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Lady Gaga – The Fame Monster (CD Review)

Lady Gaga - The Fame Monster CD ReviewI have to admit to being late to the scene when I first discovered Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, or Lady Gaga to the layperson.  I remember hearing the name before, but I knew nothing about the brains behind the woman who is responsible for orchestrating that infectious “Just Dance” track that seemingly always blasted from my wife’s KISS FM listening habits in the car.  It was not until my regular morning doses of VH1 unveiled a music video for a new single, “Poker Face,” that I started to become aware of just who Lady Gaga was and all the beautiful weirdness that surrounded her extravagant persona.  Despite all the wild costumes worn, sexual promiscuity displays and tabloid rumors of her being a hermaphrodite I still took notice of her and her uncanny resemblance to a very early incarnation of Madonna, also a favorite of mine.

So you wanna talk about an artist who came out of nowhere?  Even if you don’t, you are reading this anyway, so I guess I can assume I have your undivided attention for at least the next five minutes or so.  Anyway, after “Poker Face” came the next two hugely successful singles and music videos from Lady Gaga, “Love Game” and “Paparazzi.”   The latter, being one of my favorite songs from her (ironically), spawned a seven plus minute music video and it also features a well-known cast member from HBO’s True Blood.  However, I could not shake the pessimistic feeling that Lady Gaga was just a gimmick.  I was foolish enough to let myself believe that she was just another cleverly crafted and well-marketed commercial product conceived within the musical industry.  Basically, I thought she was a façade, a phony and a fake.  After all, I already had the privilege of living in a world that promotes the likes of Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus as modern day divas so what’s another one? 

Don’t judge the book by its cover is ultimately the moral of my story.  It was not until I was casually watching Saturday Night Live months ago that I truly took notice of Lady Gaga as she was exposed in front of the nation of viewers for who she really was…that being a very talented musical artist.  If you peel back the many exotic and nonsensical costume layers and strip her of the glamour, sexual power and hype that surrounds her, then what you really have is one hell of a talented artist.  I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true!  When I saw her sit down, stripped of any pugnacious props and backing band, and witnessed her solo piano performance of her newest single, “Bad Romance,” and snippets of other songs off of The Fame my eyes were wide-opened to an artist who truly deserved my attention, respect and recognition.  I was then, from that moment on, born a Lady Gaga fan and I am not ashamed to admit it. 

As history would have it, Akon is the man responsible for introducing Lady Gaga to the world as he convinced Interscope to sign her after working with the talented songwriter.  And that brings me to my next point.  Do you want to know what I admire and respect most about Miss Gaga?  Unlike the Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus clones of the world, Lady Gaga writes all her own material.  And guess what?  Her material is dope!  It’s some of the most infectious material to hit the pop charts in recent decades.  Her 2008 debut album The Fame was met with both critical and commercial success.  I guess I would call selling over 20 million digital singles and more than four million albums worldwide a success, right?  The David Bowie inspired artist continues to dominate the music charts with her second outing, The Fame Monster, which just came out November 18th.  Yes, I am a little late in getting this review out, but nevertheless it gives me great pleasure to discuss in detail and introduce to you…The Fame Monster

Lady Gaga - The Fame Monster

Lady Gaga’s second studio release was originally intended to be part of a re-release effort, but it was later announced that this new 8-song body of work would be referred to as a stand alone album.  The November 18th album comes in three different flavors.  You can either purchase the 8-song album as a stand alone release or as a two disc set that also contains Gaga’s first studio album, The Fame.  I picked up the latter, but I will only be discussing the 8-song album referred to as The Fame Monster.  There is also a Super Deluxe version that was released on December 15th and it not only contains the 2-disc set, but also a lock of hair from the American pop artist.  You know you have to have that!

Perfection in my eyes, Lady Gaga has gone on record as saying that she was obsessed with monster movies during her 2008-2009 tour around the world in support of The Fame.  Now I have to tell my wife that I am not the only one who obsesses over monster films (as I illicit a big smile).  Gaga further explained “I’m kind of obsessing over the decay of the celebrity and the way that fame is a monster in society!  That’s what the new record is about, so it was a perfect fit (in reference to the title of her newest album).”  If there are any doubts at all, as to where Lady Gaga drew her inspiration from in the creation and composition of her new 8-song album, then let me answer all your questions in the following quote from Lady Gaga who delivers the 411 on everything The Fame Monster.

“On my re-release The Fame Monster, I wrote about everything I didn’t write on The Fame. While traveling the world for two years, I’ve encountered several monsters, each represented by a different song on the new record: my ‘Fear of Sex Monster,’ my ‘Fear of Alcohol Monster,’ my ‘Fear of Love Monster,’ my ‘Fear of Death Monster,’ my ‘Fear of Loneliness Monster,’ etc.  I spent a lot of nights in Eastern Europe, and this album is a pop experimentation with industrial/Goth beats, 90’s dance melodies, an obsession with the lyrical genius of 80’s melancholic pop, and the runway. I wrote while watching muted fashion shows and I am compelled to say my music was scored for them.”

