Lady Gaga's reach
While her songs are hits, Lady Gaga's impact on pop culture extends far beyond CDs and Mp3 downloads.
All seven of her singles have been Top-10 hits: "Just Dance" and "Poker Face," both No. 1; "LoveGame" and "Alejandro," both No. 5; "Paparazzi," No. 4 and "Bad Romance," No. 2. Her albums "The "Fame" reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200. It sold 3.4 million copies in this country and more than 10 million copies worldwide. "The Fame Monster," released Nov. 23, reached No. 5 and has sold 1.1 million copies in the U.S.
For Lady Gaga, videos are as much a part of her art as her music.
"Just Dance" - Scantily clad Lady Gaga dances in a poncho with a blue lightning-bolt sticker beneath her right-eye.
"Poker Face" - Gaga wears a mirror masquerade mask and a black leotard and metallic sticker on her
left cheek during a wild party where a strip-poker game takes place with guests dancing, stripping and kissing.
"LoveGame" - Gaga in a grey-leotard with hood and chain-linked glasses. Gaga kisses and caresses a man and a woman in a ticket booth. The video mainly takes place in a subway, like Michael Jackson's "Bad."
"Paparazzi" - Gaga's breakthrough music video, which is like an 8-minute mini-movie. The plot is about a doomed starlet constantly hounded by photographers. During the video, Gaga wears a dress made up of film strips and a metallic leotard with matching helmet.
"Bad Romance" - Gaga is kidnapped by a group of supermodels, who drug her and sell her off to the Russian mafia. The video includes Gaga wearing glasses made from razor blades, a pyrotechnic bra, a faux polar bear dress with head included and 12-inch high heel shoes.
"Telephone" (featuring Beyonce) - A video that will probably not be topped for the number of pop culture references it contains. It picks up where "Paparazzi" left off with Gaga in jail. It includes prison girl fights, poisoned food, Beyonce and Gaga in an American flag-patterned bikini.
"Alejandro" - Gaga's most controversial video to date. She simulates sex with men. She wears a red latex nun's outfit. She eats a rosary. She wears a bra with AR-15 assault rifle barrels attached.
Gaga has her own creative production team called Haus of Gaga. The teams creates many of her clothes, hairdos and stage props. Gaga is famous for not wearing pants. Among her famous looks are a dress made of plastic spheres and a red fetish-wear gown to meet Queen Elizabeth II in December. She has worn a top made entirely out of sewn-together Kermit the Frog dolls. She has worn solid-color catsuits, feathers and lace, strapless dresses and a bra and corset.
Bluewater Productions' biographical comic book on pop diva Lady sold out in one week when it was released in June. A second printing with a new cover should be available by the middle of this month. The issue takes a unique approach to telling the top-selling artist's biography. For fans seeking a more traditional telling of Lady Gaga's biography, a sequel of sorts is scheduled for late this year.
Gaga's two most memorable TV performances were MTV's Video Music Awards in September where she was dressed in white, started bleeding in the chest area and was hoisted in the air holding onto a cable with one hand to perform "Paparazzi." She changed outfits several times during the show and accepted an award with her face covered in what looked like red lace.
During the most recent Grammy Awards, she sang "Poker Face" in a green-sequined leotard with giant shoulder pads. She dropped down a chute labeled "rejected" and reemerged playing a piano duet with Elton John. Their performance mixed her song "Speechless" with lyrics from hit "Your Song." They both appeared with dirt smeared on their clothes and faces.
The TV show "Glee" paid tribute to Gaga on May 25 with an episode that featured cast members singing "Bad Romance" and "Poker Face."
Gaga performed a taped version of her song "Alejandro" on May 6 on "American Idol."
"America's Best Dance Crew" on MTV did a Gaga-themed show in March with crew performing to many of Gaga's hits, including "Bad Romance" and "Paparazzi."
Gaga performed "Bad Romance" on "Gossip Girl" in November.
Becoming Lady Gaga
Although she's the hottest thing in pop music, Lady Gaga was not an instant success. Here's a look at her career path:
BIRTH NAME: Joanne Stefani Germanotta
BORN: March 28, 1986 in Manhattan, N.Y.
