Lady Gaga, Billboard's Woman of the Year, can name the moment she almost left music. It was exactly one year ago: Artpop hadn't done as well as her other albums; she was doing jazz with Tony Bennett. "My stylist asked, 'Do you even want to be a pop star anymore?' I looked at him and I go, 'You know, if I could just stop this train right now, today, I would. I just can't. [But] I need to get off now because I'm going to die,'" she tells Billboard. "When you're going so fast you don't feel safe anymore, you feel like you're being slapped around and you can't think straight. But then I felt hands lifting me. It was like everybody came together to try and put a star back in the sky, and they weren't going to let me down."
Lady Gaga stopped being what the public wanted because, she explains, she just couldn't do it: "You can't sell your soul once you make it," she explains. "It's a big mistake to just go after the money to try to stay on top. I think that's what everyone wanted me to do. But I'm a different kind of girl, and when being different is not in style it's hard for me to function."
"People think, 'You can just sit down at a piano whenever you want and write,' but I couldn't write for two f–king years. For Artpop, I was doing beats instead. I didn't want to be near that damn [piano]. It was too emotional. I would start to play and sing, and my mind would go, 'You are way too talented for this shit. F—, your voice sounds good. F—, that's a beautiful chord. F—, that's an amazing lyric. Why are you letting these people run you into the ground? When did you become the fashionable robot?' Can't being an artist be enough? Is talent ever the thing? I think for Adele it is. I think for Bruno Mars it is. But that's what I learned from working with Tony: If talent isn't the thing, then you are way off-base."
Her up-and-down career has led her to have some epiphanies, something she says "we can't create without. ... You could have one and not even know it because you're so high or there are seven models sucking your dick or you're so intoxicated by the lifestyle. I'm grateful for what I have, but that doesn't mean I don't value the gift of life. Because while this house is beautiful, once I cross my property line I'm no longer free; it's legal to stalk me all over the world. The thing that makes me happy is that piano."
She won't let her age restrain her in music, either. The almost-30-year-old takes issue with the way women in their thirties are treated: "Why is it that we're disposing of people once they pass that mark? It's suddenly, 'You're an old woman.' I'm not f–king old. I'm more sexual and powerful and intelligent and on my shit than I've ever been. I've come a long way through a lot of heartache and pain, but none of it made me damaged goods. It made me a fighter. I want to show women they don't need to try to keep up with the 19-year-olds and the 21-year-olds in order to have a hit. Women in music, they feel like they need to f–king sell everything to be a star. It's so sad. I want to explode as I go into my thirties." And if anyone will, it's Lady Gaga.
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