Growing up, Gaga wrote songs, played at open mic nights, and performed in school plays. She also studied at CAP21 through New York University's Tisch School of the Arts before dropping out to pursue a musical career.
After being dropped from a contract with Def Jam Recordings, 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. Gaga rose to prominence in 2008 with the release of her debut album, a dance-pop and electropop record titled The Fame, and its internationally 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.
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 been 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.
Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta was born on March 28, 1986, in Manhattan, New York at the Lenox Hill Hospital to a Catholic family with Italian and French Canadian roots. Her parents are Cynthia Louise (née Bissett) and internet entrepreneur Joseph Germanotta, and she has a younger sister named Natali. 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. From age 11, she attended the Convent of the Sacred Heart, a private, all-girls Roman Catholic school. 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".
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 began to play the piano at the age of four, wrote her first piano ballad at 13, and began playing at open mic nights a year later. At her high school, she played the lead roles of Adelaide in Guys and Dolls and Philia in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum; she also studied method acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute for ten years. Gaga auditioned for New York shows without success, though she did appear in a small role as a mischievous classmate in the 2001 Sopranos episode "The Telltale Moozadell". In 2003, at age 17, Gaga gained early admission to Collaborative Arts Project 21 (CAP21)—a music school at New York University'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. During her second semester of her sophomore year in 2005, she withdrew to focus on her music career. The same year, she played an unsuspecting diner customer for MTV's Boiling Points, a prank reality television show.
In 2014, Gaga said she had been raped at the age of 19, for which she underwent mental and physical therapy. She suffers from posttraumatic stress disorder that she attributes to the incident, though she says that support from doctors, family, and friends have helped her.
In 2005, Gaga recorded two songs with hip-hop singer Grandmaster Melle Mel for an audio book accompanying Cricket Casey's children's book The Portal in the Park. She also formed a band called the Stefani Germanotta Band with some friends from NYU. The band played at gigs around New York, becoming a fixture of the downtown Lower East Side club scene. 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. Fusari collaborated with Gaga, who traveled daily to New Jersey, helping to develop her songs and compose new material. According to the producer, they began dating in May 2006, and he claimed to have been the first person to call her "Lady Gaga". Their relationship lasted until January 2007.
Fusari and Gaga established a company called Team Lovechild, LLC to promote her career. They recorded and produced electropop tracks and sent them to music industry executives. Joshua Sarubin, the head of 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. However, she was dropped by the label after three months. Devastated, Gaga returned to her family home for Christmas and the nightlife culture of the Lower East Side. She began experimenting and taking drugs soon after, also performing at neo-burlesque shows, which according to her represented freedom.
During this time, she met performance artist Lady Starlight, who helped mold her onstage persona. 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 was known as "Lady Gaga and the Starlight Revue" and, billed as "The Ultimate Pop Burlesque Rockshow", was a lo-fi tribute to 1970s variety acts. Their performance at the 2007 Lollapalooza music festival received critical praise.
Having initially focused on avant-garde electronic dance music, Gaga found her musical niche when she began to incorporate pop melodies and the glam rock 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. Herbert signed Gaga to his label Streamline Records, an imprint of Interscope Records, established in 2007. Gaga later credited Herbert as the man who discovered her. 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. At Interscope, singer-songwriter Akon recognized her vocal abilities when she sang a reference vocal for one of his tracks in studio. 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".
In late 2007, Gaga met with songwriter and producer RedOne. 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. Despite her secure record deal, she said that some radio stations found her music too "racy", "dance-oriented", and "underground" for the mainstream market. The singer concluded: "My name is Lady Gaga, I've been on the music scene for years, and I'm telling you, this is what's next."
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. The Fame was released on August 19, 2008, reaching number one in Austria, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, and the UK and appearing in the top five in Australia and the US. The album has sold more than 15 million copies worldwide. Its first two singles, "Just Dance" and "Poker Face", became worldwide commercial successes, the latter becoming the world's best-selling single in 2009—with 9.8 million copies sold that year—and spending 83 weeks on the Digital Songs chart, a record recognized by the Guinness World Records. Three other singles were released from the album, "Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)", "LoveGame", and "Paparazzi". At the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards, The Fame and "Poker Face" won Best Dance/Electronica Album and Best Dance Recording, respectively.
