Lady Gaga, 'The Fame Monster' (Cherrytree/Interscope)

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by Josh Modell

It's comforting to learn that Lady Gaga's supposed dark side-The Fame Monster offers a flipside to The Fame's sexy fun-is just as fun-loving and club-rousing as the songs that made her famous, because, really, her playful façade is a huge part of her appeal. So the undeniable "Bad Romance," with its earworm nonsense lyric ("ba-ra-a-a-a, ra-ma, uh-uh-ah!"), throws in a couple of negative-sounding words, but plays like the best Madonna song in ages. And "Dance in the Dark" leans similarly Madge-tastic.

When Gaga reaches for sincere balladry, though, she sounds lost: "Speechless" relies on a confusing twang, as if she's reaching for the one audience she has yet to tap, and then drifts into Celine Dion territory-a place better left to those whose popularity isn't so inextricably linked to plastic-bubble dresses and infectious synth beats.

WATCH: Lady Gaga, "Bad Romance"

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