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Album review: Lady Gaga's 'The Fame Monster'

Lady_gaga_fame_monster Lady Gaga lives by the credo of "Go big or go home" -- that goes for her wardrobe, her choruses and her sexual innuendo. So it makes sense that in an age of skimpy cash-grab reissues, Gaga would buck the system with "The Fame Monster," a deluxe version of her 2008 debut that comes equipped with eight new tracks. The New York dance-pop diva is even selling the extra tunes as a standalone EP to avoid ripping off early adopters; by major-label standards, that's more value than you shake a disco stick at.

In her music videos and live shows over the past year, Gaga has worked hard to demonstrate her creative ambition and stylistic range, and that project continues on "The Fame Monster," which includes the turbocharged Euro-soul of lead single "Bad Romance," the bubbly, ABBA-style pop of "Alejandro" and "Speechless," and a sweeping glam-rock number seemingly modeled after David Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust" phase.
In "Telephone," Gaga is joined by Beyoncé for a carefully considered meditation on how annoying it is when a dude keeps calling you while you're throwing down at the club. And "Teeth," the EP's closer, is a sassed-out R&B jam produced by new jack swing pioneer Teddy Riley; like Gaga's piano-bar rendition of her own "Poker Face," it emphasizes the no-frills vocal talent beneath the art-directed glitter.

Just dance? Maybe tomorrow. For now, Gaga wants to think too.

-- Mikael Wood

Lady Gaga
"The Fame Monster"
(Streamline/Konlive/Cherrytree/Interscope)
Three stars (Out of four)

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Comments () | Archives (18)

This is why music is in the gutter. I respect her artistry and individuality..but the music doesn't add up. It may sound fun and cool now..but try 2 years from now. this music blows 2/4 stars.

@Gavin,

Give her some time. There is some substance in some aspects of her work (who else references Cindy Sherman in a video nowadays?), and I am willing to wait until album two to see how much her music advances.

Yes, just what the music world needs, more moaning and grunting passing as singing, more sexual innuendo, more mindless club music...I hope that the world will soon forget Lada GAGa, and resign her to getting a job more suited towards her talents, like prostitutute, stripper, or WalMart cashier.

I find a chainsaw infinitely more appealing than Lady Gaga's voice. As for the performances, anyone with a good crew can string together a dozen all too recognizable Euro-cliches.

what horrible crap. this talentless poser is typical of a generation who eats crappy music like it is ice cream

also, how did they convince an entire generation that rap is music?

the horror

I like her album. The songs are a bit more tame I'd say compared to the previous album.
I'd give her some more time to bloom on the more meaningful, deeper lyrics. I honestly believe that she will become revolutionary at the rate she's going. This is only the beginning...

It's always hilarious to see how many people declare that they hate the subject of an article...and then take the time to read it and afterward comment on it.

If you don't like Lady Gaga or her style of music, why on earth are you reading her album review? And then taking the time out of your day to comment on it?!

@ Jenne, Cecile, and Ray:

Do all of you have nothing better to do? I know when I dislike something, I try my best to ignore/avoid it. I sure don't go and read about the object of my dislike and then post my thoughts on it in my spare time...because I'd much rather be doing something I enjoy.

What we have here is the new Madonna. No joke. Mark my words...

lady gagas the best!!! two words for all you:: DONT HATE!!

have the people who gives this album good reviews even heard more than the 30 second previews? Because i must admit those sound pretty good, when i previewed this album i thought i'd love it. but honestly. it sucks. the songs are just bad, even bad romance is bad. they're all bad. they have no melody they're just repetitive and ridiculously boring. i found myself skipping every song after about 40 seconds of it. this album sucks. period.

Come on people, she's a lot better than most idiots on the market. Better than average voice and the only artist that changes her voice up to suit the particular song. She writes all or most of her own songs, plays piano at the HIGHEST level, is completely innovative and original.. and she puts on an effing awesome show. The sad thing is that she has dumbed her musical sensibilities for the demands of the mainstream market - which is dance/ house music. Lyrically, she'll get better with experience, at least all her songs aren't about a pretentious love or break situation, they're a little different and quirky. She is explicitly sexual, but there's always an element of fun about it, it's not that narcissistic way, or in a way that degrades women.. which I HATE! I don't like much of the music of my generation, when I'm at a club I am usually shaking my head at how little thought or feeling is put into so much of the music, but if bad romance was to come on, I'll be wrapped. I think that makes me a fan!

Great album...anyone who doesn't like it just has a problem with Lady Gaga. Don't bash good music because you are narrow-minded!

The only thing I was dissapointed at was the fact that there was no more than 8 songs. But, why complain when Wal Mart had savages on Black Friday having orgasims for the $2 DVDs. Thus, the reason how I came across this $8 album, gotta love Wal-Mart and their child laboring schemes! Anyways, when first listening to this album, and skipping through the songs, I didnt quite enjoy it at first. A few more listens, and I feel like Lady Gaga has a way to make her way through my brain. Each song was catchy, simple, yes repetitive but overall it's a pretty enjoyable album. Hate the song "teeth" love "speechless". I feel like Lady Gaga will blossom into a great artist. I feel like right now shes sorta of living off the hype of her own success, which is not wrong at all! But "Speechless" was probably the song that really shows another music side to her, a side in which I would like to see more often. She's a artist in my opinion, still needs work, but I think she'll find the right sound for herself.

