Reviewing Lady Gaga’s Fame Monster: Track-By-Track

Hello little monsters! Alex here! As you know, Lady Gaga’s sophomore album “The Fame Monster” was released today, and obviously we need to discuss/obsess. I’ve recruited Gaga Specialist Stef to collaborate with me on this track-by-track breakdown. You can see Stef here with Gaga, who is tattooing Stef’s arm (JK but she should’ve seriously got that tattooed!) during the release party for ‘The Fame” in October ’08. Photo by Robin Roemer!

stef and gaga 1

You see, Miss Stef Schwartz is the reason I knew anything of Gaga when in April of 2008 she sent me an innocent song called “Just Dance” and told me I’d love it and that this pop singer/songwriter was going to be the next big thing. (Actually, I didn’t give it much attention or thought, cause everyone’s gonna be the NEXT BIG THING, you know? Obviously a regret — we could’ve talked to this crazy character at the first NewNowNext Awards if I payed any mind to the song.) Stef had the pleasure of booking shows for young Lady Gaga in downtown NYC before she was suddenly whisked away to record some album or something. Stef even first heard ‘Paparazzi’ when she performed it at the Knitting Factory to an audience of 30.

Basically, I’m very jealous and Stef is the perfect person to share her feelings about “The Fame Monster”. Me? I just like The Dance, and the terrible/AWESOME (we both do!)

So enough of that… Ready? We wanna hear your comments about the album too!

Let’s dance!

1. Bad Romance

STEF: Oh hey, have you heard this? Has Autostraddle mentioned this song? Is this new?  Did me and A;ex really make this video interpreting it via ukelele? When “Just Dance” and “Pokerface” were tremendous hits, certain critics proclaimed Gaga to be a flash in the pan who would be memorable for a hit or two and then disappear just as quickly as she’d arrived. This song proves without a doubt that A) bitch can write, B) bitch can sing and C) bitch is going nowhere.

ALEX: Nothing to add here. Arguably her best single yet. Period.

lady gaga bad romance video

2. Alejandro


fame monster lady gaga 3

ALEX: If Ace of Base wrote “La Isla Bonita” (or “Fernando” perhaps) you’d get something like this. I really like this one and it’s not just because my name in high school Spanish class was Alejandra (true story). You know how I know Lady Gaga’s amazing? She doesn’t put any spanish guitar on this track. (Save it for the next Spice Girls reunion album, obvs.)

STEF: It’s important to remember that Our Lady of Perpetual Terrible/AWESOME, Ms. Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, was born in 1986. When bad 90s pop acts like Ace of Base were the toast of every 8th grade social, little baby Gaga was probably only just beginning to pay attention to the stuff on the radio. “Alejandro” owes more than a little bit to my absolute favourite Ace of Base hit, “Don’t Turn Around,” which HAD to be on purpose. “Alejandro” doesn’t shy away from over-the-top cheesiness, between Gaga’s affected accent on the spoken word segments (“I know that we are young, and I know that you may love me, but I just can’t be with you like this anymore… Alejandro!“) and the super-catchy ‘Ale-Alejandro’ hook. If this was the 90’s, this song would be dripping with melodramatic, over-the-top Spanish guitar solos. Gaga would never do this to us, and for that I am forever grateful.

ALEX: I love how we have the same feelings about spanish guitar solos.

STEF: Sidenote: this totally reminds me of “Infatuation,” my favourite song on Christina Aguilera‘s 2002 album Stripped, in which she is constantly tempted by her Puerto Rican lover (Christina and Gaga have a lot in common, including having a body that says “let’s go” while their hearts are sayin’ “no.”). Nobody ever writes songs about being unable to resist skinny white guys.

3. Monster

ALEX: Only on the second listen-through and I was already singing along. DAMN YOU GAGA. If you aren’t diggin’ it at the first or second listen, then you’re a weirdo. But also: keep listening — this one will totally grow on you and you’ll love it just as much as I do cause you cannot resist The Gaga no matter how hard you try.

For example, I don’t even like boys but I can totally get behind “That boy is a MONSTERRRRRR“. It will probably (and hopefully) be her second or third released single. In my opinion, “Monster” epitomizes this entire album. So there.

