Lady Gaga: The Fame Monster

RIYL: La Roux, Madonna, Christina Aguilera

‘Tis the season for unbelievably crass record company cash-ins, and Interscope is solidly in the spirit, shoving this eight-song batch of leftovers from Lady Gaga’s The Fame just in time to be stuffed into the stockings of dance-obsessed music lovers everywhere. Given its bottom line-oriented origins, and the disposable nature of this style of pop music in general, there’s no conceivable reason for The Fame Monster to work any better than your average strike-while-the-iron-is-hot compilation, but as Gomer Pyle would say: Surprise, surprise! If these are Lady Gaga’s table scraps, it’s a little frightening to imagine what she might have on tap for her next full-length affair. The Fame Monster comes on strong with “Bad Romance,” with a towering wall of synths and soulful vocals that suggest what might have happened if Jim Steinman and Bonnie Tyler had been born 30 years later; from there, Gaga touches on ABBA-esque pop (“Alejandro”) and torch balladry (“Speechless”), has a diva summit with Beyonce (“Telephone”), and throws a wicked S&M dance party (“Teeth”). At a dizzying 35 minutes, Monster concludes just when it feels like it’s really getting warmed up, but there’s nothing wrong with leaving ‘em wanting more, right? The closest thing to an eight-sided single you’re going to hear all year, The Fame Monster proves art and commerce really can get along sometimes. (Interscope 2009)

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