, too, because that’s what I’ve been thinking, in just a really great pop melody way). I’m returning to “So Happy I Could Die” again and again; after previously not wanting her to do much more of the piano ballads, even “Speechless” has impressed me; and while I’m still getting my mind around “Teeth,” it’s without doubt INTERESTING. She’s going from songwriting strength to strength at the moment. Thank goodness we’ve got her around.

  • Yuri

    Excellent, excellent review, Adem. I could not agree more with the album rating and your comments. Watch me cite this very post next month when I name Lady G my artist of the year. Yep, she deserves it.

    And I do love “Monster” and did at first listen. Hell, all the tracks are great…!

  • Aaron

    AMAZING Review! Can’t wait to get my hands on it, it sounds amazing – Plus, you know, Eurovision references – It’s gotta be fantastic!


  • Gordon

    Hey Adam,

    I totally agree that this ‘album’ peaks unbelievably high; Speechless and Teeth don’t work but won’t be singles anyway.

    I’m also with Poster Girl, Gaga did stoop to a lot of filler on The Fame, but this is so clenched on creating something with impact that it goes through the roof. Interesting comments about the resistance to her – her vague princicples aren’t for everyone, but you’re right about some just not accepting her purely for her not-Beyonce looks.

    So hard to choose a favourite, but Alejandro totally sings in the same shower as Ace of Base.

  • Ken

    Great review. Good thing most of us are in agreement that THE FAME MONSTER is really a killer album.

  • Mel

    Incredible review from beginning to end.

    You really hit on the head what many of the haters think of her. It makes me sick that so many women DO hate on each other, and their main complaint isn’t regarding her music — it’s her style, her face/body or the sheer fact that she pushes boundaries in ways that make conservative middle America blush.

    The Madonna comparisons are very appropriate, but so is the Debbie Harry comparison. I truly feel like she has something for everyone. Even if you don’t enjoy her as an overall artist, there has to be at least one song in her relatively short catalogue that will perk ANY ear. She’s that universal.

    And can I just say — I don’t think ANYTHING on ‘The Fame’ is filler. But maybe that’s just me.

  • Paul

    It’s hard to explain what doesn’t connect with Lady Gaga for me – it’s not particularly her image, or her music or anything in particular. It’s probably elements of each aspect of her holistic package that bug me to a certain level and make her irritating over all. And then it bugs me a bit that people look at me like a freak because i’m not quite as gushy over her :P I certainly don’t hate her. Bad Romance is quite good, even if the ra ra oo ma ma bits are direct descendents from Ra Ra Rasputin by Boney m.

    Having said all that, so what if she’s not for me? I enjoy her music when I like it. She’s achieved a tremendous amount in a year or so and continues to look to be her best rather than resting on her laurels. That’s to be applauded because she is setting a high standard for other pop stars and music in general and hopefully that will just be a benefit for everyone.

  • countpopula

    Spot on review! Surely a candidate, if not THE best album of the year.

  • devin

    love lady gaga, but whoever designed that cd cover needs shot. im a graphic designer and that typography usage is soo damn lazy. They didnt even use a nice font, just plain ass arial. FAIL

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