Well there you go!  I think Lady Gaga’s personal statement above answered many, if not all of the burning questions you may have had about what inspired her latest homegrown batch of songs.  Now if you don’t mind, I would like to move past the formalities, shift into second gear and drive my reivew forward into a more specific discussion of the 8-song album and briefly dissect each song, in order, as the appear on The Fame Monster.  And…we’re off!

I thought it would be a great idea to break up the monotony of the following CD review by inserting eight trade ads for the new album I came across while doing some searches on the World Wide Web.  Enjoy!

Lady Gaga - The Fame Monster

1. Bad Romance

The one day my wife came home from work and asked me if I heard/saw the new music video from Lady Gaga titled “Bad Romance.”  I said no and inquisitively asked why.  She said a bunch of her co-workers had been discussing it.  I once again inquisitively asked why.  You will find out that I am full of questions.  She said they were calling it a great song, but the music video was so strange it has to be seen.

Well one fateful morning her new video came across the TV screen on VH1.  Rarely this happens, but I was hooked instantly after my first viewing.  I was immediately on You Tube re-watching the video, downloading the mp3 from Amazon and singing the song unvoluntarily all day long.  I love moments like these.

Anyway, “Bad Romance” is both the first song and radio single from the new CD.  The song is the best track off the new album, in my opinion, and it just begs to be played loud.  The gothic, but pop-sensical anthem lyrics like “I want your ugly, I want your disease” and  “I want you horror, I want your design” bridge the narrow gaps nowadays between the world of pop and alternative music.  The video, as I mentioned before, is off the hook.  The infectious dance grrove of the single resonates through the mysterious monster eys of Lady Gaga.  The best way I can vividly explain it is the horror Marilyn Manson meets the sexuality of Madonna.  It’s simply brilliant!  If you have not seen it yet, do yourself a favor and click here

Lady Gaga - The Fame Monster

2. Alejandro 

Up next is a track I dubbed the Madonna song, “Alejandro.”  I boldly compare this track to the classic Spanish influenced Madonna hit “La Isla Bonita,” not in a bad way, but in a very good way.  This whimsical Spanish flavored ode to her Latin lover s filled with comedic moments, sadness and levels of maturity I have yet to hear in Lady Gaga.  Lady Gaga wants nothing to do with the subject matter within this song and it is evident with lyrics like “Don’t call my name,” “Don’t want to kiss, don’t want to touch” and “Stop please, just let me go.”  This track also, in my opinion, has potential for serious radio play.  Wow!  Two songs in and we already have back-to-back hits.  Let’s keep going.

Lady Gaga - The Fame Monster

3. Monster

Wow!  Here’s another song that starts off in a fashion where all I can here radiating through my headphones is a homage to the legendary Madonna.  Madonna fans have to love and embrace Lady Gaga with no questions asked.  After a few listens you can’t help subliminally humming “That boy is a monster” and “He ate my heart.”  Here’s another song that could probably hold its own on the airwaves as Gaga explores zombie like themes at how a romance went bad and destroyed her.  The song’s groove is full of plenty 80’s like synthesizers and heavy drums.  You are guaranteed to like this one after only a few listens.  Trust me!

Lady Gaga - The Fame Monster

4. Speechless

If there’s a weak point on the 8-song CD, “Speechless” is it for me. It’s not that it is a bad song, quite the contrary, but I dislike it because of it’s country twang-like sound.  The song was written about her relationship with her father and his heart condition he has had for the past 15 years.  If you want an emotionally raw performance, other than the Saturday Night Live episode I referred to earlier, then this is the track for you.  Lady Gaga exposes her inner weaknesses as she emotionally explores the conversation she had with her father and his decision to let nature take its course instead of electing for heart surgery.  Lady Gaga performs the piano parts as the guitars twang and the drums keep the southern tempo going strong.

Lady Gaga - The Fame Monster

5. Dance In The Dark

I love the gothic guitar and keyboard synth vibes that resonnate and echoes through the speaker channels as the song invades your nervous system like a disease right from the start.  Once again, you can hear the Madonna influence as Lady Gaga ushers in the first lines of initial dialogue before making this song her very own.  This is a powerful song that I believe could successfully yield yet another radio hit for her.  The song makes references to famous people met with tragic endings like Princess Diana with blatent lyrics such as “You will never fall apart Diana, you’re still in our hearts…together we’ll dance in the dark” and also makes mention of Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Sylvia Path and JonBenet Ramsey.  When a song starts off with the lyrics “Silicone, saline, poison, inject me…” you know you are in for something special (insert smiley face).  I just love the fact that she drops a line about a “vampire’s grin.”  Could she be a True Blood fan?  Hold that thought.  We just may find out.

