In recent years Time has assembled an annual list of the 100 most influential people of the year. Originally, they had made a list of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century. These issues usually have the front cover filled with pictures of people from the list and devote a substantial amount of space within the magazine to the 100 articles about each person on the list. There have, in some cases, been over 100 people, when two people have made the list together, sharing one spot. Lady Gaga was on the cover and listed at number four of the 2010 edition of the TIME 100.
I first heard the name Lady Gaga through a mutual friend. He couldn't stop talking about her. Then I heard her music, and I thought, Wow, I love this kid.
An artist's job is to take a snapshot — be it through words or sound, lyrics or song — that explains what it's like to be alive at that time. Lady Gaga's art captures the period we're in right now. These days, you go to a club and wonder who all these kids are. They don't seem to have jobs. How can they afford to be here? Her song "Beautiful, Dirty, Rich" explains that scene. It's about the New York prep-school party kids she grew up with. It's where she came from. Gaga's lyrics are incredibly literary. When "Bad Romance" starts, the music grabs your ear immediately. Then she opens with the line "I want your ugly/ I want your disease," and all of a sudden you're listening. Most of the stuff on the radio is not very clever, but Gaga presents her ideas in a sophisticated manner. She has an incredible pop sensibility.
People forget how young she is. She is barely 24 — much younger than I was when I became famous. It's very tough being where she is right now. People are pulling her in all different directions. It's hard to navigate that. Try to imagine what you were like at her age, if you still can. I can't wait to see how she grows and what she decides her next act will be. She only has two albums out, but already she is inspiring other artists to go further in their own work.
When I see somebody like Gaga, I sit back in admiration. I'm inspired to pick up the torch again myself. I did an interview with her once, and she showed up with a sculpture on her head. I thought, How awesome. Being around her, I felt like the dust was shaken off of me. I find it very comforting to sit next to somebody and not have to worry that I look like the freak. She isn't a pop act, she is a performance artist. She herself is the art. She is the sculpture.
Article by Cyndi Lauper, photography by Marco Grob