With our world ready to melt into oblivion any day now, pop divas know that even their days are numbered. Lady Gaga has so far run her career as if every second counted, exercising a dictatorial control over a whirlwind rise to the top that has seen her cram more phase changes into 15 months than Madonna padded her career with in 15 years.
With The Fame Monster, she's moved past the notoriety-and-drugs-and-sex-fueled ravers of last year's The Fame, crafting a sequel-of-sorts that focuses on death, dissolution, and drama. Gaga continues to be able to take her visual swagger and transmogrify it into audio form, and that's good news for fans of "Just Dance" and "Poker Face."
Not only does this new song cycle retain the Euro-tastic sheen of its predecessor, it outdoes it in sheer dance-floor whump — especially on the catwalk-ready bangers "Bad Romance" and "Dance in the Dark," both of which take Depeche Mode-ish synth mopes and turn that frown upside down by mixing in some "Vogue"-era-Madge panache. "I'm a free bitch, baby!", she intones in the midst of both tunes, and that's more than a statement of liberation from a significant other — it's a manifesto of creative domination from a hardened control freak who's only just getting started.