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 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting in June 2016
Born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta
(1986-03-28) March 28, 1986 (age 31)
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
Occupation
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • actress
  • record producer
Years active 2001-present
Net worth $275 million (February 2016 estimate)
Website ladygaga.com
Musical career
Genres
Instruments
  • Vocals
  • piano
Labels

Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta[a] (born March 28, 1986), known professionally as Lady Gaga, is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. A popular contemporary recording artist, she is noted for constantly experimenting with new musical ideas and images. At the peak of her career, Gaga gained much attention for her unconventionality and provocative work.

Gaga initially played roles in high school plays, and studied at CAP21 through New York University's Tisch School of the Arts before dropping out to pursue a musical career. After leaving a rock band, participating in a 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, Akon noticed her vocal abilities and helped her sign a joint deal with Interscope Records and his own KonLive Distribution in 2007. Gaga rose to prominence with the release of her highly successful debut album The Fame (2008) and its international chart-topping singles "Just Dance" and "Poker Face". A follow-up EP, The Fame Monster (2009), was met with a similar reception and the singles "Bad Romance", "Telephone", and "Alejandro" were also successful.

Gaga's second full-length album Born This Way (2011) topped the charts in more than 20 countries, including the US, where it sold over one million copies in its first week. The album produced the number-one single "Born This Way". Gaga's third album Artpop (2013) topped the US charts and included the single "Applause". In 2014, Gaga released a jazz album with Tony Bennett titled Cheek to Cheek. For her work in the television series American Horror Story: Hotel, Gaga won a Golden Globe Award in 2016. With her fifth studio album Joanne (2016), she became the first woman to have four US number one albums in the 2010s. In February 2017, Gaga headlined the Super Bowl LI halftime show, which was the most viewed musical event in history.

Having sold 27 million albums and 146 million singles as of January 2016, Gaga is among the best-selling musicians of all time. Her achievements include several Guinness World Records, three Brit Awards, and six Grammy Awards. She has also received awards from the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Gaga regularly appears on Billboards Artists of the Year lists and Forbess power and earnings rankings. She was ranked at number four on VH1's Greatest Women in Music in 2011, finished second on Times 2011 readers' poll of the most influential people of the past ten years, and was named Billboards Woman of the Year in 2015. She is known for her philanthropic work and social activism, including LGBT rights, and her non-profit organization, the Born This Way Foundation, which focuses on promoting youth empowerment and combating bullying.

Biography

1986-2004: Early life

Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta[1] 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 "Joe" Germanotta.[1][4][5] Gaga has Italian and French Canadian ancestry.[6][7] Gaga has a younger sister, Natali.[8] Gaga was brought up in the affluent Upper West Side, Manhattan, but says that her parents belonged to lower-class families and worked hard for everything.[9][10] From age 11, she attended the Convent of the Sacred Heart, a private, all-girls Roman Catholic school on Manhattan's Upper East Side.[11] Gaga described her academic life in high school as "very dedicated, very studious, very disciplined" but also "a bit insecure". She considered herself a misfit among her peers and was mocked for "being either too provocative or too eccentric".[12]

In 2014, Gaga said she had been raped at the age of 19. After this she underwent mental and physical therapy.[13] She suffers from PTSD which she attributes to the rape and says that support from doctors, family, and friends have helped her.[14] Gaga began to play the piano at the age of four, wrote her first piano ballad at 13, and played at open mic night a year later.[15] 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.[16] She appeared in a very small role as a mischievous classmate in the 2001 Sopranos episode "The Telltale Moozadell". She auditioned for New York shows without success.[9][17] She also studied method acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute for ten years.[18][19] 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.[9] One of 20 students to gain early admission, at age 17, she lived in an NYU dorm.[16] 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.[20][21] 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.[9][22]

2005-2007: Career beginnings

At age 19, Gaga withdrew from CAP21 during the second semester of her sophomore year, deciding to focus on her musical career.[23] 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.[9][24] She also formed a band called the Stefani Germanotta Band with some friends from NYU.[9][16] The band played at gigs around New York becoming a local fixture of the downtown Lower East Side club scene.[16] 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.[25] Fusari collaborated with Gaga, who traveled daily to New Jersey, to work on songs she had written, and to compose new material with him.[9] According to the producer, they began dating in May 2006, and he claimed to have created the "Lady Gaga" moniker.[26] Their relationship would last until January 2007.[27]

