Posted by: According to Accordions | June 8, 2011

BTW – #3 – Government Hooker

Government Hooker

Dadaists, elementary school teachers, and Tea Party activists beware- “Government Hooker” mops up all the leftover creative placenta Gaga vomited from from “Born This Way, precisely the absurd love-child of Depeche Mode and Daft Punk created while recovering from heavy mind-zooting the Sunday night before.

“Government Hooker”‘s entrance at the opera prepares you for Madame Butterfly, not the minimalist metronome slowly blipping away at barely-danceable BPM’s. Spoken interludes question Gaga’s sanity as she adopts a balance of self-denial (“I can be cool, if you just wanna be bad”) with her previously hidden shapeshifting abilities: “I could be anything, I can be everything.” But the song makes as much sense as that infamous upturned toilet, with musical structure changing form minor keys to that irkingly major “as long as I’m you’re hooker”, ear-splitting praise of hookahs everywhere, and a chorus worthy of that Gaga flair but unredeeming scaled against the song.

Intentional grammar dodges only aid in its absurdity. “I could be girl, unless you want to be man.” Yes, Lady Gaga is still a hermaphrodite; cheap lyrics slightly betray the song’s high production value. “I could be sex, unless you want to hold hands.” Before I assuage any fears about precluding dextrous contact during intercourse, who exactly is she having sex with? There’s that infamous line- “Put your hands on me, John F. Kennedy.” Monica, watch out, we’ve got a new scandal in town.

The quintessential error in Government Hooker is her proposition of providing ambiguously sexual services for money- “as long as you pay me.” With taxes so high and America about to climax at its debt ceiling, requesting fiscal reimbursement for the procurement of pleasure is inconsiderate and selfish at best. I’d much rather prefer someone like Sarah Palin or Christine O’Donnell (“I can be hunter, I can be witch”) who can still sing absurdities while refusing any further entitlements. And that creepy voice in the background- how much did they pay him?

“Government Hooker” ultimately tackles too many fronts at ones, a mixmash of glossed over social issues (gender roles, oversexualization) with politically-charged-but-empty indications of corruption and the missed inclusion of high-profile women that Dance in the Dark leaves hungering for. There’s a pastiche of musical themes that never really work together, but the lack of centrality gives it meaning- just as the 1920’s art movement valued impracticality over structure. Maybe in an age where stenciled techno beats style every song, this would work. But its larger-than-life title fails to live up to its glamour, leaving atonal handouts and musical polarization fans have to decidedly accept instead.

(disclaimer: I hope the absurdity works)

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Posted by: According to Accordions | June 7, 2011

BTW – #5 – Americano

Americano

As the background soundtrack to a low budget horror slasher film, Lady Gaga simmers in a lesbian love that isn’t quite as hot as Mexico. Instead, across the border, fame has dumped Alejandro for a more tangible relationship, even if this “techno-mariachi” record bleeding in flamenco rhythms and shaky violins can’t offer the classical credibility of Alejandro‘s Csardas. A killer hook- a platitude of staccato la-la-la-la-la’s- can only be caught by the audacious “ah-ah-ah-america”, whose sandpaper edge can murderously incite its own national revolution if you’ve left the speakers on for too long.

The song’s ultimately successful in Gaga’s coy authorship- whereas Born This Way broadcast the national anthem for LGBT parades everywhere (I’m going to receive much flack for this), “Americano” hammers out its subversive liberal agenda just a little more softly. “We fell in love- but not in court”- in a country where gay recognition continues seeing gains, Gaga is the first Top 40 artist to actively pursue anti-homophobic legislation through vocal support, online campaigning, and concert rallying. And when she cranks out that Spanish- “y los chicos, y los chisos, estan besando” trans. and the boys, and the boys, are kissing- I’m slightly perturbed by the lack of castanets. And maracas, where are the maracas?

