Yet another ubiquitous name on almost every tastemaker's 'Tips for 2009' list, New York-born pop starlet Lady GaGa has a lot to live up to. Still only 22 years old, Joanne Stefani Germanotta has the expectations of the world on her shoulders, but seems to be handling it adeptly - first signing to Def Jam and then Interscope, the label she recorded her debut album for last year. Since then, the self-confessed pop culture enthusiast has had huge hits with her singles Just Dance and Poker Face from Canada to New Zealand - but the reality of her full-length offering is that it's nowhere near as cutting-edge as it's been made out to be.
'The Fame''s main problem is an obvious and fundamental one: it's simply too homogenous to have any huge significance on the musical landscape. Sure, the aforementioned songs are solid, electro-dazzling pop numbers with choruses that'll keep your mind temporarily occupied, and there are several other tracks destined for chart greatness this year (synth-burdened Britney cast-off Paparazzi, the Katy Perry-esque Boys, Boys, Boys) - but there's nary a track here that hasn't been trumped by the likes of Kiwi artist Ladyhawke's similar endeavours.
That said, Beautiful, Dirty, Rich, with its souped-up funk twang, and the sheer danceability of the title track means that The Fame isn't a total dud, and perhaps Lady Gaga isn't the flash in the pan that her debut album suggests, after all. It does mean, however, that sometimes, the tastemakers can get it wrong.