Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga

Black and white image of Lady Gaga looking a little to her left

Gaga speaking at a vigil for the victims of the shooting in Orlando on the steps of the Los Angeles City Hall in June 2016
Born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta
(1986-03-28) March 28, 1986
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
Alma mater New York University
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • actress
  • record producer
Years active 2001–present
Net worth US$275 million (February 2016 estimate)[1]

Musical career

  • Vocals
  • piano
Associated acts

Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta (/ˈstɛfən ɜːrməˈnɒtə/ STEF-ə-nee jur-mə-NOT; born March 28, 1986), known professionally as Lady Gaga, is an American singer, songwriter and actress. She performed initially in theater, appearing in high school plays, and studied at CAP21 through NYU's Tisch School of the Arts before dropping out to pursue a musical career. After leaving a rock band, participating in the Lower East Side's avant garde performance art circuit, and being dropped from a contract with Def Jam Recordings, Gaga worked as a songwriter for Sony/ATV Music Publishing. From there, recording artist Akon noticed her vocal abilities and helped her to sign a joint deal with Interscope Records and his own KonLive Distribution.

Her debut album The Fame (2008) was a critical and commercial success that produced global chart-topping singles such as "Just Dance" and "Poker Face". A follow-up EP, The Fame Monster (2009), was met with a similar reception and "Bad Romance", "Telephone", and "Alejandro" were released, becoming successful singles. Her second full-length album Born This Way was released in 2011, topping the charts in more than 20 countries, including the United States, where it sold over one million copies in its first week. The album produced the number-one single "Born This Way". Her third album Artpop, released in 2013, topped the US charts and included the successful single "Applause". In 2014, Gaga released a collaborative jazz album with Tony Bennett titled Cheek to Cheek, which became her third consecutive number one in the United States. For her work in the television series American Horror Story: Hotel, Gaga won a Golden Globe Award in 2016. She became the first woman to have four US number one albums in the 2010s when her fifth studio album Joanne (2016) topped the nation's charts.

With global album and single sales of 27 million and 146 million respectively, as of January 2016, she is one of the best-selling musicians of all time. Her achievements include twelve Guinness World Records, three Brit Awards, and six Grammy Awards. She is also the first artist to win the Songwriters Hall of Fame's Contemporary Icon Award. Other accolades include a Fashion Icon lifetime achievement award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (2011), regular appearances on Billboard's Artists of the Year lists and Forbes's power and earnings rankings. In 2013, Gaga finished second on Time's readers' poll of the most influential people of the past ten years, while in 2015, she was named Billboard's Woman of the Year. She is known for her philanthropic work and social activism, including LGBT rights and her own non-profit organization, the Born This Way Foundation, which focuses on promoting youth empowerment and combating bullying.

Life and career

1986–2004: Early life

Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta was born on March 28, 1986, at the Lenox Hill Hospital on Manhattan's Upper East Side [2] to a Catholic family.[3] She is the elder daughter of Cynthia Louise "Cindy" (Bissett) and Internet entrepreneur Joseph Anthony "Joe" Germanotta, Jr.[4][5][6] Gaga is of 75 percent Italian descent, and also has French Canadian ancestry.[7][8][9] Gaga's sister Natali is a fashion student.[10] Despite her affluent upbringing on Manhattan's Upper West Side, she says that her parents "both came from lower-class families, so we've worked for everything—my mother worked eight to eight out of the house, in telecommunications, and so did my father."[11][12] From age eleven, she attended the Convent of the Sacred Heart, a private, all-girls Roman Catholic school on Manhattan's Upper East Side.[13][14][15] She described her academic life in high school as "very dedicated, very studious, very disciplined" but also "a bit insecure". "I used to get made fun of for being either too provocative or too eccentric, so I started to tone it down. I didn't fit in, and I felt like a freak."[16] Gaga began playing the piano at the age of four, wrote her first piano ballad at thirteen, and started to perform at open mic nights by the age of fourteen.[17] She performed lead roles in high school productions, including Adelaide in Guys and Dolls and Philia in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.[18] She also appeared in a very small role as a mischievous classmate in the television drama series The Sopranos in a 2001 episode titled "The Telltale Moozadell". She auditioned for New York shows without success.[11][19] She also studied method acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute for ten years.[20][21]

After high school, her mother encouraged her to apply for the Collaborative Arts Project 21 (CAP21), a musical theater training conservatory at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.[11] One of 20 students to gain early admission, she, aged 17, lived in an NYU dorm on 11th Street.[18] In addition to sharpening her songwriting skills, she composed essays and analytical papers on art, religion, social issues, and politics, including a thesis on pop artists Spencer Tunick and Damien Hirst.[22][23] She also auditioned for various roles and won the part of an unsuspecting diner customer for MTV's Boiling Points, a prank reality television show.[11][24]

2005–2007: Career beginnings

At age 19, Gaga withdrew from CAP21 in the second semester of her sophomore year, deciding to focus on her musical career.[25] In mid-2005, Gaga recorded a couple of songs with hip-hop singer Grandmaster Melle Mel, for an audio book accompanying Cricket Casey's children's book The Portal in the Park.[11][26] She also formed a band called the Stefani Germanotta Band (SGBand) with some friends from NYU.[11][18] The band played at gigs around New York becoming a local fixture of the downtown Lower East Side club scene.[18] After the 2006 Songwriters Hall of Fame New Songwriters Showcase at The Cutting Room in June, Gaga was recommended to music producer Rob Fusari by talent scout Wendy Starland.[27] Fusari collaborated with Gaga, who traveled daily to New Jersey, to work on songs she had written and to compose new material with him.[11] According to the producer, they began dating in May 2006, and he claimed to have created the "Lady Gaga" moniker after the Queen song "Radio Ga Ga".[28] The singer was in the process of trying to come up with a stage name when she received a text message from Fusari that read "Lady Gaga". He explained, "Every day, when Stef came to the studio, instead of saying hello, I would start singing 'Radio Ga Ga'". The text message was the result of a predictive text glitch that changed "radio" to "lady". Fusari said she texted back, "That's it", and declared, "Don't ever call me Stefani again."[29][30]

