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Lady Gaga

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Lady Gaga
Close-up image of Lady Gaga looking to her right.
Born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta
(1986-03-28) March 28, 1986 (age 31)
Manhattan, New York, United States
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
  • guitar
Labels
Associated acts

Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta[a] (born March 28, 1986), known professionally as Lady Gaga, is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. She is known for her unconventionality and provocative work as well as experimenting with new images.

Gaga began her musical career performing songs at open mic nights and school plays. She studied at CAP21 through New York University's Tisch School of the Arts before dropping out to become a professional musician. After Def Jam Recordings cancelled her contract, Gaga worked as a songwriter for Sony/ATV Music Publishing, where Akon helped her sign a joint deal with Interscope Records and his own label KonLive Distribution in 2007. She rose to prominence the following year with her debut album, a dance-pop and electropop record titled The Fame, and its chart-topping singles "Just Dance" and "Poker Face". A follow-up EP, The Fame Monster (2009), featuring the singles "Bad Romance", "Telephone", and "Alejandro", also proved successful.

Gaga's second full-length album Born This Way (2011) explored electronic rock and techno. The album topped the US charts, where it sold more than one million copies in its first week. Its title track also became the fastest selling song on iTunes with over a million downloads in less than a week. Gaga ventured into R&B and disco with her third album Artpop (2013), which topped the US charts and included the single "Applause". In 2014, Gaga released a jazz album with Tony Bennett titled Cheek to Cheek, her third consecutive number one album in the US. For her acting work in the television series American Horror Story: Hotel (2015–2016), Gaga won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in 2016. Her fifth studio album, Joanne (2016), incorporated genres such as country and pop, and she became the first woman to have four US number one albums in the 2010s when it topped the country's charts.

Having sold 27 million albums and 146 million singles as of January 2016, Gaga is one of the best-selling music artists of all time. Her achievements include several Guinness World Records, three Brit Awards, six Grammy Awards, and awards from the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Gaga has been declared Billboard's Artist of the Year and included among Forbes's power and earnings rankings. She was ranked at number four on VH1's Greatest Women in Music in 2012, finished second on Time's 2011 readers' poll of the most influential people of the past ten years, and was named Billboard's Woman of the Year in 2015. She is known for her philanthropic work and social activism, including LGBT rights, and for her non-profit organization, the Born This Way Foundation, which focuses on promoting youth empowerment and combating bullying.

Life and career

1986–2005: Early life

Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta was born on March 28, 1986, in Manhattan, New York at the Lenox Hill Hospital[1] to a Catholic family with Italian and French Canadian roots.[2] Her parents are Cynthia Louise (née Bissett) and internet entrepreneur Joseph Germanotta,[3] and she has a younger sister, Natali.[4] Brought up in the affluent Upper West Side of Manhattan, she says that her parents came from lower-class families and worked hard for everything.[5][6] From age 11, she attended the Convent of the Sacred Heart, a private, all-girls Roman Catholic school.[7] 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".[8]

I don't know exactly where my affinity for music comes from, but it is the thing that comes easiest to me. When I was like three years old, I may have been even younger, my mom always tells this really embarrassing story of me propping myself up and playing the keys like this because I was too young short to get all the way up there. Just go like this on the low end of the piano [...] I was really, really good at piano, so my first instincts were to work so hard at practicing piano, and I might not have been a natural dancer, but I am a natural musician. That is the thing that I believe I am the greatest at.

— Gaga, Lady Gaga: Inside the Outside, May 2011[9]

Gaga began to play the piano at the age of four when her mother insisted she become "a cultured young woman", taking lessons and practicing the instrument throughout her childhood. The lessons taught her to create music by ear, which she preferred over reading sheet music and practiced professionally. The singer's parents encouraged her to pursue music, and enrolled her in Creative Arts Camp.[10] As a teenager, she played at open mic nights.[11] At her high school, Gaga played the lead roles of Adelaide in Guys and Dolls and Philia in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.[12] She also studied method acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute for ten years.[13] Gaga unsuccessfully auditioned for New York shows, though appeared in a small role as a high school student in a 2001 episode of The Sopranos titled "The Telltale Moozadell".[14][15] In 2003, at age 17, Gaga gained early admission to Collaborative Arts Project 21 (CAP21)—a music school at New York University (NYU)'s Tisch School of the Arts—and lived in a NYU dorm. At NYU, she studied music and improved her songwriting skills by writing essays on art, religion, social issues, and politics, including a thesis on pop artists Spencer Tunick and Damien Hirst.[16][17] During her second semester of her sophomore year in 2005, she withdrew to focus on her music career.[18] The same year, she played an unsuspecting diner customer for MTV's Boiling Points, a prank reality television show.[19]

