Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta (born March 28, 1986), better known by her stage name Lady Gaga, is an American recording artist. After being signed to and quickly dropped from Def Jam Records at age 19, she began performing in the rock music scene of New York City’s Lower East Side. During this time, she was also working at Interscope Records as a songwriter for several established acts, including Akon, who, after hearing Gaga sing, convinced Interscope chairman Jimmy Iovine to sign her to a joint deal with the label and Akon’s Kon Live Distribution label.
Her debut album The Fame was released in August 2008 to critical and commercial success. In addition to receiving generally positive reviews, it has gone to number one in four countries, also topping the Billboard Top Electronic Albums chart in the United States. The album’s first two singles, “Just Dance” and “Poker Face,” have become international number one hits, and the former was nominated for Best Dance Recording at the 51st Grammy Awards. In 2009, after having opened for New Kids on the Block and the Pussycat Dolls, Gaga embarked on her first headlining tour, The Fame Ball Tour. To date she has sold over 20 million singles and 3 million albums worldwide Musically, Gaga is inspired by glam rockers such as David Bowie and Queen, as well as pop singers such as Michael Jackson and Madonna. She is also inspired by fashion, which she claims is an essential component to her songwriting and performances. She is also very supportive of the gay community, crediting them for her early mainstream success.
1986–2004: Early life and education Gaga was born on March 28, 1986 in Yonkers, New York as the eldest child to Italian American parents Joseph and Cynthia Germanotta.At 11 Gaga was set to join Juilliard School in Manhattan, but instead attended Convent of the Sacred Heart, a private Catholic school. Having learned piano at the age of four, Gaga went on to write her first piano ballad at thirteen and began performing at open mic nights by the age of fourteen. At the age of seventeen, she gained early admission to the New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. There, she studied music and improved her songwriting skills by composing essays and analytical papers focusing on topics such as art, religion, and socio-political order. Gaga later withdrew from the school to focus on her musical career.
2005–2007: Career beginnings
Lady Gaga (left) and Lady Starlight at their weekly party New York Street Revival and Trash Dance.Gaga signed with Def Jam Records when she was 19, after record executive L. A. Reid heard her singing down the hallway from his office. However, she claims Reid never met with her, and after three months, she was dropped from the label. She moved out of her parents’ house and started performing downtown in the Lower East Side club scene, with bands Mackin Pulsifer and SGBand.Around the same time, she started taking drugs and performing at burlesque shows; Gaga said her father “just didn’t understand” it, and that he could not look at her for several months.Music producer Rob Fusari, who helped Gaga write some of her earlier songs, compared her vocal style to that of Freddie Mercury. He nicknamed her Gaga, after the Queen song “Radio Ga Ga.” She began to use it as her stage name and was known thereafter as Lady Gaga.
Throughout 2007, Gaga collaborated with performance artist Lady Starlight, who helped her create her onstage fashions.The pair began playing gigs at downtown club venues like the Mercury Lounge, The Bitter End, and the Rockwood Music Hall, with their live performance art piece known as “Lady Gaga and the Starlight Revue.” Billed as “The Ultimate Pop Burlesque Rockshow,” their act was a low-fi tribute to 1970’s variety acts. In August 2007, Gaga and Starlight were invited to play at the American music festival Lollapalooza. The show was critically acclaimed, and their performance received highly positive reviews. Having initially focused on avant-garde, and electronic dance music, Gaga found her musical niche when she began to incorporate pop melodies and the vintage glam rock of David Bowie and Queen into the mix.
During this time, she began writing for artists signed to Akon’s Konvict label, as well as Fergie, the Pussycat Dolls, Britney Spears, and New Kids on the Block. After hearing her sing a reference vocal for one of his tracks, Akon formed the opinion that she was also a good singer. He ultimately convinced Interscope Records chairman Jimmy Iovine to sign her to a joint deal with his own label, Kon Live Distribution, and would later call Gaga his “franchise player.” Through her affiliation with Akon, Gaga started to work on her own new material for her debut album with producer RedOne. Already having a solid selection of electro-glam, David Bowie-esque, and Queen-inspired songs, Gaga wanted to mix her retro dance beats with urban melodies, a pop chorus and still retain a rock and roll edge. The first song they produced together was “Boys Boys Boys”, a mash-up of Mötley Crüe’s “Girls, Girls, Girls” and AC/DC’s “T.N.T.”
2008–present: The Fame
Gaga performing at the New Kids on the Block: Live tour.By 2008, Gaga had relocated to Los Angeles, working closely with her record label to finalize her debut album The Fame. Gaga said that she combined a lot of different genres on the album, “from Def Leppard drums and handclaps to metal drums on urban tracks.” She began to work with a collective called the Haus of Gaga, who collaborate with Gaga on her clothing, stage sets, and sounds. The Fame received mostly positive reviews from critics; according to the music review aggregation of Metacritic, it has received an average score of 71/100.Times Online described the album as “a fantastic mix of Bowie-esque ballads, dramatic, Queen-inspired midtempo numbers and synth-based dance tracks that poke fun at celebrity-chasing rich kids.” The Fame peaked at number one in Austria, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Ireland, and at number four in Australia and the United States; worldwide sales as of July 2009 stand at 3 million copies. The album’s lead single, “Just Dance,” was released on April 8, 2008, and has topped the charts in six countries – Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It received a Grammy nomination for the Best Dance Recording, but lost to Daft Punk’s “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.” The second single, “Poker Face”, was released on September 23, 2008, and has reached number one in nearly twenty countries, including almost all major music markets in the world. “Poker Face” became Gaga’s second consecutive number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in April 2009.