“Americano” sums up what Gaga calls the “disenfranchisement of many groups of people” in, well, America. You have the California gay community, where Prop 8 was overturned, August 4, “on a Wednesday, en el verano, en augosto.” Then there’s “languagono”, the unknown spaghetti recipe hashed from too many missed weekend Spanish lessons, and “dont you try to catch me”, either a line that goads Leonardo DiCaprio into forgery or SB 1070 and illegal immigration. For those feeling spiritually bamboozled after “Judas”, Gaga rejects the Anglo-Saxon Jesus for some Latin spice in the video, referenced in “I won’t speak your Jesus Cristo.”

Gaga’s only salvation from the bargain bins at Border is her sincerity, and these eclectic social discussions are made credible by her almost ruthless cannonball mentality towards gay rights, illegal immigration, and religious tolerance. “I will fight for how I love you, I will cry for…how I care”- there is no alien at the Monster Ball and certainly no alienation in her music. If a homosexual progressive-protestant nun-escapee from Europe managed to meet Gaga, I’m sure there’ll be enough contradictions for her to be making music for centuries and finding languages to oppose injustices to come.

“Americano” suffers as a piece more tied to her advocacy than artistry, where the political implications overshadow the 4 A.M. club-thumper’s heavy bass and mariachi flair. It takes a few runs to notice Fernando Garibay’s guitar chords and trumpet burps, the “Spanish roots” Gaga asked him to bring out for the record, but its screeching chorus provides no safety for ears anywhere, appropriate for separating those tenacious enough for activating the rights of the systemically oppressed and Born-This-Way-less everywhere.

Gaga imagines Edith Piaf singing “Americano” in a soft spotlight; I liken it more to a “La Vie En Rose” sparkling with dual carbine pistols, masted on a metallic unicorn angry at the impracticality of being unable to marry some from of darkness.

Posted by: According to Accordions | June 6, 2011

BTW – #12 – Highway Unicorn (Road To Love)

Highway Unicorn (Road to Love)

With a title seemingly mined from a Warholian crack factory, Highway Unicorn immediately seizes a picturesque hybrid of motorcycle pipes headed by the bust of a screaming Gaga, something akin to the controversial album cover to Born This Way. Despite the criticism, Gaga pulls out her pop performance shtick, calling it a mobile evolution of what her music stands for.

Progression, then, means regression, as Gaga’s talents are more repertory than revolutionary. Highway Unicorn immediately calls upon the smokin’ wheels of Bruce Springsteen’s Thunder Road, albeit with catchier vocalizations and sly allusions to the Arizona immigration law and gay marriage (“she don’t care if your love or the papers are the law). Gaga is the conglomerate, a pastiche of Madonna and Queen, Whitney Houston and Norah, appetized by the largest producers in the music industry and delivered at the perfect junction in American dance history. Her craft revives the 80’s glam-rock reminiscent of theatrical stagework and screaming performances, the ones littered with costumes and histrionics, traits she deems lost to modern performers today. And while everyone’s climbing up to the Gaga standard, she continuously reinvents herself, as a motorcycle no less.

Hell, those ethereal bell chimes from Marry the Night peal at the climax of the song. It’s something to produce a five-star record, and it’s even more rewarding to insert musical easter eggs to reward the faithful devouring the entirety of the album. But the lead track works too: back to exploring new streets and venturing into the Gaga microcosm as we now it.

The fantastic Highway Unicorn takes you down uncharted ambitions, with only “heels” and a “smoking gun” for company. There isn’t much assurance on the Road to Love- comfort from loneliness with only a hallucinatory unicorn to lead you otherwise from the hysterically perfect teenage exploits from movie Road Trip(s). But Gaga sits on her throne, and says, if I can do it, so can you. Highway Unicorn captures that time on the road, between pit stops, where adventure bleeds into the unknown future and even if there’s some undeniable anxiety, she reminds, “we can be strong, on this lonely road to love.” Remember, she received this magnitude of fame by pulling herself by the bootstraps (shoulderpads?); supposedly you can too.

The song’s highlight is that declarative “get your hot rods ready to rumble, cause we’re gonna fall in love tonight.” Maybe it’s the sincerity, the forcefulness or even the ridiculousness, but for a second I believed taking my beat up 94′ Camry for a spin would crash course into the person of my dreams. This power-rock-electro-mongrel is best saved for ceaseless road trips and overly long escapades of little love and even less human comfort, when you can take your wheels out and spin on a dream.

