The Fame Monster is the third extended play (EP) and second major release by American recording artist Lady Gaga. Released on November 18, 2009, the album's eight songs were initially intended to be part of a re-release of Gaga's debut album The Fame. However, Gaga announced that the new songs would be available as a standalone album, as she thought the re-release was too expensive and that, as the piece represents a separate conceptual and musical body of work, it does not need the songs of The Fame to support it. A Super Deluxe Fame Monster pack containing the two releases as well as additional merchandise, including a lock of her wig, was released on December 15, 2009.
The album deals with the darker side of fame, as experienced by Gaga over the course of 2008–09, while travelling around the world. They are expressed through a monster metaphor. Gaga compared the feel of her debut album and The Fame Monster with the Yin and yang concept. Cover artwork was done by Hedi Slimane and has a gothic look which Gaga had to convince her record company to allow her to shoot. The composition takes its inspiration from Gothic music and fashion shows. Contemporary critics gave the album positive reviews, with the majority of them complimenting the songs "Bad Romance", "Telephone" and "Dance in the Dark".
In some countries, the album charted together with The Fame. In other countries – such as the United States, Canada and Japan – it charted as a separate album. The Fame Monster has reached the top of the charts in Australia, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Poland and the United Kingdom, while reaching the top ten in other major markets. "Bad Romance" was released as the album's first single, topping the Canadian, United Kingdom and Irish charts, while reaching number two in Australia, United States and Sweden. Further singles released were "Telephone" and "Alejandro" with both of them reaching the top ten in the United States and the United Kingdom. Gaga embarked on The Monster Ball Tour to promote the album. The tour started on November 27, 2009 and will continue through May 2011. On February 13, 2011, the album and its songs received three Grammy Awards; the set as a whole was nominated for Album of the Year and won for Best Pop Vocal Album.
Background and development
During the collaborative launch of her similarly titled headphones with Dr. Dre, Gaga commented that she planned to release a new album and said: "I think re-releases are unfair, it’s artists sneaking singles onto an already finished piece of work in an effort to keep the album afloat. Originally only wanted me to put out three songs and now it’s much more than that. It’s a new album’s worth of material." Regarding the title The Fame Monster, Gaga said that it was a coincidence that the name was similar to the headphones she launched called "Heartbeats." She had already written a song titled "Monster" in March, before she met with Dr. Dre and the Noel Lee, the CEO of Monster Cable Products, to discuss the collaboration. Gaga further explained that she was obsessed with monster movies and "the decay of the celebrity and the way that fame is a monster in society! That’s what my new record is about, so it was kind of a perfect fit." Gaga later revealed that the re-release will contain eight new songs, along with her whole original debut album. The Fame Monster deals with the seamier side of fame, as experienced by Gaga over the course of the year 2008–2009. She explains:
"On my re-release The Fame Monster, I wrote about everything I didn't write on The Fame. While traveling the world for two years, I've encountered several monsters, each represented by a different song on the new record: my 'Fear of Sex Monster,' my 'Fear of Alcohol Monster,' my 'Fear of Love Monster,' my 'Fear of Death Monster,' my 'Fear of Loneliness Monster,' etc."
"I spent a lot of nights in Eastern Europe, and this album is a pop experimentation with industrial/Goth beats, 90's dance melodies, an obsession with the lyrical genius of 80's melancholic pop, and the runway. I wrote while watching muted fashion shows and I am compelled to say my music was scored for them."
She also commented that the new songs do not deal with money or fame, rather it is about everything in-between and it was for her fans. Gaga compared the mood of The Fame and The Fame Monster as opposites, and called them Yin and yang respectively. According to her, she felt a dichotomy within herself while developing the album. With MTV she explained that, "I am ready for the future, but I mourn the past, And it's a very real rite of passage—you have to let go of things. You have to mourn them like a death so that you can move on, and that's sort of what the album is about." In North America, The Fame Monster was released as an eight-track album on November 23, 2009. Gaga's website also confirmed a Deluxe Edition featuring the entirety of her first album, The Fame, as a bonus disc. Solely a deluxe edition had been previously planned, however, Gaga cited cost being an issue in deciding on the additional single disc release.