STEF: When I listened to this song for the first time, I fully LOLed on the subway and looked like a crazy person. Oh, Gaga. OF COURSE you did. Between the vocoder-heavy “He ate my heart, he a-a-ate my heart,” phase-y synth stabs and hugely catchy chorus, this is easily my favourite track on the record. It’s just too weird not to love.

Every time Gaga, Space Cowboy and RedOne get together, they stick to a pretty specific dance pop formula, and this song is no different. This is definitely a track for the gay boys on the dance floor. This song would get Brian Kinney laid for sure.

4. Speechless

speechless

STEF: Hey Gaga, do you like Queen? I can’t tell. We’ve all seen those YouTube videos of the Stefani Germanotta Band playing at various holes in the wall all over the Lower East Side, so you guys are pretty familiar with how this woman wrote songs before she discovered drum machines and disco sticks, yeah? Songs like this just seem more real to me, like she just cranked them out in her bedroom and threw a few string players in there for good measure. “Speechless” isn’t the greatest song she’s ever written (I think it’s “Again, Again” – sorry Alex), but it’s a solid ballad that proves her merit as a songwriter.

ALEX: “Speechless” is like the “Again Again” of The Fame Monster. Lucky for Stef that means she likes this song and I definitely do not and will declare it my least favorite of the eight and I just wanna dance you know?

5. Dance in the Dark


fame monster lady gaga 2

STEF: Gaga’s sort of the Quentin Tarantino of pop music, in that whenever she references something that’s been done before, it’s definitely an intentional homage that she draws from to create her own vision. Where Tarantino draws from spaghetti westerns and kung fu movies, Gaga draws from performance art and pop music. This song owes everything to 80s synthpop bands like Yaz and Depeche Mode, but the bridge is obviously cribbed from “Vogue” – which ought to make Madonna a little nervous. She name-checks a host of famously unhappy women, everyone from Sylvia Plath to JonBenet Ramsey to Princess Diana, and then instructs the listener to “find your Jesus, find your Kubrick.” This isn’t my favourite track on the record by a long shot, but only because I feel so strongly about the standout songs. I give this song a B+.

ALEX: My lord, that JonBenet Ramsey lyric/shout-out is cray cray.

Why do I like this song so much?! The 80s and Depeche Mode-ness and haunting synth chords with this heavy industrial-like beat satisfies the dark emo soul inside me who hungers for the dance (we all have one of those, right?) I think it’s really well done. Yeah, so let’s take a look at the “Vogue”-like spoken word in the bridge Stef mentioned:

Marilyn,
Judy,
Sylvia,
Tell ‘em how you feel girls.

Work your blonde
‘Benet Ramsey will haunt like Liberace.
Find your freedom in the music,
find your Jesus,
find your Kubrick.

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Cofounder and Design Director of Autostraddle. Professional web/graphic designer. Whiskey enthusiast. Drumming hobbyist. A past speaker at the 2010 BlogHer Conference ("Good Blog Design: The Role of Layout in an Online Medium"), 2013 Salon LGBTQ Conference ("Innovative Best Practices for Brand-Blogger Campaigns") and featured in the Los Angeles Edition of Refinery29's 30 Under 30 in 2013. Co-owns and manages Tully's Training, a dog training company in Los Angeles. Twitter: @a_ex Instagram: alexxxvegaaa

Alex has written 111 articles for us.

61 Comments

  1. Thumb up 0

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    Stef, all I see is bow and hair but that’s the greatest pic.

    I’m surprised by the lack of enthusiasm for Speechless. It has some of my favorite lyrics between the 2 albums.

    And I know that it’s complicated
    But I’m a loser in love
    So baby raise a glass to mend
    All the broken hearts
    Of all my wrecked up friends

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      I liked Speechless a little more once I found out she had written it influenced at first not by a lover, but by her dad. He was sick and in the hospital. That made me at least give it a second listen.

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    YOU WILL DEFINITELY HEAR TELEPHONE TOMORROW NIGHT. it is my favorite thing right now. well, that and the fact that janet jackson performed the entire dance break in “if” during her medley at the AMAs but that’s neither here nor there.

    Generally I like this album and cannot fucking wait to see it performed live (that is, if I can manage to scrounge up tickets. DAMN YOU TICKETMASTER!)

    also Cesar and I really need to start choreographing this…

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    I bought the deluxe edition on iTunes, and there’s an additional 4 new songs (Starstruck, Paper Gangsta, Retro Dance Freak, and Disco Heaven), plus the all of the tracks from The Fame (excluding Again,Again).
    Money well spent!