Fusari and Gaga established a company called Team Lovechild LLC to promote her career.[28] They recorded and produced electropop tracks and sent them to music industry executives.[31] Joshua Sarubin, the head of A&R at Def Jam Recordings, responded positively and after agreement from his boss, Antonio "L.A." Reid, Gaga was signed to Def Jam in September 2006.[11] However, she was dropped by the label after only three months – a period of her life that later inspired the music video of her 2011 single "Marry the Night".[32] Devastated, Gaga returned to the solace of the family home for Christmas and the nightlife culture of the Lower East Side. She became increasingly experimental: fascinating herself with emerging neo-burlesque shows, go-go dancing at bars dressed in little more than a bikini, in addition to experimenting with drugs.[33] Gaga explained her antics represented freedom: "I went to a Catholic school but it was on the New York underground that I found myself."[11][14][22] Her relationship with Fusari ended in January 2007 following which she became romantically involved with a heavy metal drummer. She compared this relationship and the subsequent breakup to the musical film Grease: "I was his Sandy, and he was my Danny, and I just broke."[34]

Gaga (right) performing with Lady Starlight at Lollapalooza 2007

During this time, she met performance artist Lady Starlight, who helped mold her onstage persona.[35] Like SGBand, the pair soon began performing at many of the downtown club venues like the Mercury Lounge, The Bitter End, and the Rockwood Music Hall. Their live performance art piece was known as "Lady Gaga and the Starlight Revue" and, billed as "The Ultimate Pop Burlesque Rockshow", was a low-fi tribute to 1970s variety acts.[36][37] Their performance at the 2007 Lollapalooza music festival[38] was critically acclaimed.[36]

Having initially focused on avant-garde electronic dance music, Gaga found her musical niche when she began to incorporate pop melodies and the glam rock of David Bowie and Queen into her music. While Gaga and Starlight were busy performing, Fusari continued to work on the songs he had created with Gaga. He sent these songs to his friend, producer and record executive Vincent Herbert.[39] The latter was quick to sign her to his label Streamline Records, an imprint of Interscope Records, established in 2007.[40] Gaga later credited Herbert as the man who discovered her, adding: "I really feel like we made pop history, and we're gonna keep going."[39] Having served as an apprentice songwriter during an internship at Famous Music Publishing, (later acquired by Sony/ATV Music Publishing), Gaga subsequently struck a music publishing deal with Sony/ATV. As a result, she was hired to write songs for Britney Spears and label mates New Kids on the Block, Fergie, and The Pussycat Dolls.[41] At Interscope, singer-songwriter Akon recognized her vocal abilities when she sang a reference vocal for one of his tracks in studio.[42] Akon then convinced Interscope Geffen A&M Chairman and CEO Jimmy Iovine to form a joint deal by having her also sign with his own label Kon Live, making her his "franchise player".[32][43]

Towards the end of 2007, Gaga met with songwriter and producer RedOne.[44] Gaga collaborated with him in the recording studio for a week on her debut album, and also joined the roster of Cherrytree Records, an Interscope imprint established by producer and songwriter Martin Kierszenbaum; she also wrote four songs with Kierszenbaum.[41] Despite her secure record deal, she admitted that there was fear about her being too "racy", "dance-oriented" and "underground" for the mainstream market. Her response: "My name is Lady Gaga, I've been on the music scene for years, and I'm telling you, this is what's next."[15]

2008–2010: The Fame and The Fame Monster

Gaga performing at The Fame Ball Tour in 2009

By 2008, Gaga relocated to Los Angeles in order to work extensively with her record label to complete her debut album, The Fame, and set up her own creative team called the Haus of Gaga, modeled on Andy Warhol's Factory.[30][45] The Fame was released on August 19, 2008, with positive reception. Critics noted the album's combination of genres, "from Def Leppard drums and hand claps to metal drums on urban tracks", the inspiration drawn from 1980s synthpop and incorporation of dance music.[32] The Fame went to number one in Austria, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland and the UK and appeared in the top five in Australia, the US and 15 other countries.[46][47] Its first two singles, "Just Dance" and "Poker Face", became worldwide commercial successes.[48][49][50] "Poker Face" won the award for Best Dance Recording at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards while The Fame won Best Dance/Electronica Album at the same ceremony.[51] Three other successful singles were released from the album—"Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)", "LoveGame", and "Paparazzi".[49]

Following her opening act on The Pussycat Dolls' 2009 Doll Domination Tour in Europe and Oceania, Gaga embarked on her own worldwide The Fame Ball Tour, which ran from March to September 2009.[52] While she traveled the globe, Gaga released The Fame Monster, an EP of eight songs, in November 2009. Each song dealt with the darker side of fame from personal experience, expressed through a monster metaphor. Lead single "Bad Romance" topped the charts in 18 countries and reached number two in the US, Australia and New Zealand; it won the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Best Short Form Music Video.[53][54][55] Two other singles were released from the EP, "Telephone" (featuring Beyoncé) and "Alejandro". The former became Gaga's fourth UK number one single, while the latter faced controversy for its music video, which was deemed blasphemous by the Catholic League.[56][57] Despite the controversy surrounding her music videos, Gaga became the first artist to gain over one billion viral views on video-sharing website YouTube.[58] At the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, Gaga won 8 of her 13 nominations, including Video of the Year for "Bad Romance".[59][60] In addition, The Fame Monster won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album.[61][62] Gaga also released, The Remix, which became her final record with Cherrytree Records.[63] Forbes first listed Gaga on their 2010 Celebrity 100 and World's Most Powerful Women lists ranking her fourth and seventh, respectively.[64][65]

