Dance queen Lady GaGa fashions booming career

Sat Aug 8, 2009 5:55pm EDT
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By Cortney Harding

NEW YORK (Billboard) - 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 pop charts worldwide 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" has sold nearly 1.3 million copies in the United States since its low-key release last September via Interscope. For the year, it's both the best-selling set for a debut artist, and the fifth-best-selling album overall.

Her digital single, "Just Dance," has sold 4.4 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan, the No. 2 best-selling digital song of all time. Earlier this week, she snagged nine nominations at the MTV Video Music Awards, sharing the lead with Beyonce.

In addition to co-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 don't have an ego about other people singing my songs."

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.   Continued...

<p>U.S. singer Lady GaGa poses with a plaque presented to her by Universal Music Group during a media event for the launch of Singtel's AMPed music service in Singapore June 14, 2009. REUTERS/Tim Chong</p>