The Independent felt that the first song from the album, "Bad Romance", set the tone for the album, whose dominant atmosphere and aesthetic, from the monochrome cover shot and the crucifix logo onwards, is gothic. The refrain of "Bad Romance" has similarities to Boney M and the music recalls Depeche Mode's fifth studio album Black Celebration (1986). The lyrics contain zombie metaphors in songs like "Monster" ("He ate my heart..."), the Cossack like music in "Teeth" ("Take a bite of my bad-girl meat...") and "Dance in the Dark" ("Silicone, saline, poison, inject me..."). The latter's lyrics also refer to famous people who met a tragic end: Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Sylvia Plath, Princess Diana, Liberace and JonBenét Ramsey. "Monster" consists of stuttering synths and instrumentation from heavy drums. Among other songs is the ballad "Speechless" which is a 1970s rock-inspired number that touches upon abusive relationships in lyrics upon "I can't believe how you slurred at me with your half-wired broken jaw". It consists of vocal harmonies and guitar riffs, which according to PopMatters, is comparable to the work of Freddie Mercury and Queen. Produced by Ron Fair, the song was recorded with all live instruments such as drums, guitars and bass. Gaga plays piano.
The album's fifth track, "Dance in the Dark", depicts a girl being uncomfortable when having sex. Speaking about the song, Gaga said, "She doesn’t want her man to see her naked. She will be free, and she will let her inner animal out, but only when the lights are out." In "So Happy I Could Die", Gaga presents an ode to sexual feeling and actions, stating, "I love that lavender blonde/ The way she moves the way she walks/ I touch myself, can't get enough." Essentially a love song, the object of affection in "So Happy" becomes Gaga herself as she talks about drinking, dancing, observing, and touching herself. Gaga's voice appears sedated in the song. The song also uses auto-tune in its music. "Alejandro" incorporates elements of the music of ABBA and Ace of Base with the lyrics talking about Gaga fending off a harem of Latino men. "Telephone" talks about the singer preferring the dance floor rather than answering her lover's call. The verses are sung in a rapid-fire way, accompanied by double beats. Gaga explained that the song deals with her fear of suffocation, "fear never being able to enjoy myself. 'Cause I love my work so much, I find it really hard to go out and have a good time." The phone on the song is not just a physical phone, but also the voice of a person in her head telling her to keep working harder and harder. The last song, "Teeth", contains gospel music and the lyrics are written in S&M style, telling that the closest she will get to another human being involves being tied up and bitten.
Release and artwork
So Happy I Could Die.jpgthumbGaga performing "So Happy I Could Die" on The Monster Ball Tour
Originally the album was intended to be a two-disc re-release of The Fame, but Gaga told MTV on November 12, 2009 that the album is to be a standalone piece. Gaga has also announced the release of The Fame Monster Deluxe Edition, and the Super Deluxe Fame Monster Pack, the latter of which was released on December 15, 2009. The pack will provide an assortment of products from Gaga's production collaborative, Haus of Gaga, and even included a lock of hair of the singer. Gaga explained this decision by saying,
"In the midst of my creative journey composing The Fame Monster, there came an exciting revelation that this was in fact my sophomore album, I would not add, nor take away any songs from this EP. It is a complete conceptual and musical body of work that can stand on its own two feet. It doesn't need The Fame. For those who do not have my debut album, there are a series of collectible double-disc editions that include both albums and artwork conceived by the Haus of Gaga in collaboration with our mentor, Hedi Slimane," she said. "Hear the music, see the show, live and love yourself."
On May 3, 2010, The Fame Monster Limited Edition USB Drive was released. It included the explicit version of The Fame Monster album, as well as nine remixes, eight music videos, a digital booklet, single covers, and a photo gallery.
Two cover arts for the re-release were shot by designer and photographer Hedi Slimane. One shows Gaga in a blond wig and wearing a black jacket while the other shows her with thick brown hair and heavy eyeliner running down her face. Regarding the cover art, Gaga said that when she sat down to create the concept for the album, she wanted to make sure the look was darker and edgier than anything she had done before. However, her record label found the brunette cover to be too confusing and gothic while believing it to be less pop. Gaga responded saying,
"You don't know what pop is, because everyone was telling me I wasn't pop last year, and now look—so don't tell me what pop is, I know what pop is. It's funny, because I fought and fought and fought, and I actually ended up having two covers, because I wanted to do this yin and yang presentation with the covers. I don't want to do a really glamorous photo of me rubbing myself like every other blond girl. I want my fans to see this image and say, 'I feel just like she feels.'"
