Think of Lady GaGa as Britney Spears with a brain.
GaGa is a provocatively dressed, bleached blonde who makes irresistible, mindless dance music that packs clubs and the top of the pop charts. Her song Just Dance bounded to No. 1 this winter, and Poker Face has risen to No. 2. Her debut CD, The Fame, sits in the top 10 — five months after its release.
While Spears cut her teeth in the Mickey Mouse Club, Stefani Germanotta studied at New York's exclusive Convent of the Sacred Heart (other alums: Paris Hilton, Caroline Kennedy, Gloria Vanderbilt) and New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. Before a producer dubbed her Lady GaGa (after the Queen song Radio GaGa) the piano-playing singer co-wrote tunes for Pussycat Dolls, Akon and Spears.
We caught up with the 22-year-old diva by phone from Portland, Ore. She talked about her obsession with celebrity, style and fame.
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Question: What sparked you to write Just Dance?
Answer: I was very hung over. I wrote the song in about 10 minutes with (producer) RedOne. And it was my first time being in a Hollywood studio. Very pristine, big huge room with giant speakers.
Q: How about Poker Face?
A: Well, I wanted to write a pop song that all my rock 'n' roll boyfriends would like. So it's about sex and gambling.
Q: Why do you think your songs are so popular right now?
A: I'd like to think I've got a good intuition about culture and what people should listen to. I guess you could say my record is quite timely with the recession; it offers some escapism. It's fun. It's famous. But it's tangible.
Q: Why are you so obsessed with celebrity and fame?
A: I'm from New York City, born and raised. And my friends and I were able to self-proclaim our own fame as artists. I guess you could say that I became fascinated with the space in between people like us and celebrities. What really makes us different — if anything? Because when I walk down the street, people would say: "I don't know who she is, but I want to know who she is." I guess you could say that I'm a bit of a fame Robin Hood. I want young people to know that they can be exactly who they want to be. There is an art to fame.
Q: What were you like in high school?
A: Very dedicated, very studious, very disciplined. I played music every day. Rehearsal, practice, piano. I was in plays and in bands. And I got very good grades. I was also a bad-ass. I was the kind of girl who didn't have to listen in class but would always ace the test and get wasted later with friends. I'm very, very grateful for my education. I think it's one of the things that makes me different as a pop singer in the way that I approach the work and the visuals.
Q: Where does your sense of style come from?
A: It's avant-garde. It's New York. It's androgynous. And it's strong.
Q: What are you trying to do with your music?
A: I'm trying to give people things that they don't need but will eventually become the reality of the future. I like to tell lies that become true.