Lady Gaga is being honored as Billboard’s Rising Star, but it seems more accurate to call her a skyrocketing star-of music, videos and fashion so avant garde that it sometimes involves the wearing of Muppets. Her album “The Fame” is the best-selling debut album of this year in the United States with 1.3 million copies sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It has spawned four top 10 Billboard Hot 100 hit singles, including two No. 1s: “Just Dance” and “Poker Face.” And it’s the fifth-biggest-selling album of the year overall, behind only Michael Jackson‘s “Number Ones,” Taylor Swift‘s “Fearless,” the “Hannah Montana Movie” soundtrack and Eminem‘s “Relapse.”
Even though Stefani Germanotta paid her dues performing on the Lower East Side and in NYU college bars, the artist known as Lady Gaga seems to have sprung onto the pop stage fully formed and fully fabulous. But Gaga isn’t just a talented recording artist and compelling performer. She’s an accomplished songwriter who has licensed tracks from “The Fame” to more than 100 placements and has written for such names as Fergie, the Pussycat Dolls, Britney Spears and New Kids on the Block.
A few months ago, she struck a deal with Steve Stoute’s Translation branding agency. Rather than connect her with brands, Stoute says he’ll treat the performer herself like one. “I don’t just want to do deals for a check with her,” Stoute told Billboard. “She’s at the point where she’s bigger than life. She has transcended music.”
Gaga has become known for wearing larger-than-life outfits, but she’s not just trying to get attention. She’s making a statement about living the glamorous life and defining her own identity in the public’s ever-expanding field of vision. “There are all these places where art and self-expression and clothing can intersect,” she told Billboard. “When I wore the Kermit outfit [a blouse and hat made of plush dolls], it was a commentary on wearing fur.”
Gaga’s visual aesthetic can also be seen in her videos, which were nominated for nine awards at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, including best new artist, video of the year, best female video and best pop video for “Poker Face.” She went home with the trophy for best new artist and a solidified reputation as a live artist after giving a performance that recalled both early Madonna and the movie of Stephen King’s “Carrie.”
Gaga’s year isn’t over yet. On Nov. 24 she’ll release “The Fame Monster,” a double-disc repackaged version of her debut that will include several new songs, including her fifth single, “Bad Romance.” And after that, who knows what she’ll do-or wear-next.