Lil Nas X
Mason Crest Miami
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Copyright © 2023 by Mason Crest, an imprint of National Highlights, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission from the publisher. First printing 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 ISBN (hardback) 978-1-4222-4686-3
ISBN (series) 978-1-4222-4683-2 ISBN (ebook) 978-1-4222-7132-2 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Bach, Greg, author. Title: Lady Gaga / Greg Bach. Description: Hollywood, FL : Mason Crest, 2023. | Series: Pop music stars | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2022007748 | ISBN 9781422246863 (hardback) | ISBN 9781422271322 (ebook) Subjects: LCSH: Lady Gaga—Juvenile literature. | Singers—United States—Biography—Juvenile literature. Classification: LCC ML3930.L13 B33 2023 | DDC 782.42164092 [B]—dc23
LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2022007748 Developed and Produced by National Highlights, Inc. Editor: Andrew Luke Production: Crafted Content, LLC (www.craftedcontentllc.com)
WORDS TO UNDERSTAND: These words, with their easy-to-understand definitions, will increase readers’ understanding of the text while building vocabulary skills. SIDEBARS: This boxed material within the main text allows readers to build knowledge, gain insights, explore possibilities, and broaden their perspectives by weaving together additional information to provide realistic and holistic perspectives. EDUCATIONAL VIDEOS: Readers can view videos by scanning our QR codes, providing themwith additional educational content to supplement the text. TEXT-DEPENDENT QUESTIONS: These questions send the reader back to the text for more careful attention to the evidence presented there. RESEARCH PROJECTS: Readers are pointed toward areas of further inquiry connected to each chapter. Suggestions are provided for projects that encourage deeper research and analysis. SERIES GLOSSARY OF KEY TERMS: This back-of-the-book glossary contains terminology used throughout this series.Words found here increase the reader’s ability to read and comprehend higher-level books and articles in this field. Contents BREAKTHROUGH ������������������������������������������������������������������ 6 CHAPTER 1: A STAR IS BORN �����������������������������������������������������11 CHAPTER 2: GREATEST MOMENTS ������������������������������������������������25 CHAPTER 3: BEHIND THE CURTAIN ���������������������������������������������39 CHAPTER 4: BRAND LADY GAGA ������������������������������������������������ 51 CHAPTER 5: MODERN MEGASTAR ������������������������������������������������65 SERIES GLOSSARY OF KEY TERMS ���������������������������������������������76 FURTHER READING ����������������������������������������������������������������77 INTERNET RESOURCES ������������������������������������������������������������77 INDEX �������������������������������������������������������������������������������78 AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY & CREDITS ������������������������������������������������80 Key Icons to Look For
Breakthrough Despondent and disappointed, with her dreams of making magnificent music and becoming a star fading fast, Lady Gaga struck life-changing gold during a lyric-writing spree in 2008 that propelled her into the spotlight, where she has resided ever since. Composed in a hard-to-fathom 10 minutes of sensational songwriting—and molded and smoothed out in the days that followed—“Just Dance” was a career-boosting marvel that produced waves of praise throughout the music industry. High energy with beats thumping and mixed with happy, feel-good lyrics with each line blending perfectly into the next, the song showcased Lady Gaga’s creative genius combined with that vibrant, one-of-a-kind voice.
The four-minute and one-second track put smiles on peoples’ faces and got them dancing, bouncing, and moving. It certainly got Lady Gaga’s career moving along—and fast, too. Released in April of 2008, it was a Top 5 hit on the dance charts as the summer months arrived and peaked at No. 2 on the Hot Dance Airplay and Dance Club Songs chart. When the calendar flipped to 2009, it had picked up serious momentum. Airplay minutes blossomed, listener interest exploded, and it shot to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, ahead of Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It).” “Just Dance” held that cherished top spot on the Billboard chart for three weeks. It also enjoyed nearly five months in the Top 10 and spent 49 weeks in the Hot 100.