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    I don’t get Lady Gaga like i don’t get milk.(the stuff cows deliver, that is)

    I’m not the huge Gaga fans most of you are(yet). She writes catchy songs, that’s about it for me.

    I have to admit, though, that there’s some really good stuff on this album. I’m starting to realize how not so wtf Bad Romance is. It’s actually a brilliant pop song, if you think about it.

    I mostly second Stefs brainflow on this one.

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    Thanks for reviewing and posting ladies! This was truly hilarious and enjoyable and informative and I’m digging each and every one of her new tunes. I have my special addition Lady Gaga The Fame Monster [Super Deluxe Limited Edition or whatever] pre-ordered. (Doesn’t hurt that I have some photos from The Fame launch in the booklet, EEEeeeeeeeee)

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    Thanks for the break-down, ladies! I did a legit spit-take when I saw the Beyonce Kool Aid picture. I’ll be billing you for my new monitor.

    I may or may not have been naughty and used magic to listen to the album for the past 2 weeks straight. I DID NOT like “Teeth” the first 100 times I listened to it, but it really grew on me. It’s definitely not my favorite song by far, but I like it.

    When I heard “Telephone” I wanted to hate it. But I couldn’t. No matter how hard I tried. It’s. So. Good.

    As for “Speechless,” I’m fairly disappointed. GaGa hyped it up so much, and I thought the reason the song was written (to convince her dad to get surgery) was interesting and sad. I certainly don’t hate it, but it’s kinda meh to me.

    I really, really love the album overall. And I love you. Yes, you.

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    *Raises hand during the class discussion, hopes no one throws anything*

    Ahem..I love Lady Gaga! I really do but I have to say I don;t like this album. Bad Romance is AWESOME!! But the other tracks just fall short. They feel like demos that didn’t make the Fame and for good reason. However, I do like the unrealsed/unmentioined track “Filthy Pop” its stuck in my head.

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      I won’t throw anything at you, I promise! I didn’t exactly rave about it either. Really though, not even “Telephone” or “Monster”? Ahh I really don’t like “Filthy Pop” but now I’m gonna have to give it another few chances cause you said that
      :)

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        Telephone is prob going to have to grow on me. And if they do a music video i might get hooked. I liked the version of speechless at the AMA’s.

        And i will be the first to admit that “Filthy Pop” is not the greatest song, it doesn;t really go anywhere or have a point. But it is nice background music to like sort clothes or dust. Its stuck in my head.

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    I love Lady Gaga the persona, the spectacle. Her performances and videos are crazy awesome weird. But I don’t think I can sit and just listen to more than a few of her songs straight through in one sitting. I actually really like Speechless, though. And Bad Romance is pretty awesome and will stuck in my head forever and ever amen.

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    I saw the tweet about this article and was really hoping it would be Alex & Stef doing uke versions of all the songs. But this works too.
    How great is Monster?? I also like how she recycles certain lyrics in the this album, like free bitch. Tegan & Sara do that, too.
    I didn’t even catch the Kubrick reference until you guys mentioned it. Between that and Sylvia Plath and her love of performance art, well I feel like I could have really great conversations with this woman. But she also loves to dance! I love her so much.

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    Am I the only one who cracks up at “Teeth” everytime? I can’t listen to it without laughing. Just thinking about the way she says “show me your teeth” cracks me up. Just the whole song…oh god. Maybe I’m crazy. I do like the track though. And of course, I LOVE her.

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    “You cannot resist The Gaga” – love it. I resisted for a long time for one reason or another but now I can officially declare that I am a Lady Gaga fan. Thanks AS. So… I’ve listened to “Dance In The Dark” the most out of all the new tracks. IDK, there’s something about it that sticks with me. And A;ex, you pretty much summed up what I think about “Fame Monster” – great review.

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    ME TOO! But maybe you’ve brainwashed me: “What draws me to Lady Gaga’s brand of dance-pop music (and certainly the songs on The Fame Monster) and what makes them so fresh and ingenious seems to be her combination of great pop beats and harmonies with real fucking emotion.”