A blond woman with a purple outfit.
Gaga performing at The Monster Ball Tour in 2010

The success of The Fame and The Fame Monster allowed Gaga to start her second worldwide concert tour, The Monster Ball Tour, just weeks after finishing The Fame Ball Tour.[66] Critically and commercially successful, the tour began in November 2009 and ended in May 2011, and grossed $227.4 million, making it the highest-grossing for a debut headlining artist.[67][68] Concerts performed at Madison Square Garden in New York City were filmed for an HBO television special titled Lady Gaga Presents the Monster Ball Tour: At Madison Square Garden.[69] Gaga also performed songs from the albums at international events such as the 2009 Royal Variety Performance, 52nd Annual Grammy Awards, and the 2010 BRIT Awards.[70] Other performances might have included her participation in Michael Jackson's This Is It concert series at London's O2 Arena had he not died of a drug overdose. Gaga clarified that she was: "actually asked to open for Michael on his tour... We were going to open for him at the O2 and we were working on making it happen. I believe there was some talk about us, lots of the openers, doing duets with Michael on stage."[71]

During this era Gaga ventured into business, collaborating with consumer electronics company Monster Cable Products to create a pair of in-ear, jewel-encrusted, headphones titled Heartbeats. "They are designed to be the first ever fashion accessories that double as the absolute best sonically sounding headphones in the world," she commented.[72] Gaga also partnered with Polaroid in January 2010 as their Creative Director and revealed a trio of new photo capturing products called Grey Label.[73][74] But her collaboration with past producer, and ex-boyfriend, Rob Fusari led to her production team, Mermaid Music LLC, being sued in March 2010 when he claimed that he was entitled to a 20% share of the company's earnings. The New York Supreme Court dismissed both the lawsuit and a countersuit by Gaga.[75][76] In addition to such strife, Gaga was tested borderline positive for lupus, but claimed not to be affected by the symptoms. The singer addressed the matter in an interview with Larry King, saying she hopes to avoid symptoms by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.[77][78]

2011–2014: Born This Way, Artpop and Cheek to Cheek

Gaga performing on the Born This Way Ball in 2012

In February 2011, Gaga released the lead single "Born This Way" from her studio album of the same name. The song debuted atop the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the 1,000th number-one single in the history of the charts.[79][80] Its second single "Judas" also peaked within the top ten in several major musical markets, while "The Edge of Glory", first a commercial success in digital outlets, was later released as a single to rave critical reviews.[81][82] Born This Way, released on May 23, 2011, debuted atop the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 1.108 million copies, and topped the charts in more than 20 other countries.[83] The album sold eight million copies worldwide, and received three Grammy Award nominations, including her third Album of the Year listing.[84] The album's following singles "You and I" and "Marry the Night" failed to match the international success.[85] In July 2011, she started dating actor and model Taylor Kinney, whom she met while filming the "You and I" music video.[86] The accompanying tour for Born This Way, titled the Born This Way Ball, began in April 2012 and concluded in February 2013. Some of the tour's shows were cancelled due to a labral tear of her right hip.[87][88] Shortly thereafter Gaga confirmed that she had hip surgery, and was recovering.[89] The tour earned $186.82 million globally.[90] Gaga was ranked as the second most-played artist of 2011 in the United Kingdom by the PPL.[91] She also topped the Celebrity 100 List, with earnings of US$90 million, and was the highest ranked entertainer on Forbes World's Most Powerful Women in the eleventh position.[92][93] In March 2012, Gaga was ranked fourth on Billboard's list of top moneymakers of 2011 with earnings of $25 million, which included sales from Born This Way and her Monster Ball Tour.[94]

During this period, Gaga recorded a jazz version of "The Lady Is a Tramp" with Tony Bennett[95] and lent her vocals to a song with Elton John for the animated feature film, Gnomeo & Juliet.[96][97] She held a concert at the Sydney Town Hall, Australia, to promote Born This Way, and at the celebration of former US president Bill Clinton's 65th birthday.[98][99] Later that year, Gaga directed the critically acclaimed Thanksgiving Day television special, A Very Gaga Thanksgiving, which attained 5.749 million American viewers, and spawned the release of her fourth EP, A Very Gaga Holiday.[100][101][102] In May 2012, Gaga guest-starred as an animated version of herself on the 23rd-season finale of The Simpsons, titled "Lisa Goes Gaga".[103][104] She also appeared in Tony Bennett's documentary film, The Zen of Bennett (2012).[105] The following month, she announced her first fragrance in association with Coty, Inc., Lady Gaga Fame, which was released worldwide in September 2012.[106]

Gaga promoting Artpop with the ArtRave: The Artpop Ball tour, 2014

New songs for Gaga's third studio album, Artpop, were beginning to take definite form as she worked with producer Fernando Garibay in early 2012.[107][108] Work on the album continued well into the Born This Way Ball tour.[109] She yearned to make audiences have "a really good time" with Artpop, crafting the album to mirror "a night at the club".[110] Artpop was released in November 2013. Despite mixed reviews,[111] it debuted atop the Billboard 200 chart, and has sold 2.5 million copies as of July 2014.[112][113] The album spawned successful singles in "Applause" and "Do What U Want", featuring R&B singer R. Kelly.[114][115][116] A third release, "G.U.Y.", became Gaga's weakest performing single to date.[117][118] Gaga embarked on the accompanying ArtRave: The Artpop Ball tour several months later, building upon concepts from her ArtRave promotional event. Scooping up $83 million, the itinerary saw her visit new cities and several locations initially included in the Born This Way Ball tour.[119][120] Meanwhile, Gaga split from longtime manager Troy Carter over "creative differences",[121] and by June 2014, she and new manager Bobby Campbell joined Artist Nation, the artist management division of Live Nation Entertainment.[122] She topped Forbes' List of Top-Earning Celebs Under 30, and ranked second on the Celebrity 100 List and Time's anniversary poll of the most influential people of the past ten years.[123][124]