In 2014, Gaga said she had been raped at the age of 19, for which she underwent mental and physical therapy.[20] She suffers from posttraumatic stress disorder that she attributes to the incident, and says that support from doctors, family, and friends have helped her.[21]

2005–2007: Career beginnings

In 2005, Gaga recorded two songs with hip-hop singer Grandmaster Melle Mel for an audio book accompanying Cricket Casey's children's novel The Portal in the Park.[22] She also formed a band called the SGBand with some friends from NYU.[12][23] The band played at gigs around New York, becoming a fixture of the downtown Lower East Side club scene.[12] 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.[24] Fusari collaborated with Gaga, who traveled daily to New Jersey, helping to develop her songs and compose new material.[25] The producer said they began dating in May 2006, and claimed to have been the first person to call her "Lady Gaga", which was derived from Queen's song "Radio Ga Ga".[26] Their relationship lasted until January 2007.[27]

Two scantily-clad young women singing on a stage. The one on the left wears sunglasses and a yellow bikini. The one on the right has a microphone and black stockings.
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, sending them to music industry executives. Joshua Sarubin, the head of Artists and repertoire (A&R) at Def Jam Recordings, responded positively and, after approval from Sarubin's boss Antonio "L.A." Reid, Gaga was signed to Def Jam in September 2006.[28][29] She was dropped from the label three months later[30] and returned to her family home for Christmas. She began performing at neo-burlesque shows, which according to her represented freedom.[31]

During this time, she met performance artist Lady Starlight, who helped mold her onstage persona.[32] The pair began performing at downtown club venues like the Mercury Lounge, The Bitter End, and the Rockwood Music Hall. Their live performance art piece, known as "Lady Gaga and the Starlight Revue" and billed as "The Ultimate Pop Burlesque Rockshow", was a tribute to 1970s variety acts.[33][34] They performed at the 2007 Lollapalooza music festival.[33]

Having initially focused on avant-garde electronic dance music, Gaga began to incorporate pop melodies and the glam rock style of David Bowie and Queen into her songs. While Gaga and Starlight were performing, Fusari continued to develop the songs he had created with her, sending them to the producer and record executive Vincent Herbert.[35] In November 2007, Herbert signed Gaga to his label Streamline Records, an imprint of Interscope Records, established that month.[36] Gaga later credited Herbert as the man who discovered her.[37] Having served as an apprentice songwriter during an internship at Famous Music Publishing, Gaga struck a music publishing deal with Sony/ATV. As a result, she was hired to write songs for Britney Spears, New Kids on the Block, Fergie, and The Pussycat Dolls.[38] At Interscope, musician Akon was impressed with her singing abilities when she sang a reference vocal for one of his tracks in studio.[39] Akon convinced Jimmy Iovine, chairman and CEO of Interscope Geffen A&M, to form a joint deal by having Gaga also sign with his own label KonLive, making her his "franchise player".[30][40]

In late 2007, Gaga met with songwriter and producer RedOne.[41] She collaborated with him in the recording studio for a week on her debut album, signing with Cherrytree Records, an Interscope imprint established by producer and songwriter Martin Kierszenbaum; she also wrote four songs with Kierszenbaum.[38] Despite securing a record deal, she said that some radio stations found her music too "racy", "dance-oriented", and "underground" for the mainstream market. The singer responded to them: "My name is Lady Gaga, I've been on the music scene for years, and I'm telling you, this is what's next."[7]

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 to set up her own creative team called the Haus of Gaga, modeled on Andy Warhol's Factory.[42][43] The Fame was released on August 19, 2008,[44] reaching number one in Austria, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, and the UK and appearing in the top five in Australia and the US.[45][46] Its first two singles, "Just Dance" and "Poker Face",[47] reached number one in the United States,[48] Australia,[49] Canada,[50] and the United Kingdom.[51] The latter was also the world's best-selling single of 2009—with 9.8 million copies sold that year—and spent a record 83 weeks on the Digital Songs chart.[52][53] Three other singles—"Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)", "LoveGame", and "Paparazzi"—were released from the album;[54] the latter reached number one in Germany.[55] Remixed versions of the singles from The Fame except "Eh, Eh" were included in Hitmixes in August 2009.[56] At the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards, The Fame and "Poker Face" won Best Dance/Electronica Album and Best Dance Recording, respectively.[57]

