In some ways, [artist id="3061469"]Lady Gaga[/artist] leaves nothing to the imagination. From her skin-flashing outfits and onstage catharsis to soul-baring lyrics and frequent weepy shout-outs to her "little monsters," the international pop diva is an open book.
But she also knows the importance of a good mystery, which is why in the wake of her record-setting eight VMA victories on Sunday night and the Internet meltdown over her steak sarong, Mother Monster has kept her followers on pins and needles about what her next move might be.
We know one thing for sure: Her in-the-works next album will be called Born This Way, which Gaga revealed during the VMAs and then, apparently, got tattooed on her thigh the next day. Other than that, Gaga has been tight-lipped about the official follow-up to her one-two punch of The Fame and The Fame Monster.
She has peeled back a few intriguing layers of her musical onion, debuting the wistful ballad "Living on the Radio" at a concert last month and a more rocking tune, "You and I," at an Elton John benefit concert in June.
At various points this year, she has described the new album as "spiritual" and a potential "iconic moment" that people might look at decades from now as a breakthrough. By August, she was referring to the disc as "utter liberation," saying her goal was to create an "anthem for my generation." She also told i-D magazine in the same interview that she plans to keep her sound fresh the next time around by working with a whole new slate of producers that she is keeping secret so that no one else will steal them from her.
Though she's had success doing songs with Beyoncé — and recording a tune with T.I. that may or may not appear on his upcoming album — Gaga said it's unlikely she'll have any featured guests on Born This Way. What she might do, though, is return to her early rock roots.
"I do have these hopes that it could be a great rock crossover record, so I'm going to put my producer's hat on and get it to a place where I feel like it could reach the masses," she said in reference to songs such as "You and I," which has a harder edge than her typical dance tunes. "It's a beautiful, beautiful lyric and melody. I wrote it at the piano I grew up playing in New York."
In June, she told Rolling Stone that the then-untitled album was already finished, teasing that she was planning to have its title tattooed on her body. "It came so quickly. Some artists take years; I don't," she said. "I write music every day." She promised that her new music would have a more "bitter" message, seemingly inspired by her anger over the serious lag in repealing the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy barring gay and lesbian soldiers from serving openly in the armed forces. She made a strong statement about that topic at the VMAs and is at the forefront of the push to repeal the measure.
On July 15, inspiration struck again, as Gaga told her fans, "I wrote a #1 record in Cleveland," while in town playing a show at the city's Quicken Loans Arena. While a spokesperson for Gaga's label did not return requests for comment on when the new album might be released, the singer has said her aim is to get it out in early 2011.
One thing we do know is that Gaga will be on the road for the rest of the year on her massive Monster Ball Tour. She was slated to be back in action Tuesday (September 14) in Philadelphia. The U.S. dates are scheduled to wrap up October 2 in Los Angeles, at which point the tireless diva will head overseas for six weeks of European dates.
It's back to work February 19 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, when the second leg of the North American tour launches, with dates currently expected to wind down with an April 18 show in Atlanta. She will also make an appearance at an upcoming Yoko Ono concert in Los Angeles on October 2, on a bill that will also feature Jane's Addiction singer Perry Farrell, Wu-Tang Clan's RZA and punk icon Iggy Pop.
For now, Gaga is leaving us in the dark about Born This Way, though fans can expect that she'll preview some more new tunes as the Monster Ball continues to roll its way across the globe.
What do you want next from Lady Gaga? Let us know in the comments!
The Moonmen have all been handed out and the stars have gone home, but there's plenty of MTV Video Music Awards news, interviews, behind-the-scenes scoop, party reports and more still to come, so keep it locked on MTVNews.com.