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Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga (born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta; March 28, 1986) is an American recording artist. She began performing in the rock music scene of New York City's Lower East Side. She soon signed with Streamline Records, an imprint of Interscope Records, upon its establishment in 2007. During her early time at Interscope, she worked as a songwriter for fellow label artists and captured the attention of Akon, who recognized her vocal abilities, and had her also sign to his own label, Kon Live Distribution.

Her debut album, The Fame, was released in August, 2008. In addition to receiving generally positive reviews, it went number-one in four countries, and topped the Billboard Top Electronic Albums chart in the United States. Its first two singles—"Just Dance" and "Poker Face", co-written and co-produced with RedOne—became international number-one hits, and the album later earned a total of six Grammy Award nominations, including Best Electronic/Dance Album and Album of the Year.

Lady Gaga 2010

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Lady Gaga and Monster at the 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In early 2009, after having opened for New Kids on the Block and the Pussycat Dolls, she embarked on her first headlining tour, The Fame Ball Tour. By the end of 2009, she released her second studio album The Fame Monster, with the global chart-topping lead single "Bad Romance", as well as having embarked on her second headlining tour of the year, The Monster Ball Tour.

She is inspired by glam rock musicians such as David Bowie and Freddie Mercury, as well as pop music artists such as Madonna and Michael Jackson. She is also inspired by fashion, which she has said is an essential component to her song writing and performances. To date, she has sold over eight million albums and 35 million singles digitally worldwide.[1]

Biography

1986–2004: Early life and education

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Born on March 28, 1986 in New York City, New York,[2] the eldest child of Joseph and Cynthia (née Bissett) Germanotta, she is of Italian heritage.[3][4] At age 11, she was set to join Juilliard School in Manhattan,[5] but instead attended Convent of the Sacred Heart, a private Roman Catholic school.[6] Playing piano by ear from the age of 4, she went on to write her first piano ballad at 13 and began performing at open mike nights by age 14.[7] At age 17, 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.[7][8] She later withdrew from the school to focus on her musical career.[9]

2005–2007: Career beginnings

Lady Gaga had initially signed with Def Jam Recordings at the age of 19 after Island Def Jam Music Group Chairman and CEO L. A. Reid heard her singing down the hallway from his office. After three months, she was dropped from Def Jam,[10] although at the same time, her former management company introduced her to songwriter and producer RedOne, whom they also managed.[11] The first song she produced together with RedOne was "Boys Boys Boys",[11] a mash-up inspired by Mötley Crüe's "Girls, Girls, Girls" and AC/DC's "T.N.T."[12]

She moved out of her parents' house and started performing downtown in the Lower East Side club scene, with bands Mackin Pulsifer and SGBand.[13] Soon after she began taking drugs and performing at burlesque shows.[6] She said her father "just didn't understand it", and that he could not look at her for several months.[6][12] Music producer Rob Fusari, who helped her 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.[12]

Throughout 2007, she collaborated with performance artist Lady Starlight, who helped her create her onstage fashions.[14] The pair began playing gigs at downtown club venues like the Mercury Lounge, The Bitter End, and the Rockwood Music Hall,[15] with their live performance art piece known as "Lady Gaga and the Starlight Revue".[16] Billed as "The Ultimate Pop Burlesque Rockshow",[17] their act was a low-fi tribute to 1970s variety acts.[18] In August 2007, she and Lady Starlight were invited to play at the American music festival Lollapalooza.[19] The show was critically acclaimed, and their performance received highly positive reviews.[7][15] Having initially focused on avant-garde, and electronic dance music, Lady 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.[20]

Rob Fusari sent the songs he produced with her to his friend, producer and record executive Vincent Herbert.[21] Herbert was quick to sign her to his label Streamline Records, an imprint of Interscope Records, upon its establishment in 2007.[22] She has credited Herbert as the man who discovered her, while adding that "I really feel like we made pop history, and we're gonna keep going".[21] Having already served as an apprentice songwriter under an internship at Famous Music Publishing, which was later acquired by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, she subsequently struck a music publishing deal with Sony/ATV.[23]

As a result, she was hired to write songs for Britney Spears, as well as being commissioned by Interscope to write for labelmates New Kids on the Block, Fergie and the Pussycat Dolls.[23] While she was writing at Interscope, singer-songwriter Akon recognized her vocal abilities during her singing of a reference vocal for one of his tracks in studio.[24] He 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 Distribution,[10] and would later call her his "franchise player."[25] She pursued her collaboration with RedOne by working with him in the studio for a week on her debut album,[23] spawning the debut international hit singles "Just Dance" and "Poker Face". She also joined the roster of Cherrytree Records, an Interscope imprint established by producer and songwriter Martin Kierszenbaum, after co-writing four songs with Kierszenbaum including the single "Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)".[23]