A young woman on stage. She wears a bright yellow wig, a purple shiny jacket with shoulder pads, and matching purple sunglasses with a leotard and stockings.
Gaga performing on The Monster Ball Tour in 2010. Grossing $227 million, it became the highest-grossing concert tour for a debut headlining artist.[58]

Following her opening act on The Pussycat Dolls' 2009 Doll Domination Tour in Europe and Oceania, Gaga headlined her worldwide The Fame Ball Tour, which ran from March to September 2009.[59] While traveling the globe, she wrote eight songs for The Fame Monster, a reissue of The Fame.[60] Those new songs were also released as a standalone EP on November 18, 2009.[61] Its first single "Bad Romance" was released one month earlier,[62] and went number one in Canada[50] and the UK[51] while reaching number two in the US,[48] Australia,[63] and New Zealand.[64] "Telephone" with Beyoncé followed as the second single,[65] and became Gaga's fourth UK number one.[66] Its third single was "Alejandro",[67] which reached number one in Finland[68] and attracted controversy when its music video was deemed blasphemous by the Catholic League.[69] Both tracks also reached the top five in the US.[48] The video for "Bad Romance" became the most watched on YouTube in April 2010, and Gaga became the first person with more than one billion combined views the following October.[70][71] At the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, Gaga won 8 awards from 13 nominations, including Video of the Year for "Bad Romance".[72] She became the most nominated artist for a single year, and the first female to receive two nominations for Video of the Year at the same ceremony.[73] 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.[74]

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 — earning an entry in the Guinness World Records.[75][76] The Fame as well as The Fame Monster have sold more than 15 million copies worldwide.[77][78] This success allowed Gaga to start her second worldwide concert tour, The Monster Ball Tour and release The Remix—her final record with Cherrytree Records[79] and among the best-selling remix albums of all time.[80][81] The former ran from November 2009 to May 2011 and grossed $227.4 million, making it the highest-grossing concert tour for a debut headlining artist.[58][82] 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.[83] Gaga also performed songs from the albums at the 2009 Royal Variety Performance, 52nd Annual Grammy Awards, and the 2010 BRIT Awards.[84] Before Michael Jackson's death, Gaga was set to take part in his cancelled This Is It concert series at London's O2 Arena.[85]

During this era, Gaga ventured into business, collaborating with consumer electronics company Monster Cable Products to create in-ear, jewel-encrusted, headphones called Heartbeats by Lady Gaga.[86] Gaga also partnered with Polaroid in January 2010 as their Creative Director and announced a suite of photo capturing products called Grey Label.[87][88] Her collaboration with past producer and ex-boyfriend Rob Fusari led to her production team, Mermaid Music LLC, being sued.[b] At this time, Gaga was tested borderline positive for lupus, but claimed not to be affected by the symptoms and hoped to maintain a healthy lifestyle.[91][92]

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

In February 2011, Gaga released "Born This Way", the lead single 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 the fastest selling single on iTunes.[93] It debuted atop the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the 1,000th number-one single in the history of the charts.[94] Its second single "Judas" followed two months later,[95] and "The Edge of Glory" served as its third single;[96] both reached the top ten in the US and UK.[48][51] Her music video for "The Edge of Glory", unlike her previous work, portrays her dancing on a fire escape and walking on a lonely street, without intricate choreography and back-up dancers.[97]

Gaga performing onstage wearing black leather jacket and bodysuit. She has blue hair.
Gaga promoting Born This Way with performances at Sydney, Australia

Born This Way was released on May 23, 2011,[95] and debuted atop the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 1.1 million copies.[98] The album sold eight million copies worldwide and received three Grammy nominations, including Gaga's third consecutive nomination for Album of the Year.[99][100] Born This Way's following singles were "You and I" and "Marry the Night",[101] which reached numbers 6 and 29 in the US, respectively.[48] While filming the former's music video, Gaga met and started dating actor Taylor Kinney in July 2011, who played her love interest.[102][103] She also embarked the Born This Way Ball in April 2012, which was scheduled to conclude the following March, but ended one month earlier than planned when she cancelled the remaining dates due to a labral tear of her right hip that required surgery.[104] While refunds for the cancellations were estimated to be worth $25 million,[105] the tour grossed a total of $183.9 million globally.[106]

