“I have an obsession with death and sex.”
That’s how the iconic and legendary Lady Gaga described her first forays into preparing for “The Fame Monster” EP.
Considered by many experts to be one of the greatest albums in music history, the eight-track production was officially released as a reissue of ‘The Fame’, from 2008. But what Gaga n never could have imagined is the impact the new compiled would bring to the phonographic scene and the revolution it would cause in the mainstream – not just in music, but in fashion and even in audiovisual forays. . After all, while its debut revived synth-pop, ‘The Fame Monster’ gave way to an exaltation of electro-dance music not seen in a long time and a reformulation of music at the state of the art, reconciling it not as a loose element, but an organic system of confluence and symbiosis with other artistic inflections, as already mentioned.
Of course, that was never the performer’s idea — as she would say in the title track of “ARTPOP,” “I just like the music, not the shine.” But, in October 2009, she would take the first step of her revolution with the debut of “Bad Romance”. The song, functioning as the lead single from the EP, caused a stir by bringing German house and techno influences to an Alfred Hitchcock and Quentin Tarantino-style celebration of the grotesque and love. Clad in a white leotard and crawling out of a coffin, Gaga once again made history and would stop the world for a fabulous delivery — followed by, among other things, tracks that would reaffirm her immortal pop culture legacy. It’s no surprise that the song in question is idolized to this day, serving as a reference for countless artists, newcomers and veterans alike.
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The idea behind ‘The Fame Monster’ is a kind of analysis of the corollaries of fame, the main theme of his previous album. Of course, criticism of the music industry was already looming with “Paparazzi” and the title track, but it would be with “Bad Romance” that his conjectures would be imbued with overwhelming depth, in which the industry treats singers like commodities and Gaga rebels as a vengeful Femme fatale decked out in McQueen and armed with enviable talent – a spectral ode to death, whether physical or metaphysical.
The imagery brought by the singer would soon be recreated by other titans of show business, like Katy Perry, who would borrow the reins from Gaga’s stripped down paintings for the big ‘Teenage Dream’; or Kesha, who would take advantage of female freedom for ‘Animal’; and even Christina Aguilera, who would return with hard-hitting tracks and carried by electronic influences with the underrated “Bionic”. Beyoncé, one of music legends, would even take the opportunity to reunite with Gaga in “Videophone” and “Telephone” – the latter taking the two greatest artists of the century on a killer road-trip that pays homage to ‘Thelma & Louise ‘.
Each meticulously thought-out gear, each verse bringing more and more aspects of an unspeakable genius – “Alejandro”, breaking sexual taboos on BDSM and fetishes, drew the performer into a mimetic visual and sound choreography of Bob Pit, in addition to commenting on toxic and abusive relationships; “Monster”, backed by dance and Europop, plunging into the rawest form of love and sex, accompanied by an ethereal and resonant atmosphere of instruments and synthesizers; “Speechless” established itself as the romantic nostalgia of the 1970s and 1980s, bringing pop-rock to a beautiful and poignant ballad that would foreshadow their predilection for slower songs.
There’s an iconic meaning behind Gaga’s EP, one that’s nauseatingly celebrated in a variety of ways. The long shadow he would cast in the following decades would become the harbinger of a fusion between music and spectacle, art and consumer – a Warholian formula that would be repeated in his subsequent albums. The reappropriation of memory as an aspect of coping with loss, whatever it may be, is another recurring element in “The Fame Monster”, reflecting the more personal character of the tracks: in “Dance in the Dark”, absorbed through the electronic music explosions of Europop and the frank fluidity of R&B, he reconstructs history by exalting Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Sylvia Plath and Lady Di, pioneers in their own way, in an emancipatory digest of liberation and independence.
The dialogue she establishes with the most painful parts of the human soul is a characteristic that would be emulated by many: in this respect, we have the contradictory beauty of “So Happy I Could Die”, in which Gaga sees himself in front of a mirror and sees the demons within, realizing that he can live in harmony with the parts he turns away the most. Soon, this song allows us to understand that she is pleased with herself, alone in the middle of the dance floor and clutching a bottle of wine – intoxicated by the effects of a deserved prerogative. And, finally, “Teeth” turns to the more sexual and carnal side of each individual (being unfairly criticized for being more repetitive).
“The Fame Monster” immortalized Lady Gaga’s image as a trendsetter who isn’t afraid to explore the weirdest and weirdest things possible. Here she declares her love for her own fears in a journey out of time, bathed in narcotic sonic perfection. A celebration of life and death, of the duality of each and what makes us unique – which ultimately allowed him to dictate the rules of each of the spheres of entertainment.
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