[artist id="3061469"]Lady Gaga[/artist] didn't even release a proper album in 2010, and somehow, she managed to become an even bigger star. This had as much to do with the fact that she kept working with what she had — the endless tour, the incomparable videos — as it did with her harnessing her hard-fought stardom and attempting to become a force for social change. She spoke out loudly and proudly in support of gay rights and in opposition to the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, and, in the process, she became the kind of star we haven't seen in decades: One unafraid to offend, no matter how much she stood to lose.
And that fearlessness — coupled with her continued chart success and her envelope-pushing event videos — is why we've chosen Lady Gaga as MTV News' Woman of the Year. It's the second-consecutive year she's taken home the honor, which is sort of fitting. After all, no one has dominated both the musical and pop-culture landscapes quite like she has over the past 24 months. This year, she just dominated differently. And so, in honor of her reign, here's a look back at Lady Gaga's 2010, a year in which she moved from pop icon to genuine social force.
2010 Highlights: Gaga began 2010 much like she ended 2009: on tour. In January, she wowed audiences with a triumphant four-night run at New York's Radio City Music Hall and then stole the show at the Grammys with her Elton John duet and appropriately outrageous attire. She teamed with Cyndi Lauper for the MAC AIDS Fund VIVA Glam campaign and paid tribute to the late Alexander McQueen with a performance at the Brit Awards. In February, she began teasing both her revamped Monster Ball Tour and her upcoming "Telephone" video, which would catapult her to even greater fame.
Directed by Jonas Åkerlund and full of nearly as many blink-and-you'll-miss-it pop-culture nods as it was wanton violence and near-nudity, "Telephone" premiered on March 11 and basically became the event video against which all others would be judged. Fans loved it (celebs did too), and the clip would go on to inspire countless YouTube tributes. Needless to say, talk of a sequel quickly followed.
In April, she was announced as a headliner at Lollapalooza and was named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People. In June, she sent fans into a panic when she told Larry King that she had tested "borderline positive" for lupus and then wowed them with her "Alejandro" video, which mixed German Expressionism with religious symbolism (needless to say, some thought it went too far).
She then told Rolling Stone magazine that her new album was "finished right now" and then premiered the first song from that album, "You and I," at Elton John's White Tie and Tiara Ball. She kicked off another leg of the Monster Ball Tour in Montreal, and, at a later date in Arizona, encouraged fans to protest the state's immigration law. At the beginning of August, she scored a whopping (and record-breaking) 13 Video Music Award nominations and delivered the goods with a surreal set at Lollapalooza.
At the VMAs in September, Gaga won eight Moonmen — including Video of the Year — and announced that her new album would be called Born This Way. But seemingly all anyone wanted to talk about was her infamous "meat dress," which dominated celeb gossip for the remainder of the month. Also of note were the "dates" Gaga took with her to the show: men and women of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, all of whom had been discharged from the Armed Forces (or prohibited from serving) because they were gay.
Inspired by their stories, Gaga began a (very loud) campaign to have the military's long-standing "don't ask, don't tell" policy overturned. She called on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to vote on a repeal of the measure and posted an impassioned video plea, urging her fans to call their senators and demand they vote as well. She held an impromptu rally in Maine aimed at grabbing the attention of Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. Ultimately, her efforts failed, as Senate Democrats were unable to garner enough votes to begin debate on the matter, though Gaga remained adamant in her support of gay rights, as producer RedOne told MTV News that her Born This Way album would be about "freedom."
She capped 2010 by passing the 1 billion views mark on YouTube, being named one of Forbes' 100 Most Powerful Women and Billboard's Artist of the Year. She scored six Grammy nominations, placed a pair of songs on MTV News' Top 25 countdown, including "Telephone" at #10, and was honored with eight different wax figures by Madame Tussauds. Oh, and then, there's the matter of Born This Way, which is due early next year and, by all accounts, is shaping up to be pretty great. And it sort of raises the question: At this time next year, will we be handing Gaga her third-straight Woman of the Year award? We wouldn't bet against her. As she proved in 2010, anything's possible.
Did Gaga deserve our Woman of the Year title? Share your thoughts in the comments!