Gaga (right) performing with Lady Starlight at Lollapalooza 2007

Fusari and Gaga established a company called Team Lovechild, LLC to promote her career.[26] They recorded and produced electropop tracks and sent them to music industry executives.[28] 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.[9] She was dropped by the label after three months - a period of her life that later inspired the music video of her 2011 single "Marry the Night".[29] Devastated, Gaga returned to the solace of the family home for Christmas and the nightlife culture of the Lower East Side. She began experimenting and taking drugs soon after, while performing at neo-burlesque shows, which according to her, represented freedom.[30][20]

During this time, she met performance artist Lady Starlight, who helped mold her onstage persona.[31] The pair 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.[32][33] Their performance at the 2007 Lollapalooza music festival was critically praised.[32]

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 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.[34] Herbert signed her to his label Streamline Records, an imprint of Interscope Records, established in 2007.[35] Gaga later credited Herbert as the man who discovered her.[34] 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.[36] At Interscope, singer-songwriter Akon recognized her vocal abilities when she sang a reference vocal for one of his tracks in studio.[37] Akon convinced Jimmy Iovine chairman and CEO of Interscope Geffen A&M to form a joint deal by having her also sign with his own label KonLive, making her his "franchise player".[29][38]

In late 2007, Gaga met with songwriter and producer RedOne.[39] Gaga collaborated with him in the recording studio for a week on her debut album, and also signed for Cherrytree Records, an Interscope imprint established by producer and songwriter Martin Kierszenbaum; she also wrote four songs with Kierszenbaum.[36] Despite her secure record deal, she admitted that some radio stations feared her music was 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."[11]

2008-2010: Breakthrough with The Fame and The Fame Monster

By 2008, Gaga had relocated to Los Angeles 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.[40][41]The Fame was released on August 19, 2008, with a positive reception.[29] It 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.[42][43] It has sold over 15 million copies worldwide.[44] Its first two singles, "Just Dance" and "Poker Face", became worldwide commercial successes;[45][46][47] the latter spent a record 83 weeks on the Digital Songs chart, which was recognized by the Guinness World Records.[48] Three other singles were released from the album--"Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)", "LoveGame", and "Paparazzi".[46] At the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards, The Fame and "Poker Face" won Best Dance/Electronica Album and Best Dance Recording, respectively.[49]

Gaga performing on The Monster Ball Tour in 2010. Grossing $227 million, it became the highest-grossing concert tour for a debut headlining artist.[50]

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.[51] 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. The lead single, "Bad Romance", topped the charts in 18 countries and reached number two in the US, Australia and New Zealand.[52][53] 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.[54][55] On YouTube, the video for "Bad Romance" gained the most views ever, and Gaga became the first person to gain over one billion views.[56][57] At the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, Gaga won 8 of her 13 nominations, including Video of the Year for "Bad Romance".[58] As a result, she became the most nominated artist, and the first female to receive two nominations for Video of the Year at a single ceremony.[59] In addition, The Fame Monster won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album and "Bad Romance" won Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Best Short Form Music Video.[60]

In 2009, Gaga spent a record 150 weeks on the UK Singles Chart and became the most downloaded female act in a year in the US with 11.1 million downloads - feats that earned her entries in Guinness World Records.[61][62] The success of The Fame and The Fame Monster allowed Gaga to release The Remix--her final record with Cherrytree Records[63]--and start her second worldwide concert tour, The Monster Ball Tour, just weeks after finishing The Fame Ball Tour.[64] With worldwide sales of 500,000 copies, The Remix is among the best-selling remix albums of all time.[65] The Monster Ball Tour was critically and commercially successful; it began in November 2009, and ended in May 2011, and grossed $227.4 million, making it the highest-grossing concert tour for a debut headlining artist.[50][66] 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.[67] 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.[68] Before Michael Jackson's death, Gaga was set to take part in his cancelled This Is It concert series at London's O2 Arena.[69]

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 called Heartbeats.[70] Gaga also partnered with Polaroid in January 2010 as their Creative Director and revealed a trio of new photo capturing products called Grey Label.[71][72] Her collaboration with past producer, and ex-boyfriend, Rob Fusari led to her production team, Mermaid Music LLC, being sued.[b] 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.[75][76]

