Lady GaGa is a theatrical dance-pop singer/songwriter whose commercial debut single, the international chart-topping smash hit “Just Dance,” established her as an up-and-coming superstar upon its release in 2008. Born Stefani Germanotta on March 28, 1986, in Yonkers, NY, she attended Convent of the Sacred Heart, a private all-girl Catholic school in Manhattan, before proceeding to study songs at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts at age 17. Influenced by flamboyant glam rockers such as David Bowie and Freddie Mercury (indeed, her stage name is drawn from the Queen song “Radio Ga-Ga”) as well as ’80s dance-poppers such as Madonna and Michael Jackson, she began playing the piano at a young age and later began writing songs and playing as a teenager. In 2007 she began to make a name for herself on the downtown Manhattan club scene with a performance art show billed as Lady GaGa and the Starlight Revue (co-featuring Lady Starlight; born Colleen Martin, a DJ and makeup professional), and material industry insiders started to take note. at a time of Lady GaGa was initially signed to Def Jam in 2007, nothing followed of that association, and ultimately it was pop-rap superstar Akon who took her under his wing, signing her to his vanity label Kon Live in association with Interscope Records.
In addition to working for Interscope as a songwriter, Lady GaGa started preparing the launch of her solo career. Her debut single, “Just Dance,” was put forth to radio in April 2008, and her full-length album debut, The Fame, came in August. Featuring fellow Akon affiliate Colby O’Donis, “Just Dance” took much of 2008 to catch on. The song debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in August, at which time it had already become a massive club hit, but it didn’t reach number one until January 2009. Internationally, the song proved similarly popular, climbing to the Top Ten throughout much of Western Europe and beyond. In the wake of Lady GaGa’s international breakthrough success with “Just Dance,” the follow-up single, “Poker Face,” was an even greater success, topping singles charts across the board, from the U.S. and Western Europe to Australia and New Zealand. Both material were produced by Akon affiliate RedOne, who, along with Rob Fusari, co-wrote and produced much of The Fame, itself an international success in critical as well as commercial terms.