Sunday, September 21, 2008

Far From 'GaGa' About "The Fame"

When desperately aspiring “artist” Lady GaGa first registered on the mainstream radar earlier this summer with her visually stimulating music video for “Just Dance,” she completely raised the bar for dance-infused pop. She immediately caught the eye of people such as celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton, who compared GaGa to an “old school Madonna.” She then went on to be recruited by record labels executives who were drooling over her status as the hot new “it” girl about to take the music scene by storm. They wanted her to write and produce tracks for such industry heavy hitters as The Pussycat Dolls and New Kids On The Block, as well as for Britney Spears’ heavily anticipated second attempt at a comeback album, “Circus,” set to be released on December 2nd. If only they had waited a little bit longer to hear the end result of GaGa’s debut album, “The Fame,” perhaps they would have reconsidered their decision to entrust her with the fate of some of their top selling artists.


Let’s get straight to the point: GaGa fails to deliver any of the hype stimulated by “Just Dance.” And she makes you, the listener, feel dumb for listening. As the track listing went from one song to the next, I literally felt my IQ dropping. This reaction is a product of the horrendous lyrics and the entirely way too over-produced album as a whole. I found it almost insulting that I, as a listener, was expected to listen to this and consider it to be real music. The truth is that this is no more than a vocally challenged girl’s voice that has been completely manipulated with a pitch modulator over synthesized beats.


Yet GaGa actually considers herself to be quite a talented musician and songwriter. On her official MySpace page, she writes: “Consider the artist: GaGa is the girl who at age 4 learned piano by ear. By age 13, she had written her first piano ballad. At 14, she played open mike nights at clubs such as New York’s the Bitter End by night and was teased for her quirky, eccentric style by her Convent of the Sacred Heart School classmates by day. At age 17, she became one of 20 kids in the world to get early admission to Tisch School of the Arts at NYU.” Newsflash: If poorly sung lyrics such as “boys, boys, boys, we like boys in cars, boys, boys, boys, buy us drinks in bars, boys, boys, boys, with hairspray and denim, boys, boys, boys, we love them!” could get me into a top-notch arts school like Tisch, then clearly I applied to the wrong program.


The album opens with “Just Dance,” the only song worth listening to on the entire record. Despite its degrading depiction of young women, the track is the only one that you will remember after hearing them all. The horrible lyrics essentially tell the story of an ignorant girl who had “a little bit too much” to drink and is just going to dance it off before she passes out, despite the fact that she can’t remember where she is, has lost her cell phone, keys, and dignity. Putting my feminist beliefs aside, this again is the only song that is worth keeping on your iPod because it will do precisely as the title promises: once you hear it, you will just dance.


Following right after is “Love Game,” the worst attempt at making techno cross over to mainstream pop that I’ve ever heard. It’s so off the charts ridiculous and tries so hard to be Cascada that it almost sounds like it’s mocking the genre. The song begins with the lyrics “Let’s have some fun, this beat is sick, I want to take a ride on your disco stick.” Do I really need to say more?


The tracks “Paparazzi,” “Eh Eh (Nothing I Can Say)” and “Poker Face” come soon after, again making my ears bleed (surprise, surprise!). With their electronically manipulated beats, they try everything possible to make the listener want to dance. You can think of these songs as Big Macs labeling themselves as health food. They can try all they want, but, alas, there’s no way they can pull this off. You can get rid of the extra piece of bread in the middle, but overall you’re still eating a Big Mac and it’s still going to clog your arteries. Similarly, you can add as many layers of digital instrumentation to the bass line of these songs, but you’re still not going to want to hit a dance floor when they come on, let alone listen to them again.


Thrown in the midst of this electronic pop mess of a record is “Again Again,” a track in which GaGa gives the illusion of stripping down the enhanced vocals and bares her soul. Unfortunately for her, there is nothing in this soul that’s worth listening to, even for a brief second. She channels her inner Fiona Apple wannabe (an artist she cites as a heavy personal influence) and “sings” over a poorly constructed melody. In comparison to the rest of the album, yes, the song is rawer and comes off completely acoustic when put next to a horribly digitally enhanced song such as “Summerboy.” Nice try, GaGa, but there’s a better chance that Heath Ledger will rise from the dead to attend a DVD release party for “The Dark Knight” than that you will ever sound like a real musician, especially someone as talented as Ms. Apple.


In case you missed my drift, let me repeat: Lady GaGa’s “The Fame” is one of the most over produced and atrocious albums of recent memory. Her lyrics are beyond pitiful and even with a vocal enhancer, she has as much a claim to singing ability as Sarah Palin does to having enough experience to be a heartbeat away from becoming the leader of the free world. Listen to this record just once and you will be scrambling your pockets hoping to find your FYE receipt so you can run back to the store and return it as fast as possible.


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1 comment:

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