Posted by: According to Accordions | June 4, 2011

BTW – #1 – Marry The Night

Marry the Night

Gaga claims her nuptials to empyrean technobeats and pronunciation exercises, a reason she cites Marry will discover the most commercial success. But syllabic reminders of puh-puh-puh-pokerface only serve as an outdated trademark of the infamous Gaga hook. Born This Way, instead, pays homage to belching organs and Jesus in technocolor, and the lead track follows suit.

Sledgehammer church bells amidst dragging a capella vocals, but the sluggish serenade ends with industrial percussion- Gaga declares, “I command you to dance.” Drawn-out rhymes are replaced with 80’s howl- I’m gonna marry– though the twinkles and stars remain put; the emblematic church bells mindlessly churn out peals throughout the song. Fernando Garibay’s production shines in this dark record: the texture of the synths challenges modern dance music to follow suit and shows cheap pauses and bassline kicks can only imitate so much. Hard-edged techno seamlessly transitions to a bridge more noteworthy than the chorus itself, charged by Gaga-fied lyrics.

Perhaps that’s the strength of the song, or, rather, all of her songs: music with a meaning. Marry the Night is the foray into the recesses of New York and all its individualized and genuine culture, not the plastic pop performance offered by Hollywood. Gaga calls it her escape from the California scene- she’s back to self-dismissal and whiskey (if Gaga ever loses steam, she can double as a AA spokesperson) and the stark grit found on New York Streets. “New York is not just a tan that you never lose.” It’s Ginger, nickname of that all-American Camino her old boyfriend Luc Carl owned, or the cultural reconsiderations she poses with “love is the new denim or black.” Marry the Night hitches you on the vehicle that takes you down “Highway Unicorn (Road to Love), from picking up “Judas” to curbing on some obscure “Electric Chapel.”

This also journey bears many drawbacks Gaga encounters with her other music, where otherwise lyrically-mundane-but-melodically-addictive sounds require additive explanations to appreciate just how well she oils her songs. At its six cylinder core, Marry the Night hits the same speed bumps- the overly traveled utterances of titular titles- as her other commercial hits, but lines like “Get your engine ready cause I’m coming out front, won’t poke holes in the seats with my heals cause that’s where we make love” cleverly change her creative direction. You’ll need to watch a few HBO interviews or MTV spotlights to realize her allusions, such as her fascination with muscle cars that stems from “Boys Boys Boys” to the Monster Ball’s “Glitter and Grease”, but chances are if you’re a Little Monster, you probably have. For her, Born This Way is a realization of herself: her acceptance as the Magna Carta for all pop artists and the “warrior queen” for her underlings.

Marry the Night’s bethrothal to New York nightlife mirrors the devotion her fans ultimately wed to her. This is where each feels most comfortable, in the fishnet-clad streets of NY or the microcosm of self-validation Gaga has built for her fans. It’s a bit of a jump to say Gaga accepts the hand of her followers, but she shares in their doubts, as a “soldier to my own emptiness, a “winner”, a “sinner”, and a “loser” and during the ventures into the unknown that we all face knowing you can join Gaga at the Electric Bar where “[we] won’t cry anymore” is enough to reach the hearts (and wallets) of anyone feeling a drop of self-doubt- including herself. Calling her lifestyle a “border between fantasy and reality”, the only solid definition of Lady Gaga comes from those thousands shouting her name at weekly concert stops.

But it’s her integrity, where in every interview she places her fans on pedestals, and it’s those actions like supporting the Human Rights Campaign and youth homeless shelters that show Gaga’s equally tied to them. This is why Fernando Garibay could only think of church bells for the song, to channel the religious devotion Gaga and her fans have for one another. It’s the reason the album’s tenor revs with a darker engine than The Fame Monster ever could. The polymultiplicty of Gaga’s marriages has given her enough power to be Time’s most influential artist, to explore the sounds of shadowed streets and stars, to really do anything she damn wants to.

