The Fame

Lady Gaga

Interscope, 2008

REVIEW BY: Sarah Curristan


Having been released in 2008, by all standards of the laws of disposable pop music, The Fame’s limelight shelf-life should have well and truly expired by now. I was introduced to Lady Gaga by a friend of mine who ensures The Fame is maintained as part of constant rotation, and seeing as that the album has as many hooks as the early days of John West, it gradually caught on. And, unfortunately, in the process, has become a Pavlov’s bell signalling cravings for a night out.

Stefani Germanotta (see Jonathan Ross, she wasn’t afflicted with a prepared stage name from birth, and all it took was a minute amount of Googling) took her stage name as a result of her music’s resemblance to Queen. If someone could point me in the direction as to how on this one, I would be much obliged. Musically, there’s really no correlation, so as an intro that was fairly misleading.

It’s said that regardless of content, the longer an argument is the more persuasive it’s found to be. With The Fame, you get the feeling that as an album rounded off with an unfathomable seventeen songs that it’s just begging for substantiation. In that way, the quality is bound to suffer on some level, and the lyrics are first against the wall – “Boys, boys, boys, we like boys in cars / Boys, boys, boys, buy us drinks in bars,” taken from the aptly titled “Boys, Boys, Boys,” must be taking the lyrical piss. Either that or I have managed to severely overestimate my entire gender. I wasn’t expecting any revolutionary ideas to be spewed forth from my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 The Fame, but some consistent mediocrity on this front wouldn’t have gone amiss either.

“Poker Face” and “Just Dance,” the most recognisable singles taken from Gaga’s debut, have that over-synthed quality that makes them work well as a radio pop song. The vocals seem flat and come across more simplistic and teched than they could be. The third single taken from The Fame, “Paparazzi,” is probably where the album reaches its peak. The melody catches on pretty quick, but that’s pretty much all the charm on offer. Overall, the tone of the album skirts back and forth between being something laidback and summery and trying to be ostentatiously shocking, and fully accomplishes neither.

But apparently, Lady Gaga is not just another fluff artist to be disposed of. This is calculated fluff. Fluff with a plan. What sets her apart from any other pop outfit that could have potentially released this album is the fame obsessed space-cadet Andy Warhol meets David Bowie persona that she’s established to sell alongside it. It’s an artist caricature that she has thoroughly orchestrated and engineered all the way from persona to performance. And similar to Warhol, it’s sickeningly grating, but it keeps you watching to see what happens next.

A quick sweep of YouTube led me to find some acoustic versions of Lady Gaga’s material, including a stripped-down playful and bluesy version of “Poker Face” that exhibited talent far better than the attempted flashiness of The Fame could, leading you to wonder if a far better album could have been made here. Germanotta can sing, but it’s something that is grossly disguised behind production. At times, the album attempts to showcase this with songs like “Again, Again” and “Brown Eyes,” but always seems to recoil before it gets anywhere too near the region of being an entirely decent song.

So as it stands, The Fame works well as a static background play, something fun and a break from the serious if you’re not up to hunting down a better alternative. But when taken out of the context of socializing and under the harsh light of close examination, there’s just too many cracks that appear for it to hold up as a decent album. Easy listening, but at a distance.

Rating: C-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 2009 Sarah Curristan and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Interscope, and is used for informational purposes only.