Sprawled on her bed in an Amsterdam hotel, Lady GaGa is channeling Lady Godiva-sans the horse. While the 23-year-old has famously worn everything from Kermit the Frog to a hat made to resemble the solar system, today she's rocking the one constant in her ever shifting wardrobe-underpants. And nothing more.
But despite her dominance on the Billboard Hot 100 and bleached blonde hair, GaGa is not the average pop tart. She's an accomplished songwriter and performer who seems to have come out of nowhere, bursting from the corner of Ludlow and Rivington fully formed and fabulous. In conversation, she's chatty and articulate, but gives off the distinct sense she's 10 steps ahead of everyone else-while the Internet is still buzzing about the lampshade she wore over her face in a TV interview, she's plotting her next move.
Of course, if she invests wisely, she may never need to work again: Her debut album, "The Fame," which was released on Interscope, has sold nearly 1.3 million copies, and her biggest digital single, "Just Dance," has sold 4.4 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. In addition to writing all the tracks on her album, GaGa has previously written for Fergie, the Pussycat Dolls, Britney Spears and New Kids on the Block.
"Getting into writing for others happened naturally, because at the time, I didn't have a record deal," GaGa says. "I had a deal with IDJ that came and went, but that was it. I don't have an ego about other people singing my songs."
Chris Daughtry has taken to covering Lady GaGa's "Poker Face,"
as he told Billboard.com in a recent video interview.
And-as surprising as it may seem amid her outre outfits and the nudge-nudge-wink-wink lyrics-GaGa's path from behind-the-scenes songwriter to cultural phenomenon was a smart, regimented plan. Before she was Lady GaGa, she was Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, an Italian Catholic schoolgirl from Yonkers, N.Y. She played piano and studied music as a child, but it wasn't until she hit her early 20s that her songwriting and performance style clicked. l "She wrote almost all her hits in a week," says Vince Herbert, who signed GaGa to his Streamline Records label, a joint venture with Interscope. "She flew to L.A. and sat in a studio with RedOne and just cranked it out."