Lady Gaga is a theatrical dance-pop performer whose debut single, the international chart-topping hit "Just Dance," established her as an up-and-coming superstar upon its release in 2008. Born Stefani Germanotta on March 28, 1986, the New York native attended Convent of the Sacred Heart, a private all-girl Catholic school in Manhattan, before proceeding to study music at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts at age 17. Influenced by flamboyant glam rockers such as David Bowie and Freddie Mercury (she would later draw her stage name from the Queen song "Radio Ga-Ga") as well as '80s dance-poppers such as Madonna and Michael Jackson, she began playing the piano at a young age and started writing original material as a teenager. In 2007, she began to make a name for herself on the downtown Manhattan club scene with a performance art show billed as Lady Gaga and the Starlight Revue (co-featuring Lady Starlight; born Colleen Martin, a DJ and makeup professional), and music industry insiders began to take note. While Lady Gaga was initially signed to Def Jam in 2007, nothing came of that association, and ultimately it was pop-rap superstar Akon who took her under his wing, signing her to his vanity label Kon Live in association with Interscope Records. In addition to working for Interscope as an in-house songwriter, Lady Gaga began preparing the launch of her solo career. Her debut single, "Just Dance," was released to radio in April 2008, and her full-length album debut, The Fame, followed in August. Featuring fellow Akon affiliate Colby O'Donis, "Just Dance" slowly gathered momentum throughout 2008's latter half. The song debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in August, at which time it had already become a massive club hit, but it didn't reach number one until January 2009. Internationally, the song proved similarly popular, reaching the Top Ten throughout much of Western Europe and beyond. In the wake of Lady Gaga's international breakthrough success with "Just Dance," the follow-up single "Poker Face" was an even larger hit, topping singles charts across the board with its combination of pop melodicism and club-worthy production. Two additional tracks -- "LoveGame" and "Paparrazi" -- also cracked the Top Ten, and The Fame was still enjoying a spot on the Billboard Top 40 when its follow-up, The Fame Monster, appeared in November 2009. Although originally planned as a bonus disc (to be packaged alongside The Fame in a deluxe edition of Lady Gaga's debut), The Fame Monster was quickly expanded to eight tracks, thus warranting its own release. Meanwhile, the leadoff single "Bad Romance" became Gaga's fifth consecutive Top Ten single. Jason Birchmeier, Rovi
Lady GaGa is ..