Arguably, 2009 has been the year of Lady Gaga. Love her or hate her, the chameleonic diva has dominated pop culture with the futuristic techno-pop earworms “LoveGame,” “Paparazzi” and “Poker Face.”
It’s hard to call the eight-song, 34-minute The Fame Monster Gaga’s sophomore album—even more so since the release has a slapped-together feel. Still, even though Monster never quite coheres into the grand thematic statement Gaga intends it to be, it ably demonstrates her range. The hip-hop bounce “Telephone,” which features an inspired rebel yell from Beyoncé, is a frantic, beat-heavy rant about being pestered by the phone. (It also sounds like Gwen Stefani having a psychotic break.) The Teddy Riley co-write “Teeth” is a stylized Broadway strut full of horn blasts, marching beats and vampy vocals, while hi-NRG Euro-pop romps “Monster” and “Dance in the Dark” celebrate the days of faceless ’80s synth-pop.
- Lady Gaga
- Beyond the Weekly
- Lady Gaga
Monster’s worst moments, however, embody what’s wrong with pop culture in 2009: They’re full of knee-jerk analysis masquerading as depth of thought, leading to disposable, forgettable art. These offenders would be “Alejandro” (Ace of Base colliding head-on with Madonna’s Spanish-obsessed persona) and the schmaltzy piano torch ballad “Speechless,” which sounds like a drag queen attempting David Bowie karaoke. In the end, Monster is a better-than-average second effort. It could have been a near-perfect EP.