Creative in California The journey to that premium slice of Billboard real
estate, the approval of critics, and a thumbs up from fans was long, hard, and filled with overcoming many obstacles along the way that threatened to squash LadyGaga’s career before it ever had a chance to ignite. There were countless key moments that kept the dream alive. It started when she got a job as a songwriter for New Jersey-based Streamline Records, part of Interscope Records. She worked on songs for Britney Spears, New Kids on the Block, andThe Pussycat Dolls. Along the
way, LadyGaga’s voice grabbed rhythm and blues musicianAkon’s ear, and he connected her with his record label KonLive. LadyGaga hopped on a plane to California, and with the pressure ramping up and the window of opportunity to make something happen closing in, those dreams of stardomwere revived. Escaping the East Coast, where her career was stuck in neutral, and stepping foot in the California sunshine rejuvenated her creativity. Lady Gaga delivered amid the mounting pressure surrounding her arrival. The lyrics came in a fantastic flurry during that roughly 10-minute stretch she says it took to knock out the song’s foundation. With the help of Akon and Nadir “RedOne” Khayat (a singer, songwriter, and producer), they ironed it out further, and when Colby O’Donis added his vocals, a genuine smash hit was in the works. By late summer of 2008, her debut album The Fame was released, where “Just Dance” was the powerful and beloved leadoff track. “Just Dance” piled up a ton of impressive numbers: it received a nine-time platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of America; it was performed in front of a massive live and television audience at Super Bowl LI; it’s in the conversation as one of the best-selling singles of all-time; and it was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Dance Recording category. “Just Dance” took Lady Gaga from unknown singer to superstar performer, and as her success and accolades continue piling up, she has plenty of reasons to do what she belts out in her song—just dance!
Mega Viewed Music Video When Lady Gaga stepped into a Los Angeles recording studio on the last day of March in 2008—joined by an impressive ensemble of dancers, singers, and behind-the-scenes talent—what unfolded between them in the hours that followed was magical and memorable. Inside those studio walls, they shot the music video for “Just Dance,” which has now been viewed more than 350 million times. The video opens with Lady Gaga arriving with friends at a house party that appears to have wrapped up. One of her companions in the video is Sheryl Murakami, who was also a back-up dancer during many of her early concert performances. She is also an experienced choreographer, having worked with Beyoncé and Avril Lavigne, among others. The video was directed by Melina Matsoukas, who also handled the same role for the music video for Lady Gaga’s “Beautiful, Dirty, Rich.” The “Just Dance” video also features appearances by Colby O’Donis, Akon, Space Cowboy, and Flipsyde.
When Lady Gaga takes the stage for a show anywhere in the world these days, you can bet that “Just Dance” is going to be a part of the setlist. Fans love it, go crazy for it, and roar with approval whenever she begins singing it. Her first live performance of the hit was onValentine’s Day in 2008 at Le Royale, a NewYork City nightclub, where she was headlining a local event. Later that summer, Lady Gaga performed the song for the first time in front of television cameras at the NewNowNext annual awards show, where she was introduced by MichelleWilliams of Destiny’s Child. Ever since, “Just Dance” has shown up on popular television shows like The Office , Bones , and The Simpsons , on Lady Gaga’s world tours, and of course, during her dazzling Super Bowl LI halftime show performance.
WORDS TO UNDERSTAND akin —essentially similar, related, or compatible crave —feel a powerful desire for something hallowed —greatly revered; sacred repertoire —a supply of skills squandered —to spend extravagantly or foolishly
Remarkable Rise Ever since “Just Dance” was released and earned the honor of becoming Lady Gaga’s first-ever No. 1 hit, her rise to prominence was swift and stunning, and she hasn’t slowed since.While “Just Dance” cracked the door open on her trek to greatness, several other songs on The Fame, her debut album, garnered plenty of praise, too. “Poker Face” won Lady Gaga’s first Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording, The Fame was also a Grammy winner for Best Dance/ Electronic Album, and those would be the first of many trips taken up stage steps to receive major awards, as her hit songs keep flowing and the acclaim for them continues pouring in from everywhere. The Beginning Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta was born on March 28, 1986, at Lenox Hill Hospital in NewYork City, the same hospital where Beyoncé gave birth to daughter Blue Ivy Carter. Her parents are Joseph and Cynthia Germanotta, and she has a younger sister, Natali. Germanotta grew up in a duplex on the UpperWest Side, where the surrounding streets were filled with families of varied backgrounds and ethnicities. Her home life was filled with love and support, and her parents pushed and prioritized education over all else. The family money wasn’t squandered on fancy cars, expensive wardrobes,
a star is born
Manhattan’s UpperWest Side was home to a young Stefani Germanotta and her family.
or glamorous vacations—it went toward providing the girls with a quality education that could be used as a springboard for leading a successful life. Germanotta’s parents sent her and Natali, who was half a dozen years younger, to Sacred Heart, a small yet prestigious Catholic girls’ school.