The Fame Monster was well-received by most music critics upon its release. Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine felt that the album was not a huge leap forward for Gaga, but provided "small, if fleeting, glimpses behind the pretense." He remarked that "here's something instructive about the way Gaga rejects any and all intimacy with others." Songs like "Bad Romance" and "Dance in the Dark" were called the highlights of the album. Simon Price of The Independent praised the album calling it "a whole new piece of art in its own right." Kitty Empire from The Observer said that the album is "a lot more splendidly deranged." Although Empire dismissed the ballad "Speechless", commenting that ballads "remain her weak point," compared to her upbeat work, and she went on to praise "Bad Romance" while writing that " make an even more persuasive case for this driven, uncharismatic Italian-American being the new Madonna." Paul Lester from BBC complimented the eight songs from the album and commented that " hardly original, and nor is it exactly a triumph of DIY feminist invention But she’s bringing eccentric couture to the masses and is certainly fun to have around." Sarah Hajibagheri from The Times commented that the album "lack the beat and bite that made us all go Gaga for the eccentric New Yorker." Josh Modell of Spin commented that "When Gaga reaches for sincere balladry she sounds lost". Evan Sawdey from PopMatters felt that the album shows "she’s not complacent with doing the same thing over again. She’s willing to try new things, branching out at a time when it feels like every lone pop diva is more than willing to compromise their artistic growth just for the sake of having a radio hit. Gaga is allowed to make a few mistakes on her way towards pop nirvana—and judging what she’s aiming for with The Fame Monster, there’s a good chance she’s going to get there sooner than later."
Bill Lamb from About.com gave the album five out of five stars and said "The Fame Monster is the most compelling pop concept piece in recent memory. There are clear signs of influence from some of the top pop women of the past including Madonna, Annie Lennox and Debbie Harry, but Lady Gaga makes it emphatically her own. If this is the direction of contemporary pop, we are in good hands indeed." Mikael Woods from Los Angeles Times felt that The Fame Monster continued to demonstrate Gaga's creative ambition and stylistic range. Jon Dolan from Rolling Stone felt that "Half the disc is Madonna knock-offs, but that's part of the concept—fame monsters needn't concern themselves with originality." Edna Gundersen from USA Today believed that on The Fame Monster, "Gaga's icy aloofness and seeming aversion to a genuine human connection leave a disturbing void. With an avant-garde intellect, pop-electro eccentricities and freaky theatrics competing for attention, there's no room for heart." Michael Hubbard from MusicOMH complimented the eight songs on the album. Neil McCormick from The Daily Telegraph commented that the album has an "an irrepressible quality that is given full rein. Although not as thematically integrated as the original Fame, Gaga’s vivacious energy, bold melodies and almost comically relentless sensationalism keeps things interesting." In his consumer guide for MSN Music, critic Robert Christgau commended Lady Gaga for her songwriting and gave the album an A- rating, Archived from on 2010-03-26. indicating it as "the kind of garden-variety good record that is the great luxury of musical micromarketing and overproduction". Metacritic scored the album as having an average score of 77 out of 100, indicating "generally favorable reviews" from critics.
In 2010, Gaga won the "Outstanding Music Artist" award for The Fame Monster, during the 21st GLAAD Media Awards. The album and its songs were nominated for six awards at the 53rd Grammy Awards. The EP in its entirety was nominated for Album of the Year and won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album. "Bad Romance" won for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Best Short Form Music Video; her single "Telephone" was nominated for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals, and "Dance in the Dark" earned a nomination for Best Dance Recording.
The Monster Ball - Monster revamped2.jpgthumbGaga performing "Monster" on The Monster Ball Tour.
In the United States, the individual disc of The Fame Monster charted at number five with sales of 174,000 while the double disc deluxe edition including the original The Fame charted at number six with sales of 151,000. The album also topped the Top Digital Albums chart with sales of 65,000. Seven of the eight songs from the album also charted on the Hot Digital Songs chart. The album also topped the Dance/Electronic Albums chart, replacing the original version of The Fame. In January 2010, the album was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipment of a million copies of the album. The Fame Monster has sold over 1.349 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen Soundscan. In Canada, the album debuted and peaked at six on the Canadian Albums Chart.
In Australia, The Fame Monster initially charted with its predecessor, but was later considered as a stand-alone album. In its eighteenth week of release on the Australian chart, it climbed to number one, and was certified two times platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) for shipment of 140,000 copies of the album. The combined album also charted in Denmark, Ireland and Germany, where it reached the top in the last two territories. The album charted at number two on the Japanese Oricon albums chart.
