(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
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 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.
1986–2004: Early life and education
Born on March 28, 1986 in New York City, New York,
the eldest child of Joseph and Cynthia (née Bissett) Germanotta, she is of
At age 11, she was set to join Juilliard School in Manhattan,
but instead attended Convent of the Sacred Heart, a private Roman Catholic
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.
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.
She later withdrew from the school to focus on her musical career.
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,
although at the same time, her former management company introduced her to
songwriter and producer RedOne, whom they also managed.
The first song she produced together with RedOne was "Boys Boys Boys",
a mash-up inspired by Mötley Crüe's "Girls, Girls, Girls" and AC/DC's "T.N.T."
She moved out of her parents' house and started performing downtown in
the Lower East Side club scene, with bands Mackin Pulsifer and SGBand.
Soon after she began taking drugs and performing at burlesque shows.
She 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 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.
Throughout 2007, she 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 1970s variety acts.
In August 2007, she and Lady Starlight were invited to play at the American
music festival Lollapalooza.
The show was critically acclaimed, and their performance received highly
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.
Rob Fusari sent the songs he produced with her to his friend, producer
and record executive Vincent Herbert.
Herbert was quick to sign her to his label Streamline Records, an imprint of
Interscope Records, upon its establishment in 2007.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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
and would later call her his "franchise player."
She pursued her collaboration with RedOne by working with him in the studio
for a week on her debut album,
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
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.
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."
She began to work with a collective called the Haus of Gaga, who collaborate
with her 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 her 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 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. She appeared as
a guest artist on the song "Big Girl Now" from their new album, The Block.
Her first headlining North American tour,
The Fame Ball Tour, began on March 12, 2009, and has received critical
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.
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.
Lady 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, 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
She 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. She appeared on
rapper Wale's single "Chillin."
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."
She won the award for "Best New Artist" while her single "Paparazzi" won two
awards for "Best Art Direction" and "Best Special Effects."
In October, she received Billboard magazine's Rising Star of 2009
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
Lady Gaga also announced The Monster Ball Tour associated with the release
of her sophomore album.
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.
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.
 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
The canceled show was rescheduled for a January 26 occurrence as she stated,
"I will make-up the performance on Jan 26."
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.
style and influences
Lady Gaga has been influenced by glam rock musicians such as David Bowie
and Freddie Mercury,
as well as pop music artists such as Madonna and Michael Jackson.
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."
The Queen song "Radio Ga Ga" inspired her stage name.
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."
Madonna told Rolling Stone that she sees "[her]self in Lady Gaga."
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." 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.
She has often been likened to Blondie singer Debbie Harry.
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.
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."
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."
Baby A. Gil of The Philippine Star asserted 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 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."
Though her lyrics are said to lack intellectual stimulation, "[she] does
manage to get you moving and grooving at an almost effortless pace."
Lady 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 she stated was "always very
well kept and beautiful."
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."
Columnist Trish Crawford of The Star commented, "Fashion is her
calling card, a way to stand out as unique in a very crowded field."
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. She has six known
tattoos, among them a
peace symbol which was inspired by the late John Lennon who The Guardian
stated was her "hero," and
a curling German script on her left arm which quotes the poet Rainer Maria
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
—Rainer Maria Rilke
Lady Gaga described Rilke as her "favorite philosopher," commenting that
his "philosophy of solitude" spoke to her.
In response to Lady Gaga saying that she considers Donatella Versace her
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."
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.
Aguilera later said she was "completely unaware of [Gaga]" and "didn't know
if it [was] a man or a woman."
Afterward, Lady Gaga released a statement in which she welcomed the
comparisons due to the attention providing useful publicity.
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."
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.
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.
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
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."
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."
In June of the same year, she performed the song again at the San Francisco
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'."
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
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,"
similar to her 2009 MTV Video Music Awards acceptance speech for Best New
Artist a month earlier.
- The Fame (2008)
- The Fame Monster (2009)
- The Fame Ball Tour (2009)
- The Monster Ball Tour (2009–2010)