In 2011, Gaga also worked with Tony Bennett on a jazz version of "The Lady Is a Tramp",[107] with Elton John on "Hello Hello" for the animated feature film Gnomeo & Juliet,[108] and The Lonely Island with Justin Timberlake on "3-Way (The Golden Rule)".[109] She also performed a concert at the Sydney Town Hall, Australia that year to promote Born This Way and to celebrate former US President Bill Clinton's 65th birthday.[110] In November, she was featured in a Thanksgiving special titled A Very Gaga Thanksgiving, which attracted 5.7 million American viewers and spawned the release of her fourth EP, A Very Gaga Holiday.[111] In 2012, Gaga guest-starred as an animated version of herself in an episode of The Simpsons called "Lisa Goes Gaga",[112] appeared in the documentary films The Zen of Bennett and Katy Perry: Part of Me (both 2012),[113][114] and released her first fragrance, Lady Gaga Fame, followed by a second one, Eau de Gaga, in 2014.[c]

Gaga began work on her third studio album, Artpop, in early 2012, during the Born This Way Ball tour; she crafted the album to mirror "a night at the club".[117][118][119] In August 2013, Gaga released the album's lead single "Applause",[120] which reached number one in Hungary and number four in the US.[48][121] A lyric video for Artpop track "Aura" followed in October to accompany Robert Rodriguez's Machete Kills, where she plays an assassin named La Chameleon.[122] The film received generally negative reviews and earned less than half of its $33 million budget.[123][124] The second Artpop single, "Do What U Want", featured singer R. Kelly and was released later that month,[125] topping the charts in Hungary and reaching number 13 in the US.[48][126] Artpop was released in November 2013 to mixed reviews.[127] Helen Brown in The Daily Telegraph criticized Gaga for making another album about her fame and doubted the record's originality, but found it "great for dancing".[128] The album debuted atop the Billboard 200 chart, and sold more than 2.5 million copies worldwide as of July 2014.[129][130] "G.U.Y." followed as its third release in March 2014.[131] It peaked at number 76.[48]

A woman with brown-red hair gestures with her left hand while holding a microphone in her right.
With the Cheek to Cheek era, Gaga (seen here performing on the Cheek to Cheek Tour) ushered in an overhaul of her image[132]

Gaga hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live in November 2013, performing "Do What U Want" (with Kelly) and an album cut, "Gypsy".[133] After holding her second Thanksgiving Day television special on ABC, Lady Gaga and the Muppets Holiday Spectacular, she performed a special rendition of "Do What U Want" with Christina Aguilera on the fifth season of the American reality talent show The Voice.[134][135] In March 2014, Gaga had a seven-day concert residency commemorating the last performance at New York's Roseland Ballroom before its closure.[136] Two months later, she embarked on the ArtRave: The Artpop Ball tour, building on concepts from her ArtRave promotional event. Earning $83 million, the tour included cities cancelled from the Born This Way Ball tour itinerary.[137] In the meantime, Gaga split from longtime manager Troy Carter over "creative differences",[138] and by June 2014, she and new manager Bobby Campbell joined Artist Nation, the artist management division of Live Nation Entertainment.[139] She briefly appeared in Rodriguez's Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, and was confirmed as Versace's spring-summer 2014 face with a campaign called "Lady Gaga For Versace".[140][141]

In September 2014, Gaga released a collaborative jazz album with Tony Bennett titled Cheek to Cheek. The inspiration behind the album came from her friendship with Bennett, and fascination with jazz music since her childhood.[142] Before the album was released, it produced the singles "Anything Goes" and "I Can't Give You Anything but Love".[143] Cheek to Cheek received generally favorable reviews;[144] The Guardian's Caroline Sullivan praised Gaga's vocals and Howard Reich of the Chicago Tribune wrote that "Cheek to Cheek serves up the real thing, start to finish".[145][146] The record was Gaga's third consecutive number-one album on the Billboard 200,[147] and won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.[148] The duo recorded the concert special Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga: Cheek to Cheek Live!,[149] and embarked on the Cheek to Cheek Tour from December 2014 to August 2015.[150]

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

In February 2015, Gaga became engaged to Taylor Kinney.[151] After Artpop's lukewarm response, Gaga began to reinvent her image and style. According to Billboard, this shift started with the release of Cheek to Cheek and the attention she received for her performance at the 87th Academy Awards, where she sang a medley of songs from The Sound of Music in a tribute to Julie Andrews.[132] Considered one of her best performances by Billboard, it triggered more than 214,000 interactions per minute globally on Facebook.[152][153] 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.[154][155] Gaga won Billboard Woman of the Year and Contemporary Icon Award at the 2015 Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Awards.[156][157]

