Lady Gaga’s fame can be largely attributed to her own aspects. Gaga’s idiosyncratic fashion sense, powerful vocal range, and commitment to beloved fans, she deems “little monsters,” are huge reasons for her success. But with all the talk about Lady Gaga, there are collaborators behind the scenes that help produce Gaga’s music, expose her to new audiences, and maintain her general image. Her parents, who Gaga has continuously referenced as her biggest supporters, are obvious contributing factors, but there are also plenty of non-familial figures that Gaga appreciates.
Before she was Lady Gaga, Stefani Germanotta was hungry for a chance in NYC, like many aspiring artists. One name that she can thank is Wendy Starland, a musician who was also serving as a talent scout for music producer Rob Fusari, who in the past had produced Destiny Child’s 2001 hit “Bootylicious” and Kelly Rowland’s 2003 hit “Train on a Track”. Note the successive word “hit”; even prior to Gaga it was clear Fusari had a knack for producing hits when given the opportunity. Starland caught wind of Gaga, and told Fusari. He got Gaga to travel daily to New Jersey, and was immediately enamored with her voice — comparing Gaga to the legendary likes of Queen’s Freddie Mercury. Rumors claim Fusari was even a factor in choosing Gaga’s name… after none other than a Queen track, “Radio Ga Ga”. Several publications dispute that name origin story, but regardless – it’s clear that Gaga owes quite a bit of her rise to Starland and Fusari, both of whom she has written songs with.
While Starland and Fusari are largely responsible for big label execs giving Gaga a chance, once she was in the spotlight it was a performance artist by the name of Lady Starlight that helped mold Gaga’s on-stage persona. A decade older than Gaga, Lady Starland played with Gaga during early gigs, often spinning ‘70s glam and other obscure vintage records in between Gaga’s pop songs. Starland’s wacky, colorful attire and penchant for playful on-stage antics – like DIY pyrotechnics and odd forms of dance – helped shape Gaga’s eccentric on-stage personality, at least according to Starlight. “It was really more of my attitude towards art that was influential to her, rather than any specific look or style,” Starlight told AOL’s PopEater. “Do it as big as you can, as loud as you can. Whatever it is. The more shocking the better.” Her burlesque act and wide palate of music influences most probably influenced Gaga, even if she is notoriously shy about divulging influences. Gaga’s fame hasn’t made Starland sour, though. “What Lady Gaga was doing was not pop. It really was performance art. We weren’t referencing a certain look or time period. That’s what’s so cool about Gaga. She’s never lost that attitude from those days in the scene.”
While these figures were very pivotal to Gaga’s rise, her actual music is aided by several other collaborators. Although Gaga is always a creative force in contributing to the songwriting on her albums, she is dependent on a team of outstanding producers to create the polish and effectiveness of her synth-pop and club-ready sound. In addition to Fusari, arguably her most important collaborating producer is RedOne, who produced and co-wrote monster hits like “Just Dance”, “Poker Face”, and “LoveGame” on her 2008 debut The Fame. Next year’s The Fame Monster had a similar reliance on RedOne, who produced that album’s hits – “Bad Romance”, “Alejandro”, and “Monster”. Gaga is hardly reluctant to call on RedOne for her radio hits, with other collaborators taking on more expansive efforts. Still, it is clear that RedOne is an unavoidable influence on Gaga’s most famous efforts. While largely talented in her own individualistic right, it would be foolish to dismiss names like RedOne, Lady Starlight, and Rob Fusari. They all share in her rise to being one of the biggest artists in the world.