Lady Gaga
The Fame


3.5
great

Review

by Brendan Schroer USER (184 Reviews)
January 21st, 2014 | 114 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: I wanna take a ride on your disco stick.

I firmly believe that every piece of music deserves its day in court; no matter what quality an album is, sometimes it shouldn't just "go without saying" that it is great or terrible. Even for artists who have been consistently derided such as Blood on the Dance Floor or Vanilla Ice, the old adage comes into play: one man's trash is another man's treasure. Think a record is godawful with no redeeming values? Try to look at it from a different perspective. Admittedly, yours truly used to trash any music that wasn't some complex, deep progressive rock or "br00tal" metal music rooted in death metal or thrash (primarily during my high school years). In the middle of this opinionated heat was the dance-pop star Lady Gaga, being given both praise and criticism for her synth-ridden dance music, trashy lyricism, and flashy image with her debut album The Fame and its subsequent tour. Naturally I despised it and couldn't understand her success, but in recent times, that opinion has turned around quite a bit.

Sure, I get it... the music isn't very deep. There aren't layers of lyrical meaning behind it. It's not the be-all-end-all of dance-pop. There are some glaring flaws in the woodwork. Hell, the album's fascination with fame and money probably comes off as quite shallow to many ears. However, two things need to be taken into account when listening to The Fame: Gaga's influences, and the fact that there sounds like genuine effort being integrated into the product instead of a typical cash-cow plastic pop record. Despite the modern glossy sheen heard from the production on a surface level, the musical influences are different story. Lady Gaga stated that David Bowie and Queen were prominent reference points for her music and persona, and it certainly shows; there's a sense of glam and charisma about The Fame's overall vibe. Some songs appear to be complete homages, particularly the piano ballad "Brown Eyes," which uses several Queen-oriented chord progressions throughout during the (surprisingly) humble verses. But it's not just the overall attitude and how Lady Gaga integrates her influences into her work, but how much she seems to care about her music. Beneath the layers of synth-ridden fluff is a genuine heart, a heart of someone who's trying to elevate dance-pop beyond just autotune and having a club-ready atmosphere. Stuff like "Brown Eyes," the guitar-centric funk of closer "Summerboy," and the disco-oriented jazz guitar chords adding to the chorus of the title track, certainly seem like more than meets the ears.

Plus... goddamn, it's just a ton of fun to listen to! Most of The Fame is dominated by fast dance anthems that are created for you to - you guessed it - get off your ass and dance. Of course, the four smash hits ("Just Dance," "LoveGame," Paparazzi," and "Poker Face") were cleverly placed at the very front of the record, most likely to give off an instant appeal to the listener, and they're all a blast to listen to. The most entertaining songs on the record seem to be the ones adorned with the lowest synthesizer notes and the most prominent bass, particularly "LoveGame" and the chorus of the title track. It's easy to get a rush of energy once one of the songs kicks up the bass volume and layers of keyboard work illustrate the busy musical backdrop. As for the vocals, Lady Gaga boasts a pretty distinctive voice as well as wonderful displays of charisma when up to the mic; even during a ballad like "Brown Eyes," she seems fully invested when she's singing. As for autotune, there are only two ("Starstruck" and "Paper Gangsta") that frequently use the processor, so luckily there's a refreshing lack of it throughout the experience. Unfortunately, one thing that does appear more prominently is inconsistency. Now don't get me wrong; there aren't a ton of filler tracks... however, the ones that are here are enough to hurt the album's quality quite a bit. "Eh, Eh" essentially starts the streak, effectively ruining the fun atmosphere displayed by the previous tunes and dragging the listener through a rote piece of fluff balladry. But when you get down to it, the bigger problem is that the album doesn't know when to end properly. While The Fame is only about forty-two minutes long, the amount of been-there-done-that filler near the end gets exhausting and simply guides you through musical concepts you already explored. "I Like It Rough" is a minor-key dance tune that doesn't really have much going for it, not even a catchy chorus, and the lyricism is the same tough-girl material heard in songs like "LoveGame" and "Poker Face." "Paper Gangsta" simply suffers from the lack of an engaging bridge section, while "Starstruck"'s heavily auto-tuned chorus isn't charismatic or climactic enough to pack quite the punch it seemingly promised from the verses.