Afterward, the Haus of Gaga turned its focus further upon the American market with Gaga going on her first ever concert tour with fellow Interscope pop group, the reformed New Kids on the Block. Gaga started her stint with them in Los Angeles on October 8, 2008, and continued through the end of November. She appeared as a guest artist on the song “Big Girl Now” from their new album, The Block. Gaga’s first headlining North American tour, The Fame Ball Tour, began on March 12, 2009, and has received critical acclaim. In May, Gaga opened for the Pussycat Dolls in Australia. Her performance there was well-received, with a reviewer claiming that she upstaged the Dolls.Around the same time, the music video for her international third single, “LoveGame,” was banned by the Australian channel Network Ten, who refused to play the video reasoning that it contained sexually explicit imagery.
Gaga appeared semi-nude, wearing only plastic bubbles, on the cover of the annual ‘Hot 100’ issue of Rolling Stone in May 2009. In the issue she discussed that while she was making her beginnings in the New York club scene, Gaga was romantically involved with a heavy metal drummer. Gaga described their relationship and break-up, saying of it, “I was his Sandy, and he was my Danny [of Grease], and I just broke.” He later became an inspiration behind some of the songs on her debut album The Fame. Gaga also stated that she is bisexual and is inspired by beautiful women, which she says makes her boyfriends “uncomfortable.” She later regretted disclosing her orientation, saying, “I don’t like to be seen as somebody who is using the gay community to look edgy. I’m a free sexual woman and I like what I like. I don’t want people to write that about me because I feel like it looks like I’m saying it because I’m trying to be edgy or underground.”She had previously told a crowd at one of her concerts that her song “Poker Face” lyrically discusses fantasizing about a woman while being in bed with a man. Gaga appeared on rapper Wale’s single “Chillin.”
Gaga was nominated for a total of nine awards at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards including Video of the Year, Best New Artist, Best Female Video and Best Pop Video for “Poker Face” and Best Direction, Best Editing, Best Special Effects, Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction for “Paparazzi. “Poker Face” managed to win the award for “Best New Artist” while “Paparazzi” won two awards for “Best Art Direction” and “Best Special Effects.”
On September 15, 2009, Gaga announced dates for a co-headlining North American tour with Kanye West entitled, “Fame Kills Starring Kanye West and Lady Gaga.”
Musical style and influences Lady Gaga “Just Dance”
A 30-second sample of Gaga’s “Just Dance” featuring the chorus sung by Gaga and Colby O’Donis in the range of B3 to C? backed by a synth marching beat. The song became Gaga’s first international hit single.
Problems listening to this file? See media help. Gaga has been primarily influenced by glam rockers such as David Bowie and Queen, pop singers Michael Jackson and Madonna, artist Andy Warhol, poet Rainer Maria Rilke, fashion icon and entertainer Grace Jones, and fashion as a whole. Gaga’s vocals have drawn frequent comparison to Madonna and Gwen Stefani, while the structure of her music is said to be reminiscent of classic 1980s pop and 1990s Europop. In reviewing her debut album The Fame, The Sunday Times asserts “in combining music, fashion, art and technology, Lady [Gaga] evokes Madonna when she was good, Gwen Stefani circa Hollaback Girl, Kylie 2001 or Grace Jones right now.” Similarly, The Boston Globe critic Sarah Rodman comments Gaga draws “obvious inspirations from Madonna to Gwen Stefani… in [her] girlish but sturdy pipes and bubbly beats.” Baby A. Gil of The Philippine Star asserts that her voice is “just right for the mix of dance and rock that she does.” As an artist, Alexis Petridis of The Boston Globe commented that although Gaga lacks originality, “pop music doesn’t have to be blindingly original or clever to work: it needs tunes, and Lady [Gaga] is fantastically good at tunes.” Though Gaga’s lyrics are said to lack intellectual stimulation, “[she] does manage to get you moving and grooving at an almost effortless pace.”
Style and image
Gaga wearing a plastic bubble dress while performing a concert on The Fame Ball Tour.Gaga has stated that she is “very into fashion” and that it is “everything” to her. Her love of fashion came from her mother, who was “always very well kept and beautiful.” She claims that: “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. For me, it’s everything coming together and being a real story that will bring back the super-fan. I want to bring that back. I want the imagery to be so strong that fans will want to eat and taste and lick every part of us.” She has her own creative production team called the Haus of Gaga, which she handles personally. The team creates many of her clothes, stage props, and hairdos.
Gaga has six known tattoos,among them a peace symbol which was inspired by the late English musician John Lennon who The Guardian remarked as Gaga’s “hero,” and a curling German script on her left arm which quotes the poet Rainer Maria Rilke with the lines “In the deepest hour of the night, confess to yourself that you would die if you were forbidden to write. And look deep into your heart where it spreads its roots, the answer, and ask yourself, must I write?” Gaga described Rilke as her “favorite philosopher,” commenting that his “philosophy of solitude” spoke to her.
In response to Gaga saying that she considers Donatella Versace her muse, Melissa Magsaysay of Los Angeles Times commented, “[Gaga’s] aversion to wearing a top and bottom at the same time […] swigging champagne and being fanned by oily men in Speedos [is] very Donatella-esque.” Towards the end of 2008, comparisons were made between the fashions of Gaga and recording artist Christina Aguilera, noting similarities in their styling, hair, and make-up. Aguilera later claimed she was “completely unaware of [Gaga]” and “didn’t know if it [was] a man or a woman.” Afterward, Gaga released a statement in which she welcomed the comparisons due to the attention providing useful publicity. Gaga said, “She’s such a huge star and if anything I should send her flowers, because a lot of people in America didn’t know who I was until that whole thing happened. It really put me on the map in a way.” Gaga is a natural brunette, but her hair is dyed blonde because she was often mistaken for fellow musician Amy Winehouse.