In the United Kingdom, The Fame Monster was released as a deluxe edition only with The Fame, and not as a stand-alone album, hence it charted under The Fame. On January 3, 2010, the album climbed to number two in the album chart. All of the new tracks from The Fame Monster charted within the top 110 singles there, with the most popular un-released track, "Telephone", charting inside the top-forty at number thirty. In the week ending February 28, 2010, Gaga reached the top of the UK Albums Chart for a fifth week with The Fame Monster, coupled with The Fame. On March 21, 2010, the album went back up the UK chart to again take the number one spot beating the likes of the Glee Cast who were expected to reach the summit. The album has reached thirteen on the European Top 100 Albums chart. It was certified three times platinum by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) for shipment of a three million copies across Europe.
"Bad Romance" was confirmed as the first single from the album. A brief portion of the song was performed on Saturday Night Live on October 3, 2009, along with other songs like "Poker Face" and "LoveGame" "Bad Romance" premiered during the show finale of fashion designer Alexander McQueen's Spring/Summer 2010 Paris Fashion Week show on October 6, 2009. It was released for digital download on October 27, 2009. The song topped the Canadian Hot 100, UK Singles Chart, European Hot 100, German Singles Chart and the Austrian, Bulgarian, Danish, Finnish, French, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Norwegian, Romanian, Slovak, Spanish, and Swedish charts as well as reaching a peak of two in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, and Switzerland. On February 13, 2011, the single received the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance; the accompanying video received a Grammy for Best Short Form Music Video.http
"Telephone" was released as the album's second single. The song features American R&B singer Beyoncé Knowles. Gaga first performed the song live at the 2010 BRIT Awards along with another song from The Fame Monster, "Dance in the Dark", as a tribute to Alexander McQueen. The music video for "Telephone" premiered on E! News on March 11, 2010. Gaga stated that the video is a continuation of the "Paparazzi" music video, and it is in a similar short-film style. "Telephone" has been appreciated by critics as being a standout track from The Fame Monster, and charted in numerous countries prior to its release as a single. On March 22, 2010 it reached number one on the UK Singles Chart, becoming her second consecutive UK chart topper and fourth in total. It peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100, making it her sixth straight single to reach the top ten. It also reached number one on the Pop Songs chart, thus becoming Gaga's sixth consecutive number-one on the chart, tying with Beyoncé and Mariah Carey for most number-ones since the Nielsen BDS-based radio airplay chart launched in 1992. The single received a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.
"Alejandro" was released as the album's third single. Originally "Dance in the Dark" was planned to follow the previous single, "Telephone," as a preference of Gaga's record label. Gaga had chosen this song to be the third single on her own without consulting the label. An argument then arose between Gaga and her label where "Alejandro" was ultimately chosen to be released. Through her account on Twitter, the singer remarked on the decision, "Alejandro is on the radio. Fuck it sounds so good, we did it little monsters." The single was officially sent to radio on April 20, 2010 in the United States. "Alejandro" reached the top five on the Australian and Canadian charts, as well as in the top ten of the charts of other nations. In the United States, it reached number five, becoming her seventh consecutive single to reach the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100.
Monster-ball-speechless1.jpgleftthumbGaga performing "Speechless" on The Monster Ball Tour.
Promotion for The Fame Monster began through a performance on Saturday Night Live, which contained segments of a piano version of "Bad Romance". Gaga has also appeared on various talk shows, such as It's On with Alexa Chung and Germany's Wetten, dass..?. On November 16, 2009, Gaga performed the song "Speechless" at Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art's 30th Anniversary celebrations. She collaborated with artist Francesco Vezzolli and members of Russia's Bolshoi Ballet Academy. On November 16, 2009, Gaga appeared on an episode of the CW's Gossip Girl in an episode titled "The Last Days of Disco Stick". She performed the lead single from The Fame Monster, "Bad Romance". Other songs that were referenced and played throughout the episode were "Alejandro", "Dance in the Dark", and "Telephone". The song was also performed at the 2009 American Music Awards, The Jay Leno Show and The Ellen DeGeneres Show. On January 15, 2010, Gaga appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and performed a medley of "Monster", "Bad Romance", and "Speechless". At the 52nd Grammy Awards, Gaga opened the show by performing a medley of "Poker Face", "Speechless", and "Your Song" with Elton John. On February 16, 2010, she performed at the 2010 BRIT Awards in memory of Alexander McQueen, she performed a ballad version of "Telephone" and then performed the song "Dance in the Dark". In March 2010, "Bad Romance" and "Monster" were added as downloadable content for the Rock Band video game series, along with "Just Dance" and "Poker Face" from The Fame.