So in the end, it's somewhat tough to determine who would get the most enjoyment out of The Fame. On the one hand, Lady Gaga should be lauded for her willingness to experiment with and try to artistically elevate the mainstream dance-pop genre on her first try, but those experiments don't always work. The overall product would have benefited from a sharper sense of musical focus and the removal of obvious filler, and yet at the same time, its inconsistent nature doesn't affect me as much as it probably should. I think the best way to look at this record is not to look at the whole picture, but rather to look at its individual parts. Take the best songs (and, admittedly, there are a lot of great songs) and just cherish the hell out of them. It's pretty sad knowing that Gaga's next work Born This Way would throw away a lot of what makes The Fame as good as it is, but that's a story for another day. As for this, dance and have fun.



Recent reviews by this author
Taylor Swift 1989Joni Mitchell Blue
Porcupine Tree Fear of a Blank PlanetMichael Jackson Off the Wall
Slipknot .5: The Gray ChapterDragonForce Maximum Overload
user ratings (949)
Chart.
3
good
other reviews of this album
Alex Robertson STAFF (4.5)
Welcome to the world of Gaga....

Dylan S. (3.5)
The Fame is an album full of catchy hit tunes, but still just a pop album....

Daniel Incognito EMERITUS (3.5)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Necrotica
January 21st 2014


10062 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

oh hai

fromtheinside
January 21st 2014


19029 Comments


you're a good reviewer

Digging: Ibex Throne - Ibex Throne

Necrotica
January 21st 2014


10062 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Saying that genuinely, or to be sarcastic?

fromtheinside
January 21st 2014


19029 Comments


jesus 5

at least give me some credit

sapient
January 21st 2014


2140 Comments


Good review. I can relate with what you're saying at the beginning about shunning anything that wasn't "Br00tal" for awhile in my life, recently I've been opening myself to a lot more pop and not being afraid to like more commercially viable music. I've started to go by the philosophy that if something sounds enjoyable to me, then just listen

Digging: Sleater-Kinney - Dig Me Out

fromtheinside
January 21st 2014


19029 Comments


well the fact that brootal was a suggested descriptor at all...

i think we know

Necrotica
January 21st 2014


10062 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks, bros

fromtheinside
January 21st 2014


19029 Comments


fame monster

KILLS this

Necrotica
January 21st 2014


10062 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I hear that a lot, but I need to let Fame Monster grow on me a bit more. Bad Romance rules though

fromtheinside
January 21st 2014


19029 Comments


bad romance is lady g's best song

Necrotica
January 21st 2014


10062 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I WANT YOUR UGLY, I WANT YOUR DISEASE

fromtheinside
January 21st 2014


19029 Comments


LOVE
LOVE
LOVE

Jacquibim
Contributing Reviewer
January 21st 2014


15006 Comments


I don't mind a bit of bad romance every now and then

Digging: Kashiwa Daisuke - 9 Songs

Gwyn.
January 21st 2014


15260 Comments


Just DANCE

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
January 21st 2014


31475 Comments


I firmly believe that every piece of music deserves its day in court; no matter what quality an album is,


So this is a complete turnaround to the last version of this review

Digging: Hyperdub - Hyperdub 10.4

DrGonzo1937
January 21st 2014


6462 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Fame monster >>>>> but this is good, ya

PunchforPunch
January 21st 2014


6280 Comments


I love this record baby, but I can't see straight anymore.

DrGonzo1937
January 21st 2014


6462 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Agreed malenchanted

Judio!
Contributing Reviewer
January 21st 2014


6480 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I didn't see any problem with your last review but I find no problem with this one either so well done 10/10

Digging: The Twilight Sad - Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters

Necrotica
January 21st 2014


10062 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I just felt like my last version of the review was a little rushed, so I wanted to switch things up. Anyway, thanks ^_^



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy