Blending great talent with an eccentric public persona, Lady Gaga is one of the most recognizable and successful musicians of the 21st Century. What was her first song?
Lady Gaga’s first single was “Just Dance” from her debut album “The Fame”, both released in 2008. Both the song and album reached the top of Billboard’s charts, with “Just Dance” eventually selling more than nine million copies.
For more on Lady Gaga’s early life and her beginnings as a musician, keep reading.
Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta was born in Yonkers, New York on March 28, 1986. Stefani is the daughter of Joseph and Cynthia Germanotta, both of whom are of Italian descent, and had an upper-middle-class Catholic upbringing. She also has a younger sister, Natali.
Joseph was an Internet entrepreneur and Cynthia worked as a business executive and philanthropist.
Stefani was encouraged to play music from an early age, with her mother saying that it was part of becoming a “cultured young woman”. She took piano lessons, which gave her the necessary foundation to create her own songs, which she enjoyed more than playing existing music.
Her parents encouraged her growing passion for music and she attended a Creative Arts Camp in her youth.
In high school, she attended the Convent of the Sacred Heart, a private Roman Catholic school for girls. Despite performing well academically, she was apparently mocked for her eccentricities and extroverted personality, traits that would serve her well in her performing life.
Stefani began performing at open mic nights in her teens and had leading roles in Regis High School productions of both “Guys and Dolls” and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”.
Keen to continue in musicals, Gaga studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute for a decade, learning method acting. She auditioned for Broadway productions without success but briefly appeared in a 2001 episode of “The Sopranos” when she was 15.
When she was 17, she was admitted early to Collaborative Arts Project 21, also known as CAP21, a specialist theatre arts school at New York University. Stefani wrote essays on various topics in order to improve her songwriting skills before leaving school in her second year in order to pursue her music career.
Together with some fellow NYU students, Stefani formed a group called SGBand in 2005, frequently performing in New York’s Lower East Side at various clubs. Wendy Starland, a talent scout, saw Stefani performing and recommended her to Rob Fusari, a music producer.
Stefani traveled to New Jersey daily to work with Fusari on her music and they apparently dated between May 2006 and January 2007. Fusari also claims to have given Stefani her nickname, inspired by Queen’s “Radio Ga Ga”, by calling her Lady Gaga.
After sending electropop recordings to several music labels, Gaga was signed by Def Jam in September 2006 but was dropped just three months later. She met Lady Starlight and the duo began performing a neo-burlesque show in New York, shaping her onstage persona.
She was signed to Interscope Records, initially as a songwriter, but when Akon heard her singing in a studio he urged the label to give her an opportunity as a performer.
Gaga’s first album, “The Fame”, was released on August 19, 2008, and reached number one in several countries as well as reaching the top five in the United States.
Her debut single from the album, “Just Dance”, released earlier on April 8, 2008, and was a sleeper hit, spending almost five months on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart before eventually reaching the number one spot in January 2009.
As of 2020, “Just Dance” has been certified nine times platinum and was only the second song to reach six million paid downloads after “I Gotta Feeling” by The Black Eyed Peas.