The album received generally favorable reviews from music critics, who commended the album's lyrical content and Gaga's musicianship and vocal ability. The album was a commercial success, topping the charts in different countries worldwide, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Poland and Switzerland. In the United States, it peaked at number two on the Billboard200, while topping the Dance/Electronic Albums chart for 107 non-consecutive weeks. The Fame became the fifth best-selling album of 2009. It has sold 4.79 million copies in the United States as of February 2018 and is the seventh best-selling digital album in history. The album had sold 15 million copies worldwide as of November 2010.
The first two singles from The Fame—"Just Dance" and "Poker Face"—gained international success, topping the charts in several countries worldwide, including the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. Subsequent singles "LoveGame" and "Paparazzi", were commercial successes as well, charting within the top 10 of more than 10 countries worldwide. "Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)" had a limited release, while "Beautiful, Dirty, Rich" was a promotional single. Combined with its reissue, The Fame Monster, the album has sold over 15 million copies worldwide.
While establishing herself as an artist and working her way up through the New York underground club scene, Gaga released her debut studio album, The Fame. Speaking about the title and concept of the album, Gaga explained: "The Fame is about how anyone can feel famous. [...] Pop culture is art. It doesn't make you cool to hate pop culture, so I embraced it and you hear it all over The Fame. But, it's a sharable fame. I want to invite you all to the party. I want people to feel a part of this lifestyle." Gaga stated in an interview with MTV UK that she had been working on the album for two and a half years and completed half of it during the first week of January 2008. As well as writing the lyrics, Gaga worked on the melodies and synth work of the album, with record producer RedOne. According to Gaga, the first track "Just Dance" is a joyous, heart-themed song, which appeals to people going through tough times in their life. "LoveGame", the second track, was inspired by Gaga's sexual crush on a stranger in a night club to whom she said, "I wanna ride on your disco stick". It was written in four minutes based on the disco stick hook. "Paparazzi" has been interpreted with different meanings. However Gaga explained in an interview with About.com, that the song was inspired by her struggles and hunger for fame and love. Essentially a love song, "Paparazzi" dealt with enticing the media and asked the question, whether one can have both fame and love.
"Poker Face" was inspired by Gaga's boyfriends who enjoyed gambling, and also dealt with her personal experience of bisexuality; her fantasies about women while having sex with men, thus representing her 'poker face'." "Boys, Boys, Boys" was inspired by the similarly titled Mötley Crüe song "Girls, Girls, Girls". Gaga explained that she wanted a female version of the song that rockers would like too. "Beautiful, Dirty, Rich" summed up her time of self-discovery, living in the Lower East Side and dabbling in drugs and the party scene. "Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)" was about breaking up with a boyfriend and finding someone new. "Brown Eyes" was inspired by the British rock band Queen and, according to Gaga, is the most vulnerable song on the album.
Gaga further clarified the ideas behind The Fame, and her inspirations and visions for the album. She believed that the most important thing missing from contemporary pop music was the combination of the visual imagery of the artist with the music. Gaga incorporated theatrics in her live performances of the songs from the album. Hence she hoped that people would take notice of the performance art, which she was trying to bring back with the album and its music; according to her, the music put the lifestyle in front of it.
"I just feel like this record is really different- you[']ve got club bangers to more 70s glam to more singer-songwriter records to rock music. [...] The Fame is not about who you are—it's about how everybody wants to know who you are! Buy it and listen to it before you go out or in the car. [...] I think you've really got to allow artists' creativity to marinate. It took me a while but really delving into myself I finally got it. I couldn't be more proud of it. It's not just a record[,] it's a whole pop art movement[.] It's not just about one song."
Lyrically, the songs on The Fame talk about being famous and achieving popularity; "Poker Face" is about sexual innuendo and teasing. Gaga explained in an interview with the Daily Star that the lyrics carry a bit of an undertone of confusion about love and sex. According to the BBC, the "Mum-mum-mum-mah" hook used in the song is copied from Boney M's 1977 hit "Ma Baker". "Just Dance" talks about being intoxicated in a party, with lyrics like "What's going on on the floor? / I love this record, baby but I can't see straight anymore". "LoveGame" portrays a message about love, fame and sexuality which is akin to the central theme of album. "Paparazzi" portrays a stalker who is following somebody being his or her biggest fan. The lyrics also portray the desire of capturing the attention of the camera as well as achieving fame. Gaga explained that,
"This idea of The Fame runs through and through. Basically, if you have nothing—no money, no fame—you can still feel beautiful and dirty rich. It's about making choices, and having references—things you pull from your life that you believe in. It's about self-discovery and being creative. The record is slightly focused, but it's also eclectic.[...] The music is intended to inspire people to feel a certain way about themselves, so they'll be able to encompass, in their own lives, a sense of inner fame that they can project to the world, and the carefree nature of the album is a reflection of that aura. I like to funnel interesting ideas to the rest of the world through a pop lens."