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

In February 2011, Gaga released the lead single "Born This Way" from her studio album of the same name. The song sold more than one million copies within five days, earning the Guinness World Record for fastest selling single on iTunes.[77] It debuted atop the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the 1,000th number-one single in the history of the charts.[78] 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.[79][80]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.[81] The album sold eight million copies worldwide, and received three Grammy nominations, including her third consecutive Album of the Year.[82] The album's following singles "You and I" and "Marry the Night" performed moderately in the charts.[83] While filming the latter's music video, she met actor Taylor Kinney, who played her love interest. The two subsequently started dating.[84][85] She supported the album with Born This Way Ball, which 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, which required surgery and resulted in refunds of over $25 million and 200,000 tickets.[86] The tour earned $186.82 million globally.[87] Gaga was ranked as the second most-played artist of 2011 in the United Kingdom by the PPL.[88]

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

During this period, Gaga recorded a jazz version of "The Lady Is a Tramp" with Tony Bennett and lent her vocals to a song with Elton John for the animated feature film, Gnomeo & Juliet.[89][90] She held a concert at the Sydney Town Hall, Australia to promote Born This Way and to celebrate former US President Bill Clinton's 65th birthday.[91][92] Gaga then directed the Thanksgiving television special, A Very Gaga Thanksgiving, which attracted 5.7 million American viewers, and spawned the release of her fourth EP, A Very Gaga Holiday.[93] She guest-starred as an animated version of herself on the 23rd-season finale of The Simpsons, titled "Lisa Goes Gaga" in May 2012,[94] and appeared in Tony Bennett's documentary film, The Zen of Bennett (2012),[95] before releasing her first fragrance in association with Coty, Inc., Lady Gaga Fame in September 2012.[96] She released her second fragrance Eau de Gaga two years later.[97]

New songs for Gaga's third studio album, Artpop, were beginning to take shape as she worked with producer Fernando Garibay in early 2012.[98][99] Work on the album continued well into the Born This Way Ball tour.[100] She yearned to make audiences have "a really good time" with Artpop, crafting the album to mirror "a night at the club".[101]Artpop was released in November 2013 to mixed reviews.[102] Helen Brown in The Daily Telegraph criticized Gaga for making another album about her fame and doubted the album's originality, but found it "great for dancing".[103]Artpop debuted atop the Billboard 200 chart, and has sold 2.5 million copies as of July 2014.[104][105] The album spawned successful singles in "Applause" and "Do What U Want", featuring R&B singer R. Kelly.[106][107][108] A third release, "G.U.Y.", became Gaga's weakest performing single to date.[109][110] Gaga embarked on the accompanying ArtRave: The Artpop Ball tour several months later, building on concepts from her ArtRave promotional event. Earning $83 million, the tour included cities cancelled in the Born This Way Ball tour.[111] In the meantime, Gaga split from longtime manager Troy Carter over "creative differences,"[112] and by June 2014, she and new manager Bobby Campbell joined Artist Nation, the artist management division of Live Nation Entertainment.[113]

The role of a shapeshifting hitman in Robert Rodriguez's Machete Kills (2013) earned Gaga a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress nomination.[114][115] The singer also hosted the November 16, 2013, episode of Saturday Night Live, performing "Do What U Want" (with Kelly) and an album cut, "Gypsy".[116] Later that month, she held her second Thanksgiving Day television special on ABC, Lady Gaga and the Muppets Holiday Spectacular.[117] Gaga had a cameo in another Robert Rodriguez film, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, released in August 2014.[118] She was confirmed as Versace's spring-summer 2014 face with a campaign called "Lady Gaga For Versace".[119]

In 2014, Gaga collaborated with American jazz singer Tony Bennett on the jazz album Cheek to Cheek. The inspiration behind the album came from her longtime friendship with Bennett, and fascination with jazz music since her childhood.[120] The album received generally favorable reviews,[121] with Caroline Sullivan of The Guardian praising Gaga's vocals in it, and Chicago Tribune critic Howard Reich writing that "Cheek to Cheek serves up the real thing, start to finish".[122][123] The album debuted atop the Billboard 200, becoming Gaga's third consecutive number-one record in the United States,[124] and went on to win a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.[125] The duo recorded a concert special, called Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga: Cheek to Cheek Live!,[126] and embarked on the Cheek to Cheek Tour, which began in December 2014 and concluded in August 2015.[127] The same year, Gaga also had a seven-day residency show commemorating the last performance at New York's Roseland Ballroom before its closure.[128]

