Welcome to Feature Fridays! Every week, the AU music library staff will be highlighting a different CD or artist from our collection.
This week, Student Assistant Elisabeth McCarren reviews The Fame Monster by Lady Gaga.
“I used to walk down the street like I was a f*cking star,” Lady Gaga told Rolling Stone for her first cover story in 2009. And my good sis, you are. Gaga was referring to her state of mind before her huge breakthrough when she claimed her seat on the pop throne.
Lady Gaga’s The Fame Monster is a reissue of her debut album, The Fame, which catapulted Gaga from yearning for stardom to embodying it. The music featured on both albums was the result of Gaga’s self-professed narcissism and artistic perfectionism. She uses star power, the desire for it and her lack of it at the time as inspiration, while also using fame itself as a metaphor for love, sex, and her identity. A pop album, The Fame Monster has influences of disco, glam rock and synth-pop music of the 1970s and 1980s, as well as industrial and gothic music. The album was also inspired by fashion shows and runways. According to Gaga, the album deals with the darker side of fame, with its theme lyrically expressed through a monster metaphor.
The album opens with “Bad Romance” which, according to Gaga, is about the various paranoias she faced while on tour, her loneliness in relationships and her attraction to men with whom romance is nearly impossible. Continuing through the album, “Telephone” contains a feature with none other than the queen herself, Beyoncé. Gaga says she was inspired by her fear of suffocation, stating that in the song she prefers relaxing on the dance floor to answering her lover’s phone call. This is a metaphor, the phone call representing the fear of not having worked hard enough to succeed. “Paparazzi” is arguably one of Gaga’s most underrated songs. She becomes the paparazzi in question when it comes to the obsessive, immersive love she has for the man at the center of the song. It’s a classic pop tale of toxic love. “Poker Face” is, in my opinion, one of Gaga’s most iconic songs. She originally claimed the main idea behind the song was simply gambling and sex, however, during her Fame Ball Tour performance at Palm Springs, California on April 11, 2009, Gaga explained to the crowd the true meaning behind the term “Poker Face” used in the song. She suggested that the song dealt with her personal experience with bisexuality. The idea behind the song was to be with a man but fantasizing about a woman, hence the man in the song needs to read her “Poker Face” to understand what is going through her mind.
It’s rather difficult to describe in one review the lasting and iconic impact Lady Gaga and this album have had on music and culture. To attempt this, I’ll simply quote the woman herself, Miss Gaga: “talented, brilliant, incredible, amazing, show-stopping, spectacular, never the same, totally unique, completely not ever been done before, unafraid to reference or not reference, put it in a blender, sh*t on it, vomit on it, eat it, give birth to it.”