Lady Gaga Song Reviews
I didn't even try resisting posting this cover instead of an actual Lady Gaga music video. But I wonder how many people might have to admit that she's a pretty decent songwriter after hearing this tounge-in-cheek country-rock version of one of her biggest hits?
The Fame (2008)
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Just Dance B+
Surprisingly not too bad! I'm coming into this album already figuring I'd hate this album, but this club-dance song has a crunchy beat you can dance to, and a decent hook. The synthesizer groove seems a little cold and dead to me, and I don't necessarily think it has to be cold and dead for it to be loved by the kids. I like listening to Lady Gaga's voice, which comes across as powerful and boisterous, but that wussy rapping in the middle of this (from Colby O'Donis, whoever the hell that is) is the weak spot. I'd also say this went about a minute too long, because that groove starts to get tiring.
...I want to take a ride on your disco stick... Pop stars these days aren't even trying to hide their sexual innuendos! I was racking my brains this morning trying to figure out if that was supposed to be some sort of double entendre, but I saw Saturday Night Fever and I certainly didn't remember people carrying sticks around with them. But even when we've accepted the fact that a “disco stick” is a penis, what exactly is there that's disco about it? I suppose you could make it flop around with a disco song. Not that I've ever done that, but I'm sure enough male strippers have made a career perfecting that art. Lyrics aside, I find this one to be even more tiresome than the last one. The pop hook is dull, and the clubby synth-grooves are dead as a doornail. I suppose the one thing in its favor is it has a nice beat you can dance to, and she's at least avoiding the mistake many of her peers make by choosing crunchy drum machine beats instead of those disgusting, tinny beats. It also has a very sudden ending, although I was quite ready for it to end by then!
She must have been anxious to become famous if she's writing about the paparazzi in her debut album! I've often thought about becoming famous, but the paparazzi is one of the reasons I'm glad I'm not famous. (That is, until the day amateur music critics on the Internet become WORLD FAMOUS and then I can get the privilege of being photographed on the toilet.) This is surely one of the better songs of the lot with one of the best hooks, and it is sweetly sung by Her Honor. The drum machines continue to sound quite nice and thick. I'm glad that she at least knows how to pick up drum machine sounds.
Poker Face A-
So I read this song was about Lady Gaga having sex with men while fantasizing about women. That's quite a bit more interesting than simply wanting to ride disco sticks. Anyway, this is actually an entertaining song, which is surprising, because Gaga doesn't find too many notes to sing. The basically talks the verses and the chorus isn't too complicated. However, I'm amazed at how many things she did right. The club drum beat and robotic synthesizers comes off as menacing and toe-tapping. The synth grooves are catchy, and I like the stylish way she quasi-raps over it. It's embellished with zippy sci-fi sound effects at just the right spots. As a whole, this sounds high-tech and modern, but it also doesn't annoy the living crap out of me. Cool.
Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say) B-
I kind of like the sweet synthesizer tones and the sweetly sung vocal performance. Before listening to this, my preconceived notion about Lady Gaga was that she was an ultra-serious and ultra-cold pop artist, but this kind of works against that. Where this really falls short, however, is the melody. The hook just isn't interesting to me. The song production is well-polished and sounds nice, but they don't give me any cookies like they did in the previous song.
Beautiful, Dirty, Rich B
Not bad, and not great either. The drum rhythm seems a little more organic than most of these others, which is surely a good thing. I also like listening to Gaga's boisterous vocal performance. The melody is OK, but I don't find it too memorable.
The Fame B+
Everybody who says Lady Gaga is a new David Bowie are probably citing this song in particular, which sounds like the music of “Fashioned” combined with the lyrics of “Fame.” (The chorus is so close to the Bowie song that it even recalls the call-and-response repetition of “Fame” Bowie did with John Lennon in the chorus.) That said, she did a pretty nice job with this. The tight pop-guitars are of course not even close to ROBERT FRIPP, but they're still pretty fun and they play a tight groove. The melody is OK, but I don't think it was hooky enough.