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. While she traveled the globe, Gaga released The Fame Monster, an EP of eight songs, in November 2009. Each song dealt with the darker side of fame from personal experience, expressed through a monster metaphor. The lead single, "Bad Romance", topped the charts in 18 countries and reached number two in the US, Australia, and New Zealand. Two other singles were released from the EP, "Telephone" (featuring Beyoncé), which became Gaga's fourth UK number one single, and "Alejandro", which attracted controversy when its music video was deemed blasphemous by the Catholic League. On YouTube, the video for "Bad Romance" gained the most views ever, and Gaga became the first person with more than one billion views. At the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, Gaga won 8 awards from 13 nominations, including Video of the Year for "Bad Romance". As a result, she became the most nominated artist, and the first female to receive two nominations for Video of the Year at a single ceremony. 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.
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. The success of The Fame and The Fame Monster allowed Gaga to release The Remix—her final record with Cherrytree Records—and start her second worldwide concert tour, The Monster Ball Tour, weeks after finishing The Fame Ball Tour. With worldwide sales of 500,000 copies, The Remix is among the best-selling remix albums of all time. The Monster Ball Tour ran from November 2009 to May 2011, grossing $227.4 million, making it the highest-grossing concert tour for a debut headlining artist. 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. Gaga also performed songs from the albums at the 2009 Royal Variety Performance, 52nd Annual Grammy Awards, and the 2010 BRIT Awards. Before Michael Jackson's death, Gaga was set to take part in his cancelled This Is It concert series at London's O2 Arena.
During this era Gaga entered into business, collaborating with consumer electronics company Monster Cable Products to create in-ear, jewel-encrusted, headphones called Heartbeats. Gaga also partnered with Polaroid in January 2010 as their Creative Director and announced a suite of photo capturing products called Grey Label. Her collaboration with past producer and ex-boyfriend Rob Fusari led to her production team, Mermaid Music LLC, being sued. At this time, Gaga was tested borderline positive for lupus, but claimed not to be affected by the symptoms, saying she hoped to avoid symptoms by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
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. It debuted atop the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the 1,000th number-one single in the history of the charts. Its second single "Judas" also reached the top ten in several major musical markets, and "The Edge of Glory", initially a commercial success in digital outlets, was later released as a single, accompanied by a music video that strayed from the "dramatic style" of her past efforts.
Born This Way, released on May 23, 2011, debuted atop the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 1.1 million copies, and topped the charts in more than 20 other countries. The album sold eight million copies worldwide and received three Grammy nominations, including Gaga's third consecutive nomination for Album of the Year. Born This Way's following singles "You and I" and "Marry the Night" respectively reached number 6 and number 29 in the US. While filming the former's music video, Gaga met and started dating actor Taylor Kinney, who played her love interest. She supported the album with Born This Way Ball, which began in April 2012 and concluded in February 2013. Some of the tour's shows were cancelled due to a labral tear of her right hip, which required surgery and resulted in refunds of more than $25 million and 200,000 tickets. The tour earned $186.82 million globally.
Throughout 2011, Gaga's other endeavors included collaborating with Tony Bennett on a jazz version of "The Lady Is a Tramp" and with Elton John on "Hello Hello" for the animated feature film, Gnomeo & Juliet. 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. 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. She later guest-starred as an animated version of herself on the 23rd-season finale of The Simpsons, titled "Lisa Goes Gaga" in May 2012, and she appeared in the documentary films The Zen of Bennett and Katy Perry: Part of Me (both 2012). She also released her first fragrance, Lady Gaga Fame, in association with Coty, Inc. in September 2012, releasing a second fragrance Eau de Gaga two years later.
Gaga worked on her third studio album, Artpop, in early 2012 and while she was on the Born This Way Ball tour. She yearned to make audiences have "a really good time" with Artpop, crafting the album to mirror "a night at the club". Artpop was released in November 2013 to mixed reviews. Helen Brown in The Daily Telegraph criticized Gaga for making another album about her fame and doubted the album's originality, but found it "great for dancing". Artpop debuted atop the Billboard 200 chart, and it has sold 2.5 million copies as of July 2014. The album produced successful singles in "Applause" and "Do What U Want", the latter featuring R&B singer R. Kelly. A third release, "G.U.Y.", became Gaga's weakest performing single to date. Gaga embarked on the accompanying ArtRave: The Artpop Ball tour several months later, building on concepts from her ArtRave promotional event. Earning $83 million, the tour included cities cancelled in the Born This Way Ball tour. In the meantime, Gaga split from longtime manager Troy Carter over "creative differences," and by June 2014, she and new manager Bobby Campbell joined Artist Nation, the artist management division of Live Nation Entertainment.