The Fame received generally positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 71, based on 13 reviews. In a five star review for AllMusic, editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine called the album "music that sounds thickly sexy with its stainless steel synths and dark disco rhythms", and wrote that it is "glorious pop trash and a wicked parody of it." Nicole Powers of URB complimented its "irony-laden lyrics, delivered in a style that owes a little something to Gwen Stefani," as well as the album's "deluxe ditties". Mikael Wood of Entertainment Weekly called it "remarkably (and exhaustingly) pure in its vision of a world in which nothing trumps being beautiful, dirty, and rich. In this economy, though, her high-times escapism has its charms".
Alexis Petridis of The Guardian found it "packing an immensely addictive melody or an inescapable hook, virtually everything sounds like another hit single", and predicted that it "certainly sounds like it could be big." Daniel Brockman from The Phoenix wrote that "Gaga ups the ante in terms of catchy songwriting and sheer high-in-the-club-banging-to-the-beat abandon." Ben Hogwood of musicOMH praised Gaga's "blend of sassy attitude, metallic beats and sharp, incisive songwriting", elements which he felt are integral to "creating pop music".
Although he panned "Eh Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)", "Paper Gangsta", and "Brown Eyes", Evan Sawdey of PopMatters called The Fame "a solid dance album" and wrote that "much of the album’s success can be attributed to rising club producer RedOne."Joey Guerra from the Houston Chronicle felt that although the songs present in the album are not innovative, Gaga deserved credit for bringing real dance music to the mass. Genevieve Koski of The A.V. Club felt that the "whole point" of the album is "glitter-laced, dance-inciting energy that bodes well for extended club play".Slant Magazine's Sal Cinquemani viewed that Gaga's lyrics veer between "cheap" and "nonsensical drivel", while her singing is "uneven at best". He added that the highlights such as "Poker Face", "Starstruck", "Paper Gangsta", and "Summerboy" rely "almost solely on their snappy production and sing-along hooks."
In the United States, The Fame debuted at number 17 on the Billboard 200 with sales of 24,000 on the issue dated November 15, 2008. After fluctuating down the charts, the album reached number 10 on the issue dated March 7, 2009. The album also topped Billboard's Dance/Electronic Albums chart; it stayed at the number-one spot for 106 non-consecutive weeks. In March 2010, the album was certified three-times platinum for shipments of three million copies, by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). With the release of The Fame Monster, which was also combined with The Fame as a deluxe edition, the album jumped from 34 to 6 on the Billboard 200 with sales of 151,000. It reached its highest sales week on the issue dated January 9, 2010 with 169,000 copies sold. On the issue dated January 16, 2010, The Fame moved to a new peak of two on the Billboard 200 after being on the charts for 62 weeks. By the end of 2009, The Fame became the fifth best-selling album of the year.
The Fame has sold 4.79 million copies in the United States as of February 2018 and is the seventh best-selling digital album, selling 1.086 million digital copies. Including equivalent album units, The Fame has sold 8.8 million in the country. Following Gaga's Super Bowl LI halftime show performance, The Fame re-entered the Billboard 200 at number 6, selling 17,000 copies and 38,000 total album-equivalent units. It has spent a total of 200 weeks on the chart.
In Canada, the album reached number-one, and has been certified seven times platinum by the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) for shipment of 560,000 copies, and sold 476,000 copies as of March 2011. The album debuted at number six, and peaked at number two in New Zealand as well as being certified double platinum. In Australia, the album debuted at number 12 and peaked at number three. The album has been certified quadruple platinum in Australia, by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) for shipments of 280,000 copies.
In France, The Fame debuted at number 73 and peaked at number two for five weeks. It has been certified diamond status by the Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique and, as of February 2012, has sold 630,000 copies. In Ireland, the album entered the charts at number-eight, and in its fifth week climbed to number-one for two consecutive weeks. In mainland Europe, the album peaked at number one on the European Top 100 Albums, the Austrian Albums Chart and the German Album Chart. In Germany, it became the fourth most downloaded album ever. It also reached the top 20 in Mexico, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, and Switzerland. Combined with its reissue, The Fame Monster, the album has sold over 15 million copies worldwide.