2015-present: American Horror Story, Joanne, and Super Bowl performances

In February 2015, Gaga became engaged to Taylor Kinney.[129] After Artpop lukewarm response, Gaga began to reinvent her image and style. According to Billboard, she did so at the 87th Academy Awards, where she sang a medley of songs from The Sound of Music in a cut-glass English accent.[130] The performance triggered over 214,000 interactions per minute globally on Facebook.[131] She and Diane Warren co-wrote the song "Til It Happens to You" for the documentary The Hunting Ground, which earned them the Satellite Award for Best Original Song and an Academy Award nomination in the same category.[132][133] In addition, Gaga won Billboard Woman of the Year and Contemporary Icon Award at the 2015 Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Awards.[134][135]

Gaga after singing the National Anthem at Super Bowl 50 in February 2016

While accepting a Best Actress award at the 73rd Golden Globe Awards for her work in American Horror Story: Hotel, Gaga said that she initially wanted to be an actress. Running from October 2015 to January 2016, Hotel is the fifth season of the horror show, American Horror Story, in which she starred as a hotel owner named Elizabeth.[136][137] Her other endeavors included appearing in Nick Knight's 2015 fashion film for Tom Ford's 2016 spring campaign,[138] and a guest editor spot for V fashion magazine's 99th issue in January 2016, which features sixteen different covers.[139] She subsequently received Editor of the Year at the Fashion Los Angeles Awards.[140]

Gaga performed live at several events in 2016. These included singing the US national anthem in February, at Super Bowl 50,[141][142] partnering with Intel and Nile Rodgers for a tribute performance to the late David Bowie at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards,[143] 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.[144] The singer was honored at the Jane Ortner Education Award by The Grammy Museum, with the Artist Award, which recognizes artists who have demonstrated passion and dedication to education through the arts in April 2016.[145] Her engagement to Taylor Kinney ended in July 2016.[146]

The singer played a witch named Scathach in American Horror Story: Roanoke, the series' sixth iteration,[147] which ran from September to November 2016.[148][149] Her role in the fifth season of the show ultimately influenced the creative process of her fifth studio album, Joanne.[150] Its lead single "Perfect Illusion" was released in September 2016, and debuted at number one in France and Spain.[151] Second single "Million Reasons" was released in October.[152]Joanne was released later that month, and sold 170,000 copies in the US during its first week, becoming Gaga's fourth album to reach number one there. As a result, she became the first woman to have four US number one albums in the 2010s.[153] To promote Joanne, Gaga embarked on a three-date tour, sponsored by Bud Light, called Dive Bar Tour.[154]

Gaga performed as the headlining act during the Super Bowl LI halftime show on February 5, 2017. The performance featured a coordinated swarm of hundreds of lighted drones that formed various shapes in the sky above Houston's NRG Stadium--the first time robotic aircraft appeared in a Super Bowl program.[155] The show attracted 117.5 million viewers based on American television ratings, exceeding the game's total of 113.3 million viewers.[156] With over 150 million viewers on all platforms, it became the most viewed music performance in history,[157] and resulted in an additional 150,000 digital album sales for Gaga.[158] The halftime show also helped "Million Reasons" reach number four on the US charts,[159] and received six Emmy nominations, including one for Gaga in the Outstanding Special Class Program category.[160] Gaga announced the Joanne World Tour which would run from August to December 2017. In April, she became the headliner of the 2017 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.[161] During her first set, the singer released the standalone-single, "The Cure".[162]

Gaga will star in Bradley Cooper's remake of the 1937 musical drama film, A Star Is Born, being distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, and create new music for the project. Filming began in 2017,[163][164] and the project is expected to be released on September 28, 2018.[165] She will play a woman named Ally whose romance with singer Jackson Maine (played by Cooper) becomes strained after her career begins to overshadow his.[166]

Artistry

Influences

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,[167] who have all influenced her.[168][169] She has cited heavy metal bands as an influence, stating that Iron Maiden "changed my life" and described herself as "the biggest Black Sabbath fan on Earth".[170][171] 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.[29][172][173][174] The singer has often been compared to Madonna, with the later admitting that she sees herself reflected in Gaga.[175] Aspiring to revolutionize pop music like Madonna did,[176] Gaga has continued to reinvent herself while being a "huge fan" of the singer.[177]

