Review Summary: Gaga shows promise and progression, but she's not all the way there yet.
Maturation, in musical terms, is a rather delicate thing. The end result of this maturation is somewhat unpredictable. The artist can either become a tedious monster or, on the flip side, an interesting creature that attracts its audience. Lady Gaga's The Fame Monster
hinted at her undergoing this process from the get-go. I mean hell, an artist which such a transition in subject matter in this short amount of time has to grow up in some way, right? Well, Lady Gaga comes back to show us that, yes, she has undergone said process, subsequently releasing a far more enjoyable and adept album in the process.
“Bad Romance” shows the evolution in her music by way of lyrical content. Rather than commenting on the male genitalia, Ms. Gaga speaks out against sex slavery, even slipping into some French verbiage. The production value on this track is far less comical than that found on The Fame
. This leads the listener to realize that Gaga is no longer your run-of-the-mill pop star. She has evolved from her fame days and is now showing true promise. “Speechless” is the best evidence of this evolution, as Gaga channels the eighties ballad inside everyone, and bursts out some emotional, albeit cliché, lyrics. And unlike “Telephone”, Gaga shows that she can not only possess musical talent, but she can intrigue the listener as well. Fortunately, this is not the only track to pique the listener's interest. The odd electronic bits and chants on “Bad Romance” satisfy the listener; the salsa-like chorus in “Alejandro” add dimension to an otherwise bland track, and the infectious, poppy rhythms on the album closer, “Teeth” augment a quaint spoken word. All of these aspects of her music are approached in a much more mature way now that she has undergone the aforementioned process. The charming growth she has experienced makes her music a more enjoyable, charming effort, but there are still the obvious faults.
As Lady Gaga becomes a more prominent figure in pop music, she also has attracted the attention of other mainstream artists. Case in point, Beyonce Knowles contributes her vocals to “Telephone”, arguably, the worst track on the EP. The saving grace of the song is the mediocre rap-stylings of Beyonce. This vocalization adds a much needed pizazz to this otherwise tedious track. Also, the album is still hindered by those cliché pop elements found on The Fame
. This is true to her more radio-friendly past, but there are so many hooks on here that don't feel so run-of-the-mill. On “Bad Romance,” Gaga creates one of the most infectious bridges she has ever produced. On “Speechless”, the lounge vibe gnaws its way into your brain. It's the album's most original track, and this creativity is never contrived. More moments like these could easily boost the impact of this EP.
For every couple of fresh ideas Gaga produces here, there's another that reverts back to her earlier works. Therefore, the EP at hand feels less like a new take on her style, but rather a progression that signals a far better release in the near future. Hopefully my predictions are right, because with a little time, Gaga could create the pop opus of the decade.