Posted by: According to Accordions | June 2, 2011

By The Way: My Religion Is You

Pop bonanza encounters performance art fanaticism: perhaps the easiest way to describe Lady Gaga’s clutch on the pop music scene by her unilateral cult of Little Monsters. International fervor, aggregated from sparkly teens to social outcasts to those desperately clinging onto the Madonna 80’s, perfectly follows the gospel of Born This Way, where electropop opera is sung nonchalantly against liberal lambasting and sexual foray. But for Gaga, who calls it “assuming the role my fans expect”, the holy record bears matrimony between her congregation of misfits and and salvation.

Fernando Garibay, the creative director and a producer for the album, describes the Gaga-phenomenon as spiritual. The Monster Ball’s stadium arena played to a mindless, cheering crowd of costumes and zealots bantering her two syllable name- at one point, she could’ve led her audience against the White House. But the spiritual connection she maintains with her fanbase is genuine, and if not well-trimmed. If anything, Born This Way births a tangibly realistic religion devoted to nurturing her newfound practicioners. Paws up.

Ascension to the pop pinnacle after “The Fame” secured her standing among labels and audiences everywhere, and from this platform she preaches her Manifesto of Mother Monster: self-acceptance and realization. Born This Way is as much for her munchkin terrors as it is for her. The evolution of industrial techno still uses the same earworm hook and buildup format, but BTW is invariably darker, cynical, and deeper. Grunge chords often hit atonal shrieks and saw-edged vocalizations; religious overtones pursue metaphors on cultural trends and contentious establishments. This is her ode to being her own pop star, not a manufactured product from Hollywood but the Marilyn Monroe who roams the streets of New York City, marrying the stark. Or she’s the multilingual saboteur of government and gender norms everywhere. Gaga’s sonic evolution contrasts her social one. Whereas her rock-and-roll-electro-fusion plays into a more definitive song, she appeals to all races, genders, and sexual orientations in this catch-all album.

But none are throwaways: Gaga’s success probably predicates on her seeming honesty in these regards. And she does seem to be an advocate for the unspoken, rallying support against Prop 8, openly decrying SB 1070, employing starpower to call repeal for Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, furthering safe sex and female empowerment with Viva Glam lipstick, and donating funds from her blasphemously successful tour to homeless teenagers. The album sings in four languages and carries influence from Madonna to Bruce Springsteen, while carrying minimalistic beeps on “Government Hooker” to the soulsy “Edge of Glory” ballad. In a display of musicality (most apparent when she blasts sermons on her piano), BTW combines “techno mariachi” with anthemic powerchords and inherently juxtaposed guitar riffs and church bells. “Electric Chapel” sets the recurring theme of the album: this is evolution. It may not be the ultracatchy radio tunes from her previous works, but all are guaranteed instigators of wasted nights on the dance floor.

This is her genesis, an attempt to create a legacy akin to the artists she was so influenced by. Already Born This Way set trends- sales of two million internationally propelled it to the zenith of pop charts everywhere. Each song tries to claim significance on her history, her fans, culture, and faith; together, the album portends the defining sound of the decade. To believe it so wholeheartedly may be too soon, but as with religion, whether you believe her depends on you.

Posted by: According to Accordions | January 31, 2011

Rings.


I never expected to fashion rings, these trite testaments to symbolism and deeper meaning. Silver, gold, and steel, as soulless as the materials they came from, offered little intrinsically, and even less emotionally. Cheesy coronets for fingers and studded bands that clicked in lovers’ palms were reserved for marathon soaps and movies which made you cry. I wasn’t fit for such histrionics and rings would definitely not fit me. That’s it, they were objects undoubtedly and undisputedly in the end regardless of all the attachment heaped on, stuff, substance, whatever. You bought and sold and traded and collected these things. Who could ever trade feelings?