Gaga starred in Robert Rodriguez's Machete Kills (2013), a critical and commercial failure that earned her a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress nomination.[125][126] The singer also hosted the November 16, 2013 episode of Saturday Night Live, where she performed "Do What U Want" (with Kelly) and an album cut, "Gypsy".[127][128] Later that month, she held her second Thanksgiving Day television special on ABC, Lady Gaga and the Muppets' Holiday Spectacular.[129] Gaga had a cameo in another Robert Rodriguez film, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, released on August 22, 2014.[130] She was confirmed as the Versace's spring-summer 2014 face with a campaign called "Lady Gaga For Versace".[131][132]

In 2014, Gaga collaborated with American jazz singer Tony Bennett on the jazz album Cheek to Cheek. She explained her inspiration behind the album: "Cheek to Cheek came out of a very organic friendship and relationship that Tony and I have built over the years and it truly was a collaborative effort... I've been singing jazz since I was a child and really wanted to show the authentic side of the genre."[133] The album received generally favorable reviews,[134] with Caroline Sullivan of The Guardian praising Gaga's vocals in it, and Chicago Tribune critic Howard Reich wrote that "Cheek to Cheek serves up the real thing, start to finish".[135][136] The album debuted atop the Billboard 200, becoming Gaga's third consecutive number-one record in the United States,[137] and went on to win a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.[138] The duo recorded a concert special, called Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga: Cheek to Cheek Live!,[139] and embarked on the Cheek to Cheek Tour, which began in December 2014 and concluded in August 2015.[140] The same year, Gaga also had a seven-day residency show commemorating the final performance at New York's Roseland Ballroom before its closure.[141] She also released her second fragrance in association with Coty Inc., named Eau de Gaga.[142]

2015–present: American Horror Story and Joanne

Gaga after singing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl 50, on February 7, 2016

In February 2015, Gaga became engaged to Taylor Kinney.[143] At the 87th Academy Awards, she performed a tribute to The Sound of Music, singing a medley of songs from the film.[144] Singing in a cut-glass English accent, the performance triggered over 214,000 interactions per minute globally on Facebook, and she was later greeted on stage by Julie Andrews who played Maria in the film.[145][146] Gaga performed a piano version of John Lennon's "Imagine" at the opening ceremony of the 2015 European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan.[147] Gaga and Diane Warren co-wrote a song titled "Til It Happens to You" for the documentary The Hunting Ground,[148] which earned them the Satellite Award for Best Original Song and an Academy Award nomination in the same category.[149][150] On October 2, 2015, a fashion film, directed by Nick Knight, was released for Tom Ford's 2016 spring campaign, which depicts Gaga among several models dancing around a catwalk. It featured a new version of Chic's "I Want Your Love", recorded by Gaga in collaboration with Nile Rodgers.[151][152] Some of the accolades received by the singer in 2016 included the Contemporary Icon Award at the 2015 Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Awards,[153] the Young Artist Award at the 2015 National Arts Awards,[154] and being ranked number 25 as the third female singer on the 2015 Forbes Celebrity 100 list, with earnings of US$59 million.[155] Billboard also named Gaga its 2015 Woman of the Year.[156] In November 2015, Gaga and Tony Bennett were featured in a commercial for Barnes & Noble's 2015 holiday campaign, for which they recorded a rendition of "Baby, It's Cold Outside".[157]

Gaga starred in American Horror Story: Hotel, the fifth season of American Horror Story, which ran from October 2015 to January 2016.[158][159] She played Elizabeth, the owner of the titular hotel.[158] Despite her performance receiving mixed reviews,[160][161][162] she won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film at the 2016 ceremony.[163] Following her win, she signed with the Creative Artists Agency (CAA) having previously been signed with William Morris Endeavor (WME).[164] In January 2016, Gaga was invited to be the guest editor for the V magazine for its 99th issue, which features sixteen different covers.[165] She subsequently received the award for Editor of the Year for her work on the magazine in March during the Fashion Los Angeles Awards.[166] Gaga's live performances in 2016 included singing the US national anthem on February 7, at Super Bowl 50,[167][168] partnering with Intel and Nile Rodgers for a tribute performance to the late David Bowie at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards,[169] and singing "Til It Happens to You" at the 88th Academy Awards, where she was introduced by Joe Biden and accompanied on-stage by 50 sexual assault survivors.[170] On April 4, 2016, Gaga was honored at the Jane Ortner Education Award by The Grammy Museum, with the Jane Ortner Artist Award, which recognizes artists who has demonstrated passion and dedication to education through the arts.[171] Gaga and Elton John released a clothing and accessories line at Macy's on May 9, 2016, to support their charities.[172]

Gaga appeared in three episodes of American Horror Story: Roanoke, the series' sixth iteration, which ran from September to November 2016.[173] Her character is an actress who appears in the My Roanoke Nightmare documentary as Scathach, the original Supreme witch who lived amongst the Roanoke colonists.[174] Gaga's fifth album, Joanne, was released on October 21, 2016. It sold 170,000 copies in the US during its first week, and became her fourth album to reach number one in the nation. As a result, Gaga became the first woman to have four US number one albums in the 2010s.[175] Its first single, "Perfect Illusion", was released that September[176] and debuted at number one in France.[177] To promote the album, Gaga embarked on a 3-date tour, sponsored by Bud Light, called Dive Bar Tour.[178]

Gaga's future projects include starring in Bradley Cooper's remake of the 1954 musical drama film, A Star Is Born, as well as creating new music for the film. Filming is scheduled to commence in 2017.[179][180] Gaga will also perform at the Super Bowl LI halftime show on February 5, 2017.[181]