Gaga had spent much of her early life wanting to be an actress, and achieved her goal when she starred in American Horror Story: Hotel.[158] Running from October 2015 to January 2016, Hotel is the fifth season of the anthology horror series, American Horror Story, in which Gaga played a hotel owner named Elizabeth.[159][160] At the 73rd Golden Globe Awards, Gaga received the Best Actress in a Miniseries or Television Film award for her work on the season.[158]

Gaga also appeared in Nick Knight's 2015 fashion film for Tom Ford's 2016 spring campaign[161] and was guest editor for V fashion magazine's 99th issue in January 2016, which featured sixteen different covers.[162] She received Editor of the Year award at the Fashion Los Angeles Awards.[163]

Lady Gaga standing behind a microphone stand with a pink guitar in her hands, wearing black leather fringe.
Gaga performing on the Joanne World Tour in 2017

In 2016, Gaga sang the US national anthem in February at Super Bowl 50,[164][165] partnered with Intel and Nile Rodgers for a tribute performance to the late David Bowie at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards,[166] and sang "Til It Happens to You" at the 88th Academy Awards, where she was introduced by Joe Biden and accompanied on-stage by 50 people who had suffered from sexual assault.[167] The singer was honored that April with the Artist Award at the Jane Ortner Education Awards by The Grammy Museum, which recognizes artists who have demonstrated passion and dedication to education through the arts.[168] Her engagement to Taylor Kinney ended the following July, with the singer later saying that her career had interfered with their relationship.[169]

Gaga played a witch named Scathach in American Horror Story: Roanoke, the series' sixth season,[170] which ran from September to November 2016.[171][172] Her role in the fifth season of the show ultimately influenced her future music, prompting her to feature "the art of darkness".[173] She released her fifth album's lead single "Perfect Illusion" in September 2016.[174] The song topped the charts in France and Spain, and peaked at number 15 in the US.[175][176] The album, titled Joanne, was named after her late aunt who was an inspiration for the music. It was released on October 21, 2016, and sold 170,000 copies in the US during its first week. Joanne was Gaga's fourth number one Billboard album, making her the first woman to reach the US summit four times in the 2010s.[177] Its second single "Million Reasons" followed the next month, and reached number four in the US.[178][176] To promote Joanne, Gaga embarked on the three-date Dive Bar Tour.[179]

Gaga performed as the headlining act during the Super Bowl LI halftime show on February 5, 2017. Her performance featured a group of hundreds of lighted drones forming various shapes in the sky above Houston's NRG Stadium—the first time robotic aircraft appeared in a Super Bowl program.[180] It attracted 117.5 million viewers in the United States, exceeding the game's total of 113.3 million viewers.[181] The performance led to a surge of 410,000 song downloads in the United States for Gaga and earned her an Emmy nomination in the Outstanding Special Class Program category.[182][183] In April, the singer headlined the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.[184] She also released a standalone-single, "The Cure", which reached the top 10 in Australia and France.[185][186] In August, Gaga began the Joanne World Tour which she announced after the Super Bowl LI halftime show—the tour is expected to finish in 2018.[187][188] Gaga's creation of Joanne and preparation for her halftime show performance were featured in the documentary Gaga: Five Foot Two, which premiered on Netflix in September.[189] Throughout the film, she was seen suffering from chronic pain, which was later revealed to be the effect of a long-term condition called fibromyalgia.[190]

The singer will star in and create new music for Bradley Cooper's A Star is Born, a remake of the 1937 musical drama film of the same name. It is set to be released in May 2018.[191][192] Her character is a woman named Ally whose romance with singer Jackson Maine (played by Cooper) becomes strained after her career begins to overshadow his.[193]

Artistry

Influences

Musicians 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,[194] who have all influenced her music.[195][196] 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.[30][197] The singer has been compared to Madonna, who has said that she sees herself reflected in Gaga.[198] Gaga says that she wants to revolutionize pop music as Madonna has.[199] Gaga has also cited heavy metal bands as an influence, including Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath.[200][201] She credits Beyoncé as a key inspiration to pursue a musical career.[202]

Gaga was inspired by her mother to be interested in fashion, which she now says is a major influence and integrated with her music.[18][203] Stylistically, Gaga has been compared to Leigh Bowery, Isabella Blow, and Cher;[204][205] she once commented that as a child, she absorbed Cher's fashion sense and made it her own.[205] She considers Donatella Versace her muse and the English fashion designer Alexander McQueen as an inspiration.[91][206] In turn, Versace calls Lady Gaga "the fresh Donatella".[207] Gaga has also been influenced by Princess Diana, whom she has admired since her childhood.[208]

