She may not have been alive during the 1970s, but Lady GaGa's forthcoming debut album, The Fame, is an ode of sorts to the Me Decade, as is the video for the LP's first single, "Just Dance."
The New York-born theatrical dance-pop upstart said she didn't set out to emulate the sounds of the '70s. She just started writing music, incorporating her lifelong love of theater, fashion and pop into the material. The end result is a record that sounds like it could have come from a different period altogether.
"It's not really rocket science," joked Lady GaGa, who will release her debut LP this summer through Akon's Konvict Muzik, during a recent chat with MTV News. "The music is intended to inspire people to feel a certain way about themselves, so they'll be able to encompass, in their own lives, a sense of inner fame that they can project to the world, and the carefree nature of the album is a reflection of that aura. I like to funnel interesting ideas to the rest of the world through a pop lens."
Lady GaGa, who did a brief stint as a go-go dancer following a premature withdrawal from New York University, said she'd like to revive pop music, returning the one thing that's been missing from the equation since the heyday of 'NSYNC and Britney Spears.
"What has been lost in pop music these days is the combination of the visual and the imagery of the artist, along with the music — and both are just as important," she said. "So, even though the carefree nature of the album is something that people are latching onto right away about my stuff, I hope they will take notice of the interactive, multimedia nature of what I'm trying to do. The things I like to do and the theatrics, I like to incorporate them into the choreography. With my music, it's a party, it's a lifestyle, and it's about making the lifestyle the forefront of the music."
Lady GaGa's rise to prominence didn't happen overnight, of course. After dropping out of college, she said she decided to make a new life for herself. She found she was "super-uninspired, and I just wanted to do it alone, so it was me and my piano and three jobs, and I played every club, bombed in every club, and I worked my way up and put this performance-art show together, and here we are."
Since signing with Interscope and teaming with Akon, Lady GaGa has written tracks for the likes of Tami Chynn and the Pussycat Dolls. And while she's focused, for the moment, on her own career, she was recently asked to collaborate with one of her favorite artists, and it was an opportunity she couldn't pass up.
"I'm a huge New Kids fan," Lady GaGa gushed as she talked about appearing on the track "Big Boy/Big Girl" from the New Kids on the Block's forthcoming comeback LP, which is being produced her friend Red1. "He played them some of my records, and they said, 'Who is this chick?' " she explained. "So, I met up with the guys, and we actually ended up writing another song together. I've been blessed to be able to work with some top-tier producers and artists."
Lyrically, The Fame touches on a number of different topics, Lady GaGa said, but the record, as a whole, is a concept piece.
"This idea of 'the fame' runs through and through," she said. "Basically, if you have nothing — no money, no fame — you can still feel beautiful and dirty rich. It's about making choices, and having references — things you pull from your life that you believe in. It's about self-discovery and being creative. The record is slightly focused, but it's also eclectic."
The record's also very fashion-centric, which was something Lady GaGa couldn't have avoided.
"Fashion is everything," she said. "When I'm writing music, I'm thinking about the clothes I want to wear on stage. It's all about everything altogether — performance art, pop performance art, fashion. For me, it's everything coming together and being a real story that will bring back the super-fan. I want to bring that back. I want the imagery to be so strong that fans will want to eat and taste and lick every part of us."