Previously, Gaga had announced that she was going to tour with Kanye West. The tour was titled Fame Kills Starring: Lady Gaga and Kanye West. However, after the incident at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards with Taylor Swift, West announced that he was taking a break from music. Following the announcement, all of the tour dates were immediately cancelled. Later, Gaga confirmed that she was going to tour by herself for The Fame Monster. The show, called The Monster Ball Tour, had dates starting from November 2009 and finishing in early May 2011. The tour featured opening acts like Kid Cudi and Jason Derülo. Described by Gaga as "the first-ever pop electro opera", The Monster Ball began four days after the release of The Fame Monster.
Gaga and her production team developed a stage that looks like a frame with forced perspectives and everything for the show fitted within it. She felt that the design would allow her creative control. Since the album dealt with the paranoias faced by Gaga over the year, the main theme of the show became evolution, with Gaga portraying growth as the show progressed. She compared the setting of the stage with that of a hollowed-out television set. Elements of the cancelled tour with Kanye West were incorporated in some parts. The set list of the tour consisted of songs from The Fame Monster as well as her debut album The Fame. For the 2010 shows, Gaga felt that a revamp of the show was needed as the original tour was constructed in a very short span of time. The revamped shows has a New York theme, and portrays a story where Gaga and her friends are in New York and get lost while going to the Monster Ball. The show was divided into five segments with the last one being the encore. Each segment featured Gaga in a new dress and was followed by a video interlude, portraying Gaga in Gothic and artsy poses, to the next one. The 2009 concerts began with Gaga appearing from behind an electric maze of lights. It continued with acoustic piano playing, dancing in costumes made of guns, Egyptian style head gears and fairy-tale Rapunzel style hair. The revamped shows consisted of more theatrics, and stage props that consisted of the pyrotechnics bra, a car turning into a keyboard, an enormous angler fish-cum-octopus, and Gaga herself in a number of costumes. Contemporary critics praised the show, commending Gaga's singing abilities and sense of style and fashion. They were also impressed by the pompousness and the theatricality of the show, comparing it to the tours of artists like Madonna.
Credits for The Fame Monster adapted from liner notes.
*Lady Gaga – piano, arranger, composer, programming, vocals, vocals (background), producer, vocal arrangement, instrumentation
*RedOne – composer, programming, vocals (background), producer, engineer, vocal arrangement, instrumentation, vocal editing
*Space Cowboy – composer, programming, vocals (background), producer, engineer, instrumentation
*Gretchen Anderson – producer
*Eelco Bakker – engineer
*Beyoncé – composer
*Bobby Campbell – creative art
*Joe Cory – assistant engineer
*Mike Daly – assistant
*LaShawn Daniels – composer
*Christian Delano – engineer, tracking
*Mike "Handz" Donaldson – special effects, vocal engineer
*Stacy Dulan – vocals (background)
*Ron Fair – arranger, conductor, producer
*Paul Foley – engineer
*Nicola Formichetti – stylist
*Lazonate Franklin – composer
*Fernando Garibay – arranger, composer, programming, producer, instrumentation
*Lisa Einhorn Gilder – production coordination
*John Goux – guitar
*Matty Green – assistant
*Vincent Herbert – executive producer, A&R
*Tal Herzberg – bass, producer, engineer
*Eric Jackson – guitar
*Rodney Jerkins – composer, producer, mixing, musician
*Dyana Kass – creative art, marketing
*Ryan Kennedy – assistant engineer
*Martin Kierszenbaum – A&R
*Abe Laboriel, Jr. – drums
*Takayuki Matsushima – assistant
*Hisashi Mizoguchi – vocal engineer
*Musicians Regiment Horns – horn
*Tal Oz – assistant engineer
*Jennifer Paola – A&R
*Dan Parry – engineer, tracking
*Julian Peploe – art direction
*Jack Joseph Puig – mixing
*Taja Riley – composer
*Teddy Riley – producer, mixing
*Andrea Ruffalo – production coordination
*Dave Russell – engineer, mixing, tracking
*Peter Savic – hair stylist
*Johnny Severin – engineer, vocal editing
*Hedi Slimane – photography
*Mark "Spike" Stent – mixing
*Teyonie – vocals (background)
*Jonas Wetling – engineer, tracking
*Frank Wolff – engineer
*Ianthe Zevos – creative art
Charts, certifications, and succession
* A In certain territories, The Fame Monster charted in conjunction with The Fame under the same title, sales are also combined.
Chart precession and succession
ReferencesThis text has been derived from The Fame Monster on Wikipedia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License 3.0