I am goo goo for Gaga.
Ever since the release of “The Fame Monster” two weeks ago, my speakers have been blasting nothing but fast-paced beats and electronic dance jams. Lady Gaga’s edgy, fun songs can lift me from a school-related wallow and tempt me into a have-to-sing-along stupor.
When I got my first glimpse of the rising artist on a VH1 special in 2008, I was skeptical. Stefani Germanotta (stage name Lady Gaga) was obviously using shock value rather than raw talent to get her message across, right? The platinum blond hair, the insect-eye glasses, the mile-high shoulder pads — far from the norm. My opinion was this: Lady Gaga really is gaga.
But as her debut album “The Fame” rose on the Billboard Hot 100 list and I listened to her songs on the radio time and time again, I began to drop my argument and enjoy the hypnotic beats. Any car ride was made better by the song “LoveGame” or the ever-popular “Poker Face.” The lyrics were easy to remember and the sound was sharp, despite the constant techno fluff.
Through innocent investigation I found acoustic versions of “Poker Face” and “Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)” that put my already-shrinking doubts to shame.
Lady Gaga is talented. Her bare voice, stripped of synthesizers and thumping background music, is as refreshing as a Gatorade after a two hour football practice. As a talent scout once commented after the singer/songwriter had performed live at NYU, “look out Norah Jones.”
“The Fame Monster” is a continuation of “The Fame”, showing the dark side of her celebrity experience through the metaphor of a monster. No matter how much her lyrics may seem like she’s been spitting mumbo jumbo out onto a page, she has an underlying theme throughout the two albums: fame. She goes about singing of her triumphs and woes as an international pop star, something not all listeners can relate to but something we want to be able to.
“Bad Romance”, the first track on the album, was number one on the iTunes Top 100 List within three days of release and the YouTube music video accrued millions of hits from the get-go. Though it doesn’t play in to the fame aspect as much as the other tracks, this song has a lot going for it. Enticing hooks, catchy chorus, the ability to get the party started — what more could a pop single ask for?
While she keeps her club-oriented sound and gutsy vocals, she shows a softer side with the lone ballad on the album, “Speechless” and a very bluesy ending track titled “Teeth.” These two songs show Gaga in a different light, not as the Queen of the Club, but as a singer with edge. “Teeth” stands out from the lineup with it’s brassy background music and old Louisiana style. It doesn’t seem like it would belong on the album, but she sounds so great that it makes itself right at home — which makes me like it all the more.
“Telephone,” featuring Beyonce Knowles is a song I’m predicting will shoot into the top ten on the charts. Beyonce and Gaga collaborating for another hit about phones? Don’t get me started.
As much as I may rant and rave about this album, there are a few setbacks. The majority of the songs feature a 30-second intro including many tricks of the pop trade such as moaning, stuttering and a fine mix of broken background music. As well as the wait at the beginning of the track, the majority of her songs break up the flow of the music with dialogue, which is normal for her but usually leaves the last note I sang aloud hanging in the air.
With only eight tracks on the “The Fame Monster”, you would think the album falls short, but it’s quite the opposite. Buying the lone album or even select track on iTunes gives you the opportunity to grow close to her style and enjoy the up-tempo rhythm of the songs.
When listening to this album, it’s best not to over-think it. If you just take the music as it is and enjoy it as just that — pop music — then you’ve got a good chance at going goo goo, too.