A decade ago, a certain lady entered the pop ecosystem and changed the landscape of the music genre. The 21-year-old Lady Gaga was pounding the pavement of New York City nightlife, performing in clubs, singing at open mic nights, and go-go dancing to Iron Maiden tracks before flying out to LA to meet with producer RedOne. It was her first time in a Hollywood recording studio and in the span of 10 minutes she penned the track that would ultimately be her claim to stardom. “That record saved my life. I was in such a dark sp
ace in New York.” She told The Guardian, “I was so depressed, always in a bar. I got on a plane to LA to do my music and was given one shot to write the song that would change my life and I did. I never went back. I left behind my boyfriend, my apartment. I still haven’t been back. My mother went in and cleared it for me.”
The record, Just Dance, written by Gaga, Akon and RedOne featuring vocals by Colby O’Donis, became the lead single off Gaga’s debut studio album, The Fame. The eccentric singer said the meaning of the song was about dancing through intoxication, ensuring the listener that they’re “Gonna be ok.” ”It’s about being drunk or high at a club and you dance through it, like you do in all stretches of life when obstacles come, dance through it.” She stated that the lyrics flew out of her body as she had just left New York and that her party lifestyle was the foundation of her inspiration.
Released on April 8th, just 10 days after Gaga’s 22nd birthday, the song started as a summer hit that would officially enter the Billboard 100 in August of 2008 at number 76. After it’s popularity caught like wildfire and spending five months on the charts, Dance finally claimed the top spot in January 2009 where it became Lady Gaga’s first No. 1 hit. The record spent three consecutive weeks at No. 1 and from there Just Dance became a global sensation, topping charts across the world and went on to be nominated for a Grammy for Best Dance Recording (Gaga’s first Grammy nomination). Ultimately, in 2015, Just Dance became certified eight times platinum in the US with sales of over 7.2 million.
And while the music video for the song is one of Gaga’s most toned down, elements of what she would become are very evident. The blue lightning bolt, disco ball bra, and estranged dancing were all small tastes of what the world was in store for. The video is very much a product of its time as it seemed like everyone was using the house party concept in their videography. The plot of the video is very simple and reflective of the lyrics themselves – Lady Gaga arrives to reignite a house party that has just ended and gets everyone to drink and dance through their crashed states. Simple, to the point and entertaining never the less. When asked about her first music video Gaga stated, “Oh it was so fun, it was amazing. For me, it was like being on a Martin Scorsese set. I’ve been so low budget for so long, and to have this incredibly amazing video was really very humbling.”
For the anniversary of her debut hit, Lady Gaga posted on her social media two photos from the music video along with a nostalgic montage of clips of past performances of the song, fan covers, snippets from MTV, Good Morning America, and The Ellen Show all chronicling her catapult to fame. “I can’t believe it’s been ten years since the release of Just Dance,” she wrote “It’s very emotional and I am so grateful to little monsters for sticking by me all these years. Cheers to many more, filled with love & bravery to be yourself. I love you so so much.” Yes, it’s been ten years and Gaga has filled them with glamour and flares that all started with a song telling everyone to just dance.