  13. Pingback: About album, buy, fame monster, lady gaga’s fame, gaga fans, pizza | Find me About

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    Dancing to Telephone, in the car, really late, with friends, at an incomprehensible loudness, is my new favorite thing. Seriously, where’d Beyonce come from? She hit it hard! I surely hope we can see Carly and Caesar’s choreography. Love the review.

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    so like, I can only speak for myself but I very vividly remember being at my friends bday party and her mom had games with prizes and I won an Ace of Base cassette tape and it was like the most exciting thing ever. I was probably… 8 and Lady Gaga & I are the same age and there is honestly no point to this comment at all except me telling that story because the Ace of Base influence thing made me think of it. I cant’ put coherent thoughts together today or ever.

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    i really liked this album, and your review was awesome, but there’s something i’m wondering about the backing track for ‘Teeth’. i’ve looked at lots of reviews for this album, and NOBODY has mentioned it, but the backing track is traditional Native American music! i’m part Native American, so it’s weird to hear something like that, something quite personal to me in that song. but anyway, i’m just wondering if anybody knows where i can find information about the background track and who recorded it originally, who gave permission to use it, etc. because i know Lady GaGa’s fans are very important to her, i would like to know if she thought about what her Native American fans might think if she used a backing track like that, and if she didn’t think about that, i don’t know if i want to support her anymore. i know this is off-topic, but i haven’t found anything about this anywhere, and i don’t know where to ask about something like this. i’m not trying to make a big deal…i just thought the people posting on here seemed nice, and liked Lady GaGa, so i thought it would be a good place.

    thanks for reading

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      I have been playing it over and over since it came out, and yes, we have to be correct on that hunch. We need to find out where she got her music from. It sounds like a familiar native too, it sounds like a pow wow I went to, I just can’t remember the song and place. If I could place it, this would be awesome!!!!!!

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        it is! one time i actually found a lady gaga video on youtube that was an actual recording of a native american song for teeth, just not edited or pop-song’d at all. i can’t find it, but i’ve been looking for it!

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    Yo.
    I am a musician. I am a music lover. I love Madonna, Michael Jackson, but also love Coltrane, Wes Montgomery, Louis Armstrong, Classical symphonic Orchestra recordings, Guns N Roses, AC/DC, Indigo Girls, Beach Boys, Living Colour, The Melvins, TOOL, and many many more.
    I saw one Lady Gaga video, and then her SNL performance, and was excited to buy the album ‘The Fame Monster’ and share it with my children and my wife!
    My wife warned me that she thought my judgement had flown the coop, but I persisted that GAGA struck me as an intelligent, empowering female, with great musical abilities, and that the album would show this.

    Umm,
    NO.
    This album is absolutely one of the largest meltdown letdowns of the last three decades.
    Nowhere in this album is there a sound that produces a reaction in me that says, ‘Wow, they put some effort into this.’
    In fact,
    My six-year old has created a plethora of more unique, talented, ear-loving catchy tunes with her radio-shack keyboard and her voice alone.

    Lady Gaga,
    you owe me one, big time,
    and I’m not talking about sex, baby. My wife does that thing with me all day and all night for realz,
    not with a damn disco stick- (whatever that is).

    You best take this money,
    fire every human involved in this album,
    head to L.A. or even Kansas City,
    find a bass player, a drummer, a guitar player,
    and perhaps a synth-keyboard master,
    get a new producer,
    and write some songs with some real emotion.

    You remind me of someone who has had their soul scared out of them,
    and now only lives to prove to the world that
    nothing much matters to you anymore.

    You dont empower anyone or anything,
    except your wallet.

    And, Lady-
    even in America- that will NOT BE GOOD ENOUGH
    over the long haul.
    I surmise all the males who ‘love’ her ‘album’(parenthesized because it has no musical qualities),
    are all secretly pedophiles,
    or worse.

    If you dont own up to the community, Lady Gaga,
    I suggest you find a new day job.

    I am very disappointed in you,
    we put a lot of faith in you,
    that you would knock our socks off.

    Instead,
    you have pissed off the all-knowing consciousness,
    and will be punished accordingly.
    Prepare to bend over.

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      “Prepare to bend over”? “Punished accordingly”?

      It makes me nervous that you have a six year old and a wife, Brad the Dad! I hope that sort of thing isn’t something you’d like someone to say to them eh?

      Also, it’s just pop music, you know?

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