2008–2010: The Fame and The Fame Monster

By 2008, Lady Gaga had relocated to Los Angeles, working closely with her record label to finalize her debut album The Fame.[12] She said that she combined a lot of different genres on the album, "from Def Leppard drums and handclaps to metal drums on urban tracks."[10] She began to work with a collective called the Haus of Gaga, who collaborate with her on her clothing, stage sets, and sounds.[6] 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.[26] 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."[6]

The Fame peaked at number one in Austria, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Ireland, and at number four in Australia and the United States;[27][28] worldwide sales as of July 2009 stand at 3 million copies.[29] 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.[30] It received a Grammy nomination for the Best Dance Recording, but lost to Daft Punk's "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger."[31] 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 her second consecutive number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in April 2009.[32]

Afterward, the Haus of Gaga turned its focus further upon the American market with Lady Gaga going on her first concert tour with fellow Interscope pop group, the reformed New Kids on the Block. She started her stint with them in Los Angeles on October 8, 2008, and continued through the end of November.[33] She appeared as a guest artist on the song "Big Girl Now" from their new album, The Block.[34] Her first headlining North American tour,

The Fame Ball Tour, began on March 12, 2009, and has received critical acclaim.[35][36] She opened for the Pussycat Dolls on the U.K leg of their World Domination Tour and Australia in May. Her performance there was well-received, with a reviewer writing that she upstaged the Dolls.[37][38] 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.[39]

Lady Gaga appeared semi-nude, wearing only plastic bubbles, on the cover of the annual 'Hot 100' issue of Rolling Stone in May 2009.[40][41] In the issue she discussed that while she was making her beginnings in the New York club scene, she was romantically involved with a heavy metal drummer. She 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.[42]

She also stated that she is bisexual and is inspired by beautiful women, which she says makes her boyfriends "uncomfortable."[42] 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."[43] 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.[44] She appeared on rapper Wale's single "Chillin."[45]

Lady 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."[46] She won the award for "Best New Artist" while her single "Paparazzi" won two awards for "Best Art Direction" and "Best Special Effects."[47] In October, she received Billboard magazine's Rising Star of 2009 award.[48][49] Later she appeared on Saturday Night Live, in a comic skit with Madonna and performed "Bad Romance", the lead single from her second studio album, The Fame Monster.[50] She attended the Human Rights Campaign's "National Dinner" on October 10, 2009, before marching in the National Equality March in Washington, D.C. "In the music industry there's still a tremendous amount of accommodation of homophobia. [...] So I'm taking a stand," she commented.[51][52]

She then started to perform a rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine" while changing some lyrics to reference Matthew Shepard's 1998 murder, the college student's death which has been a rallying cry for the gay rights movement. "I'm not going to play one of my songs tonight, because tonight is not about me," she said before she sat in front of a grand piano to sing and play, "It's about you."[51] In November 2009 she announced the release of The Fame Monster, a collection of eight songs that dealt with the darker side of fame as experienced by her over the course of 2008–2009 while travelling around the world, and are expressed through a monster metaphor. "Bad Romance" was released as the first single from the album. It topped the British, Canadian, Irish, Finish, Danish and Swedish charts while reaching the top two in the United States, Italy, Australia and New Zealand.[53][54]

Another track from The Fame Monster, "Speechless," was performed at the Royal Variety Performance on December 11, 2009, where she met and sang for Queen Elizabeth II.[9] Lady Gaga also announced The Monster Ball Tour associated with the release of her sophomore album.[55] The singer was named chief creative officer for a line of imaging products for Polaroid at the Consumer Electronics Show on January 7, 2010 where she commented that she will create fashion, technology and photography products as the singer told, "I'm working on bringing the instant film camera back as part of the future." Although she did not announce any specific product, she revealed that it would be available in late 2010.[56]

On January 14, 2010, Lady Gaga had to cancel the concert in West Lafayette, Indiana, due to strong healthy problems; she was having trouble with breathing in the hours leading up to the show, and paramedics later stated that she was suffering from an irregular heartbeat as a result of dehydration and exhaustion.[57] [58] On her Twitter account the singer wrote that she was "feeling dizzy and having trouble breathing," and that it would be too dangerous for her perform because she had "passed out earlier."[59] The canceled show was rescheduled for a January 26 occurrence as she stated, "I will make-up the performance on Jan 26."[59] Nevertheless, she appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show in the following day and performed a medley of The Fame Monster' songs displaying no signs of illness.[59][60][57]