Exchange happens plentifully. The truck ends at the jewelry store and deposits its rings, handed over to potential grooms-to-be by cash and finally settling on her (or his) finger for proposal. We gift garland rings forged from weeded dandelions and flowers and tie rubber and mashed paperclips onto our knuckles. Family circles grow and shrink, bound by picky, specific rings. The most mechanistic human affection embraces in the form of a ring. Pacific volcanoes freely destroy within their Ring of Fire; we find humor when the clown spews fire under the circus ring. Clouds form rings in the sky and die into each other.

We also trade something else, too. A little bit of heart, when they can’t be with you, but annoyingly localized on your hand. Maybe that’s why my mom still painfully displays her decade-old ring when it doesn’t fit. Looking back, we gave flower rings to the people we adored, sacrificed stationary in honor of the things that bored us. As our arms envelop and protect those inside its ring, so do the families and friends and people that form it. Life is as confusing as the ring’s friendship with fire and in the end, our own lives close at the ends of these circles.

This one is stainless steel and it rotates. I don’t really mind the etched crosses. Left to me (probably relunctantly too), this ring finishes when I return it. Because that’s when we see each other again. And no longer are we bound by circles.

Posted by: According to Accordions | May 12, 2010

Fame – The Pop Culture Experience

Lady Gaga appeared by fluke. Delivering papers to an economics class, “muh-muh-muh” blared on the stereo, and for the first time I heard “Pokerface”, love child of techno synth and pop earworms. It was hard bassline driven by futuristic touch, relying on robotic dialogue to contrast actual music.

I hated it.

“Pokerface” may have assumed dictatorship of international airwaves, but my ears remained confined to classical dogma. Music needed structure- melodic lines in sonata, concerto form- and not cheap hooks and gimmicks to headline the #1 single. And that was Gaga, parvenu of pop, riding on senseless musicality: she sung in a low register, flaunted sex appeal, and played auditory assault on my ears.

“Paparazzi.” The emancipator, topping off at #6, on the Billboards, belied her critique on pop culture and revealed an innate ability to thread the classical form into modern sound. It was a different voice, one that mixed “Starstruck” and “Just Dance” into a display of vocal talent and impressive songwriting. Dance became my muse, Gaga my mantra, and these four tunes assumed leadership of my musical company.

On a limo ride, radio station KISS.fm’s Top 9 at 9 wrung out “Bad Romance.” That was it. A song that challenged contemporary critique while incorporating disco tech and powerchords- I acquired the entire Fame Monster album thereafter. “Dance in the Dark”, with its poignant chorus, and “Telephone”‘s chaos muzak instantly appealed; exotic “Alejandro” and “Teeth” slowly eased in. Midway between “So Happy I Could Die” and “Speechless”, I stumbled on the rest of The Fame, where Gaga proves her indisputable connoisseurship on social modes. Beyond the dance-heavy exterior, the glamor fades and songs like “Disco Heaven” and “I Like It Rough” edge into variety.

Then it became art. She calls her music “liberation”, and aptly so. Love life, pursue your love, and enjoy your pursuits- be yourself at all times. Fashion for a reason, performances bordering on societal criticism, topped by an intrinsic appreciation for the individuality and creativity in all of us. For every Fame article, I constantly replay the respective tune till the essay is over, for rehashing Gaga in the brain is juggling my muse in the heart. Apparently for others to- Fame received over 2,000 hits on this burgeoning project. But the counts don’t matter.

The avant-garde pop culture experiment ends today. I hope it’s been successful (this site has proselytized a few new converts to Gagadom). It bears a message worth spreading, a woman deserving recognition, and music able to shake up any dance floor.

This is the avant-garde pop culture experience: Lady Gaga blasts from my car speakers.

I love it.

Posted by: According to Accordions | May 11, 2010

The Fame – #3 – Paparazzi

Paparazzi

She’s battling a giant octopus. The latest tour pits Lady Gaga against aquatic behemoth, its tentacles trying to devour the star. Gaga screams, “Take his picture monsters” and is promptly eaten. Before fans can cry out- WHERE IS GAGA- she erupts from the floor clad in pyrotechnic bra, and the thing from the deep retreats amidst the clicks of camera shutters. That’s “Paparazzi.”

