Ten years ago, the world was introduced to an aspiring pop star that would go on to become a pop culture icon. Stefani Germanotta, known by her stage name Lady Gaga, had a chance to jet to LA to record “Just Dance,” a song that was created in 15 minutes and would soon take the world by storm as mainstream pop phased into dance and powerpop. That song was the lead single to Gaga’s debut album The Fame, which would catapult on the charts when second single “Poker Face,” a radio throttling No. 1, turned into a worldwide hit. On August 19, 2008, The Fame was released and eventually, pop music would never be the same. Coincidentally, Gaga’s 10 year anniversary arrives just before the release of her remake of the musical film “A Star Is Born” on Oct. 5, 2018.
Gaga had always wanted to be a star since she was a young age. She was exposed to greats like Bruce Springsteen, Whitney Houston, Liza Minnelli; she loved music and she loved the arts. Gaga wanted to be in the limelight with everyone screaming her name. As a young lady, she worked hard to achieve that goal out of New York City - playing clubs and trying to get her music exposed. She had one shot to go out to L.A. and cut a track and needless to say, she succeeded.
The Fame became Gaga’s first album and visualizes her love of fame and touches on money, sex, love, drugs and sexual identity. Even without having money or fame, you can still feel like a million dollars and her debut record gave listeners a chance to feel a certain way about themselves - inner fame that they can exude to the world. Another thing Gaga felt was missing from pop was imagery to go along with the artist and the music - a trait she would go on to become famous for. The record focuses on electro and dance pop as radio shifted gears sonically.
When Lady Gaga flew out to L.A., she teamed up with producer RedOne and in 10 minutes wrote the song “Just Dance” which would go on to become her first single. The carefree song hit No. 1 around the world and became one of the best singles of all time selling over 10 million copies. Her follow up, “Poker Face,” put her on the scene as a bonafide pop-star. The song about bisexuality was a tribute to her boyfriends and would go on to top the charts in over 20 countries in 2009. By year’s end, “Poker Face” was the best-selling single of the year across the globe selling 9.5 million in sales. It now has sold over 14 million copies also becoming one of the best-selling singles in music history. In 2015, Gaga became the first artist in the United States to cross 7 million digital copies sold for both “Just Dance” and “Poker Face.”
By the time “Poker Face” had run its course, Lady Gaga became a household name for not only her catchy anthems but her sometimes chaotic fashion. Her song “Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)” was released in Australia, New Zealand and parts of Europe while North America and Europe also saw “LoveGame” as a single. That track had several hard hitting remixes including one that featured Marilyn Manson. “Paparazzi” would serve as the final single from the album and is still to this day played on Hot AC radio stations.
The Fame has sold 4.79 million copies in the U.S. and when equivalent units are included (streams of songs, track downloads), the album has reached nearly 9 million units. The album earned Gaga her very first Grammy Awards for Best Electronic/Dance Album and Best Dance Recording for “Poker Face.” It would also be nominated for Album of the Year with “Poker Face” having noms in Song of the Year and Record of the Year.
Following her success of The Fame in 2009, Gaga recorded and released The Fame Monster, the darker side of fame. It was initially intended to be included as a re-release but it was then decided to release it as a deluxe edition of The Fame and as a standalone EP. That was due largely to the fact it would be costly for fans and the two sets were conceptually different. Collectively with the reissue, The Fame has sold over 15 million copies worldwide.
Listen to the original release of The Fame below.