Getting Into… Lady Gaga

As Mother Monster prepares to bring the Chromatica Ball to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, we take a deep dive into her expansive career

If there’s a checklist of requirements to become a pop culture icon, then surely Lady Gaga has ticked every box. From her huge impact on pop music of the last decade to her outlandish visuals and much-discussed fashion (yes, we’ll be covering the meat dress), Stefani Germanotta has been one of the dominant creative forces in pop since almost the beginning of her career. Folding burlesque, performance art, couture and politics into her persona, she has both satarised and reinvented our image of a pop star.

Her career is immense and there’s an overwhelming amount to cover. Stuck for where to start? Here’s our guide to getting to grips with Gaga.

Beginnings in burlesque

One of Gaga’s earliest gigs was performing at neo-burlesque shows with an act that she developed with fellow burlesque performer, Lady Starlight. The act was a live performance art piece called ‘Lady Gaga and the Starlight Review’ and was described as ‘the ultimate pop burlesque rock show’. Gaga even brought the show to Lollapalooza. This period of her career was crucial in curating her over-the-top persona.

The music

The Fame/The Fame Monster

Gaga released her debut album in 2008. Entitled The Fame, it was a very well-received first outing for Gaga and helped to associate her with her early dance-pop sound. Well-known tracks that still get radio play today such as ‘Just Dance’, ‘Poker Face’ and ‘Paparazzi’ all featured. The album picked up five nominations at the Grammys, winning two, and this year was named by Rolling Stone as one of the “100 Greatest Debut Albums of All-Time”.

The Fame Monster followed in 2009, a reissue of The Fame containing eight new tracks, to create what is essentially a double album. The combination of the two track lists resulted in a slick, multifaceted electropop record that many consider to be Gaga’s best. Notable new tracks included ‘Telephone’ with Beyoncé, ‘Alejandro’ and the incredibly successful ‘Bad Romance’.

Born This Way

This is the other top contender for best Gaga album. Gaga became more experimental in the Born This Way era, bringing in a whole host of other genres into her synthpop sound including metal, rock and opera. She also became more political in her lyricism, exploring feminism, sexuality and queer expression, with equality anthem ‘Born This Way’ carrying the album’s central message. Tracks you might recognise include ‘Judas’, ‘The Edge Of Glory’, ‘You and I’ and, of course, the title track.


By far Gaga’s most experimental piece of work, Artpop is an essential listen if only to get a feel for how far Gaga was determined to push boundaries. Artpop crafts a persona that is less mature and self-aware, and instead playful, vulnerable and fame-hungry. ‘Applause’, one of the more typical club-friendly Gaga tracks on the album, plays right into that last one.

A Star Is Born (soundtrack)

The Gaga purists are gasping, but if you’re truly looking to get into Gaga then the soundtrack to A Star Is Born is a great way to appreciate her versatility. Gaga is credited as a writer on 11 tracks ranging from pop to blues rock to country, including the much-awarded duet with Bradley Cooper, ‘Shallow’.

The music videos

Lady Gaga - Paparazzi (Official Music Video)

Gaga has always embraced performance art in her music videos, utilising bizarre concepts and unpredictable narrative lines to create something that people can’t stop talking about. Two of her most famous videos, ‘Paparazzi’ and ‘Telephone’, follow on from each other to tell a two-part story in which Gaga poisons an abusive boyfriend, goes to jail and is busted out by Beyoncé only to head on a murderous spree.

Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande - Rain On Me (Official Music Video)

Other notable videos include ‘Applause’, the world’s introduction to Artpop, and ‘Rain On Me’, a sci-fi spectacular with a dominatrix aesthetic featuring Ariana Grande. These are enough to start you down a Gaga rabbit hole, but there’s plenty more to discover.

The films

A Star Is Born

A STAR IS BORN - Official Trailer 1

Gaga’s turn as aspiring singer Ally in 2018’s A Star Is Born is probably her most famous film role to date. The film follows Ally’s relationship with famous musician Jackson Maine, played by Bradley Cooper, and the ways in which the two of them navigate her rise to stardom. Gaga’s tender portrayal of Ally was critically acclaimed, and she was nominated for an Academy Award.

House of Gucci

HOUSE OF GUCCI | Official Trailer | MGM Studios

Another unmissable Gaga film moment is her performance in Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci. Playing Patrizia Reggiani, the wife of former Gucci fashion house head Maurizio Gucci accused of hiring a hitman to murder him, she employed a method acting approach so draining to her mental wellbeing that towards the end of filming she had to be accompanied on set by a psychiatric nurse. Although the film received mixed reviews, her performance was once again praised by critics.

Gaga: Five Foot Two

GAGA: FIVE FOOT TWO | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix

The 2017 documentary film focuses on the production and release of Gaga’s fifth album, Joanne, as well as preparations for her halftime performance at Super Bowl LI. It’s an intimate look at Gaga’s creative process and work ethic that’s well worth a watch.

The activism

Gaga has been politically outspoken throughout her career, lending particularly vocal support to the feminist movement and the queer community. She’s also been outspoken about mental health awareness, and has received the Yolanda Denise King High Ground Award in recognition for her contribution to the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Born This Way Foundation

 Gaga launched the Born This Way Foundation in 2012. The charity is focused on youth empowerment and over the decade has launched many initiatives that aim to tackle bullying and online harassment. The foundation has also funded mental health support programmes aimed at providing mental health services to young people.

The fashion

There’s almost too much to say about Gaga’s fashion, but here’s an overview. Gaga has always made fashion a huge part of her artistry, linking it closely to her music and onstage persona. In 2019, Time magazine placed her on their All-Time 100 Fashion Icons list, and she has also been recognised by  the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Her infamous ‘meat dress’, constructed from raw beef with matching meat boots, was named the fashion statement of that year by Time after she wore it to the 2010 MTV Music Video Awards, whilst her ‘bubble dress’, worn for a concert in Australia, has been repeatedly referenced in pop culture. Another must-see Lady Gaga moment is her multi-layered 2019 Met Gala look, referencing the theme ‘camp’.

The Chromatica Ball comes to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on 29 and 30 July. Get tickets here.