Another spiritual influence on Gaga has been the Indian physician, public speaker, and writer Deepak Chopra. Labeling him a "true inspiration," she said 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 she said: "I want so much for it to go beyond the music for my fans."[178] The singer has also quoted Osho's book Creativity on Twitter.[179][180] Gaga says she was influenced by his work and for her, "the creativity is the greatest way of rebellion": "Equality ... is one of the most important things in my life."[181]

Fashion is a major influence for Gaga. She says that her interest in fashion came from her mother who was "always very well kept and beautiful".[182] Her musical endeavors are directly linked with fashion; she explains, "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."[23] Gaga has been stylistically compared to Leigh Bowery, Isabella Blow, and Cher.[183][23][184][185] She commented that as a child, she somehow absorbed Cher's out-there fashion sense and made it her own.[185] 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.[183][75] In turn, Versace calls Lady Gaga "the fresh Donatella".[186] Gaga has also been influenced by Princess Diana, whom she and her mother have admired since her childhood.[187]

Musical style

Continually experimenting with new musical ideas and images, Gaga's musical and performance style is the subject of much analysis and scrutiny by critics. She professes that she is "liberating" herself by constantly reinventing her sound and image, something she has been drawn to since her childhood.[188] 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."[189][190] In summing up 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."[191] Gaga has a contralto vocal range.[192]

While Gaga's early songs have been called "depthless,"[193] she "does manage to get you moving and grooving at an almost effortless pace," according to Evan Sawdey of PopMatters.[194] Gaga believes that "all good music can be played on a piano and still sound like a hit".[195] 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.[196][197] The themes in 2013's Artpop revolve around Gaga's personal views of fame, love, sex, feminism, self-empowerment, overcoming addiction, and reactions to media scrutiny.[198] Gaga's personal life influenced her fifth studio album Joanne (2016).[199]

The Fame (2008), Gaga's debut, is an electropop[200] and dance-pop album[201] that has influences of 1980s pop and 1990s Europop.[202]The Sunday Times contributor Sarah Hajibageri and The Boston Globe writer Sarah Rodman compared her music and fashion to the likes of Madonna and Gwen Stefani.[203][204] 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."[205] 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". Gaga explored new genres such as electronic rock and techno in her third album Born This Way.[196]Billboard describes Artpop as "coherently channeling R&B, techno, disco and rock music".[206] With 2014's Cheek to Cheek, Gaga dabbled in the jazz genre. Praised for her love of the music, and the songs, 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, according to Philip Clark of The Guardian.[207] In Joanne, Gaga explored the genres country, funk, pop, dance, rock, electronic music and folk.[199]

Videos and stage

Gaga during a "blood stained" performance in 2010

With constant costume changes and provocative visuals, Gaga's music videos are often described as short films.[208] The video for "Telephone" earned Gaga a Guinness World Record for Most Product Placement in a Video.[209] Gaga claims that she provokes to affect people positively rather than trying to get attention.[208] According to author Curtis Fogel, she explores bondage and sadomasochism in addition to highlighting prevalent feminist themes. The main themes of her music videos are sex, violence and power.[210] While she labels herself "a little bit of a feminist" and asserts that she is "sexually empowering women,"[211] Gaga strives to empower young women to stand up for what they believe.[210] "She not only reiterates her assertion of total originality," according to 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."[212]

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.[213] 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.[214] 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".[215] 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.[216] 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."[208]

Public image

Public reception of Gaga's music, fashion sense, and persona is polarized.[217] Because 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 unraveling "some of the sociologically relevant dimensions of the fame of Lady Gaga".[218][219] When Gaga met briefly with politician Barack Obama at a Human Rights Campaign fundraiser, he found the interaction "intimidating" as she was dressed in 16-inch heels, making her the tallest woman in the room.[220] 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 expressed her fondness for androgyny.[221] In a 2010 Sunday Times article, Camille Paglia criticized Gaga as "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".[222]

A wax statue of Lady Gaga.
In 2010, eight wax figures of Gaga were installed at the museum Madame Tussauds.[223]