Gaga has called the Indian physician, public speaker, and writer Deepak Chopra a "true inspiration",[209] and she has also quoted Indian leader Osho's book Creativity on Twitter. Gaga says she was influenced by Osho's work in valuing rebellion through creativity and equality.[210]

Musical style and themes

Critics have analyzed and scrutinized Gaga's musical and performance style, as she has experimented with new ideas and images throughout her career. She says the continual reinvention is "liberating" herself, which she has been drawn to since childhood.[211] Gaga is a contralto with a range spanning from B♭2 to B5[212][213][214][215] She has changed her vocal style regularly, and considers Born This Way "much more vocally up to par with what I've always been capable of."[216][217] 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."[218]

Gaga's early songs have been called "depthless,"[219] but according to Evan Sawdey of PopMatters, she "does manage to get you moving and grooving at an almost effortless pace."[220] Gaga believes that "all good music can be played on a piano and still sound like a hit".[221] Simon Reynolds wrote in 2010, "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."[222]

Gaga's songs have covered a wide variety of concepts; The Fame discusses the lust for stardom, while the follow-up The Fame Monster expresses fame's dark side through monster metaphors. The Fame is an electropop and dance-pop album that has influences of 1980s pop and 1990s Europop,[223] whereas The Fame Monster displays Gaga's taste for pastiche, drawing on "Seventies arena glam, perky ABBA disco, and sugary throwbacks like Stacey Q".[224] Born This Way has lyrics in English, French, German, and Spanish and features themes common to Gaga's controversial songwriting such as sex, love, religion, money, drugs, identity, liberation, sexuality, freedom, and individualism.[225] The album explores new genres, such as electronic rock and techno.[226]

The themes in Artpop revolve around Gaga's personal views of fame, love, sex, feminism, self-empowerment, overcoming addiction, and reactions to media scrutiny.[227] Billboard describes Artpop as "coherently channeling R&B, techno, disco and rock music".[228] With Cheek to Cheek, Gaga dabbled in the jazz genre.[229] Joanne, exploring the genres of country, funk, pop, dance, rock, electronic music and folk, was influenced by her personal life.[230]

Videos and stage

A pale-skinned woman is standing in front of a statue of an angel. She has yellow hair and wears a low-cut garment. Her chest is marked with red liquid.
Gaga during a "blood stained" performance in 2010

Featuring constant costume changes and provocative visuals, Gaga's music videos are often described as short films.[231] The video for "Telephone" earned Gaga the Guinness World Record for Most Product Placement in a Video.[232] According to author Curtis Fogel, she explores bondage and sadomasochism and highlights prevalent feminist themes. The main themes of her music videos are sex, violence, and power. She calls herself "a little bit of a feminist" and asserts that she is "sexually empowering women".[233]

Gaga has called herself a perfectionist when it comes to her elaborate shows.[234] Her performances have been described as "highly entertaining and innovative";[235] the blood-spurting performance of "Paparazzi" at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards was described as "eye-popping" by MTV News.[236] She continued the blood-soaked theme during The Monster Ball Tour, causing protests in England from family groups and fans in the aftermath of the Cumbria shootings, in which a taxi driver had killed 12 people, then himself.[237] At the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, Gaga appeared in drag as her male alter ego, Jo Calderone, and delivered a lovesick monologue before a performance of her song "You and I".[238] As Gaga's choreographer and creative director, Laurieann Gibson provided material for her shows and videos for four years before she was replaced by her assistant Richard Jackson in 2014.[239]

Public image

Public reception of Gaga's music, fashion sense, and persona is polarized. 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 early 2011 with the objective of unraveling "some of the sociologically relevant dimensions of the fame of Lady Gaga".[240] When Gaga met briefly with then-president 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.[241] 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.[242] In a 2010 Sunday Times article, Camille Paglia called Gaga "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".[243]

A woman kneeling down wearing a shiny black upper garment, fishnet stockings and black high-heeled boots. Her hair is pale yellow.
The Global Language Monitor named "Lady Gaga" as the Top Fashion Buzzword with her trademark "no pants".[244]

Gaga's outlandish fashion sense has also served as an important aspect of her character.[245] During her early career, members of the media compared her fashion choices to those of Christina Aguilera.[206] In 2011, 121 women gathered at the Grammy Awards dressed in costumes similar to those worn by Gaga, earning the 2011 Guinness World Record for Largest Gathering of Lady Gaga Impersonators.[93] The Global Language Monitor named "Lady Gaga" as the Top Fashion Buzzword with her trademark "no pants" a close third.[244] Entertainment Weekly put her outfits on its end of the decade "best-of" list, saying that she "brought performance art into the mainstream."[246]

