Lady Gaga first exploded onto the mainstream pop music scene in 2008, rising to global fame after releasing her aptly titled debut album The Fame. Once she’d brought out smash hits like ‘Just Dance’, ‘Paparazzi’, ‘Bad Romance’ and ‘Born This Way’, Gaga transformed from a pop star into an international phenomenon, with hordes of Little Monster fans flooding arenas, hotel lobbies and airports around the world to see her. The craziness calmed a little between 2013 and 2016, but Gaga burst back onto the world’s radar after delivering a history-making headline performance during the Super Bowl Half Time show in 2017.
Now with a list of acting credits to her name, as well as a string of number-one records, Gaga has proven that she’s more than just another generic pop star relying on her shock factor. She’s a respected artist with talent and longevity, and her story is just as impressive as her career. Gaga stands up for causes she believes in, having released anthems geared toward anti-bullying and support for the LGBTQ community, as well as publicly backing the #MeToo movement. In her decade as a pop icon, she’s redefined what it means to be a superstar.
Check out these little-known facts about the incredibly talented Lady Gaga.
20 ‘Just Dance’ Was Written In Ten Minutes
Off her first album, ‘Just Dance’ is probably the song that rocketed Gaga to stardom. And how long did it take her to write? According to the superstar herself, just ten minutes. “I was very hungover,” she said in a 2009 interview with The Guardian.
“I wrote the song in about ten minutes with RedOne. And it was my first time being in a Hollywood studio.”
If that’s not talent, we don’t know what is! Once the song was ready, Gaga had a lot of trouble getting it played on air. We all know how that struggle ended though!
19 She Doesn’t Wear Pants On Stage To Please Her Grandmother
You might have thought that Gaga’s Italian, Catholic family would take issue with some of the more revealing costumes she likes to wear during her performances. But the singer claims that she purposely avoids wearing pants on stage because it’s the only way her grandmother can see her. Since her grandma has poor eyesight, she finds it easier to make out Gaga’s skin than pants on stage. “She says, ‘I can see you because you have no pants on.’ So I’ll continue to wear no pants so that my grandma can see me,” Gaga said in an interview.
18 Amy Winehouse Comparisons Led Her To Adopt The Blonde Look
Born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta in New York City in 1986, Lady Gaga isn’t a natural blonde. Her roots are actually brunette, but just before she blew up onto the pop music scene, she made the transition to blonde hair. Why?
Other than the 'blondes have more fun' thing, Gaga claims that she was once confused with the late British singer Amy Winehouse.
She couldn’t help that there were similarities between their faces, but she could put a stop to the comparisons by dying her hair blonde to contrast with Amy’s black. Gaga doesn’t exist in anyone else’s lane; she has her own.
17 Her Family Were Originally Taken Aback By Her Performances
Though now they’re extremely proud of their daughter’s success and impact on the world, the Germanotta family took a little time to warm up to the early Lady Gaga performances, which you might argue were on the racy side. She explained that after one of her performances, while she was wearing a leopard bikini, a sequined belt, and granny pants, her father was taken aback. “My mother told me he broke down and told her he thought I was crazy. Really crazy,” the singer recalled. “Later that week, my family said, ‘It was just really hard to watch that show, and we think you’ve lost your mind …”
16 Her Meat Dress Was Pretty Heavy
Even those who aren’t hardcore fans of the superstar will have no trouble remembering the iconic meat dress she wore to the 2010 VMAs. The gown may have shocked the world, but few people really grasped just how much effort Gaga went to in order to wear that frock. According to reports, the dress weighed no less than 50 pounds! And experts in the meat industry claim that although it might have been heavy, it certainly wasn’t made from the best cuts.
“The best you’ve got is the flank steak on top of her head,” said Peter Cacioppo, a butcher from Gaga’s native New York City.
15 ‘Born This Way’ Was Also Written In Ten Minutes
‘Just Dance’ may have kicked off Gaga’s massive career, but ‘Born This Way’ perhaps marked the towering height of her superstardom. In 2011 when the song (and album of the same title) came out, Gaga was a force on top of the world that couldn’t be stopped. The anti-bullying and self-acceptance anthem made headlines around the globe, but like Gaga’s other mega-successful songs, didn’t take very long to write at all. In fact, the singer recalls that it took her just ten minutes. “After I wrote it, the gates just opened … it was like an immaculate conception.”
14 She Only Has Tattoos On The Left Side Of Her Body
You may have noticed that Gaga has quite a few tattoos. According to Body Art Guru, the pop star has nineteen tattoos in total, all of which have special meanings behind them. The peace sign on her wrist, the rose and treble clef on her back, and the German quote from Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet are perhaps the most famous. But the interesting thing about Gaga’s tattoos is that she only has them on the left side of her body.
All because her father asked that she keep at least one side of her body clean.
13 Her Perfume Fame Was Groundbreaking
Like many celebrities, Gaga released her first perfume once she reached a certain level of success in her career. But unlike other celebrities, hers was truly unique. When Fame was first being conceived, Gaga told the executives at Coty that she wanted the liquid to be clear when sprayed, but black in the bottle. Though the execs panicked at first, a clever team of scientists eventually concocted the perfect creation to please Gaga. As a result, we now have a perfume that is black in the bottle and clear when sprayed. This was one of the biggest innovations in the fragrance industry to date.
12 She Penned Hits For Other Artists Before Making It
Today the world appreciates the amazing song-writing abilities of Lady Gaga, but it took a while for all that talent to garner the attention it deserves. At the beginning of her career, Gaga penned hits for other artists to add to their repertoires.
One of these includes ‘Quick Sand’ which appears on Britney Spears’s 2008 record Circus.
Another is ‘Hypnotico’ by Jennifer Lopez, and ‘Elevator’, a song off the Pussycat Dolls’ second album Doll Domination which was released in 2008. Interestingly enough, Gaga opened for the Dolls on tour in 2009 before shooting to mega-stardom in her own right.
11 She Suffers From Fibromyalgia
With the hectic schedule she follows and crazy career pressures thrust upon her, you’d never have guessed that Gaga suffers from a chronic illness. Fibromyalgia patients experience severe pain in their muscles, joints, and bones, which can lead to difficulty concentrating and intense fatigue. This illness has caused the singer to cut short world tours and produced considerable strain in her life. She speaks about her illness in her 2017 documentary Five Foot Two which appears on Netflix. In the documentary, she reveals that she’s actually been afflicted with the disease for more than half a decade.
10 She Went To High School With Some Famous Faces
Gaga might not have achieved fame until her twenties, but she had a connection to some famous faces while she was still in high school. As a teenager, Stefani Germanotta attended Convent of the Sacred Heart school in Manhattan, which was also where Nicky Hilton and a few other actresses and socialites attended. The school was also used as the set of Constance in Gossip Girl, but that was around the time that Gaga was rising to prominence.
Though her school was prestigious, Gaga has said that she hated high school because she never fit in and felt like an outsider.
9 Her Name Was Inspired By A Queen Song
While working as a songwriter and trying to make a name for herself singing in downtown dive bars, Gaga went by her birth name Stefani Germanotta and even founded the Stefani Germanotta Band. However, there came a point where the name didn’t match the thrill of her performances. She eventually marketed herself as Lady Gaga, but how did that come about? “My friends on the Lower East Side called me Gaga after I decided I liked the name Lady Gaga, after the Queen song [‘Radio Gaga’],” she told Vogue. “I thought it accurately depicted both sides of me.”
8 She Was Bullied In High School
Perhaps part of the reason why Gaga felt like such an outsider in high school is because she was bullied. Today, she uses her position and personal experiences to speak out against bullying.
Mother Monster, as her fans know her, is one of the biggest advocates for anti-bullying and acceptance of others.