Gaga's outlandish fashion sense has also been one an important aspect of her character.[224] Certain media members have compared her fashion choices to those of Christina Aguilera.[183] In 2011, 121 women gathered at the Grammy Awards dressed in costumes similar to those worn by Gaga; this won the 2011 Guinness World Record for Largest Gathering of Lady Gaga Impersonators.[77] The Global Language Monitor named "Lady Gaga" as the Top Fashion Buzzword with her trademark "no pants" a close third.[225]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."[226]

Time placed Gaga on their All-Time 100 Fashion Icons List, 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."[227] Gaga wore the raw beef outfit at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, which was supplemented by boots, a purse, and a hat also made out of raw beef.[228] 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. Attracting the attention of worldwide media, it was also criticized by the animal rights organization PETA.[229] The meat dress was displayed later at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in 2012,[230] and entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in September 2015.[231]

Gaga's fans call her "Mother Monster", while she often refers to them as "Little Monsters," a phrase which she had tattooed on herself in dedication.[232] In July 2012, Gaga also co-founded the social networking service LittleMonsters.com, devoted to her fans.[233] According to Guinness World Records, Gaga was the most followed person on Twitter in 2011 and the most followed female pop singer in 2014; the book also named her the most powerful popstar of 2014.[77][234][235]Forbes has included Gaga on its Celebrity 100 from 2010 to 2015 and its list of the World's Most Powerful Women from 2010 to 2014.[236][237] She earned $62 million, $90 million, $52 million, $80 million, $33 million and $59 million from 2010 through 2015.[238][239] She was named one of the most influential people in the world by Time magazine in 2010,[240] and ranked second in most influential people of the past ten years in a Time magazine readers' poll in 2013.[241] In March 2012, Gaga was ranked fourth on Billboards list of top moneymakers of 2011 with earnings of $25 million, which included sales from Born This Way and her Monster Ball Tour.[242] The following year, she topped Forbes List of Top-Earning Celebs Under 30.[239] In February 2016, the magazine estimated Gaga's net worth to be $275 million.[243]

Activism

Philanthropy

Gaga has contributed to various charities. 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.[244] All profits from her official online store on that day were also donated. Gaga announced that an estimated total of $500,000 was collected for the fund.[245] Hours after the 2011 T?hoku 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;[246] the bracelets raised $1.5 million.[247] In June 2011, Gaga performed at MTV Japan's charity show in Makuhari Messe, which benefited the Japanese Red Cross.[248]

In 2012, Gaga joined the anti-fracking campaign Artists Against Fracking.[249] In October 2012, Yoko Ono gave Gaga and four other activists the LennonOno Grant for Peace in Reykjavík, Iceland.[250] The following month, 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.[251] The sales of Gaga-endorsed Viva Glam lipstick and lip gloss have raised more than $202 million to fight HIV and AIDS.[252]

In April 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.[253] Two months later, Gaga attended the 84th Annual US Conference of Mayors in Indianapolis where she joined with the Dalai Lama to talk about the power of kindness and how to make the world a more compassionate place.[254] 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 an order for State-controlled media to condemn this meeting.[255] In July 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.[256]

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. 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.[257][258] The foundation's original funding included $1.2 million from Gaga, $500,000 from the MacArthur Foundation, and $850,000 from Barneys New York.[259] In July 2012, the BTWF partnered with Office Depot, which donated 25% of the sales, a minimum of $1 million of a series of limited edition back-to-school products that promote the foundation's message.[260] 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?",[261] the "Born Brave Bus" that would follow her on tour as a youth drop-in center as an initiative against bullying,[262][263] and the "Born Brave" community and school groups.[264]

In October 2015, at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, Gaga joined 200 high school students, policy makers, and academic officials, including Peter Salovey, to discuss ways to recognize and channel emotions for positive outcomes.[265] In 2016, the foundation partnered with Intel, Vox Media, and Re/code to fight online harassment.[266] 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.[139] Gaga and Elton John released a clothing and accessories line at Macy's on May 9, 2016, entitled Love Bravery. 25% of each purchase will support the Born This Way Foundation and the Elton John AIDS Foundation.[267] Gaga partnered with Starbucks for a week in June 2017 with the "Cups of Kindness" campaign, where the company donated 25 cents from some of the beverages sold to the Foundation.[268] The singer also partnered with Staples Inc. and featured in a public service announcement video to raise funds for the Foundation and DonorsChoose.org.[269]