Musical style

Continually experimenting with new musical ideas and images, Gaga's musical and performance style is the subject of much analysis and scrutiny from critics. She professes that she is "liberating" herself by constantly reinventing her sound and image, insisting that she has been drawn to such a practice since her childhood.[182] Refusing to lip sync, Gaga – whose range is frequently compared to those of Madonna and Gwen Stefani – has manipulated her vocal style over the course of her career yet considers Born This Way (2011) "much more vocally up to par with what I've always been capable of."[183][184] In summation of her voice, Entertainment Weekly wrote: "There's an immense emotional intelligence behind the way she uses her voice. Almost never does she overwhelm a song with her vocal ability, recognizing instead that artistry is to be found in nuance rather than lung power."[185] Gaga possesses a contralto vocal range. [186]

Although her early lyrics have been criticized for lacking intellectual stimulation, "[Gaga] does manage to get you moving and grooving at an almost effortless pace."[187] Gaga believes that "all good music can be played on a piano and still sound like a hit."[188] She has covered a wide variety of topics in her songs: while The Fame (2008) meditates on the lust for stardom, The Fame Monster (2009) expresses fame's dark side through monster metaphors. Born This Way (2011) is sung in English, French, German, and Spanish and includes common themes in Gaga's controversial songwriting such as: sex, love, religion, money, drugs, identity, liberation, sexuality, freedom, and individualism.[189][190]

Her music style has been described as electropop[191] and as dance-pop[192] and the structure of her music is said to be influenced by classic 1980s pop and 1990s Europop.[193] Her debut album The Fame (2008) provoked The Sunday Times to assert "in combining music, fashion, art and technology, [Gaga] evokes Madonna, Gwen Stefani circa 'Hollaback Girl', Kylie Minogue 2001 or Grace Jones right now", and a critic from The Boston Globe to comment that she draws: "obvious inspirations from Madonna to Gwen Stefani... in [her] girlish but sturdy pipes and bubbly beats."[194][195] Music critic Simon Reynolds wrote that: "Everything about Gaga came from electroclash, except the music, which wasn't particularly 1980s, just ruthlessly catchy naughties pop glazed with Auto-Tune and undergirded with R&B-ish beats."[196] The follow-up The Fame Monster (2009), saw Gaga's taste for pastiche, drawing on "Seventies arena glam, perky ABBA disco, and sugary throwbacks like Stacey Q" while Born This Way (2011) also draws on the records of her childhood and still has the "electro-sleaze beats and Eurodisco chorus chants" of its predecessor but includes genres as diverse as opera, heavy metal, disco, and rock and roll.[189] "There isn't a subtle moment on the album, but even at its nuttiest, the music is full of wide-awake emotional details," wrote Rolling Stone, which concluded: "The more excessive Gaga gets, the more honest she sounds."[190] With 2014's Cheek to Cheek, Gaga dabbled in the jazz genre. Although critically appreciated for her love of the music, and the songs she recorded on the album, it was noted that Gaga's attempt to switch genres, with "her rhythmically square, shouty delivery", left her vocals sounding more like a Broadway singer than a real jazz musician.[197]


Music artists such as Madonna and David Bowie have influenced Gaga

Gaga grew up listening to artists such as: The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Queen, Bruce Springsteen, Pink Floyd, Mariah Carey, The Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, Whitney Houston, Elton John, Blondie, and Garbage,[198] who all influenced her.[199][200] She has cited heavy metal bands as an influence, stating that Iron Maiden "changed my life" and describing herself as "the biggest Black Sabbath fan on Earth".[201] Gaga's musical inspiration varies from dance-pop singers like Madonna and Michael Jackson to glam rock artists like David Bowie and Freddie Mercury, as well as the theatrics of the pop artist Andy Warhol and her own performance roots in musical theater.[32][202][203][204] Gaga has often been compared to Madonna who admits that she sees herself reflected in Gaga.[205] In response to the comparisons, Gaga stated in February 2011: "I don't want to sound presumptuous, but I've made it my goal to revolutionize pop music. The last revolution was launched by Madonna 25 years ago" in addition to commenting that: "there is really no one that is a more adoring and loving Madonna fan than me."[206] Like Madonna, Gaga has continued to reinvent herself and has drawn inspiration from the music and performances of a diverse mix of artists including: Cyndi Lauper,[207] Depeche Mode,[208] Prince,[209][210] Lily Allen,[211] Marilyn Manson,[212] Yoko Ono,[213] Ace of Base, Amber,[214] Grace Jones,[215] Beyoncé,[216] Britney Spears,[217] and Christina Aguilera.[218]

Another spiritual influence on Gaga has been the Indian physician, public speaker, and writer Deepak Chopra. Labeling him a "true inspiration", she stated that "he's always reminded me to work in a life of service to my fans and to fulfill my vision and my destiny" in addition to thinking about Chopra when it comes to her work as a musician: "I want so much for it to go beyond the music for my fans."[219] Gaga also lifted a quote from Osho's book Creativity on Twitter.[220][221] When asked about her connection to him, Gaga said she was influenced by his work and that, for her, "the creativity is the greatest way of rebellion": "Equality", she concluded, "is one of the most important things in my life."[222]

Gaga has identified fashion as a major influence and claimed that her interest in fashion came from her mother who was "always very well kept and beautiful."[223] Her musical endeavors are directly linked with fashion with the singer explaining: "When I'm writing music, I'm thinking about the clothes I want to wear on stage. It's all about everything altogether—performance art, pop performance art, fashion."[25] Gaga has been stylistically compared to Leigh Bowery, Isabella Blow, and Cher.[14][25][224][225] She commented that as a child, she somehow absorbed Cher's out-there fashion sense and made it her own.[225] Gaga considers Donatella Versace her muse, and the late English fashion designer and close friend Alexander McQueen as an inspiration, admitting that "I miss Lee every time I get dressed" while channeling him in some of her work.[14][77] In turn, Versace calls Lady Gaga "the fresh Donatella".[226] Modeled on Andy Warhol's Factory, Gaga has her own creative production team, which she handles personally, called the Haus of Gaga, who create many of her clothes, stage props, and hairdos.[227] Other fashion influences came from Princess Diana: "I love Princess Diana so much. She was an enormous influence on me when I was younger because my mother worshiped her so much. When she died, I'll never forget, my mother was crying. It was this very powerful moment in my childhood watching my mother so connected to someone".[228]

