Lady Gaga, All-Around Diva

Storming immediately up the charts and earning millions and millions of views for her stylized music videos, she has delivered on her early promise of being a fresh new voice in pop music. From her debut album, The Fame, to her most recent, Artpop, she has been combining electronic dance music beats with incredibly catchy pop hooks, from “Poker Face” to “Do What U Want.” However, my guess is that anyone who knew Lady Gaga when she was merely Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta wouldn’t be surprised at her rise to superstardom.

Lady Gaga grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and attended a private, all-girls school. She learned to play the piano when she was just four years old and continued her musical training through high school and into college at NYU, where she stayed until her sophomore year. After an unsuccessful stint with a band known as the Stefani Germanotta Band, she met Rob Fusari, a music producer who came up with the stage name “Lady Gaga” due to an accident with an autocorrected text message.

Still, she failed to land a record deal and instead performed mostly in New York’s nightlife scene, where she collaborated with underground performance stars like Lady Starlight in developing her own unique persona. But a new job as a songwriter at Interscope Records led her to meet Akon, who signed her to his own label instantly. By 2007, she was in the studio recording what would become her album The Fame, which over the next two years became insanely popular. It was helped along by her 2009 EP, The Fame Monster, whose tracks “Bad Romance” and “Telephone” instantly climbed to the top of the charts. I always have a hard time picking favorites in music, but “Bad Romance” quickly became – and remains – my all-time favorite pop song. It’s dramatic, danceable, and fun to sing along to. Regardless of what happens with Lady Gaga’s career, I firmly believe that (at least for me) The Fame Monster will withstand the test of time, and I’ll still be listening to it fifty years from now.

Naturally, everyone knows Lady Gaga as much for her outrageous personal style as for her music. Wearing everything from dresses made of meat to costumes that seem more like sculptures, Lady Gaga quickly became a fashion icon as well as a music superstar, though some of her choices proved divisive. Despite her admittedly crazy outfits, her commitment to inclusiveness has earned her an extremely loyal following of fans, whom she has affectionately dubbed “little monsters.” Lady Gaga has strived to be a hero to outcasts and people who feel alone or different from everybody else; “Born This Way” might as well be her personal manifesto as well as her second album title.

Born This Way sold a million copies in the seven days after its release, and her third album, Artpop, also did extremely well upon its 2013 debut. Just like the greatest pop divas, Lady Gaga puts on lavish, over-the-top live shows—I’ve seen her in concert three times, and she’s never failed to bring it. The next two years seem busy for her: in September 2014, she will release a jazz album with Tony Bennett, in a collaboration that probably no one saw coming. Meanwhile, in 2015, Lady Gaga is going to headline Zero G Colony, the first concert held in space. Considering her image, it seems like the perfect venue for her!