The Fame Monster is a re-issue of Lady Gaga's debut studio album, "The Fame" that was released on November 18, 2009 by Interscope Records.
Initially planned solely as a deluxe edition reissue of Gaga's debut album, Interscope Records later decided to release the eight new songs as a standalone EP in some territories.
The decision was also because Gaga believed that the re-release was too expensive and that the albums were conceptually different, describing them as yin and yang.
The deluxe edition of the album is a double album featuring the eight new songs on the first disc and "The Fame" on the second disc.
Disc One (deluxe edition)
- Bad Romance
- Dance in the Dark
- Telephone (featuring Beyonce)
- So Happy I Could Die
Disc Two (deluxe edition)
- Just Dance (featuring Colby O'Donis)
- Poker Face
- Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)
- Beautiful, Dirty, Rich
- The Fame
- Money Honey
- Starstruck (featuring Space Cowboy & Flo Rida)
- Boys Boys Boys
- Paper Gangsta
- Brown Eyes
- I Like It Rough
In 2008, Lady Gaga released her debut studio album, "The Fame." Consisting of electropop and synthpop songs, the album offered a commentary on fame, duality between celebrity and fan base, as well as wealthy person's life.
After the worldwide success of "The Fame", the idea of a re-release arose. However, Gaga felt that re-releases were a disservice to music artists because "it's artists sneaking singles onto an already finished piece of work in an effort to keep the album afloat."
Her record label, Interscope Records, initially wanted three songs for the project, titled as The Fame Monster. Gaga had already composed a song, "Monster", by March 2009.
Gaga sought for a darker and edgier concept than she had previously done, and cited her love of horror films and "the decay of the celebrity and the way that fame is a monster in society" as creative inspirations for "The Fame Monster."
Gaga explained in an interview with Daily Star: "I have an obsession with death and sex. 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. If you notice in those films, there's always a juxtaposition of sex with death."
Unlike her debut album, the new record was inspired by Gaga's personal experiences.
The early musical direction was also shaped by Gaga's touring experiences with The Fame Ball Tour, during which she allegedly encountered "several monsters" that encapsulated her biggest fears; these fears were divided into various monster metaphors, such as the "Fear of Sex Monster", "Fear of Love Monster", "Fear of Alcohol Monster", and so forth.
Gaga said, "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".
In an interview with MTV News, Gaga said that "The Fame" and "The Fame Monster" were like yin and yang because of their contrasting styles and concepts.
"The Fame Monster" begins with the track "Bad Romance", which Simon Price from The Independent felt set the tone for the album.
He added that the track contained a "dominant atmosphere and a Gothic aesthetic, from the monochrome cover artwork of the single version to the crucifix logo".
For Paul Lester from BBC, the refrain of "Bad Romance" has sonic similarities to songs by Boney M, and the composition is reminiscent of Depeche Mode's fifth studio album, "Black Celebration."
A "catchy" chorus and a club-like beat is the crux of the song, talking about how love hurts in both good and bad ways. There is a sing-along hook—"Rah, rah, ah, ah, ah/Roma, roma ma/Gaga, ooh la la"—present in between the verses.
The second track, "Alejandro", incorporates elements from music of ABBA and Ace of Base, with the lyrics talking about Gaga fending off a harem of Latino men. The lyrics were also interpreted as bidding farewell to a lover, accompanied by RedOne's production.
"Monster" consists of stuttering synths and instrumentation from heavy drums. The intro contains a double four-square beat and Auto-Tune on Gaga's vocals as she sings the lyrics with a Don Juan womanizer metaphor.
The fourth track is the ballad "Speechless", a 1970s rock-inspired number that discusses abusive relationships with lyrics like "I can't believe how you slurred at me with your half-wired broken jaw".
The song consists of vocal harmonies and guitar riffs, which according to PopMatters, is comparable to the work of Freddie Mercury and Queen.
Gaga's inspiration for the track was her father's heart condition. She recalls how her father used to call after having few drinks, but she was speechless in her response, fearing for his death.
Produced by Ron Fair, "Speechless" was recorded with all live instruments such as drums, guitars, bass and piano played by Gaga.
The album's fifth track, "Dance in the Dark", talks about a girl who likes to have sex with the lights off as she is ashamed of her body.
