On June 24, 2010, Lady Gaga leaned into a microphone and said five words that Little Monsters around the world had been dying to hear.
"This is a brand-new record."
Seated behind a deconstructed piano at Elton John's 12th annual White Tie & Tiara Ball -- wearing nothing but a BeDazzled black bra and panties -- pop's reigning princess unveiled the piano-driven rock 'n' roll tune "You and I" to the exclusive audience at the Windsor, England benefit.
As expected in the Internet age, the song did not stay confined within the walls of the English mansion for long -- a video of the performance quickly became a YouTube sensation when it was leaked days later. By the time Gaga reached New York's Madison Square Garden two weeks later, ardent fans were singing along to every word of the tune, which has now became a show-stopping staple on her Monster Ball tour.
The new track was also the centerpiece of her record-breaking performance on NBC's "Today" show on July 9. Despite the early hour, 20,000 Gaga-lovers crowded New York's Rockefeller Plaza, making her five-song mini-set the most well-attended gig in "Today's" concert series' history.
"You and I" is the first and only new material Gaga has shared with fans since she announced that her new album was all but done and would be released sometime in 2011. She teased fans with the promise that she would not reveal the title of the new record until midnight on New Year's Eve.
"I think I'm gonna get the album title tattooed on me and put out the photo," she told Rolling Stone in June. "I've been working on it for months now, and I feel very strongly that it's finished right now. It came so quickly. Some artists take years; I don't. I write music every day." And in the pre-Fall issue of iD magazine, Gaga calls her new album "my absolute greatest work I've ever done, and I'm so excited about it...The message, the melodies, the direction, the meaning, what it will mean to my fans and what it will mean to me in my own life -- it's utter liberation."
At Lollapalooza in August, she confirmed that "You and I" will definitely be included on the upcoming album, which she's been working on in part in Chicago. The song is "about real true love," and "about the most important person in my life," she hinted as she challenged the crowd to name that tune and received the correct answer shouted back to her by tens of thousands of fans in unison.
"I've been writing a lot on the road. I've been real inspired by the highway, and real inspired by rock 'n' roll music," pop queen Gaga revealed at Lollapalooza about some of the direction of her new material. "I like to listen to rock 'n' roll, whether you believe that or not, while we drive."