The Fame Monster (stylized as The Fame Mons†er) is the sophomore album but first EP of 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 stand alone 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 did not need the songs of The Fame to support it. The album received overall positive reviews, although many noted that it was not a significant step forward for Gaga. The album was first announced on June 14 of 2009 at Singtel AMPed launch in Singapore. The album has sold 1,285,000 copies in the United States. The Fame Monster re-release was the best-selling album of 2010, with 5.8 million albums sold worldwide.
Writing and Development
- “I have an obsession with death and sex.” Gaga says. “Those two things are also the nexus of horror films, which I’ve been obsessing over lately. I’ve been watching horror movies and 1950s science fiction movies. My re-release is called The Fame Monster so I’ve just been sort of bulimically eating and regurgitating monster movies and all things scary. I’ve just been noticing a resurgence of this idea of monster, of fantasy, but in a very real way.” Gaga adds to the Daily Star. “If you notice in those films, there’s always a juxtaposition of sex with death. That’s what makes it so scary. Body and mind are primed for orgasm and instead somebody gets killed. That’s the sort of sick, twisted psychological circumstance.”
Regarding the title The Fame Monster and the similarly named brand of headphones for which she had launched, Gaga said that it was a coincidence that the name was similar. She had already written a song titled "Monster" in March, before she met with Dr. Dre and the Noel Lee, the head of BSM Records, to discuss the collaboration. Gaga further explained that she was obsessed with monster movies then and "I’m kind of obsessing over 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." The first single from the re-issue was titled "Bad Romance". Gaga later revealed that the re-release would contain eight new songs, along with her whole original debut album. The Fame Monster deals with the seamier, darker side of fame, as experienced by Gaga over the course of the year 2008–2009, especially as she traveled the world for her first tour, The Fame Ball. She explained:
- "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."
Gaga compared the mood of The Fame to The Fame Monster as opposites and called them Yin & 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."
Lady Gaga mentioned at multiple occasions that "[She] would not add, nor take away any songs from [the] EP."
A rumored track listing was created by an online website, leading confusion because some online stores began using the false titles (see this page). When Gaga performed on Saturday Night Live, she sung an improvised ode to New York on the beat of her acoustic rendition of "Poker Face", but it was not a recorded song to be included in the album. During this performance, Gaga also debuted the acoustic version of "Bad Romance".
Evaluation by Digital Spy:
This is already the year of Lady Gaga – and she's not ready to pack up her disco stick yet. Originally conceived as a bonus disc to accompany a reissue of The Fame, her twelve million-selling debut album, The Fame Monster is now being released as a record in its own right. "In the midst of my creative journey composing The Fame Monster, there came an exciting revelation that this was in fact my sophomore album," the lady herself explains. "It's a complete conceptual and musical body of work that can stand on its own two feet."
She may have couched her decision in typically preposterous and pretentious terms, but there's no quibbling with Gaga's logic here. The Fame Monster does work as a standalone album and, what's more, it's a far more enjoyable listen than The Fame ever was. At just eight tracks and 35 minutes, there's no fat, no chance for Gaga's schtick to grate and, crucially, just the one ballad.
Half of the songs are RedOne productions, and the other half are split evenly between Teddy Riley, Ron Fair, Fernando Garibay and Rodney Jerkins. The lead single "Bad Romance" nearly equals "Poker Face" for wow factor, "Alejandro" channels Ace of Base and "La Isla Bonita" to deliriously catchy effect, and "Dance in the Dark" is the sort of song that, well, makes you want to dance with your top off in a grotty German bondage basement. "Teeth", meanwhile, is the most sonically intriguing thing Gaga's put her name to, an ode to rough sex conducted over an intense, tribal production that recalls Cher's "Half Breed" and Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk". Oh, and the ballad? It's called "Speechless" and it's her best one yet.