Lady Gaga - The Fame Monster

6. Telephone (featuring Beyonce)

I’m not sure what to make of “Telephone.”  I smell commercial success only because of the involvement of Beyonce, but it’s really not that bad of a song.  I can honestly see this becoming one of the next big radio hits.  I mean a duet between Gaga and Beyonce is sure to sell millions right?  Right!  Gaga tells her proverbial callers that she cannot be reached as she is out in the club living it up with no telephone service.  Leave Miss Gaga alone please as she deserves a break from “the fame” as her heart and head are out on the dance floor.  The lyrical delivery of this really crafty and the lyrics seem studdered at times, but it really works.  Of course, you can expect a little lyrical escapade by Beyonce, but she does not ruin the vibe at all.  Lady Gaga is in control. “Tonight I am not taking no calls because I’ll be dancing” should sound familiar to us hard-working Americans right?  If you want a quick departure from the harsh reality of life at times, then slip some headphones on and go directly to track #6 for a quick mental escape.

Lady Gaga - The Fame Monster

7. So Happy I Can Die

There’s seems to be a lot of touching going on in Lady Gaga’s seventh track “So Happy I Can Die.”  It’s not the poppiest of songs, but the medium tempo seems to explore Lady Gaga’s happiness in life with many references to touching herself.  Don’t worry.  I know my boundaries.  I won’t go there.  While this song will probably never see the radio, it’s not a bad tune by any means.  I would rank this one as one of my least favorites on the CD, but it’s still very much listenable and definitely not skippable by any means. 

 Lady Gaga - The Fame Monster

8. Teeth

My wife and I got a chuckle about this song’s title even before we listened to it.  I mean c’mon, how many songs do you know that are called “Teeth?”  It’s really just another brilliant move by the creative force known as Lady Gaga.  So let’s talk some more about “Teeth.”  No, the song does not promote or discuss good peridontal practices, but rather it explores the perverse as she proclaims “Take a bite of my bad-girl meat.”  If there is ever a song of her that deserves to be featured on True Blood, then it is this one.  Fans of the show will know exactly what I mean after just one listen. This song is definitely unique and it sounds like none other.  It won’t see any radio play, but it’s a winner in my opinion.  It’s a little like Christine Aguilera showed up on an episode of True Blood and demands everyone to show them their teeth.  Again, simply brilliant Lady Gaga!

Lady Gaga - The Fame Monster

HIGHLIGHTS: “Bad Romance,” “Monster” and “Dance In The Dark”

FINAL GRADE: A- (solid effort…just wish there were more songs)

Well that’s it!  Phew!  Eight tracks go by fast don’t they?  I hope you enjoyed my quick dissection of Lady Gaga’s The Fame Monster.  Please feel free to chime in below and let me know what you think of my critique.  Whether you loved it or hated it I would be interested in reading your comments. 

Lady Gaga - The Monster's Ball TourHopefully, you can catch Lady Gaga in a city near you.  Sadly, I missed Lady Gaga by only two days in Las Vegas and surprisingly (not really…pun intended) she is not coming anywhere close to my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio (no one noteworthy comes here anymore it seems).  If you could not read between my previous cryptic lines (yeah right) Lady Gaga is currently on tour now through June 2010 in support of the new album.  The tour is officially called The Monster Ball Tour.  I checked online yesterday and every city close to me has been sold out.  Again, I am too late to the party (give me my whine and cheese).  So if anyone has anyway for me to make it to a show nearby the state of Ohio please let me know as I would graciously take you up on your offer.  Thanks for reading!

Make sure to check Lady Gaga out at her official website on the World Wide Web and please support her music by not illegally downloading it.  I have graciously included some purchasing options for you below or check out her official store here.  Please support Lady Gaga and keep the music industry alive.  Not everything in this world has to die. 

Just a warning…some listeners have chimed in and have said that Amazon is selling an edited version of The Fame Monster CD (although it’s not specified on their site).  Proceed with caution.

 

 

 

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Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

3 Responses to “Lady Gaga – The Fame Monster (CD Review)”


  1. Jen M

    Well said Brian!!! Thanks for exposing that she is not what she seems to be. To me she is a modern day David Bowie. I’ve been talking her up since my bro told me about her VMA performance. She’s friggin incredibly talented. But you did forget to mention her album Disco Heaven my favorite. Again, great job I couldn’t have reviewed it better myself. Keep up the good work!

    P.S. Vegas was awesome!!!

  2. Carlberg

    Lady Gaga was named creative director of Polaroid in a bold move to try to bring back the now defunct Polaroid camera.

  3. Porter

    Wow this is a great!.. I’m enjoying it.. good review…