Lady Gaga is on the brink of a massive comeback. For those who love her, it is a blessing. And for those who do not — please get better taste. Having largely stayed away from the world of pop music since 2013, she has planted the seeds to a return to the top. Her Golden Globe win on Jan. 10, which had thousands on social media seething, is just the beginning for her this year.
“I wanted to be an actress before I was a singer,” the six-time Grammy Award-winning living legend said
after her Golden Globe win. While there is no argument that Gaga is by far a better musician than actress, she needed to step to acting to reset her musical instincts.
Lady Gaga’s rapid rise to superstardom is one for the ages. Her 2008 debut “The Fame,” listed by Billboard as the 12th most popular album of all time, pumped out a stream of top-notch hits. While the foundation for her success was catchy pop songs, her outrageous outfits, eye-catching music videos and social activism catapulted her far above her contemporaries. By the end of 2010, Gaga dominated the Internet and Top 40 radio, while also completely redefining what it meant to be a pop star.
Her sophomore album “Born This Way” pushed her ambition further and met similar commercial success, selling over 1.1 million copies in its first week. The following 2012 world tour saw Gaga playing to sold-out stadiums just four years into her career.
But as a certain former Real Housewife once said, “The higher you climb, the farther you fall.” By 2013, Gaga pushed too far in a world now diluted with her copycats and wannabes. She was like a combination of Andy Warhol, David Bowie and Madonna.
“ARTPOP,” an ambitious but greatly flawed concept album, tried unsuccessfully to merge high-concert art with simple pop. It was pretty embarrassing, to be quite honest. This lack of connection resulted in underwhelming sales and negative critical reviews. She also became the butt of the Internet’s jokes. The former Queen of Shock soon found herself falling behind the less talented, like Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry and Taylor Swift. Within five years, Gaga had gone from the new Queen of Pop to the Queen of Flops.
Rather than keep up that neck-breaking pace in 2014, Gaga went in the completely opposite direction, allowing her audience to recover from her exhausting antics. I still found them over-the-top and hilarious, but no one else really did. There was no way to top the shock value of her previous attention stunts. Instead, she went back to basics (copyright Christina Aguilera) and quietly and repeatedly reminded the world of her incredible musical talent. It is no exaggeration that Lady Gaga has had one of the most underrated voices in pop music.
First up was a jazz cover album with music icon Tony Bennett, released in September 2014. While many were skeptical of “Cheek to Cheek” before its release, it gained positive reviews and has sold consistently well since debuting at No. 1 a year and a half ago. In one of the first signs of a career revival, “Cheek to Cheek” won a Grammy at the 2015 ceremony, bringing Gaga’s total up to six.
Following the jazz album was a series of live performances at awards shows and industry events. The most famous was her breathtaking “Sound of Music” medley at the 2015 Academy Awards. She also performed at a Stevie Wonder tribute concert, a Sting cover at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors, “Imagine” at the 2015 European Games and most recently a show-stopping “New York, New York” cover at the 2015 Frank Sinatra tribute concert.
At the same time, she starred on the fifth season of Ryan Murphy’s messy “American Horror Story.” While she’s no Jessica Lange, Gaga managed to find a groove on the show and expand her reach as a triple-threat entertainer.
All that hard work has begun to pay off. This month’s Golden Globe is certainly only the first of many accolades to come this year. Just last week, she was nominated for an Oscar for her work on “Til It Happens to You,” the song accompanying the documentary “The Hunting Ground.” She’s expected to win that Oscar next month, as well as the Grammy Award the song is nominated for.
This all sets the stage for Gaga’s comeback to where she shines the most: the world of pop music. When Gaga is at her A-game, there is no one who comes close to her. Her fifth studio album, set to come out sometime this year, sounds like a true return to form for the Tony Bennett back-up singer. She is back to working with RedOne, the pop producer with whom she co-created “Just Dance,” “Poker Face” and “Bad Romance.”
Whatever she does with her new album, Gaga will surely step up the game. By now, she has positioned herself as an A-list entertainer, not merely some run-of-the-mill pop star. This next album will continue that legacy, giving us the many left turns Gaga is known for.
Only through flopping was Gaga able to pull such moves. Lady Gaga has become an entertainer for the ages. Her work over the past few years has confirmed her as an all-around talent, unparalleled by any contemporaries. Fewer than 10 years into her career, Gaga is an iconic American entertainer — one that crosses generations and eras. In 2016, she will revitalize her first love, pop music, and join Adele in saving pop culture from the likes of Demi “Poot” Lovato, professional Mariah Carey impersonator Ariana Grande and Taylor “La Diabla” Swift.