Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Fame (2008)

After several years of working in a studio independently, Stefani Germanotta, having now adopted the stage name of Lady Gaga (after Queen's song, Radio Ga Ga), was signed to Interscope Records, partially through the help of R&B singer Akon, as well as Cherrytree Records (a company that specializes in getting newer artists more known). With a big-name record label at her side, she was able to produce her first studio album, The Fame, and rocket herself to the top of the charts.

Though this album released officially in mid-2008, several other countries got it before the U.S., who ended up getting a modified release at the end of that year. Still, there was minimal advertisement for the album, so most people, myself included, hadn't even heard of Lady Gaga until the beginning of 2009, when advertisement became more prevalent.

As the title might suggest, many of this album's songs center around just that- Fame. However, this is hardly a concept album. Themes are noticeably varied here. Many of the songs featured here were ones Gaga had written before she was famous, during her short run with her independent record company, Team Love Child. This album features "Just Dance", a powerful lead single that's simplistic, yet enjoyable for the fun party song that it is. Her now iconic hit, "Poker Face", was her first real chance to be herself and show the music world what she was about, as the music video showcases her unique, outlandish outfits that she's now rarely seen without.
The sexually-charged "LoveGame" quickly became notorious for its explicit themes, but was a high point of the album nonetheless. One of the most notable songs from Team Love Child was undoubtedly highlight of the album, "Paparazzi". It carries a sultry beat and tells the story of an obsessed stalker, with plenty of complex, strange lyrics. I consider it her best single to date.

If all that wasn't enough, the album even switches up the genre from time to time, straying from its electro-pop foundation to the bittersweet rock ballads, "Brown Eyes", a relatable song about a lost love(and my personal favorite song of hers) and "Again, Again", as well as the sunny pop-rock song, "Summerboy", and even a surprisingly sentimental and emotional rap song, "Paper Gangsta", revolving around her departure from another well-known record label, Island Def Jam. Hip-hop influence is also seen in "Starstruck", which is about as sexual as "LoveGame", and features rapper Flo-Rida.

The third single, "Eh, Eh(Nothing Else I Can Say)", provided a feel-good, positive tune that served as a nice break between the "bad girl" tones of the other singles. I initially disliked "Boys Boys Boys" and "Money Honey", but they grew on me over time. The title track, on the other hand, was something I enjoyed from the get-go. It's a very tongue-in-cheek song about the lifestyles of the famous. Lastly, two '70s-style dance songs, "Disco Heaven" and "Retro Dance Freak", serve as bonus tracks to end the album off rather well.

My final thoughts are a bit all over the place. It could be because this album released right around the time I had my "musical awakening"(and helped further it). It could be the fact that I quickly developed a crush on the singer after this CD's release. Whatever the case, The Fame still holds the spot as my favorite pop album of all time, and this is coming from a die-hard hip-hop head that rarely listens to pop.

This album served to solidify the career of one of the most refreshing faces in dance music in the past few years, and was a near-instant success. Each of this album's singles were undeniable earworms whether you liked them or not, and I see the album itself as a perfect balance between catchy, club-and-radio-friendly hits and deep, emotional songs that get you thinking. If you're put off by the poppy beats of the five singles, I'd perhaps suggest giving the rest of the album a spin.

Favorite track: Brown Eyes
Least favorite track: Money Honey
Overall rating: 10/10

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