Lady Gaga rocks my socks

Rah, rah, ra-ah-ah. Roma, ro-ma-ma. I haven't even typed a legitimate word yet, but you already know who I'm going to talk about.

Half the people reading this are probably cheering, and the other half are probably rolling their eyes in annoyance at one of pop culture's most prominent icons of the past year: Lady Gaga. Regardless of one's personal opinion of the woman or her music, it's undeniable that she's already made a lasting impression on the entertainment industry and beyond.

In an age where it seems nothing can shock us, Gaga has made pop music interesting again. Sure, the lyrics to her Inn Between-worthy anthems aren't the most thought-provoking, but combined with irresistible beats, insane costumes and the theatrics of an average Gaga music video or live performance, she creates the perfect storm of over-the-top but still digestible entertainment. As an artist, she keeps the public guessing without alienating them.

Gaga is extremely aware of her image, and despite her spiked, glittery, armor-like fashion choices and her songs about fame and paparazzi, you still get the idea that underneath the glamour is a genuine, relatable person who just hoists her freak flag up a little higher than the rest of us.

While the adorable country-pop artist Taylor Swift has gained airtime by singing about feeling less-than-perfect in her hit, "You Belong With Me," Gaga is the girl with the nerdy glasses sitting on the bleachers at the high school football game. Take away the record deal, the powerful set of pipes and the outlandish costumes, and you would have another outcast who doesn't quite fit in with the "cool crowd."

It's a mindset we could all benefit from applying to ourselves from time to time: the girl is crazy, and instead of shirking away from it, she owns it. Either parading around pants-less or blocking awards show audiences with outlandish shoulder pads, Gaga is a sex symbol unlike anyone we've ever seen; she's not the pale, wilting flower or scantily clad mistress that we've come to expect of our female entertainers.

Listening to her lyrics or watching the elaborate storylines of her music videos unfurl, it's clear that Gaga, as a performer, knows what she wants - be it a man, money or fame - and isn't shy about going out and getting it. It's Gaga's world, and we're just here to watch it all go down.

Even though pop competition Ke$ha has the No. 1 Billboard spot, and Swift's got the golden Album of the Year, Gaga's got staying power. Her permanence in our current blink-and-you'll-miss-it revolving door of pop music was cemented by her performance at the Grammys last month, where she rolled out on stage playing a piano across from Sir Elton John. Slightly changing the lyrics to his hit, "Your Song," John crooned, "How wonderful life is now Gaga's in the world." Couldn't have said it better.

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