Videos and stage

Gaga during a "blood soaked" performance in 2010

With constant costume changes and provocative visuals, Gaga's music videos are often described as short films.[229] "Being provocative is not just about getting people's attention. It's about saying something that really affects people in a real way, in a positive way," she professes.[229] According to author Curtis Fogel, exploring bondage and sadomasochism in addition to highlighting prevalent feminist themes, "the three central themes that shape Gaga's music videos are sex, violence, and power."[230] While she labels herself "a little bit of a feminist" and asserts that she is "sexually empowering women",[231] Gaga strives to empower young women to stand up for what they believe in.[230] "She not only reiterates her assertion of total originality," professed pop critic Ann Powers, "but also finesses it until it's both a philosophical stance about how constructing a persona from pop-cultural sources can be an expression of a person's truth—a la those drag queens Gaga sincerely admires—and a bit of a feminist act."[232] In summation of her videos, Rolling Stone used the rhetoric: "does anyone look to a Lady Gaga video for restraint?"[85]

Her performances are described as "highly entertaining and innovative"; the blood-spurting performance of "Paparazzi" at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards was described as "eye-popping" by MTV News.[233] She continued the "blood soaked" theme during The Monster Ball Tour, and triggered protests in England from family groups and fans in the aftermath of a local tragedy, in which a taxi driver had murdered 12 people.[234] Her unconventionality continued at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards: appearing in drag as her male alter ego, Jo Calderone, and delivering a lovesick monologue before a performance of her song "You and I".[235] As Gaga's choreographer and creative director, Laurieann Gibson provided material for her shows and videos for four years only to be replaced by Gibson's assistant Richard Jackson.[236] Gaga admits to being a perfectionist when it comes to her elaborate shows. "I'm very bossy. I can scream my head off if I see one light fixture out. I'm very detailed – every minute of the show has got to be perfect."[229]

Public image

Public reception of Gaga's music, fashion sense and persona are polarized.[237] Her status as a role model, self-esteem booster for her fans, trailblazer, and fashion icon who breathes new life into the industry is by turns affirmed and denied.[238][239][240] Critics have pointed out her unique place in pop music, the need for new movements in popular culture, the attention Gaga brings to modern social issues, and the inherently subjective nature of her art.[241][242] In view of her influence on modern culture and her rise to global fame, sociologist Mathieu Deflem of the University of South Carolina has offered a course titled "Lady Gaga and the Sociology of the Fame" since spring 2011 with the objective of unravelling: "some of the sociologically relevant dimensions of the fame of Lady Gaga."[243][244] When Gaga briefly met with US president Barack Obama at a Human Rights Campaign fundraiser, he described the interaction as "intimidating" as she was dressed in 16-inch heels making her undoubtedly the tallest woman in the room.[245]

Gaga in a false meat dress with her dancers
Gaga performing in a pseudo meat dress, September 2012

Towards the end of 2008, comparisons were made between the fashions of Gaga and Aguilera, that noted similarities in their styling, hair, and make-up.[14] Aguilera stated that she was "completely unaware of [Gaga]".[14] Comparisons continued into 2010, when Aguilera released the music video of her single "Not Myself Tonight". Critics noted similarities between the song and its accompanying music video and Gaga's video for "Bad Romance".[246] When interviewed by Barbara Walters for her annual ABC News special 10 Most Fascinating People in 2009, Gaga dismissed the claim that she is intersex as an urban legend. Responding to a question on this issue, she stated, "At first it was very strange and everyone sorta said, 'That's really quite a story!' But in a sense, I portray myself in a very androgynous way, and I love androgyny."[247]

Gaga's outlandish fashion sense has also been one of her characteristic aspects.[248] The Global Language Monitor named "Lady Gaga" as the Top Fashion Buzzword with her trademark "no pants" a close third.[249] Entertainment Weekly put her outfits on its end of the decade "best-of" list, saying: "Whether it's a dress made of Muppets or strategically placed bubbles, Gaga's outré ensembles brought performance art into the mainstream."[250] Time placed Gaga on their All-Time 100 Fashion Icons List amongst some of Gaga's inspirations such as Michael Jackson, Madonna, and The Beatles, stating: "Lady Gaga is just as notorious for her outrageous style as she is for her pop hits. After all, Gaga, born Stefani Germanotta, has sported outfits made from plastic bubbles, Kermit the Frog dolls, and raw meat."[251]

Gaga wore a dress made of raw beef to the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards which was supplemented by boots, a purse, and a hat also made out of raw beef.[252] Partly awarded in recognition of the dress, Vogue named her one of the Best Dressed people of 2010 while Time named the dress the Fashion Statement of 2010. However, it promted divided opinions, attracting the attention of worldwide media but also invoking the fury of animal rights organization PETA.[253][254][255] In 2012, Gaga became a feature of a temporary exhibition The Elevated: From the Pharaoh to Lady Gaga marking the 150th anniversary of the National Museum in Warsaw.[256] Gaga was presented in a dress of raw meat, described by Polish weekly Wprost as: "an icon of modernity elevated by the power which she exercises over mass media".[257] The meat dress was later displayed at the National Museum of Women in the Arts,[258] and entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in September 2015.[259] As Gaga appeared at the 87th Academy Awards and subsequent events, she changed her style and fashion, transforming into a more glamorous person; Vogue compared her to that of Marilyn Monroe and MTV News described the change as "more acceptably 'natural' or 'classic'".[260][261][262]