The album received further promotion from her first headlining concert tourThe Fame Ball Tour, which started on March 12, 2009 in San Diego, California. It was Gaga's first concert tour with North American shows in March, followed by dates in Oceania and a solo trek through Europe. Dates in Asia soon followed, as well as two performances at England's V Festival and two shows in North America that had been postponed from April. Gaga described the tour as a traveling museum show incorporating artist Andy Warhol's pop-performance art concept. Tickets were distributed for charity also. Alternate versions of the show with minimal variations were planned by Gaga to accommodate different venues.
The show consisted of four segments, with each segment being followed by a video interlude to the next segment, and it ended with an encore. The set list consisted of songs from The Fame only. Gaga appeared on the stage in new costumes including an innovative dress made entirely of bubbles and premiered an unreleased song called "Future Love". An alternate set list with minor changes was performed for European dates. The show received positive critical appreciation with critics complimenting her vocal clarity and fashion sense as well as her ability to pull off theatrics like a professional artist. Gaga's second headlining tour, The Monster Ball Tour was also heavily consistent with songs from The Fame album, besides tracks from its reissue, The Fame Monster.
Gaga performing the lead single, “Just Dance” in a Montreal club. Before embarking on her first tour, Gaga had performed songs from the album in several small clubs.
"Just Dance" was released as the album's lead single commercially worldwide on June 17, 2008, through digital distribution. The song was critically acclaimed with reviewers complimenting its club anthem-like nature and the synth-pop associated with it. It achieved commercial success by topping charts in the United States, Australia, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, as well as reaching the top 10 in 16 other countries. The song received a Grammy nomination in the Best Dance Recording category but lost to electronic duo Daft Punk for their song "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger".
"Poker Face" was released as the second single from the album. It was also well received by critics, most of whom have praised the robotic hook and the chorus. The single achieved greater success than "Just Dance" by topping the charts in almost all the countries it was released to. "Poker Face" became Gaga's second consecutive number one on the Hot 100. On December 2, 2009, "Poker Face" received three Grammy nominations in the categories of Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and won for Best Dance Recording.
"Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)" was the album's third single in Australia, New Zealand, Sweden and Denmark and fourth in France. The song received mixed reviews. Some critics compared it to nineties Europop while the others criticized it for bringing the party-like nature of the album to a halt. It failed to match the success of the previous singles in Australia and New Zealand by reaching 15 and nine, respectively. It peaked at two in Sweden and at seven in France.
"LoveGame" was released as the third single in the United States, Canada and some European nations. It was the fourth single in Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. The song was critically appreciated for its catchy tune and the "I wanna take a ride on your disco stick" hook. The song has reached the top 10 in countries such as the United States, Australia and Canada and the top 20 in others.
"Paparazzi" was announced as the third single in the United Kingdom and Ireland with a release date of July 6, 2009, the fourth single in the United States, and the fifth single overall. The song has reached the top five in Australia, Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom. It also reached the top 10 in the United States. The song has received critical acclaim for its fun-filled, club-friendly nature and is deemed the most memorable and telling song from the album. The associated music video for the song was shot as a mini-movie with Gaga starring as a doomed starlet who is almost killed by her boyfriend, but in the end takes her revenge and reclaims her fame and popularity.
The Fame Monster
The Fame Monster is a reissue of The Fame, released on November 18, 2009. Initially planned solely as a part of the deluxe edition of The Fame, Interscope later decided to release the eight new songs as a standalone EP in some territories. The decision was also due to Gaga believing 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 contains The Fame in its entirety along with The Fame Monster. The album deals with the darker side of fame, as experienced by Gaga over the course of 2008–09 while travelling around the world, and are expressed through a monster metaphor. Cover artwork was done by Hedi Slimane and has a gothic look which Gaga had to convince her record company to allow her to shoot. The composition takes its inspiration from Gothic music and fashion shows. Contemporary critics gave a positive review of the album, with the majority of them complimenting the songs "Bad Romance", "Telephone", and "Dance in the Dark". In some countries the album charted together with The Fame while in others like the United States, Canada and Japan, it charted as a separate album. It has reached top 10 in most of the major markets. She announced The Monster Ball Tour supporting the album, which started on November 27, 2009, and continued through until Spring 2011.
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