The role of a shapeshifting hitman in Robert Rodriguez's Machete Kills (2013) earned Gaga a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress nomination. Later that year, she hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live, performing "Do What U Want" (with Kelly) and an album cut, "Gypsy". She held her second Thanksgiving Day television special on ABC, Lady Gaga and the Muppets Holiday Spectacular. Gaga briefly appeared in Rodriguez's Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014). She was confirmed as Versace's spring-summer 2014 face with a campaign called "Lady Gaga For Versace".
In 2014, Gaga collaborated with Tony Bennett on the jazz album Cheek to Cheek. The inspiration behind the album came from her longtime friendship with Bennett, and fascination with jazz music since her childhood. The album received generally favorable reviews, with Caroline Sullivan of The Guardian praising Gaga's vocals in it and Chicago Tribune critic Howard Reich writing that "Cheek to Cheek serves up the real thing, start to finish". Cheek to Cheek was Gaga's third consecutive number-one album on the Billboard 200, and it won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. The duo recorded the concert special Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga: Cheek to Cheek Live!, and embarked on the Cheek to Cheek Tour from December 2014 to August 2015. The same year, Gaga had a seven-day residency show commemorating the last performance at New York's Roseland Ballroom before its closure.
In February 2015, Gaga became engaged to Taylor Kinney. 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. The performance triggered more than 214,000 interactions per minute globally on Facebook. 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. Gaga won Billboard Woman of the Year and Contemporary Icon Award at the 2015 Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Awards.
After spending much of her early life desiring to be an actress, Gaga starred in American Horror Story: Hotel. Running from October 2015 to January 2016, Hotel is the fifth season of the horror show, American Horror Story, in which Gaga played a hotel owner named Elizabeth. At the 73rd Golden Globe Awards, Gaga received the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a miniseries or television film for her work on the season. Her other endeavors included appearing in Nick Knight's 2015 fashion film for Tom Ford's 2016 spring campaign and a guest editor spot for V fashion magazine's 99th issue in January 2016, which features sixteen different covers. She received Editor of the Year at the Fashion Los Angeles Awards.
Gaga performed live at several events in 2016. These included singing the US national anthem in February at Super Bowl 50, partnering with Intel and Nile Rodgers for a tribute performance to the late David Bowie at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards, and singing "Til It Happens to You" at the 88th Academy Awards, where she was introduced by Joe Biden and accompanied on-stage by 50 sexual assault survivors. The singer was honored 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 in April 2016. Her engagement to Taylor Kinney ended in July 2016.
The singer played a witch named Scathach in American Horror Story: Roanoke, the series' sixth iteration, which ran from September to November 2016. Her role in the fifth season of the show ultimately influenced her fifth studio album. Its lead single "Perfect Illusion" was released in September 2016, topping the charts in France and Spain while peaking at number 15 in the United States. The album, titled Joanne, was released on October 21, 2016. It sold 170,000 copies in the US during its first week, becoming Gaga's fourth album to reach number one there. As a result, she became the first woman to have four US number one albums in the 2010s. "Million Reasons" followed the next month as its second single and reached number four in the United States. To promote Joanne, Gaga embarked on a three-date tour, sponsored by Bud Light, called the Dive Bar Tour.
Gaga performed as the headlining act during the Super Bowl LI halftime show on February 5, 2017. The performance featured a coordinated swarm of hundreds of lighted drones that formed various shapes in the sky above Houston's NRG Stadium—the first time robotic aircraft appeared in a Super Bowl program. The show attracted 117.5 million viewers based on American television ratings, exceeding the game's total of 113.3 million viewers. The performance resulted in 150,000 digital album sales for Gaga. For her halftime show performance, she also received an Emmy nomination in the Outstanding Special Class Program category. Gaga then announced the Joanne World Tour, which began in August 2017 and is expected to finish in 2018. In April, she headlined the 2017 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. During her first set, the singer released the standalone-single, "The Cure".
In September 2017, Gaga released a documentary titled Gaga: Five Foot Two on Netflix. In the film, she revealed that she has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. She will also star in and create new music for Bradley Cooper's remake of the 1937 musical drama film, A Star Is Born, which will be released in September 2018. 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.
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, who have all influenced her music. 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. The singer has often been compared to Madonna, who has said that she sees herself reflected in Gaga. The latter says that she aspires to revolutionize pop music like Madonna. Gaga has also cited heavy metal bands as an influence, including Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath. She credits Beyoncé as the person who inspired her to pursue a career in music.
Gaga has called the Indian physician, public speaker, and writer Deepak Chopra a "true inspiration", 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.