While devout followers call Gaga "Mother Monster", Gaga often refers to her fans as "Little Monsters" which she had tattooed on herself in dedication.[263] To some, this dichotomy contravenes the concept of outsider culture. Camille Paglia, in her 2010 cover story "Lady Gaga and the death of sex" in The Sunday Times, asserts that Gaga: "is more an identity thief than an erotic taboo breaker, a mainstream manufactured product who claims to be singing for the freaks, the rebellious and the dispossessed when she is none of those."[264][265] Writing for The Guardian, Kitty Empire opined that the dichotomy: "...allows the viewer to have a 'transgressive' experience without being required to think. At [her performance's] core, though, is the idea that Gaga is at one with the freaks and outcasts."[266] In July 2012, Gaga also co-founded the website, which became the first official social network devoted to fans of an artist.[267]



A blond woman wearing a white shirt and black glasses speaking on a lectern carrying a 'National Equality March' poster. Behind her is a white stone balustrade of a building.
Gaga delivering a speech at the 2009 National Equality March

Alongside her music career, Gaga has contributed to various charities. For natural disasters, Gaga has helped various relief efforts. Although declining an invitation to appear on the single "We Are the World 25" to benefit victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, she donated the proceeds of her concert of January 24, 2010, at New York's Radio City Music Hall to the country's reconstruction relief fund.[268] All profits from her official online store on that day were also donated. Gaga announced that an estimated total of US$500,000 was collected for the fund.[269] Hours after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami hit Japan on March 11, 2011, Gaga tweeted a message and a link to Japan Prayer Bracelets. All revenue from a bracelet she designed in conjunction with the company was donated to relief efforts.[270] As of March 29, 2011, the bracelets raised $1.5 million.[271] However, attorney Alyson Oliver filed a lawsuit against Gaga in Detroit in June 2011, noting that the bracelet was subject to a sales tax and an extra $3.99 shipping charge was added to the price. She also believed that not all proceeds from the bracelets would go to the relief efforts, demanding a public accounting of the campaign and refunds for people who had bought the bracelet. Gaga's spokesperson called the lawsuit "meritless" and "misleading".[272] On June 25, 2011, Gaga performed at MTV Japan's charity show in Makuhari Messe, which benefited the Japanese Red Cross.[273]

In 2012, Gaga joined the anti-fracking campaign Artists Against Fracking.[274] In October 2012, Gaga was reported to have met the founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, at the Ecuadorean embassy in London.[275] On October 9, 2012, Yoko Ono gave Gaga and four other activists the LennonOno Grant for Peace in Reykjavík, Iceland.[276] On November 6, 2012, Gaga pledged to donate $1 million to the American Red Cross to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Gaga also contributes in the fight against HIV and AIDS, focusing on educating young women about the risks of the disease. In collaboration with Cyndi Lauper, Gaga joined forces with MAC Cosmetics to launch a line of lipstick under their supplementary cosmetic line, Viva Glam. In a press release, Gaga declared, "I don't want Viva Glam to be just a lipstick you buy to help a cause. I want it to be a reminder when you go out at night to put a condom in your purse right next to your lipstick."[277] The sales of Gaga-endorsed Viva Glam lipstick and lip gloss have raised more than $202 million to fight HIV and AIDS.[278]

On April 7, 2016, Gaga joined Vice President Joe Biden at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, to support Biden's It's On Us campaign as he travels to colleges on behalf of the organization, which has seen 250,000 students from more than 530 colleges sign a pledge of solidarity and activation.[279] On June 26, 2016, Gaga attended the 84th Annual US Conference of Mayors in Indianapolis where she joined with Dalai Lama to talk about the power of kindness and how to make the world a more compassionate place.[280] The Chinese government added Gaga to a list of hostile foreign forces, and Chinese websites and media organizations were ordered to stop uploading or distributing her songs. The Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China (CCPPD) also issued order for State-controlled media to condemn this meeting.[281] On July 28, 2016, Gaga headlined a private concert in Camden, New Jersey, called Camden Rising, as part of the 2016 Democratic National Convention in support of Hillary Clinton.[282]

Born This Way Foundation

In 2012, she launched the Born This Way Foundation (BTWF), a non-profit organization that focuses on youth empowerment and issues like self-confidence, well-being, anti-bullying, mentoring, and career development. It takes its name from the 2011 single and album. The foundation plans to work with a number of partners, including the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The California Endowment, and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.[283] Media proprietor Oprah Winfrey, writer Deepak Chopra, and United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius spoke at the inauguration at Harvard University.[284][285] The foundation's original funding included $1.2 million from Gaga, $500,000 from the MacArthur Foundation, and $850,000 from Barneys New York.[286] The foundation works in partnership with the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, the MacArthur Foundation, the California Endowment,[287] and, as lead media partner, Viacom.[288] In July 2012, the BTWF partnered with Office Depot, which will donate 25% of the sales-a minimum of $1million-of a series of limited edition back-to-school products that promote the foundation's message[289] The foundation's initiatives have included, in March–April 2012, a poster competition that asked participants to submit images that answer the question "What does bravery mean to you?";[290] the "Born Brave Bus" that would follow her on tour as a youth drop-in center as an initiative against bullying,[291][292] and the "Born Brave" community and school groups.[293]

On October 24, 2015, at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, Gaga joined 200 high school students, top policy makers, and academic officials, including Yale President Peter Salovey, a pioneer in the study of emotional intelligence, to discuss ways to recognize and channel emotions for positive outcomes.[294] In 2016, the foundation partnered with Intel, Vox Media and Re/code to fight online harassment.[295] It was also announced that the sale of the cover of the 99th issue of the V magazine, which featured Gaga and Kinney, was donated to the foundation to bring cutting-edge, social-emotional intelligence research.[165] Gaga and Elton John released a clothing and accessories line on Macy's on May 9, 2016, entitled Love Bravery, in which twenty-five percent of each purchase will support the Born This Way Foundation and the Elton John AIDS Foundation.[172]