EDUCATION: Gained early admission to study music at New York's University's Tisch School of the Arts age 17 in 2003
FIRST GROUP: The Stefani Germanotta Band in 2006.
FIRST LABEL DEAL: Def Jam Recordings in 2007, which dropped her after three months and didn't release any material.
SIGNED SECOND AND CURRENT LABEL DEAL: Interscope Records, also in 2007.
FIRST PERFORMANCES OUTSIDE OF NEW YORK: Billed as "Lady Gaga and the Starlight Revue" at the August 2007 Lollapalooza music festival in Grant Park, Chicago.
DEBUT SINGLE: "Just Dance," released on April 2, 2008.It hit No. 1 in January 2009
DEBUT CD: "The Fame," released Aug. 19, 2008
ATLANTIC CITY DEBUT: Opening for New Kids On The Block on Nov. 7, 2008 in the Event Center at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa.
FIRST HEADLINING TOUR: "The Fame Ball Tour," which started on March 12, 2009 in San Diego.
FIRST ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE COVER STORY: May 2009
FIRST MTV VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS: Best new artist and best art direction and best special effects for "Paparazzi" in September 2009.
FIRST GRAMMY AWARDS: Best dance recording for "Poker Dance" and best electronic/dance album for "The Fame" on Jan. 31.
FIRST APPEARANCE ON FORBES' CELEBRITY POWER LIST: Gaga comes in at No. 4 on the list with earnings of an estimated $62 million last year. The list also takes into consideration exposure in print, television, radio, online and social media. She came in behind only Oprah Winfrey, Beyonce Knowles and James Cameron and ahead of Tiger Woods.
CURRENT CHART POSITIONS: "The Fame" is at No. 1 on Billboard magazine's Dance/Electronic Albums chart. "Alejandro" is at No. 9 on the Hot 100 singles chart.
Lady Gaga's influences
While she's a one-of-a-kind performer, Lady Gaga has incorporated influences of other music superstars into her persona. These include:
Madonna - Gaga's biggest influence from the dance-pop style, to buzz-making videos, to the pushing of sexual boundaries to being embraced by the gay community to needing a producer to bring out the best in their music. In Madonna's case, it was Patrick Leonard. In Lady Gaga's case, it is Moroccan-Swedish songwriter-producer RedOne.
Cyndi Lauper - When Lauper arrived on the scene, she didn't try to be a glamour queen. She was oddball like Gaga with crazy-colored hair and clothes. Her debut CD was titled "She's So Unusual." Her "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" as much of party anthem as Gaga's "Just Dance." Lauper's third single, "She Bop," was a controversial song about masturbation in 1984.
David Bowie - The idea of treating pop music as theatrical performance art, which was the opposite of the earnest singer-songwriter approach, and bringing a sense of style and fashion to music. Born David Robert Jones, Bowie created the character of the androgynous Ziggy Stardust, which he also portrayed off stage, and The Thin White Duke, a darker version of his soul music performer persona. Germanotta created Lady Gaga for her music and fashion ideas.
Queen - Germanotta is named after the Queen hit "Radio Ga Ga." The late lead singer Freddie Mercury played piano, as does Gaga. Mercury was known for having a flamboyant stage persona and powerful vocals and is Gaga.
Grace Jones - The Jamaican-born singer, model and actress had dance-club hits and a large gay following, as does Gaga. Live, she adopted various personas and wore crazy costumes. She had her body painted for one of her 1980s music videos. She adopted an androgynous look and sang sexual songs, for instance, "Pull Up to the Bumper," in 1981.
FASHION PULL QUOTE
"I lover her. I love everything about her. She definitely pushes the envelope on fashion and some of the concepts that she has in her videos and her tours, but it's great. It's refreshing to see something new, something different," said Nicole Douglas, a singer and dancer and the stylist for the Almost Angels singing and dancing troupe that performs in the Ego Bar & Lounge at the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort. "If Marilyn and Madonna had a baby, it would be Lady Gaga. She's got a little bit of that gothic kind of thing, but will still come out looking sexy in another shot with decent makeup. Then in another one, she will have a crazy lace thing on her face."
By Vincent Jackson: