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Music

Happy birthday, Lady Gaga: From provocative performer to a serious artist

Lady Gaga, the likely heiress to the Queen of Pop crown, turns 30 today. The American singer and songwriter is best known for her jaw-dropping performances and outrageous sense of fashion, as well as her social activism.

Pop icon Lady Gaga was born in New York State on March 26, 1986 as Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. Her talent for music became evident early on, when she started to play the piano, aged 4. But her parents soon noticed that Little Stefani wanted more than just tickling the ivories for pleasure. Perhaps she was "born this way."

Her career in show business started in the early 2000s, when she engaged in writing pop songs for internationally acclaimed artists like Britney Spears, the Pussycat Dolls, and Black Eyed Peas' singer Fergie. Soon thereafter, Gaga decided to enter the music market in her own name with her debut album "The Fame."

Tracks like "Poker Face" and "Just Dance" hit the radio charts, reaching platinum sales in no time. But Lady Gaga isn't only about music. The persona she created transcends music and represents artistic values beyond catchy tunes and provocative lyrics. Her dress sense, make-up and hair styles fill headlines and sometimes case debate, as was the case when she appeared in her infamous meat dress at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards.

An ever-changing work of art

More than an artist, Lady Gaga is a self-professed, ever-changing work of art herself, which is not to say that comparisons between her and Madonna, the reigning "Queen of Pop" don't flatter her. But in addition to Madonna, Gaga has cited such figures of pop culture as David Bowie, Donatella Versace and the "Married… with children" TV-series character Peggy Bundy to be among artistic influences.

Gaga has also proved her acumen for social media, with

57.6 million followers on Twitter

making her one of the hottest brands online. In less than ten years, Lady Gaga has prevailed as one of the greatest names in pop music - without ever really making tabloid headlines. If she retired today, she would still have several VMA awards, six Grammys and one

Golden Globe

to count among her laurels - among others.

But she's far from even taking a time-out; recently she took to Twitter, speaking out against wasting water and took a plunge in ice-cold Lake Michigan to raise awareness about Special Olympics.

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