Lady Gaga’s ‘The Fame’ Turns 5: Stan & Deliver
Stan & Deliver gives fans an opportunity to shake, cry and sing the praises of the albums they love from their faves.
Five years ago — before “Bad Romance,” before the meat dress, before Born This Way, before Marina Abramovic, before her friendship-turned-battle royale with Perez Hilton, before Little Monsters even knew what to call themselves — there was Lady Gaga, a burgeoning blonde starlet wrapped in a bubble dress who came with a promise: To save pop, one sequin at a time.
Like a disco stick-wielding space alien, Gaga crash-landed into the music industry with her massive debut single “Just Dance,” followed by her stutter-happy smash “Poker Face,” “LoveGame” and “Paparazzi.” She didn’t only revolutionize pop music at the time with her music (that RedOne-produced club-pop would soon oversaturate the radio) — she set the bar for over-the-top fashion (a blend of DIY Haus creations and haute couture) as well as upping the ante for video production, as her imagination (and budget) grew with each new release. Gaga utterly consumed pop culture in a way that hadn’t felt so thrilling since — well, Madonna.
Her refreshing, joyful pop offerings — sweetly-sung odes to a life filled with glitz, extravagance and glamour — catapulted the New York-bred songstress from club fixture to stadium filler within a year’s time. By the time her Fame extension The Fame Monster was released in late 2009, she was already skyrocketing to superstardom.
Today marks the five-year anniversary of the original release of The Fame (which came out in Canada first — fun fact!), so we’ve asked some of Gaga’s biggest stans and early supporters to discuss the album track-by-track — from “Just Dance” to “I Like It Rough.” So go ahead, let your hands rest from all the “Applause” for a minute and just dance — it’s (still) gonna be okay.
1. Just Dance: The first time I heard Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance,” I knew it was special.
This wasn’t just another dance-pop ditty that would quickly come and go. It was an incredibly well crafted and instantly infectious synth-pop confection featuring Gaga’s powerful vocals that had a timeless quality to it. “Just Dance” was clearly the introduction to something a lot bigger, but none of us knew exactly what was about to happen at the time the song was first unveiled.
One of the things I clearly remember is that “Just Dance” came with a certain mystique that put Gaga’s music front and center. There was one press photo of Gaga available at the time and it was a glossy photo of the singer wearing a blue dress laying down without facing the camera head on. It deliberately triggered a sense of intrigue (a Gaga hallmark) that helped set off a firestorm of interest among pop fans and beyond.
“Just Dance” also propelled producer RedOne’s status as one of the hottest pop makers on the scene. One of the song’s key moments is when Gaga namechecks the young producer at the opening of the track (that some initially confused with “red wine”). It firmly put the spotlight on the young Swedish-Moroccan producer who went on to collaborate with the biggest stars in music following his global success with Lady Gaga.
After hearing “Just Dance” and blogging about it very early on, I knew Lady Gaga would be a star to reckon with. In May 2008, MTV Logo asked me to nominate six artists for their annual NewNowNext Awards for the “Brink of Fame Song” category. I decided to nominate Lady Gaga, Semi Precious Weapons, Chester French, Janelle Monae, Hercules & Love Affair and Heloise & The Savoire Faire.
My nomination of Lady Gaga led to the star’s very first television performance ever when she closed the award show with a rousing performance of “Just Dance” together with DJ Space Cowboy. Even though Gaga did not end up winning the award (her tour mates to-be Semi Precious Weapons did), her TV performance turned out to be a milestone moment for the young pop singer who has gone on to inspire millions with her distinct brand of pop.