“Sacred Heart may have been prestigious, but there were lots of different kinds of girls. Some had extreme wealth, others were on welfare and scholarship, and some were in the middle, which was my family. All our money went into education and the house.”
Germanotta dove into her classes and took them seriously, but she also embraced the extracurricular activities that the school provided. When music
recitals and plays popped up on the school calendar, Germanotta jumped at the chance to be a part of the productions. She often snagged a leading role, too. These shows, held in front of small audiences composed mostly of family and fellow students, are where the first hints of her singing and acting talents bubbled to the surface. For children who discover something they are good at, their confidence blooms, and they crave more experiences and opportunities. That’s exactly what happened with Germanotta, who loved the stage and the thrill of performing so much that she began taking acting classes on Saturdays to supplement what she was learning during her days at school. Sopranos Scene By her mid-teen years, Germanotta’s dreams of what she hoped to do with her life were evolving and beginning to take shape. It became more evident that she possessed those special qualities required to thrive in the super-competitive entertainment industry. Germanotta had the talent, the self-belief, and the all-important drive to make it happen. At 15, she hit the acting jackpot by appearing in an episode of The Sopranos , the award winning HBO series that centered on a fictional mob family. While her scene was brief, didn’t include a big speaking part, and didn’t turn any heads in Hollywood at the time—it involved laughing, smoking, and eating pizza in a high school gymnasium—it gave her a chance to be around professionals dedicated to the acting craft and a behind-the-scenes peek at how scenes are put together. While Germanotta looks back on that scene now and cringes over her performance, pointing out in interviews all the mistakes she made, it was a significant moment in her journey. Led Zeppelin Fan There were a lot of dark days during her middle school and high school years as she was tormented, teased, and a frequent target of bullying from other students who picked on her for everything from how she looked to how she dressed. All the hurtful comments that were hurled her way stung deeply and left emotional scars still present all these years later. Amid all
a star is born
the insults and taunts, she found comfort in music. Pink Floyd andThe Beatles were two of her favorite bands to listen to growing up, but it was Led Zeppelin that really got her heart racing and her mind buzzing. The English rock band, led by legendary vocalist Robert Plant, produced a string of hits like “Stairway to Heaven” and “Whole Lotta Love,” which are still listened to today. Inspired by these incredible bands, Germanotta formed a band with some high school friends that they called Mackin’ Pulsifer. They were a classic rock cover band that performed at small clubs around NewYork City, and of course, Led Zeppelin songs were part of their repertoire . Germanotta was also building her musical versatility by performing in her high school jazz band, skills that would come in handy years later when she connected with the one and only Tony Bennett.
“I have a real passion for Robert Plant’s vocals; Led Zeppelin was a huge inspiration for me. I’m certain that side of my musicianship will seep through the pores of music in the future.”
Vibrant Voice Supreme talent is a must-have for making it in the music industry, but a little dose of luck sprinkled along the way can often be what ignites a career and keeps it from flagging in the winds of mediocrity. For Germanotta, one of those meaningful moments occurred when she was singing to herself in a store one day. Her voice grabbed the ears and the attention of the store’s owner, who just so happened to be a musician whose uncle, Don Lawrence, was a voice teacher. As it turned out, this was no local teacher with a side gig working nights and weekends with youth, but rather a big-time teacher who had helped a dazzling list of stars push their golden vocal cords to amazing heights. The store owner passed along his uncle’s telephone number to Germanotta, and she made the phone call that forever altered the trajectory of her career.
An idol from Lady Gaga’s youth was singer Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, here performing on stage at the Gorge Amphitheatre in George,WA, in 1995.
a star is born
Stefani Germanotta performs the Led Zeppelin song “D’yer Mak’er” in NewYork City in 2006.
Working with Lawrence was akin to a teen with some painting talent having the chance to learn fromMichaelangelo or a teen quarterback getting private lessons on throwing a football fromNFL great Tom Brady. Lawrence was that good, and that respected, and squeezing onto his busy calendar was a monumental career booster for Germanotta. Those sessions they spent together were instrumental, inspiring, and mega valuable as he helped mold, refine, and take her voice to territory that had never been explored before. Even after becoming a star years later, she would reconnect with Lawrence and spend hours working with him as Germanotta was relentless in her pursuit of extracting everything out of her skills that she possibly could. “He told me his uncle was a highly respected voice teacher who he thought would like to work with me. I called him up and remember his words, ‘I work with Grammy Award winner Christina Aguilera, Bono of U2, Mick Jagger and as the list got larger, I got more excited.”
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