Gaga has "resolute" vocals in the song, and the synths ultimately lead to the chorus where she belts, "Baby loves to Dance in the Dark, 'Cause when he's looking she falls apart."
"Telephone" was originally written by Gaga for singer Britney Spears's sixth studio album, Circus (2008), but Spears' label rejected it.
Gaga later recorded it as a collaboration with Beyoncé for the album. The song talks about the singer preferring the dance floor rather than answering her lover's call, with the verses sung in a rapid-fire way, accompanied by double beats.
Gaga explained that the song deals with her fear of suffocation, "fear [of] never being able to enjoy myself. 'Cause I love my work so much, I find it really hard to go out and have a good time."
In "So Happy I Could Die", Gaga presents an ode to sexual feeling and actions, stating, "I love that lavender blonde, The way she moves the way she walks, I touch myself, can't get enough."
The object of affection in the track becomes Gaga herself as she sings about drinking, dancing, observing, and touching herself, in a sedated, Auto-Tuned voice.
"The Fame Monster" ends with the song "Teeth", which has a gospel style composition.
In the United States, the individual disc of "The Fame Monster" charted at number five on the Billboard 200 with sales of 174,000 copies while the double disc deluxe edition (including the original "The Fame") moved up from number 34 to number 6 with sales of 151,000 copies.
The album also topped Billboard's Digital Albums chart with sales of 65,000 and topped the Dance/Electronic Albums chart, replacing "The Fame" and becoming Gaga's second number one album on the chart.
In January 2010, it was certified platinum by the RIAA for shipment of a million copies
As of February 2018, "The Fame Monster" has sold 1.65 million copies in the United States
"The Fame Monster" received generally positive reviews from music critics.
At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, it received an average score of 78, based on 14 reviews.
Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine felt that the album was not a huge leap forward for Gaga, but provided "small, if fleeting, glimpses behind the pretense."
Simon Price of The Independent called it "a whole new piece of art in its own right."
Kitty Empire from The Observer said that the album is "a lot more splendidly deranged" than the work of The Pussycat Dolls.
MSN Music's Robert Christgau found it to be of "comparable quality" as The Fame and gave it a rating of A–, describing the tracks as "streamlined pop machines".
Christgau further elaborated that "after being overwhelmed by the sheer visibility of her warp-speed relaunch did I realize how enjoyable and inescapable her hooks and snatches had turned out to be."
NME's Emily MacKay described The Fame Monster "as pristine as you'd expect, but has a sub-zero core of isolation and fear". She went on to call the album's release as "the moment Gaga cements herself as a real star".
Evan Sawdey from PopMatters commended Gaga for being "willing to try new things" and felt that the album shows "she's not complacent with doing the same thing over again [...] Gaga is allowed to make a few mistakes on her way towards pop nirvana—and judging what she's aiming for with The Fame Monster, there's a good chance she's going to get there sooner than later."
Mikael Woods from Los Angeles Times felt that "The Fame Monster" continued to demonstrate Gaga's creative ambition and stylistic range.
Jon Dolan from Rolling Stone called the EP "largely on point," and gave it 3.5 stars out of 5. He also said that "half the disc is Madonna knock-offs, but that's part of the concept—fame monsters needn't concern themselves with originality."
Edna Gundersen from USA Today observed that on the album, "Gaga's icy aloofness and seeming aversion to a genuine human connection leave a disturbing void. With an avant-garde intellect, pop-electro eccentricities and freaky theatrics competing for attention, there's no room for heart."
Ed Power reviewed the album for Ireland's Hot Press magazine where he complimented Gaga's ability to "always brings her A-game" in her musical outputs.
Neil McCormick from The Daily Telegraph commented that the album has "an irrepressible quality that is given full rein. [...] Although not as thematically integrated as the original [The Fame], Gaga's vivacious energy, bold melodies and almost comically relentless sensationalism keeps things interesting."
Josh Modell of Spin gave positive feedback regarding the fast-paced songs on the record, but felt that "When Gaga reaches for sincere balladry [...] she sounds lost."
Writing for The Times, Sarah Hajibagheri criticized the album due to its "lack [of] the beat and bite that made us all go Gaga for the eccentric New Yorker."