Lady Gaga undeserving of Woman of the Year Award

By Managing Editor

When I first learned in September that Lady Gaga would be honored as Billboard’s 2015 Woman of the Year, I was overcome with joy.

As a long-time “Little Monster” whose love for the artist dates back to her career’s early days in 2008, I’m always happy to see Gaga’s artistry and impact on pop culture being recognized. However, I’m not too proud to admit that I think Gaga’s new Woman of the Year honor was unwarranted.

Billboard Magazine’s annual Women in Music edition, released Dec. 3, praises Gaga for her record-breaking achievements—many of which occurred in years prior to 2015—and contributions to the music industry, offering a timeline of events this year that led to her being named as Woman of the Year.

Billboard states that Gaga got engaged to Taylor Kinney in February; won her sixth Grammy Award for her Cheek to Cheek album with Tony Bennett, with whom she embarked on a tour this year; partnered with Elton John’s AIDS Foundation; released the song “Til It Happens To You” for a documentary raising awareness about sexual assault; starred on FX’s hit show “American Horror Story”; and hosted the Emotion Revolution Summit at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence to raise mental health awareness.

While it certainly has been a busy year for Gaga, many of her achievements have very little to do with music. Lady Gaga was named Women in Music’s Woman of the Year without officially releasing any new material. In fact, the star’s most recent album, Cheek to Cheek, hasn’t appeared on the Billboard 200 chart since its 2014 debut.

A more appropriate time to grant Gaga the award would have been 2011, when she influenced social change and broke records with the release of her album Born This Way and sold-out world tour.

A more deserving female musician who truly defined this year in music is Taylor Swift, who ironically was named 2014’s Woman of the Year by Billboard, even though her album 1989—Swift’s only music release of the year—had been out for a little more than a month at the time of her recognition.

It is no secret that Gaga is gearing up for a major comeback into the music industry since her latest solo album, ARTPOP, underperformed when compared to her previous albums and was deemed a “flop” by much of the general public.

From reinventing her sense of fashion to feature more minimalistic and less outlandish looks to experimenting with new styles of music other than electropop, Gaga has taken a number of actions this year to rebrand herself as something more accessible to the general public. Notching the Woman of the Year recognition is the perfect PR move to set Gaga up for a successful music release in 2016.

But honors like the Woman of the Year Award should not be reserved for providing PR service to artists seeking to improve their image. Instead, they should be awarded to women who have actually made significant achievements in the music industry.