She calls it “my first real pop song”, the favorite of the Fame album. Not surprising- “Paparazzi” packs the tune of Gwen Stefani and rhythmic one-two claps that keep the feet tapping. Perhaps it’s the subject: delectably dark, glamor meets obsession, and minor key evolves from poppy piano chords to eerie, howling synths. The chorus line sounds horribly innocent, but behind the “flashing lights” lies something much more sinister.

“Paparazzi” moves with its story. Cameraman arrives, lens in hand, hoping to claim the perfect snapshot, one which captures her everything. The color, the dance, and tears. Behind the backdoor, watching behind the shutter, he promises “I’ll be kind.” But he follows anyway.

Gaga reiterates her dealings with love- it irreparably fights with fame. “Paparazzi” snaps a shot of this engagement; do you want love, or do you want fame? She’s in love with fame, courting photographers that idle by and lurk for that fateful glimpse, and she’s infamous in affection, forsaking relationships for work. And we, the onlookers, the paparazzi, can only stand by, captivated. “I’m your biggest fan”- our eyes watching- the lyrics develop, tinged in a flicker of malice, “chase you down until you love me.” Society hunts for the next moment, the rising star, like predators surrounding their prey. Wrapped in Billboard circles and snagged by expectation, you’ll “be famous”, on the hearts and camera clicks of your endless crowd.

“Paparazzi” then illuminates popular culture. The music video, clad in shadow, spreads between intermittent corpses, the end products of fame, and Gaga’s endless pursuit for scandal and attention. So while she poisons her boyfriend in Minnie-Mouse getup, our eyes are bombarded with the physical manifestation of fame-whoring: dangling bodies mangled by art.

Social commentary, seemingly, argues on the pop life: this media attention ultimately proves negative. Celebrities dim and explode, music burgeons and fades, but nonetheless, we “still need that picture of you”, in tears, spotlight, success and self-destruction. Not for Gaga. While “The Fame Monster” encounters the beasts of notoriety, she’s as enamored with the paparazzi as we are enraptured by her. Lady Gaga calls the flashing lights inspiration, and “Paparazzi” mirrors the sentiment; is the song sung by us or the pop princess?

She watches us on the road and delivers emotional validation. “Dance in the Dark” and “Beautiful, Dirty, Rich” support intrinsic beauty. “Bad Romance” preaches acceptance. “Paparazzi” catches our attention, because she confirms our innate existence. Esteem holds Gaga high, perhaps by dint of musical artistry or visual goodies, but her devotion to the Monster fanbase reminds anyone “you’ll be famous.”

We’re all famous. Whether as ostentatious as a fifteen-foot sea creature, or a simple musician whose edged her way through loss and rejection, life deserves to be watched. The “Paparazzi” consist of the ubiquitous shutterbug, but, more importantly, it’s the anthem for the individual style in each and every one of us all. “Garage glamorous” and “plastic”, we’re still fucking fantastic.

Posted by: According to Accordions | May 10, 2010

The Fame Monster – # – So Happy I Could Die

So Happy I Could Die

The lyrics are hardly subtle. “So Happy I Could Die” sings an ode to masturbation, physical passion that drowns out jarring emotion. And while this euphoric pursuit of pleasure grates against societal norm, it doesn’t matter, whisked away, “Up in the clouds, we’ll be higher than ever”, the world dissolves into physical tatters.

“So Happy I Could Die” embodies Lady Gaga’s fear of addiction, bottled in alcohol and attachment, where excitement and satisfaction override the senses. Lines unwrap presentation and pruning- “the way she walks” and “I am as vain as I allow, I do my hair, I gloss my eyes”- and fallback on tactile splendor, touching, loving. Vocalizations match the theme and the “eh-eh, yeh-ha, yeh-ha” mouth pure syllables that moan over ascending synths; only the deep bassline anchors one to the song’s gritty realism. Almost ethereal, sound moves in gossamer motion like a slow moving tide, the ebbing dream. After all, this paean to gratification reflects the obliviousness of the orgasm and measures its side effect: we’re drunk under the influence.