Money Honey B+
Oh man, I really should be spitting bile at this, but I find the the interaction between Gaga's vocals and that very deep buzz-saw synthesizer too enjoyable. Unfortunately, this groove rather overstays its welcome, and it starts to spoil before the song ends. It's not a very long song, so that's surely something the producers should have worked out. The vocals seem too polished to me as well, although I continue to like the loud way she's singing it. Those high-pitched and playful calls she does throughout this were a nice touch, however.
Uh oh, it's an autotune. I'm not sure why that ever had to become popular, but I'm looking forward to them becoming passe. In fact, they already sound passe! This is a pretty awful song, and it really destroys what had otherwise been a surprisingly decent experience I'd been having with this album. The drum machine is boring and not at all danceable. The rapping sounds awful and entirely devoid of passion and personality. The hooks are so bad that they suck life away from me. We're supposed to be impressed with the polished production, but you can't polish a turd. (Never mind that I saw them polish a turd on Mythbusters! ...Honestly, that episode was quite fascinating!)
Boys Boys Boys B
I read that this was a response to the Motley Crue song “Girls Girls Girls.” I'm not sure what Motley Crue did to deserve a tribute since they're basically awful, but come to think of it I do feel way less embarrassed for listening to Motley Crue than Lady Gaga. Because this is a tribute to a pop-metal act, it's been said that Gaga made this one rock 'n' roll. I can't deny that this has a more toe-tapping rhythm, but it still sounds like a club dance song. However, it's a pretty good club dance song with more of those fun Gary Numan style synthesizers and crunchy drum beats. The chorus is almost strangely bright and energetic and reminiscent of The Go-Go's.
Paper Gangsta C
Not terrible, but I just find this boring. It starts with a dead-dull piano riff that eventually leads into synthesizers and a drum machine playing coldly and boringly. Gaga's melody is, as always, hook-oriented, but I'm getting nothing out of it. It doesn't disgust me like “Starstruck” did, but that's hardly a feather in its hat.
Brown Eyes B-
Up until this point of the album, I suspected that everyone who compared Gaga to Bowie only thought Bowie composed one song: “Fashion.” But this near piano ballad sounds right out of Ziggy Stardust. I even hear some electric guitar playing very Mick-Ronson style guitar licks. Except that guitar sounds so weak and muted. Oh, man. If you're going to have an electric guitar in one of these songs (as rare as that instrument is), you could at least let it function like an electric guitar. MAKE IT SOUND DIRTY, MAN!!!!!!!!!!! That's not the reason for the mere B- on this one. The melody doesn't hook me at all, and even though I appreciate that she's trying to reach for more of a '70s vibe, she doesn't seem that comfortable singing without a club beat.
I Like it Rough C
She likes it rough, but she couldn't get that electric guitar out more on the previous song! ...But onto this song, this is another one of the straight club-dance ones. But this doesn't do much for me at all. The hook is dead, and the song producers continue to instrument this coldly and blandly. GIVE ME SOME COOKIES! And it fades out very boringly. I don't always complain about fade-outs, but this one is distracting and can be interpreted as nothing less than a pure cop-out.
Much better this time around thanks mostly to the much catchier melody and the quality of Gaga's playful vocal performance. Those moments when she talks and hiccups is rather theatrical, and that's a great touch. My main complaint is it runs its course too soon, and the producers didn't do anything to change up the instrumentation. The producers had enough taste to pick decent sounding drum machines and synthesizers, but they copped out when it came to developing the songs that weren't predestined to be hits.