Fashion is a major influence for Gaga, and she says that her interest in fashion came from her mother. She sees her musical endeavors as directly linked with fashion. Stylistically, Gaga has been compared to Leigh Bowery, Isabella Blow, and Cher; she once commented that as a child, she absorbed Cher's fashion sense and made it her own. She considers Donatella Versace her muse and the English fashion designer Alexander McQueen as an inspiration. In turn, Versace calls Lady Gaga "the fresh Donatella". Gaga has also been influenced by Princess Diana, whom she has admired since her childhood.
Continually experimenting with new musical ideas and images, Gaga's musical and performance style is the subject of much analysis and scrutiny by critics. She professes that she is "liberating" herself by constantly reinventing her sound and image, something she has been drawn to since her childhood. Refusing to lip sync, Gaga – whose coloratura contralto vocal range is frequently compared to those of Madonna and Gwen Stefani – has manipulated her vocal style over the course of her career. She considers Born This Way (2011) "much more vocally up to par with what I've always been capable of." 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."
Gaga's early songs have been called "depthless," but according to Evan Sawdey of PopMatters, she "does manage to get you moving and grooving at an almost effortless pace." Gaga believes that "all good music can be played on a piano and still sound like a hit". Music critic 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."
Gaga's songs have covered a wide variety of concepts; her debut album The Fame (2008) discusses the lust for stardom, while the follow-up The Fame Monster (2009) 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, whereas The Fame Monster displays Gaga's taste for pastiche, drawing on "Seventies arena glam, perky ABBA disco, and sugary throwbacks like Stacey Q". Gaga's second studio album 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. In the album, she explores new genres, such as electronic rock and techno.
The themes in 2013's Artpop revolve around Gaga's personal views of fame, love, sex, feminism, self-empowerment, overcoming addiction, and reactions to media scrutiny. Billboard describes Artpop as "coherently channeling R&B, techno, disco and rock music". With 2014's Cheek to Cheek, Gaga dabbled in the jazz genre. While praised for her love of the music and the songs, Gaga's attempt to switch genres, with "her rhythmically square, shouty delivery," left her vocals sounding more like a Broadway singer than a real jazz musician, according to Philip Clark of The Guardian. Gaga's fifth album Joanne (2016), exploring the genres of country, funk, pop, dance, rock, electronic music and folk, was influenced by her personal life.
Featuring constant costume changes and provocative visuals, Gaga's music videos are often described as short films. The video for "Telephone" earned Gaga the Guinness World Record for Most Product Placement in a Video. Gaga claims that she provokes to affect people positively rather than trying to get attention. 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".
Gaga says she is a perfectionist when it comes to her elaborate shows. Her performances are described as "highly entertaining and innovative"; the blood-spurting performance of "Paparazzi" at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards was described as "eye-popping" by MTV News. 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. 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". 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.
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". When Gaga met briefly with politician 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. 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. In a 2010 Sunday Times article, Camille Paglia criticized Gaga as "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".
Gaga's outlandish fashion sense has also served as an important aspect of her character. Certain media members have compared her fashion choices to those of Christina Aguilera. In 2011, 121 women gathered at the Grammy Awards dressed in costumes similar to those worn by Gaga, later earning the 2011 Guinness World Record for Largest Gathering of Lady Gaga Impersonators. The Global Language Monitor named "Lady Gaga" as the Top Fashion Buzzword with her trademark "no pants" a close third. Entertainment Weekly put her outfits on its end of the decade "best-of" list, saying that she "brought performance art into the mainstream."
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. After all, Gaga, born Stefani Germanotta, has sported outfits made from plastic bubbles, Kermit the Frog dolls, and raw meat." Gaga wore the raw beef outfit to the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, which was supplemented by boots, a purse, and a hat also made out of raw beef. 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 2010. Attracting the attention of worldwide media, it was also criticized by the animal rights organization PETA. The meat dress was displayed at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in 2012, and it entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in September 2015.
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. In July 2012, Gaga also co-founded the social networking service LittleMonsters.com, devoted to her fans. 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 of 2014. 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. She earned $62 million, $90 million, $52 million, $80 million, $33 million, and $59 million from 2010 through 2015. She was named one of the most influential people in the world by Time magazine in 2010 and ranked second in most influential people of the past ten years in a Time magazine readers' poll in 2013. 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. The following year, she topped Forbes' List of Top-Earning Celebs Under 30, and in February 2016, the magazine estimated Gaga's net worth to be $275 million.
After declining an invitation to appear on the single "We Are the World 25" 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. All profits from her online store that day were also donated, and Gaga announced that $500,000 was collected for the fund. 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; the bracelets raised $1.5 million. In June 2011, Gaga performed at MTV Japan's charity show in Makuhari Messe, which benefited the Japanese Red Cross.