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 [...] [Gaga] has sported outfits made from plastic bubbles, Kermit the Frog dolls, and raw meat."[247] Gaga wore a dress made of raw beef to the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, which was supplemented by boots, a purse, and a hat also made out of raw beef.[248] Partly awarded in recognition of the dress, Vogue named her one of the Best Dressed people of 2010 and Time named the dress the Fashion Statement of the year.[249][250] It attracted the attention of worldwide media; the animal rights organization PETA found it offensive.[251] The meat dress was displayed at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in 2012,[252] and entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in September 2015.[253]

Gaga's fans call her "Mother Monster", and she often refers to them as "Little Monsters," a phrase which she had tattooed on herself in dedication.[254] In July 2012, Gaga also co-founded the social networking service LittleMonsters.com, devoted to her fans.[255] 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 that year.[93][256] Forbes included Gaga on its Celebrity 100 from 2010 to 2015 and its list of the World's Most Powerful Women from 2010 to 2014.[257][258] She earned $62 million, $90 million, $52 million, $80 million, $33 million, and $59 million from 2010 through 2015.[259][260] She was named one of the most influential people in the world by Time magazine in 2010[261] and ranked second in most influential people of the past ten years in a Time magazine readers' poll in 2013.[262] In March 2012, Gaga was ranked fourth on Billboard's list of top moneymakers of 2011 with earnings of $25 million, which included sales from Born This Way and her Monster Ball Tour.[263] The following year, she topped Forbes' List of Top-Earning Celebs Under 30,[260] and in February 2016, the magazine estimated Gaga's net worth to be $275 million.[264]

Activism

Philanthropy

After declining an invitation to appear on the single "We Are the World 25" (because of rehearsals for her tour) to benefit victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Gaga donated the proceeds of her January 2010 Radio City Music Hall concert to the country's reconstruction relief fund.[265] All profits from her online store that day were also donated, and Gaga announced that $500,000 was collected for the fund.[266] Hours after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, Gaga tweeted a link to Japan Prayer Bracelets. All revenue from a bracelet she designed in conjunction with the company was donated to relief efforts;[267] these raised $1.5 million.[268] In June 2011, Gaga performed at MTV Japan's charity show in Makuhari Messe, which benefited the Japanese Red Cross.[269]

In 2012, Gaga joined the campaign group Artists Against Fracking.[270] That October, Yoko Ono gave Gaga and four other activists the LennonOno Grant for Peace in Reykjavík, Iceland.[271] 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.[272] Sales have raised more than $202 million to fight HIV and AIDS.[273]

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 traveled to colleges on behalf of the organization, which has seen 250,000 students from more than 530 colleges sign a pledge of solidarity and activism.[274] 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.[275] 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.[276]

Born This Way Foundation

In 2012, Gaga launched the Born This Way Foundation (BTWF), a non-profit organization that focuses on youth empowerment. It takes its name from her 2011 single and album. Media proprietor Oprah Winfrey, writer Deepak Chopra, and US Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius spoke at the foundation's inauguration at Harvard University.[277] The foundation's original funding included $1.2 million from Gaga, $500,000 from the MacArthur Foundation, and $850,000 from Barneys New York.[278] 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.[279] The foundation's initiatives have included the "Born Brave Bus" that followed her on tour as a youth drop-in center as an initiative against bullying.[280][281]

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.[282] In 2016, the foundation partnered with Intel, Vox Media, and Re/code to fight online harassment.[283] The sales revenue of the 99th issue of the V magazine, which featured Gaga and Kinney, was donated to the foundation.[162] Gaga and Elton John released the clothing and accessories line Love Bravery at Macy's in May. 25% of each purchase support Gaga's foundation and the Elton John AIDS Foundation.[284] 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.[285] The singer also appeared in a video by Staples Inc. to raise funds for the foundation and DonorsChoose.org.[286]

LGBT advocacy

A woman with blonde hair speaking at a podium into several microphones. She wears large glasses. The background is a series of red and white horizontal stripes.
Gaga speaking against "don't ask, don't tell", in Portland, Maine, 2010

As a bisexual woman,[d] Gaga actively supports LGBT rights worldwide.[287] She attributes much of her early success as a mainstream artist to her gay fans and is considered a gay icon.[288][289] Early in her career she had difficulty getting radio airplay, and stated, "The turning point for me was the gay community."[290] She thanked FlyLife, a Manhattan-based LGBT marketing company with whom her label Interscope works, in the liner notes of The Fame.[291] One of her first televised performances was in May 2008 at the NewNowNext Awards, an awards show aired by the LGBT television network Logo.[292]