The Fame Monster (2009)
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Bad Romance A-
I'm listening to this heavily produced electro-pop song, and I'm bobbing my head to it very agreeably. The song is memorable right at the beginning, which starts with Gaga singing a memorable vocal “oh-oh-oh-oh-Oooooooh” before getting into a silly quasi-rap “Ra rah-ah-ah-ah Roma roma-ma.” She does eventually start singing real words, but they don't make a whole lot more sense “I want your ugly / I want your disease / I want your everything / As long as it's free.” The song production is thick and pounding, reminding me of the sort of production I remember from listening to mid-'80s albums from Depeche Mode and New Order. It's an infectious song, and it makes a fun listen!
I don't understand why everyone in the world thinks this song sounds like ABBA! ABBA songs had such a better sense of harmonies and melodies! After I'm through listening to this song, do I get the desire to whistle it under my breath? NO!!!! ...OK, maybe they're referring to the singing and song production as well as frequent name-dropping of “Fernando” throughout. That goes to show the unfortunate state of the public perception of pop music these days—people are way more interested in the singing and song production than they are on songwriting. But anyway, I guess it's a good thing that Lady Gaga still has a good sense of what constitutes a “pop hook,” and she uses it pretty well throughout this song. It doesn't strike me as memorable or as fun as the previous song (or the following one), but it's still fun and it was produced well.
Like many of these songs, their appeal tends to diminish the more I listen to them. (I was originally going to give this an A, but I listened to it again and again and I kept on lowering it.) I'm surely comfortable leaving this as a B, though, since it has plenty of entertainment value. The beats are still pounding and punchy. The production is quite good, except the synthesizers are on the screechy side, and I don't think Gaga needs to use an autotuner. (It's not nearly as poor as her use of the autotuner in her previous album, however.) What I don't like about this song is its lack of clear hooks. I don't remember how it went immediately after hearing it.
See? She doesn't need a vocoder! She's just belting it out brilliantly in this piano power ballad. The songwriting is reminiscent of Elton John except her hefty female vocals are more reminiscent of Cher. It's a decent ballad, too, if it's just a tad forgettable. The melody is fluid and pretty, but not especially hooky. It's more of a song that you'll enjoy listening to at-the-moment, but nothing you'll ever take with you. ...Still, it's nice to hear her do something other than electronic music.
Dance in the Dark C
Aw! Back to the electronic stuff, and this doesn't even have a semi-interesting hook that has kept the previous ones more or less alive. The synth groove is more or less dead, and the vocal melody doesn't have much to offer. What we're left with is the disco beat, and the song production. But I'm not wholly sold with the thick production this time; it seems more dreary instead of exciting. The drum fills can also be headache inducing. Blah.
There's a country-rock cover version of this song floating around by indie musicians The Morning Pages, which is extremely fun and catchy. That version would earn a solid A if I were to review it, and I think it goes to show that Lady Gaga is capable of writing great music. The only problem is that she's keeping these good songs hidden underneath all these awful vocal embellishments, cluttery instrumentation, and disco beats that get rather tiresome to me. Beyonce does a guest vocal on this, but I could care less about her unless I'm watching her in a music video. (I also like how The Morning Pages even imitates some of those vocal effects... Except instead of actually altering their vocals digitally, they actually mimic it with their real voices!)
So Happy I Could Die C
Oh man, I really wish they would have cleaned this up a bit... This song is so thick and cluttered that I have trouble actually listening to it. Instead of creating a disco dance beat that's driving and infectious, this one is cold and obscure. It's not very pleasurable to listen to. Gaga's vocal-enhanced melody is also blurry and hookless.
It's not too promising at the opening of the song, which features a few soundbytes of Gaga talking amidst a squeaky and ultra-repetitive loop. She sounds a little too close to modern-day Madonna for comfort! But soon enough a surprisingly brassy beat pops up that immediately captures my attention. Gaga, using her real voice, boisterously sings over it. The melody isn't all that hooky, but the presentation of it is so bold that I almost forget about it. If I didn't know better, I would have wondered if it was a song left out of the Chicago soundtrack (for not being hooky enough).
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