Of course, The Fame had already told us that Gaga can find her way to a tune with a gimp mask on. What The Fame Monster proves – as if the last twelve months hadn't already made it abundantly clear – is what an exhilarating popstar she is. She can be titillating, "touching herself" at the sight of a "lavender blonde" in "So Happy I Could Die", tremendous fun – her Beyoncé collaboration, "Telephone", could make Ann Widdecombe fancy a night on the tiles – and utterly startling, interrupting the '80s club rush of "Dance in the Dark" to name-check a list of dead female icons: Marilyn (Monroe), Judy (Garland), Sylvia (Plath), (Princess) Diana, and JonBenet; yes, that is JonBenet Ramsey, in case you were wondering.
Best of all, there's a certain fearlessness to Gaga here – specifically, an I-don't-give-a-shit-if-look-ridiculous sort of fearlessness. Her vocal performances, as anyone who's heard "Bad Romance" will know, can err towards the deranged. When she tries to sound Spanish on the "Alejandro" spoken word intro, the result is more Dolmio ad than Almodovar. Oh, and barely a year since she scored her first hit, she's already self-referencing ("I wanna Just Dance / But he took me home instead"). Getting to the bottom of the Gaga phenomenon is going to take a hell of a lot longer than twelve months, but she offers a temporary fix here with her latest catchy motto: "I'm a free bitch baby." We wouldn't have her any other way.
Upon the release of the album, many fans were outraged to find that "Bad Romance", "Monster", "Dance In The Dark" and "Teeth" were censored, even on versions with parental advisory notices. The official Cherrytree Records Twitter stated that uncensored versions of the songs would be available as soon as possible. The explicit versions of the songs were initially released only on iTunes, the USB edition, or singular disc edition.
Gaga has also appeared on various talk shows, such as, It's On with Alexa Chung and Germany's Wetten, dass..? (on which she had shown a segment of her then-upcoming music video to "Bad Romance"). On November 16, 2009, Gaga performed the song "Speechless" at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art's 30th Anniversary celebration. She collaborated with artist Francesco Vezzolli and members of Russia's Bolshoi Ballet Academy.
Previously, Gaga 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 upcoming project. The show, called The Monster Ball Tour, began late November 2009 and was set to finish early April 2010, however, Gaga has continuously been adding additional show dates. The tour has since ended in May 2011.
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".
On November 22, 2009, Gaga made an appearance at the American Music Awards . She performed "Bad Romance" with the dance routine seen in the music video. She then took the mic stand and swung it into a glass cage containing a grand piano. Gaga proceeded to perform "Speechless" on the grand piano, which had flames bursting from it, while smashing glass bottles on the piano as she sang. She later announced The Monster Ball Tour, which supports the album. It started November 27, 2009 and will continue through 2011, which by then, should see release of her third studio album, Born This Way.
The cover artwork for the album was done by Hedi Slimane and has a gothic look which Gaga had to convince her record company to allow her to shoot. During an interview with Rolling Stone, Gaga talked about the album cover:
- My record label didn't want to put out that photo that's my album cover, with the brown hair. They were like, "It's confusing, it's too dark, you look gothic, it's not pop," and I said, "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. When I go to see what my fans are saying, I go onto GagaDaily — they see the cover and say, "I don't really like the blonde one, but the brown one is fucking sick. They love it, and I know what they love, so I make it for them, I don't care what anybody else wants.
Originally the blonde cover of The Fame Monster was to be the standard version and the brunette cover was to be the deluxe edition, however, it was reversed, and the blonde cover is now the deluxe edition, while the brunette cover is the standard stand-alone version.
