Can you believe that it’s been an entire decade since Lady Gaga released her career-defining album ‘The Fame Monster’?!
That’s right, we’ve had ten years of the rah rah bitch blessing us ever since, going from a quirky electro singer to an Oscar-winning starlet. While we wait for the eventual release of ‘LG6’, it feels only apt to dive it and revisit ‘The Fame Monster’ all of these years later.
Upon its release, Gaga’s second album set the world on fire. To date, the double-album has sold a whopping 15 million copies worldwide, which is simply insane. Sure, that figure counts both ‘The Fame’ and ‘The Fame Monster’, but they’re both such a cohesive story, detailing the yin and yang of the fame itself, that they pretty much go hand in hand.
With that said, ‘The Fame Monster’ demonstrated a more mature sound from Gaga. Opposed to her debut, fuelled with songs about sex and partying and money – albeit with an ironic twist – ‘The Fame Monster’ pushes these ideals further, detailing Lady Gaga’s most intimate fears. The fears themselves being: Fear of Love (‘Bad Romance’), Fear of Men (‘Alejandro’), Fear of Sex (‘Monster’), Fear of Loneliness (‘Dance in the Dark’), Fear of Death (‘Speechless’), Fear of Alcohol (‘So Happy I Could Die’), Fear of Suffocation (‘Telephone’), and the Fear of Truth (‘Teeth’). I’m a massive sucker for a concept album; so having that dark edge to it truly elevates ‘The Fame Monster’ to another level entirely.
It was a genius move on Gaga’s behalf, really. Whilst simultaneously creating a piece of art birthed from a place of truth, it also gave the listener a deeper look at the eccentric singer – a peek behind the burqa, if you will. Back in an age where Gaga was a meat-wearing freak with a cult-like fanbase, it truly allowed her growing fans to connect with the singer on a deeper level, birthing the Little Monsters as we know them today.
The sound of the album is on another level, too. Gaga almost single-handedly brought back the EDM, electro sound back into the mainstream with a massive back at the tail end of the 2000s, pushing the dirty pop sound into the forefront. Without Lady Gaga’s ‘The Fame Monster’ – and the effect it had after its release – the world of music would be a very different landscape indeed.
Featuring gigantic, pulsing synth-pop beats, obscure lyrical content and a velocity that never falters, ‘The Fame Monster’ offers up a slice of pure pop perfection. The singles of the era were massive, with ‘Bad Romance’ being one of the best songs of all time. ‘Alejandro’ offered a retrospective look at the singer, while the collab with Beyonce on ‘Telephone’ pushed Lady Gaga to global heights.
The non-singles shine in their own right, too. In fact, there isn’t a single skip or filler track on the entire album. Granted, it’s only eight-tracks long, but Gaga makes each and every one of them count – each second of the 34:09 runtime has a purpose. ‘Speechless’ offers a heartfelt, touching ballad that shows off her vocal range like no other – and I still believe to this day that if she pushed for it to be a single and promoted it properly, Gaga would have received the acclaim she’s been receiving so late in her career all of those many moons ago.
‘Dance in the Dark’ has one of the most iconic, ethereal bridges ever written – an homage to the heroines of our past. ‘Monster’ is sultry, pulsing and pure pop, while ‘So Happy I Could Die’ offers a glimpse at ‘The Fame’-esque Lady Gaga, with all of the rough edges worn down smooth. Honestly, I never tire of ‘The Fame Monster’, and it’s unlikely I ever will. It conjures up images of dark, starless nights, of leather-wearing punks and high fashion princesses. And, for that reason alone, it’s truly special.
The album also went hand-in-hand with some of Lady Gaga’s best – and most iconic – fashion moments of all time. Remember the meat dress? That came just a year after ‘The Fame Monster’, celebrating her successes. At the Monster Ball Tour, Gaga stood on the stage with her tits exploding like fireworks. She wore dresses that spun around her; had her hair in a literal hair-bow, wore yellow wigs wearing outfits inspired by monsters.
In short, Gaga revolutionised what it meant to be a pop star. No longer was it enough to rock up to the red carpet wearing a pretty dress or draped in double denim. No. After Gaga strutted her stuff in her six-inch heels, meat wrapped around her, every other star wanted a slice of the attention. Lady Gaga’s impact, especially back in the day, was unparalleled, creating a blossoming new era of ‘weird pop stars’. But there will only ever be one Lady Gaga.
The music videos surrounding the era were some of her best pieces of work, too. While ‘Born This Way’ is my favourite Lady Gaga album, I can’t deny the strength behind ‘The Fame Monster’s roll out. ‘Bad Romance’ is one of the most iconic music videos of all time, showing Gaga in a stranger light than we were all used to. ‘Alejandro’, her homage to Madonna, was darker still. ‘Telephone’, despite what Gaga herself may say, is still a brilliant music video – which needed its deserved sequel with ‘Aura’ (oh, what could have been…). They were all high-budget, high fashion, slick pieces of pop perfection. If only ‘Dance in the Dark’ got a slice of the action, too. Then we’d have achieved perfection.
Of course, it’s not worth writing about Lady Gaga if I don’t mention her tour. To this day, her ‘Enigma’ venture is one of the highlights of Vegas. Back then, The Monster Ball is what turned me into a super fan. Unfortunately I didn’t go, but I remember watching it on TV, eyes wide with wonder at this strange singer, battling a gigantic fish with her disco stick and with the use of the crowds’ phones. She seemed like a superhero, out of this world, unbeatable, with amazing choreo and elusive deep lyrics. Once I saw that, I never went back.
‘The Fame Monster’ was an experience, rather than just an album. Ten years ago, to the day, began a journey of high fashion, of slick choreography and pop music with a dark, unique twist. But the music lived up to the visuals. Both of them, hand in hand, created one of the best pop albums ever created. We’ve been blessed with ‘The Fame Monster’ for a decade, and I still love it every bit as much now as I did back then.
You can also grab yourself some sick Gaga merch from Amazon to celebrate having a decade of ‘The Fame Monster’ in our lives.