LGBT advocacy

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

Gaga is an outspoken activist for LGBT rights worldwide.[270] She attributes much of her early success as a mainstream artist to her gay fans and is considered a gay icon.[271] Early in her career she had difficulty getting radio airplay, and stated, "The turning point for me was the gay community."[272] She thanked FlyLife, a Manhattan-based LGBT marketing company with whom her label Interscope works, in the liner notes of The Fame.[273] One of her first televised performances was in May 2008 at the NewNowNext Awards, an awards show aired by the LGBT television network Logo.[274] 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 were uncomfortable with her bisexuality.[27] When she appeared as a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in May 2009, she praised DeGeneres for inspiring women and the gay community.[275]

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.[276] 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" policy.[277] Gaga released three videos on YouTube urging her fans to contact their senators in an effort to overturn the policy. 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.[278] 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".[279] 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.[280] 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.[281] Later that month, Gaga appeared in Human Rights Campaign's tribute video to the victims of that attack.[282]

Legacy

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

Gaga has sold an estimated 27 million albums and 146 million singles worldwide as of January 2016, making her one of the best-selling music artists. Some of her singles are among the best-selling worldwide.[283] She has also been noted as a touring force, having grossed more than $300 million in revenue from 3.2 million tickets for her first three worldwide concert tours.[113]

Gaga was named the "Queen of Pop" in a 2011 ranking by Rolling Stone (based on record sales and social media metrics),[217] and has been regarded as a trailblazer at several points in her career, sometimes utilizing controversy to bring attention to various issues.[284] That same year, she ranked fourth in VH1's Greatest Women in Music.[285] With the meteoric success of The Fame, Gaga is credited as being one of the front-runners of the rise in the popularity of synthpop in the late 2000s and early 2010s.[286][287][288] The album was listed as one of the 100 Greatest Debut Albums of All-Time by Rolling Stone in 2013.[289] After working with Gaga, Scott Hardy, Polaroid's CEO praised her for inspiring her fans and for her close interactions with them on social media.[290] According to Kelefa Sanneh of The New Yorker, "Lady Gaga blazed a trail for truculent pop stars by treating her own celebrity as an evolving art project."[291] Including Born This Way as one of the 50 best female albums of all time, Rolling Stone considers it "hard to remember a world where we didn't have Gaga, although we're pretty sure it was a lot more boring."[292] In 2015, Time also noted that Gaga had "practically invented the current era of pop music as spectacle."[293] Her work has influenced: Miley Cyrus,[294]Nicki Minaj,[295]Ellie Goulding,[296]Halsey,[297]Nick Jonas,[298]Sam Smith,[299]Noah Cyrus,[300]Ashley Tisdale,[301]Zara Larsson,[302]Katherine Langford,[303] and MGMT.[304]

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.[305] Gaga also has an extinct mammal, Gagadon minimonstrum, and a parasitic wasp, Aleiodes gaga, named for her.[306][307][308]

Awards and recognition

Lady Gaga's recognition for her work includes six Grammy Awards, three Brit Awards,[309] a Golden Globe Award, thirteen MTV Video Music Awards, several Guinness World Records, and a Songwriters Hall of Fame's Contemporary Icon Award, which she was the first artist ever to win.[135] In addition she was a recipient of a National Arts Awards' Young Artist Award, which honors individuals who have achieved incredible accomplishments and exemplary leadership while still early in their career,[310] and honored at the Jane Ortner Education Award by The Grammy Museum, with the Jane Ortner Artist Award, which recognizes artists who have demonstrated passion and dedication to education through the arts.[145] Gaga 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".[311] She was a finalist for The Advocates Person of the Year in 2016.[312]

Gaga has consecutively appeared on Billboard magazine's Artists of the Year (scoring the definitive title in 2010),[313] and named as Woman of the Year in 2015,[134] is the fifth best selling digital singles artist in the United States according to RIAA with a total of 59 million certified.[314] She also became the first woman to receive the Digital Diamond Award from RIAA,[315] and is the first and only artist to have two songs pass 7 million downloads ("Poker Face" and "Just Dance").[316]

Discography

Tours

See also

Notes

Footnotes

  1. ^ Pronounced STEF-?-nee jur-m?-NOT-?.
  2. ^ In March 2010, Fusari claimed he was entitled to a 20% share of the company's earnings. The New York Supreme Court dismissed both the lawsuit and a counter-suit by Gaga.[73][74]

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