In 2012, Gaga joined the anti-fracking campaign Artists Against Fracking. In October 2012, Yoko Ono gave Gaga and four other activists the LennonOno Grant for Peace in Reykjavík, Iceland. 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. The sales of Gaga-endorsed Viva Glam lipstick and lip gloss have raised more than $202 million to fight HIV and AIDS.
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 activation. 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. 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.
In 2012, she launched the Born This Way Foundation (BTWF), a non-profit organization that focuses on youth empowerment. It takes its name from the 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. The foundation's original funding included $1.2 million from Gaga, $500,000 from the MacArthur Foundation, and $850,000 from Barneys New York. 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. 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.
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. The foundation, in 2016, partnered with Intel, Vox Media, and Re/code to fight online harassment. The sales revenue of the 99th issue of the V magazine, which featured Gaga and Kinney, was donated to the foundation. 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. 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. The singer also featured in a video by Staples Inc. to raise funds for the foundation and DonorsChoose.org.
Gaga is an outspoken activist for LGBT rights worldwide. She attributes much of her early success as a mainstream artist to her gay fans and is considered a gay icon. Early in her career she had difficulty getting radio airplay, and stated, "The turning point for me was the gay community." She thanked FlyLife, a Manhattan-based LGBT marketing company with whom her label Interscope works, in the liner notes of The Fame. One of her first televised performances was in May 2008 at the NewNowNext Awards, an awards show aired by the LGBT television network Logo. She says that the song "Poker Face" was about her bisexuality, and she openly speaks about how her past boyfriends were uncomfortable with her sexuality.
Gaga spoke at the 2009 National Equality March in Washington in support of the LGBT movement. 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. 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. 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". Gaga was ordained as a minister by the Universal Life Church Monastery so that she could officiate the wedding of two female friends. 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. Later that month, Gaga appeared in Human Rights Campaign's tribute video to the victims of the attack.
Gaga has sold an estimated 27 million albums and 146 million singles worldwide as of January 2016, making her one of the best-selling music artists. Some of her singles are among the best-selling worldwide. She has also been noted as a touring force, having grossed more than $300 million in revenue from 3.2 million tickets for her first three worldwide concert tours.
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. She has been often regarded as a trailblazer for sometimes utilizing controversy to bring attention to various issues. 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—Gaga is credited for propelling the rise in the popularity of synthpop in the late 2000s and early 2010s. Scott Hardy, Polaroid's CEO, has praised Gaga for inspiring her fans and for her close interactions with them on social media. 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." Including Born This Way as one of the 50 best female albums of all time, Rolling Stone considers it "hard to remember a world where we didn't have Gaga, although we're pretty sure it was a lot more boring." In 2015, Time also noted that Gaga had "practically invented the current era of pop music as spectacle." Her work has influenced artists including Miley Cyrus, Nicki Minaj, Ariana Grande, Ellie Goulding, Halsey, Nick Jonas, Sam Smith, Noah Cyrus, Zara Larsson, Katherine Langford, Nelly Furtado, Lorde, and MGMT.
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. Gaga also has an extinct mammal, Gagadon minimonstrum, and a parasitic wasp, Aleiodes gaga, named for her.
Lady Gaga has won six Grammy Awards, three Brit Awards, a Golden Globe Award, thirteen MTV Video Music Awards, several Guinness World Records, and the inaugural Songwriters Hall of Fame's Contemporary Icon Award. She received a National Arts Awards' Young Artist Award, which honors individuals who have shown accomplishments and leadership early in their career, and she won the Jane Ortner Artist Award from the Grammy Museum in 2016. Gaga has also been recognized by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) with the Fashion Icon lifetime achievement award and was a finalist for The Advocate's Person of the Year in 2016.
Gaga has consecutively appeared on Billboard magazine's Artists of the Year (scoring the definitive title in 2010). Named Woman of the Year in 2015, she is the fifth best selling digital singles artist in the United States according to RIAA with a total of 59 million certified. She became the first woman to receive the Digital Diamond Award from RIAA, and is the first and only artist to have two songs pass 7 million downloads ("Poker Face" and "Just Dance").The Fame (2008, reissued in 2009 as The Fame Monster)Born This Way (2011)Artpop (2013)Cheek to Cheek (2014)Joanne (2016)The Fame Ball Tour (2009)The Monster Ball Tour (2009–2011)Born This Way Ball (2012–2013)ArtRave: The Artpop Ball (2014)Cheek to Cheek Tour (with Tony Bennett) (2014–2015)Joanne World Tour (2017)