At first glance, Lady Gaga’s most recent release, The Fame Monster, looks like a typical moneymaking B-sides release attached at the hip to her debut hit-machine, The Fame. But don’t be fooled. In The Fame Monster, Gaga takes her eccentricities and musical sophistication and builds bridges between different subgenres of pop to create something new and far more refreshing than anything else on the radio waves.

By now we’ve all heard “Bad Romance” and the popnormous duet with Beyoncé, “Telephone.” While the singles are undoubtedly brilliant in their own right, the rest of the album is full of these kinds of tracks — fame monsters that ignore the formulaic writing of what we all too often accept as inevitable in pop music.

With heart-thumping bass lines and minimalist industrial synth hooks under Gaga’s brilliantly melodic vocal lines, The Fame Monster creates a musical space that is equally at home on the runways of New York, in the seedy night clubs of Eastern Europe and or at an Ibiza rave. Throw in “Speechless,” a power ballad that would make Whitesnake proud, and the seductive S&M-infused, “Teeth” and The Fame Monster becomes a testament to the fact that even pop albums can be looked at holistically, that experimentation can be mainstream and that divas can still write their own songs.

It’s cool to hate pop music. The underground and indie music world is just so much more exclusive, experimental and diverse. With Gaga’s release, however, things may be changing.

If this is the new face and voice of pop, then it’s about time we started taking the Top 40 a little more seriously. “Gaga, ooh-la-la,” indeed.

5 effin’ stars!

Sounds like: The future of pop.

Sounds best when: Dancing like (or when) nobody’s watching.

99-cent budget choice: “Dance in the Dark”


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