Lady Gaga sets the standard

Tania Jachens

Love her or hate her, you can’t deny that Lady Gaga is a force to be reckoned with. Not since Madonna in the ’80s have we experienced such a simultaneously intriguing, controversial and trendsetting female performer.

With five songs that reached the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 (three of which went to No. 1), her record, “The Fame,” certified platinum, a nearly sold-out international tour and over 30 million YouTube hits on her newest video, “Bad Romance,” Lady Gaga has taken the world by storm.

Born Stefani Germanotta in New York City, Lady Gaga dropped out of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, one of the most selective art schools in the world, in order to pursue her musical career.

After being dropped from Def Jam Records when she was 19, Lady Gaga began writing songs for artists signed to Akon’s Konvict label. After hearing her sing, Akon convinced Interscope Records to sign her. The rest is history.

But what makes Lady Gaga so much better from the other pop princesses who dominate the charts? Basically, she makes everyone else seem really boring.

Analyze any aspect of her and you will find something that no one else has tried or that she has done better.

Daring and ever changing platinum blonde hairstyles? Check. Style that can’t really be explained but is instantly recognizable? Check. Performances that are always the topic of conversation the next day? Check. People wondering about her gender and sexual orientation? Check. Music videos that don’t always make sense, but everyone loves to watch? Check.

Lady Gaga is clearly not afraid to step outside of the public’s comfort zone and to experiment with something new and exciting.

With each of her music videos, she has raised the bar for other performers as well as herself. From the relatively tame “Just Dance,” to the epic scope of “Paparazzi” and the visual overload of “Bad Romance,” I wonder how she’ll manage to out-do herself next?

Yet no matter how wild her outfits or crazy her performances, Lady Gaga stays true to herself, never makes excuses for what she does and is consistent in her craziness.

Fashion-wise, she’s nothing the world has ever seen. There was probably a Lady Gaga lookalike at your Halloween party this year, sporting some version of a black leotard, blonde wig and wild accessories. She’s the ultimate trendsetter and her outfits, usually pant-less, have inspired looks seen on this fall’s fashion runways, such as Dolce & Gabbana, Oscar de la Renta and Prada.

Besides the controversy and her “wow” factor, Lady Gaga is genuinely talented, something which has unfortunately become a rarity in pop singers.

Watch any of her live performances and you’ll understand why she got into Tisch in the first place.

You’ll never see her lip-synching (Britney: take notice) because she can belt it out like Christina Aguilera and play the piano like Alicia Keys, all while creating new versions of her hit songs.

Lady Gaga has also greatly evolved as a singer and performer. In a vintage video on YouTube, a brunette Germanotta performs “Captivated” and “Electric Kiss,” two beautiful songs that are quite different from Lady Gaga’s current sound.

Because of her innate talent, no matter where or what she’s performing, Lady Gaga is the definition of showmanship.

When considering other female pop singers, very few can hold a candle to Lady Gaga.

Britney Spears’s characteristic lip-synching and lame attempt at sexy in her video for “Three,” a promising song, show that hitting rock bottom might take a little longer to recover from.

Rihanna’s also all grown up now with a darker take on life in “Russian Roulette,” whose disturbing message and slow tempo means it won’t be playing in dance clubs anytime soon.

Kelly Clarkson and Taylor Swift are too safe and conventional to fully captivate audiences the way Lady Gaga has, while Mariah Carey’s narcissistic and banal “Obsessed” assume that we all love her as much as she loves herself.

Until Miley Cyrus decides whether she wants to be a “mature” and sexy artist or a wholesome and pubescent Hannah Montana, she won’t hold a candle to Lady Gaga.

Yet do not despair, as there are several other fine ladies who rival Lady Gaga’s talent and magnetism.

The unstoppable Beyoncé is an obvious choice, since I can’t remember the last time she put out a bad song or didn’t dazzle during a live performance. Lady Gaga and Beyoncé must have figured this out, because now you can enjoy their new collaboration on “Video Phone.”

Katy Perry is also strong competition with her own controversial song, wild fashion and killer voice.

Another contender is the rising star, Ke$ha, whose song “Tik Tok” is currently blowing up the radio and is sure to become a party anthem.

Yet no matter how you look at it, Lady Gaga is incomparable. Unafraid to spark a little controversy or do something unexpected, she backs it all up with real talent, unforgettable songs, a great show and strong appreciation for her fans.

In the end, Lady Gaga sums herself up best saying, “Art is life, life is art. The question is: what came first?”