|Disc 1 — The Fame Monster|
|1.||"Bad Romance" (Produced by RedOne)||4:55|
|2.||"Alejandro" (Produced by RedOne)||4:37|
|3.||"Monster" (Produced by RedOne)||4:09|
|4.||"Speechless" (Produced by Ron Fair)||4:30|
|5.||"Dance in the Dark" (Produced by Fernando Garibay)||4:48|
|6.||"Telephone (feat. Beyoncé)" (Produced by Rodney Jerkins)||3:40|
|7.||"So Happy I Could Die" (Produced by RedOne)||3:55|
|8.||"Teeth" (Produced by Teddy Riley)||3:40|
|9.||"Bad Romance (Starsmith Remix)" (Produced by RedOne) (North-American Bonus Track)||3:40|
|Disc 2 — The Fame|
|1.||"Just Dance" (featuring Colby O'Donis)||4:01|
|5.||"I Like It Rough"||3:22|
|6.||"Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)"||2:55|
|7.||"Starstruck" (featuring Flo Rida and Space Cowboy)||3:37|
|8.||"Beautiful, Dirty, Rich"||2:52|
|11.||"Boys Boys Boys"||3:20|
|16.||"Again Again" (UK bonus track)||3:05|
|17.||"Retro, Dance, Freak" (Japanese and Brazilian bonus track)||3:22|
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, which was released on December 15, 2009. Gaga's website had 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. A Super Deluxe Fame Monster pack containing the two releases was released on December 15, 2009, along with the Book of Gaga. The pack provided an assortment of products from Gaga's production collaborative Haus of Gaga and even included a lock of her hair (albeit from one of her wigs). 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."
During the collaborative launch of her similarly titled headphones with Dr. Dre, Gaga commented about the re-release:
- "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 [my label] 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."
In the booklet for The Fame Monster, after all the lyrics and credits, there is a special message dedicated to her father,
- "Thank you to my Dad, for always protecting me from monsters."
The Super Deluxe Fame Monster Pack
The Super Deluxe Fame Monster Pack contains the Book of Gaga and was limited to 10,000 copies. The book includes The Fame and The Fame Monster, on two all black CDs, a lock of Lady Gaga's hair (from the Candy Warhol wig), two collectible puzzles (from the Markus Klinko and Indran photoshoots), a paper doll collection, 3D glasses, pull out posters (from the David LaChapelle photoshoot) inserted between the pages. Inside, there are themed fanzines (art collected from fans around the world), personal notes from Gaga (with the Manifesto of Little Monsters as an introduction), pictorials and a behind the scenes look at her creative process.
The store on Lady Gaga's official website sold an exclusive bundle including The Fame Monster (Single/Double disc) with a Bad Romance T-shirt.
Ultimate Fan Pac
A re-issue of The Fame Monster, titled "The Fame Monster Ultimate Fan Pac" was released on August 24, 2010. Unlike the Super Deluxe Fame Monster Pack, there is no set amount of copies, nor is it censored. Items in this box include an exclusive Just Dance T-shirt, The Fame Monster (Standard edition) (The 2 covers are mixed), and a "Lady Gaga keychain". The cover art used for the cover of the box is the same as that used for the "Dance in the Dark" digital download, with the exceptions that the title was replaced with "The Fame Monster" (written in gold).
There will be two versions of this box-set issued, the T-shirt size exchange comes in either size M or L. The other items listed will be included in both versions of the release.
Booklet and credits
- For the credits and the rest of the shoot, see Hedi Slimane. For lyrics, publishing rights, personnel, and more, see each individual song page.
The gallery below is a digital copy of the booklet.
- Executive Producer — Vincent Herbert
- A&R — Vincent Herbert, Martin Kierszenbaum
- Management — Troy Carter
- Mastered — Oasis Mastering (Burbank, CA) by Gene Grimaldi
- Production coordinators — Lisa Einhorn-Gilder, Andrea Ruffalo
- A&R administration — Jennifer Paola
- Marketing — Dyana Kass
- Creative — Matthew Michael Williams
- Art direction — Julian Peploe Studio
- Interscope creative — Ianthe Zevos, Dyana Kass, Bobby Campbell
- Production — Gretchen Anderson
- Business affairs — Erika Savage
Thank you to my dad, for always protecting me from monsters.
- Press conference in Singapore - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXtSJM588So
- Interscope Records, Press release -
- Track list - http://www.universal-music.co.jp/u-pop/artist/lady_gaga/uics9113.html
- Digital Spy Critical Reception - http://www.digitalspy.com/music/albumreviews/a187843/lady-gaga-the-fame-monster.html