The Fame Monster

Lady Gaga

Streamline/Kon Live/Cherrytree/Interscope, 2009

http://www.ladygaga.com

REVIEW BY: Melanie Love

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/21/2009

Over-the-top? Definitely. From another planet? Quite possibly. Ridiculously awesome? Hell yes. I resisted it as long as I could, but Lady Gaga is impossible to resist. She’s Queen of crafting delectable earworms, sparkling pop with a steel-toed edge. Better than that, she takes her name from a Queen hit, “Radio Gaga,” and is basically the second coming of Freddie Mercury in terms of sheer amount of spangles and glitz.

While her debut album, The Fame, was a bit patchy in terms of quality (though it shot up the charts, no doubt fueled to Gaga’s provocative stage shows and costumes), this eight-song EP takes all of what was excellent from that release and adds in some new bite, the sort of Gothic strangeness we knew she had in her. Far from being disposable glitter-pop à la Miley Cyrus or the like, all presence and no substance, Lady Gaga has her own distinct vision, which results in an album that’s endlessly listenable and all sorts of fun.

Opener “Bad Romance” has been a hit since its glamorous, just short of ridiculous video went viral, and I’ve listened to it probably a hundred times since then – it just never gets old. Her flair for the dramatic is fully intact on this track, a punchy, energetic ode to bad boys and the girls who can’t help but love them. But when she sings, “I want your ugly / I want your disease / I want your everything / As long as it’s free,” it’s clear that this is no typical love song; this is pure attitude, done up in leather, lace, and spangles. nbtc__dv_250

And because you never know what you’re going to get with Gaga, the following song is a riff on ABBA’s “Fernando,” with throbbing, clubby synths, soaring choruses, and a Spanish-influenced riff weaving under the lyrics. Perhaps her main strength is being able to steal from all of pop’s greatest hits without sounding like a rip-off, fusing all of what was groundbreaking about Queen, Madonna, Prince, Britney Spears, etc. into her own mash-up of intrigue, dynamism, and persona. “Speechless” owes its to-the-rafters choruses, layered harmonies, and orchestral guitars to – who else – Queen, while the slick, smoky “Dancing In The Dark” is lifted right out of the ‘80s, all stuttering synths and electronic drum loops.

Better yet, Gaga cashes in on the Twilight trend (in a way that I don’t hate with a bitter passion, as opposed to the rest of the vampire craze) with “Monster” and “Teeth.” Lines like “He ate his heart / Then he ate my brain” can be taken as pure camp, but there’s something intriguing about the idea of all-consuming passion, the kind that leaves you dizzy and blinded to the fact that your paramour might be a fanged bloodsucker. Meanwhile, “Teeth” is the most anachronistic to everything else Gaga has crafted, which is saying a lot, since her sound swerves on nearly every track. Full of thumping beats and swaggering vocals, the darkness and desperation of this track (“Tell me something that’ll change me / I’m gonna love you with my hands tied”) makes for an excellent closer.

Possibly the only low spot on this EP is “Telephone,” featuring Beyonce. It’s not bad, by any means – it’s a catchy kiss-off to a needy boyfriend with pumping, glitzy backbeats – but amid the strange passions of the rest of the disc, this cut feels a little run-of-the-mill. Gaga has been crowned the new Queen Of Pop, and The Fame Monster shows just how she plans to claw at Madonna’s long-held throne. This release is sharp but infinitely enjoyable, a shameless pleasure, and a stepping stone to what may be Gaga’s world domination.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 2009 Melanie Love and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Streamline/Kon Live/Cherrytree/Interscope, and is used for informational purposes only.