And while she has turned her experience into something helpful and positive, she does take a moment out every now and then to hit back at her bullies (and why wouldn’t you?). “They used to call me ‘rabbit teeth’ in school and now I’m a real live VOGUE BEAUTY QUEEN,” she tweeted when she made the cover of Vogue.
7 Before She Was Famous, She Acted In A Huge TV Show
Gaga has earned more and more acting credits as her singing career has progressed, but before she even released her first song, she had appeared on a major television show. Even the biggest fans of The Sopranos probably missed the young Stefani Germanotta, who played one of the teenagers in the pool vandalizing scene in episode nine of season three. She also had a role on MTV’s Boiling Points a couple of years before shooting to fame in 2005. Her love of acting is something she’s pursued further, with major roles on American Horror Story and in the feature film, A Star Is Born.
6 She’s Known For Looking After Her Fans
Fans of Lady Gaga love her music and the message she sends out about loving and accepting yourself, but they also love her because she’s so kind to them. At every opportunity she gets, it seems like she goes out of her way to show her hordes of fans how much she appreciates their support. Sometimes, things are out of the singer’s control, and she’s forced to cancel shows or arrive late at signings, but she always makes it up to them.
On one occasion, she sent $1000 worth of Papa John’s pizza to a group of fans who were waiting for her for hours.
5 Her 2017 Super Bowl Performance Made History
It seems like with each Super Bowl, the performances during the Half Time show get better and better. Lady Gaga was the headline act in 2017, and her routine made history. During her performance, hundreds of lighted drones took to the sky above the NRG Stadium in Houston, marking the very first time that robotic aircraft was featured in a Super Bowl program. Pretty impressive! Even if she hadn’t made history through the use of the drones, Gaga still had the world nibbling from the palm of her hand that day, as she powered through hits that attracted more viewers than the game itself.
4 Her Musical Journey Started When She Was Just Four Years Old
People often wonder whether someone like Lady Gaga is a product of years and years of discipline and training or natural talent. From where we’re sitting it looks like a little bit of both!
Gaga took formal lessons and training in piano and music composition, but she started playing the piano by ear from just the age of four.
As she advanced through her music tuition, she started joining bands and appearing in musicals in high school. If she weren’t naturally talented, she probably wouldn’t have been able to belt out original songs and ballads by the age of thirteen, just saying.
3 Playing Ally In 'A Star Is Born' Changed Her Life
Recently, Gaga has made headlines for her highly anticipated role as Ally in 2018’s A Star Is Born. Her familiarity with the life of a struggling singer makes her perfect for the part, and Gaga has said that it has changed her life for the better. “I was able to take all the pain, all of the despair, all of the memories of betrayal or let-downs I've gone through, and put it somewhere where it could help people,” she said. “This movie has changed my life. Now I feel like the pain was not for nothing. If I can help make one person feel stronger or feel understood, it's worth it.”
2 She Used To Be Part Of A Duo
Throughout her life, Gaga has been involved in many different musical productions and acts, from her early days with the Stefani Germanotta Band to her collaboration with Tony Bennett.
But just before she made it, Gaga was part of a duo with an artist called Lady Starlight. Together, they were Lady Gaga and the Starlight Revenue.
The pair performed at Lollapalooza in 2007, and Lady Starlight reportedly influenced the eccentric performances and costumes for which Gaga is now known. Lady Starlight served as the opening act for many of Gaga’s world tours, including The Monster Ball Tour and The Born This Way Ball.
1 They Told Her She Wasn’t Pretty Enough To Be A Pop Star
When Gaga was first trying to make it in the music industry, she was told that she wasn’t pretty enough to be a pop star. We know—that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense now that we see her looking glammed up on red carpets around the world. If that’s not pretty, can we be not pretty too? Despite being shut down by producers and record execs, Gaga pushed through until she made it. Her story should be an inspiration to anybody who’s ever been told that they weren’t good enough, or that they weren’t pretty enough, to be who they want to be.