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Album review: Lady Gaga's The Fame Monster

Mon 30 Nov 2009 In: Music View at Wayback View at NDHA

During 2009 there has really only been two types of music released, that of Lady Gaga and… everything else. "As good as pop can get" - Lady Gaga Now, just over a year after she released her debut album The Fame she is back with The Fame Monster. It's halfway between a deluxe edition re-issue and a full sophomore release, containing eight brand new songs to add to the original album. It's impossible to review a Lady Gaga album without reviewing Lady Gaga herself. She has captured headlines with more eye-popping moments in a year than most artists could hope to achieve over their entire careers. She's worn some truly bizarre outfits (the bubble dress, or the Kermit the Frog ensemble), come out as bisexual, and even been accused of being a hermaphrodite (which apparently offended her vagina, so direct your apologies there if you must). All of this would be completely unforgivable if she didn't have something to back it up, and it just so happens that she has released four of the finest pop singles of the last decade. Just Dance, Poker Face, Paparazzi and Lovegame are as good as pop can get (we will forget the misstep that was Eh, Eh), and on the back of these we have swiftly been ushered into the age of Gaga. Just to clear something up first off, as good as Lady Gaga is, The Fame was not a perfect album. Like most albums, it contained some highs and some missteps. Similarly The Fame Monster (I am reviewing it based on the EP/bonus disc only) doesn't always hit the mark, but even at its worst, it's still "quite good". Bad Romance is the first single and is as infectious as all of her previous hits. It starts off with an inane tribal like chant "Ra ra, ra ah ah, roma, roma ma, gaga ooh la la, I want your romance". It also has what is probably her most monumental chorus yet. In a word, it's irresistible. Alejandro has Lady Gaga doing a shameful attempt at a Spanish accent and then following it with a track that is equal parts Madonna and Ace of Base. Mid 90's europop for the late noughties that conjures up sunset beaches and steamy forbidden romance. Telephone was reportedly written for Ms. Spears and subsequently turned down and is resurrected here as a duet with Beyonce (who comes across as a tad superfluous). It's a shamelessly frivolous track about not answering your cellphone when you're in a club and is likely to get even the most staunch Gaga-haters out on the dancefloor. Dance In The Dark is about as Madonna as one could get, complete with an amazing vocal breakdown ala Vogue, name-checking Marilyn, Judy and JonBenét Ramsey amongst others. It's a definite high point on the album and one of the best things Lady Gaga has recorded. Monster is a hyper-sexualised ode to a boy who's "a monster in bed" that name-checks her debut single while So Happy I Could Die iseasily the worst thing on the album. A dreary, apparent ode to masturbation that could have been left off without being missed. Speechless is the token ballad of the collection and is functional enough. But ballads are not why you buy a Lady Gaga album. She shines on the uptempo numbers, and while she uses this as a prime opportunity to show off her vocal chops (unlike the Britney's of the music world, Lady Gaga is a more than competent vocalist) her ballads pale in comparison to her upbeattracks. In all honesty Lady Gaga could probably sing the back of a cereal box and quite easily put it into the top ten at the moment (and compared to some of her other stunts, I wouldn't be overly surprised if she did). If you could replace four or so tracks off the original issue of The Fame and replace them with four tracks from here you would have one of the best pop albums ever released. As it happens,The Fame Monsterstill gives moreinstant classic pop moments than one could hope from a debut album andLady Gaga is only further cementing her status as the most interesting recording artist currently out there. The whole package promises a true spectacle of a live show when she returns to New Zealand in March. The video for Lady Gaga's Bad Romance is shown below.   Andrew Grear - 30th November 2009    

Credit: Andrew Grear

First published: Monday, 30th November 2009 - 9:14am

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