I think Lady Gaga is still coming into herself as an artist and is definitely an interesting and talented singer and songwriter. She has also been successful in creating an instantly recognizable "brand" and I believe she deserves recognition for her talents. Looking forward to future music from her!

She is not an good artist, she can play piano, but HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS can play better, and of course playing piano doesn't classify you as a musician, even a monkey can learn to play averagely like her, but she can't write music and text even if it depends on her life, it's just shitty ... It's just shitty dance music with text about getting high in the disco while possibly having sex, or "bluffin with my muffin", or "riding on your DISCO STICK"... Here is the basic lady GaGa song:
*(note 1) 7 times*
*(note 2) 3 times*
*(note 3)* *(note 4)
* (Repeat 6 times)
*(one weird line)*
(Repeat 6 times)
also, now taking from her myspace, are her influences:
David Bowie
Freddy Mercury
Radiohead
Nine Inch Nails
Queen
Led Zeppelin
Pink Floyd
Nirvana
The Beatles
WTF?! I like Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, and also classical music (which is, you guessed it, her "influence") and most of metal, with the exception of mallcore, but I DON'T like her, these aren't her influences, if you hate her music, you technically hate her influences, and you cannot like an artist if you hate his influences... How ironic is it that MOST PEOPLE, if not all, who listen to rock and/or metal hate her, even though they like her "influences"... So this concludes my point, she indeed sucks.

At the tender age of 18, I've already learned to stop opposing and/or accepting things simply because of the influence of others. It seems to me that many of the people are commenting here using borrowed theories or regurgitating gossip - not to be rude or judgmental, but there's a difference between having musical preferences and attempting to be non-conformist.

I like Lady Gaga because she has talent, and she knows that she has talent, and she also knows how the music industry works. Unfortunately (or fortunately, whichever your perspective is) sex sells. But I don't think that Gaga is tiptoeing around this fact and forcing her sexuality; it seems that she's using it to her advantage, so to speak. Perhaps when she was younger it was less acceptable to act a certain way or to portray herself in such a light. She is a very intelligent woman, and while she may be caught up in the glitz and glamor of the industry, she is no fool by any means. She knows exactly what she's doing, but she is in no way inauthentic. She writes music and melodies that mean something to the youth of today - none of it is mindless or droning. She has even stated herself that she wanted to write "dance music with soul." Just because she primarily writes music with bass and beats does not mean she is a sell-out or talentless. The thing is, she doesn't need to prove to anyone how skilled she is at her craft. She is art. Lady Gaga creates art for the sake of expression, and she is one of the most genuine artists I have ever witnessed. Some people may frown and scowl at the content of her lyrics or at the so-called "mindless club music" - but all one has to do is press an ear to her songs and he or she will realize that there is tangible substance to those melodies. Some of her work is blunt and to-the-point, like in the song "LoveGame," or more vague and open-ended, like in the song "Alejandro." But all of her creations include a certain tact and cleverness that is devoid in a lot of today's music.

Lady Gaga is incomparable to many contemporary pop heroes. Before she was even globally recognizable, she worked hard and deliberately at her craft; not convinced? YouTube her performances of her original pieces "Captivated" and "Electric Kiss," and I'm more than convinced you'll switch from skeptic to admirer. The thing is, Lady Gaga doesn't need to prove to anyone how talented she is, because everyone measures talent differently. Don't get me wrong, most people can point out William Hung from Christina Aguilera, but many people are touched by varying musical genres. Not everyone likes Lady Gaga, and I can understand that. What I don't understand - and maybe I'm just young and ignorant - is the inability to recognize her talent and beauty amid the countless other mediocre productions of late. She works hard, appreciates her fans, and is genuinely artistic. I suppose that the line between artistry and popularity has been blurred by the media; what's good is popular, but not necessarily what's popular is good.

Anyway, I don't mean to undermine anyone's opinion. Regardless of talent, I know that people simply don't like styles of music. But appreciate music for what it is, not what people try to make it. I don't particularly like country or rap, but that doesn't mean I disregard either as a genre or frown upon successes in them. There are many people who are in the industry who don't deserve a spot there, but Lady Gaga isn't one of them. I suppose critics will be critics, though.

to gaga_sucks:

There is a serious disconnect here between her influences and what she produces. Many of the artists on her list (I take your word that it's from her myspace page) were/are niche artists and mostly male in both genre and gender. Except for the Beatles and (maybe) David Bowie, she isn't very honest about how incredibly mainstream her music is. David Bowie was a gender bender when those men were being beaten at clubs. Nowadays kids think that sort of behavior especially for women is cool at best, but hardly revolutionary. She is a derivative of every single female pop icon in the last 20 years (her age shows!) including Madonna, Britney Spears, Beyonce, Pink and Christina Aguilera. She is the last in a long line of young girls who found their "freedom" when butt naked on stage.

The really shocking part of Lady Gaga is not her costumes or sexual aggression, but the overall lack of musical brilliance. I agree that her songs are great at short bursting intervals, but beyond that I am not impressed. The music videos are a lot of hype and very little delivery musically. Michael Jackson is still the unbeatable standard bearer of this type of marketing and watching her "Telephone" fiasco, it made me miss him terribly.

@ Jenne

I like mindless club music, it makes me feel good, and want to dance. I like dancing too.

What's wrong with that again? Why does music have to be deep or make you think. Can't you just enjoy it?


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