Gaga spoke at the 2009 National Equality March in Washington in support of the LGBT movement.[293] 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 US military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which banned open homosexuality in the military.[294] Gaga urged her fans via YouTube 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, The Advocate named her a "fierce advocate" for gays and lesbians.[295] Gaga appeared at Europride, an international event dedicated to LGBT pride, in Rome in June 2011. She criticized the poor state of gay rights in many European countries and described gay people as "revolutionaries of love".[296] Gaga was ordained as a minister by the Universal Life Church Monastery so that she could officiate the wedding of two female friends.[297] 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 gave a speech.[298] Later that month, Gaga appeared in Human Rights Campaign's tribute video to the victims of the attack.[299] She has opposed the presidency of Donald Trump and deplored his military transgender ban.[300][301] She supported former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for president in 2016.[302]

Legacy

A realistic mannequin of a pale-skinned woman with blonde hair wearing a hat in the design of an old-fashioned telephone.
In 2010, eight wax figures of Gaga were installed at the museum Madame Tussauds.[303]

Gaga is one of the best-selling music artists with estimated sales of 27 million albums and 146 million singles as of January 2016. Some of her singles are also among the best-selling worldwide.[304] She has grossed more than $300 million in revenue from 3.2 million tickets for her first three worldwide concert tours.[139]

Gaga was named the "Queen of Pop" in a 2011 ranking by Rolling Stone (based on record sales and social media metrics), and she ranked fourth in VH1's Greatest Women in Music in 2012.[305][306] She has been often regarded as a trailblazer for sometimes utilizing controversy to bring attention to various issues.[307][308] Because of The Fame's success—it was listed as one of the 100 Greatest Debut Albums of All-Time by Rolling Stone in 2013[309]—Gaga is acknowledged as one of the artists who propelled the rise in the popularity of synthpop in the late 2000s and early 2010s.[310] Scott Hardy, Polaroid's CEO, has praised Gaga for inspiring her fans and for her close interactions with them on social media.[311]

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."[312] Including Born This Way as one of the 50 best female albums of all time, Rolling Stone's Rob Sheffield considers it "hard to remember a world where we didn't have Gaga, although we're pretty sure it was a lot more boring."[313] In 2015, Time also noted that Gaga had "practically invented the current era of pop music as spectacle."[314] Her work has influenced artists including Miley Cyrus,[315] Nicki Minaj,[316] Ellie Goulding,[317] Halsey,[318] Nick Jonas,[319] Sam Smith,[320] Noah Cyrus,[321] Katherine Langford,[322] and MGMT.[323]

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 rolled young fern leaf prior to unfurling.[324] Gaga also has an extinct mammal, Gagadon minimonstrum,[325] and a parasitic wasp, Aleiodes gaga, named for her.[326][327]

Awards and recognition

Lady Gaga has won six Grammy Awards, three Brit Awards,[328] a Golden Globe Award, thirteen MTV Video Music Awards, several Guinness World Records, and the inaugural Songwriters Hall of Fame's Contemporary Icon Award.[157] She received a National Arts Awards' Young Artist Award, which honors individuals who have shown accomplishments and leadership early in their career,[329] and she won the Jane Ortner Artist Award from the Grammy Museum in 2016.[168] Gaga has also been recognized by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) with the Fashion Icon lifetime achievement award[330] and was a finalist for The Advocate's Person of the Year in 2016.[331]

Gaga has consecutively appeared on Billboard magazine's Artists of the Year (scoring the definitive title in 2010).[332] Named Woman of the Year in 2015,[156] she is the fifth best selling digital singles artist in the US with a total of 60 million certified according to Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).[333] She became the first woman to receive the Digital Diamond Award certification from RIAA, is one of two artists with two Diamond certified songs ("Bad Romance" and "Poker Face"),[334][335] and is the first and only artist to have two songs pass 7 million downloads ("Poker Face" and "Just Dance").[336]

Discography

Tours

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Pronounced /ˈstɛfəni ɜːrməˈnɒtə/ STEF-ə-nee jur-mə-NOT.
  2. ^ In 2010, Fusari claimed he was entitled to a 20% share of the company's earnings, but the New York Supreme Court dismissed both the lawsuit and a counter-suit by Gaga.[89][90]
  3. ^ Both of the fragrances were released in association with Coty, Inc..[115][116]
  4. ^ Gaga says that the song "Poker Face" was about her bisexuality, and she openly speaks about how her past boyfriends were uncomfortable with her sexual orientation.[27]

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