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Lady Gaga evolves with ‘The Fame Monster’

Maija Gustin | Wednesday, December 9, 2009

 Lady Gaga is back in action with “The Fame Monster,” an album of both brand-new songs and reissues of her first album, “The Fame.” With her new songs, Lady Gaga proves that she can still make great, catchy dance tunes, but also shows the maturity she’s found since her first album was released last year. Overall, “The Fame Monster” is the next step in the evolution of an incredible performer. 

 

“Bad Romance,” which has already taken the airwaves, iTunes and YouTube by storm, is bizarre, awesome and danceable as the opening song on “The Fame Monster.” Lady Gaga’s penchant for writing great pop music shines through on this track with an unhealthily catchy chorus and a great, but unintelligible, opening line. “Bad Romance” is simply proof that, even after hits like “Just Dance” and “Poker Face,” the Lady still has it.
Lady Gaga’s second track, “Alejandro,” seems like a throwback, blatantly referencing ABBA’s “Fernando,” although upping the ante ever so slightly. But, big surprise, Lady Gaga rocks what can be best described as a pop-dance inspired pseudo-ballad for a nice change of pace after rocker “Bad Romance.” What Lady Gaga proves above all, though, is that she can (sort of) change styles from song to song while still keeping an overall cohesive feel to her album. 
 
Don’t call her Gaga. Or at least that’s what she says at the beginning of “Monster.” Evidently, judging by the content of “Bad Romance” and “Monster,” Lady Gaga had her heart broken in the making of this album, because she seems pretty hung up on it. However, “Monster” is a nice addition to her collection of dance tunes, although it can hardly stand up against a classic like “LoveGame.” But even when Lady Gaga isn’t at her best, she simply owns her fellow dance-pop divas. Yeah, that means you, Rihanna. 
“Speechless,” which Lady Gaga performed along with “Bad Romance” at the American Music Awards a few weeks ago, is a great change of pace for the usually upbeat songstress. It’s a standard pop-ballad accompanied by piano, done in Lady Gaga-fashion; meaning, somehow, that this way-overdone song form seems new and exciting coming from her pipes. I dare you to not sing along. For those who saw the American Music Awards performance, just imagine Lady Gaga breaking bottles over the piano as she sings, and it will seem even better. 
 
“Dance in the Dark” sort of sounds, at least initially, like something out of the ‘80s, with a standard synth-riff. However, all Lady Gaga needs is a minute to remind you that you are, indeed, in the 21st century. At first, “Dance in the Dark” seems like just another danceable Lady Gaga track. But after a good minute or two of listening, it’s hard to stop nodding your head. The catchy refrain is full of Lady Gaga “soul,” if you can call it that, while the rest of the song is just plain good. Full of surprises, that Lady Gaga is. 
 
Lady Gaga meets with fellow tour-de-force pop diva Beyonce on “Telephone.” Beyonce’s part may be minimal, but it’s pretty great. Divalicious as always. In case the word hasn’t been thrown around enough already, “Telephone” is yet another upbeat, catchy tune on “The Fame Monster.” As with many of Lady Gaga’s other tunes, like “Dance in the Dark” and even “Bad Romance,” it gets better with time. Give it a few listens, and let it transport you back to Domerfest. 
 
“So Happy I Could Die” seems more like trance music than pop music, but its danceable nonetheless. Perhaps the prequel to “Just Dance,” Lady Gaga is ready to have some fun in the club in this song. It’s catchy, of course. In fact, in may be impossible for Lady Gaga to write a non-catchy song. But who’s complaining? “So Happy I Could Die” is another solid addition to her catalog, changing the pace and tone of “The Fame Monster” a little in the process.
 
The last song on “The Fame Monster” before the reissues of “The Fame” is “Teeth,” which sounds a little southern-twang country, more in the style of Christina Aguilera or even Carrie Underwood. It’s pretty much different from anything you’ve ever heard from Lady Gaga before. But, regardless, it’s a fine addition to a pretty solid batch of new tracks on “The Fame Monster.”
 
The rest of “The Fame Monster” are reissues of tracks from Lady Gaga’s first album “The Fame,” including such hits as “Just Dance,” “LoveGame,” “Paparazzi” and “Poker Face.” There’s nothing new about the songs, there are no remixes, but for this without “The Fame,” it’s a great way to get all of Lady Gaga’s golden oldies. 
 
 
The final two tracks, both new, are “Disco Heaven” and a remix of “Bad Romance.” “Disco Heaven” is a far cry from actual disco, but Lady Gaga’s 21st-century take on the much-loved, much-loathed dance genre seems less likely to polarize than its namesake. It’s not great, especially when compared to the rest of the album, but it will probably get people moving anyways. “Bad Romance (Starsmith Remix)” is merely an adequate remix of a great new song. Reminiscing once again on the great ‘80s, this remix puts too much synthesizer into an already great dance tune, making it more awkward than awesome. 
Regardless of the weak ending, “The Fame Monster” is a great new album from a truly creative and talented performer. Although it’s almost more enjoyable to watch Lady Gaga live, the songs retain all of the energy of her performances on the CD. That’s an impressive feat, and well worth a listen.