LGBT advocacy

Gaga speaking against "Don't ask, don't tell", in Portland, Maine, 2010

Gaga is an outspoken activist for LGBT rights worldwide.[296] She attributes much of her early success as a mainstream artist to her gay fans and is considered a gay icon.[297] Early in her career she had difficulty getting radio airplay, and stated, "The turning point for me was the gay community."[298] She thanked FlyLife, a Manhattan-based LGBT marketing company with whom her label Interscope works, in the liner notes of The Fame.[299] One of her first televised performances was in May 2008 at the NewNowNext Awards, an awards show aired by the LGBT television network Logo.[300] In June of the same year, she performed at the San Francisco Pride event.[301] After The Fame was released, she revealed that the song "Poker Face" was about her bisexuality. In an interview with Rolling Stone, she spoke about how her boyfriends tended to react to her bisexuality, saying: "The fact that I'm into women, they're all intimidated by it. It makes them uncomfortable. They're like, 'I don't need to have a threesome. I'm happy with just you'."[34] When she appeared as a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in May 2009, she praised DeGeneres for being: "an inspiration for women and for the gay community".[302]

Gaga spoke at the 2009 National Equality March in Washington, D.C. in support of LGBT movement, and described the appearance as "the single most important moment" of her career.[303] She attended the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards accompanied by four gay and lesbian former members of the United States Armed Forces who had been unable to serve openly under the U.S. military's "Don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) policy.[304] Gaga released three videos on YouTube urging her fans to contact their Senators in an effort to overturn DADT. In September 2010 she spoke at a Servicemembers Legal Defense Network's rally in Portland, Maine. Following this event, editors of The Advocate commented that she had become a "fierce advocate" for gays and lesbians.[305] Gaga appeared at Europride, a pan-European international event dedicated to LGBT pride, held in Rome in June 2011. She criticized the intolerant state of gay rights in many European countries and described gay people as "revolutionaries of love".[306] Gaga was ordained as a minister by the Universal Life Church Monastery so that she could officiate the wedding of long-time friends, both of whom were women.[307] In June 2016, during a vigil held in Los Angeles for victims of the attack at the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando, Gaga read aloud the names of the 49 people killed in the attack, and also gave a supporting speech.[308] Also in June 2016, the Human Rights Campaign released a video in tribute to the victims of that attack; in the video, Gaga and others told the stories of the people killed there.[309][310]


The Global Language Monitor named "Lady Gaga" as the Top Fashion Buzzword with her trademark "no pants".

Gaga has been regarded as a trailblazer throughout several points in her career, sometimes utilizing controversy to bring attention to various issues.[311] With the meteoric success of The Fame, Gaga is credited as being one of the frontrunners of the rise in the popularity of synthpop in the late 2000s and early 2010s.[312][313][314] "It's all about how you cultivate your community," writer Brian Solis said. "Celebs have never shied away from causes and in many ways it's expected that they will use their celebrity to gain attention for those causes. But it's what (Gaga) does over time and how her community responds that starts the lean-over into the influence factor." Polaroid CEO, after working with Gaga, said: "she's a true artist who inspires her fans and the creative community. The relationship she has with her fans is exceptionally close and she is consistently in contact with them via social networks, making her messages accessible, authentic and far reaching."[315] Named the "Queen of Pop" in a ranking by Rolling Stone magazine in 2011,[237] her work has influenced Miley Cyrus,[316] Nicki Minaj,[317] Ellie Goulding,[318] Halsey,[319][320] Nick Jonas,[321] Lorde,[322] Sam Smith,[323] Greyson Chance,[324] Debbie Harry of Blondie,[325] and MGMT.[326]

Gaga has been commemorated in the scientific names of several organisms. A new genus of ferns, Gaga, and two species, G. germanotta and G. monstraparva have been named in her honor. The name monstraparva alluded to Gaga's fans known as "little monsters" since their symbol is the outstretched "monster claw" hand, which resembles a tightly in-rolled young fern leaf prior to unfurling.[327] Gaga also has an extinct mammal, Gagadon minimonstrum, and a parasitic wasp, Aleiodes gaga, named for her.[328][329][330]


As of January 2016, Gaga had sold an estimated 27 million albums and 146 million singles worldwide; her singles are some of the best-selling worldwide, making her one of the best-selling music artists.[331] She is also noted as a touring force as she has grossed more than $300 million in revenue from 3.2 million tickets for her first three worldwide concert tours.[122] Her other achievements include six Grammy Awards, three Brit Awards,[332] a Golden Globe Award, thirteen MTV Video Music Awards, twelve Guinness World Records, a Songwriters Hall of Fame's Contemporary Icon Award, which she was the first artist ever to win,[153] a National Arts Awards' Young Artist Award, which honors individuals who have achieved incredible accomplishments and exemplary leadership while still early in their career,[154] and honored at the Jane Ortner Education Award by The Grammy Museum, with the Jane Ortner Artist Award, which recognizes artists who has demonstrated passion and dedication to education through the arts.[171] She has also been recognized by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) with the Fashion Icon lifetime achievement award, a special prize reserved for: "an individual whose style has made a significant impact on popular culture on an international stage".[333]

Gaga has consecutively appeared on Billboard magazine's Artists of the Year (scoring the definitive title in 2010),[334] and named as Woman of the Year in 2015,[156] is the fourth best selling digital singles artist in the United States according to RIAA with a total of 59 million certified.[335] She also became the first woman to receive the Digital Diamond Award from RIAA,[336] and is the first and only artist to have two songs pass 7 million downloads ("Poker Face" and "Just Dance").[337] She is regularly placed on lists composed by Forbes magazine,[278] including their list of The World's 100 Most Powerful Women from 2010 to 2014,[338] named one of the most influential people in the world by Time magazine in 2010,[339] and the "second most influential people of the past ten years" through a readers' poll in 2013.[124]


Main article: Lady Gaga discography



See also


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External links

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