Whereas “The Fame” promoted the carpe diem lifestyle, excitement borders on overwhelming attraction within the song. It’s no longer life or love. “So Happy I Could Die” talks about existing only for that moment, the pinnacle of pleasure, and the “world is gonna bend” with bottle in hand and delirium in mind. Then it’s clinging onto the moment, always trying to reproduce or anticipate ecstasy. And finally it’s disaster, addiction, and obsession, even though the disappointment and deception’s gone.

Ultimately, Gaga reassures, saying “I touch myself and it’s alright.” The song departs from the rest of its partners; it lacks the eccentricity of “Teeth” or power package of “Telephone” and “Bad Romance.” Backup vocals softly cry “oooh-ooooh” and chord harmonies lightly play over one another. Comparing this to a club tune seems outlandish at first, but that’s the idea. “So Happy I Could Die” is the fleeting escapade into nightlife and ambiance. Love it, against the backdrop of bass frigates and jackhammer rap beats, the smooth surrealism of Gaga- the only one of its kind on the album. Cherish the feeling and sound. It doesn’t last for too long.

Appreciate the good in life, but don’t dwell; Gaga’s wise with her subtleties. On that zenith, body brimming to blowout, remember yourself and “have a good time.”

Gonna be okay. We’ll never fall apart. So happy I could die, and it’s alright.

Posted by: According to Accordions | May 9, 2010

The Fame Monster – #3 – Monster

Monster

Certainly, wondering where Lady Gaga receives her inspiration for nightmare outfits and dreamscape music videos isn’t shocking. The artist engrosses herself in suffocation, death, falsehood and fear, spewing blood at award ceremonies and idolizing bleeding statues, and plunges into “The Fame Monster” album, her collection of depravity and darkness more gothic than Miley Cyrus’ “Can’t Be Tamed” (then again, what isn’t?). Borrowing from the title, the eponymous “Monster” collects the singer’s innumerable disturbances and, perhaps the CD’s most compelling song, reminds that we can’t take our eyes off the sickness in everyone.

After all, he “ate my heart.” Gaga’s compulsory dialogue echoes the infamous opening soundhorn, whispering “that little monster” and “you amaze me” behind one-two step beats and casual cannibalism. “Monster” knows how to crawl under our skin, blending mystery, “but something tells me that I’ve seen him, yeah” with “girl you look good enough to eat”, though it’s endlessly alluring. Though dark, it inevitably draws us in, whether in surprise (“you amaze me) or sex (“he tore my clothes right off”) or inhuman rhythm our flesh tingles and the heart beats.

“He’s a wolf in disguise, but I can’t stop staring at those evil eyes.” We’re mesmerized. Fame captures our attention, those blinding lights and faceless fans, the little monsters. “Monster” is as much about love and passion as it is obsession and domination. Here’s a beast, the Fame Monster, preying on a singer’s thirst for success and creation, a creature who follows her onto subway trains, tempting with “could I love him?”

He’s inescapable. Under your bed, inside your work. It’s an idea that seduces insanity and attracts infatuation, the monster that takes over your mind, her art, the music, the fear of disappointing and the fear of never finding love, and poisons with guilt. He’ll eat your heart, and then “eat my brain”- but we can’t get enough. “Monster” is the masochistic fixation on hidden desires and emotional suppression, when we’re torn between the lustful wrong and the proper right. Not that either can be vanquished; rather, each eats into us, and we love it, hate it. These are our monsters, secret internal conflicts that devour sense and reason, the worry harbored throughout the album. They’re everywhere.

Lady Gaga calls her loyal followers “little monsters.” Individuals with the same struggles and pain- they manifest the deepest of the monster mode, and its best, with hope, excitement, and shared love. In a sense, we’re all in this monstrous cult, scrambling to control the gnawing mess tearing at our insides. But we learn to love our faults and the inner disaster; “Monster” contemplates imperfection and fear, but the song rushes on in liberating synth. Flashlight on, music pumping, see them for what they are: monsters.

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