Musical style and influences

Lady Gaga has been influenced by glam rock musicians such as David Bowie and Freddie Mercury,[61] as well as pop music artists such as Madonna and Michael Jackson.[10] John Dingwall of Daily Record wrote: "[Gaga] says she has been inspired by Madonna and the late Michael Jackson, but her number one inspiration has been Freddie Mercury."[62] The Queen song "Radio Ga Ga" inspired her stage name.[63] She commented: "I adored Freddie Mercury and Queen had a hit called Radio Gaga. That's why I love the name... Freddie was unique - one of the biggest personalities in the whole of pop music."[62] Madonna told Rolling Stone that she sees "[her]self in Lady Gaga."[64] In response to the comparisons between herself and Madonna, Lady Gaga stated: "I don't want to sound presumptuous, but I've made it my goal to revolutionise pop music. The last revolution was launched by Madonna 25 years ago."[62] Artist Andy Warhol, poet Rainer Maria Rilke, fashion icon/actress/singer Grace Jones, and fashion as a whole, have all been cited as inspirations as well.[39][65] She has often been likened to Blondie singer Debbie Harry.[66][67]

Lady 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.[68] In reviewing her debut album The Fame, The Sunday Times asserted "in combining music, fashion, art and technology, Lady [Gaga] evokes Madonna, Gwen Stefani circa Hollaback Girl, Kylie [Minogue] 2001 or Grace Jones right now."[69] Similarly, The Boston Globe critic Sarah Rodman commented that she draws "obvious inspirations from Madonna to Gwen Stefani... in [her] girlish but sturdy pipes and bubbly beats."[70] Baby A. Gil of The Philippine Star asserted that her voice is "just right for the mix of dance and rock that she does."[71] As an artist, Alexis Petridis of The Boston Globe commented that although she 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."[68] Though her lyrics are said to lack intellectual stimulation, "[she] does manage to get you moving and grooving at an almost effortless pace."[72]

Lady Gaga has stated that she is "very into fashion" and that it is "everything" to her.[6][73] Her love of fashion came from her mother, who she stated was "always very well kept and beautiful."[3] She said 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."[73] Columnist Trish Crawford of The Star commented, "Fashion is her calling card, a way to stand out as unique in a very crowded field."[74] 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.[75] She has six known tattoos,[76] among them a peace symbol which was inspired by the late John Lennon who The Guardian stated was her "hero,"[77] and a curling German script on her left arm which quotes the poet Rainer Maria Rilke:

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?
Rainer Maria Rilke

Lady Gaga described Rilke as her "favorite philosopher," commenting that his "philosophy of solitude" spoke to her.[78] In response to Lady Gaga saying that she considers Donatella Versace her muse,[6] 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."[79] Toward the end of 2008, comparisons were made between the fashions of Lady Gaga and recording artist Christina Aguilera, noting similarities in their styling, hair, and make-up.[6] Aguilera later said she was "completely unaware of [Gaga]" and "didn't know if it [was] a man or a woman."[6] Afterward, Lady Gaga released a statement in which she welcomed the comparisons due to the attention providing useful publicity.[80] She 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."[80][81] Lady Gaga is a natural brunette, however she had cited a reason for bleaching her hair blonde was that she was often mistaken for Amy Winehouse.[3]

Lady Gaga attributes much of her early success as a mainstream artist to her gay fans and is considered to be a rising gay icon.[43][82][83] Early in her career she had difficulty getting radio airplay, and stated, "The turning point for me was the gay community. I've got so many gay fans and they're so loyal to me and they really lifted me up. They'll always stand by me and I'll always stand by them. It's not an easy thing to create a fanbase."[84] She thanked FlyLife, a Manhattan-based LGBT marketing company with whom her label Interscope works, in the liner notes of her debut studio album, The Fame, saying, "I love you so much. You were the first heartbeat in this project, and your support and brilliance means the world to me. I will always fight for the gay community hand in hand with this incredible team."[85] One of her first televised performances was in May 2008 at the NewNowNext Awards, an awards show aired by the LGBT television network Logo, where she sang her song "Just Dance."[86] In June of the same year, she performed the song again at the San Francisco Pride event.[87]

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'."[88] 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".[89] She proclaimed that the October 11, 2009 National Equality March rally on the national mall was "the single most important event of her career." As she exited, she left with an exultant "Bless God and bless the gays,"[51] similar to her 2009 MTV Video Music Awards acceptance speech for Best New Artist a month earlier.[90]

Discography

  • The Fame (2008)
  • The Fame Monster (2009)

Tours

  • The Fame Ball Tour (2009)
  • The Monster Ball Tour (2009–2010)

References and Notes

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