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Lady Gaga as Billboard Woman of the Year: Why it matters that she was chosen now

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(Read caption) Lady Gaga attends the 2015 British Fashion Awards.

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Singer Lady Gaga has been selected as Woman of the Year by Billboard. 

Gaga joins such past recipients, many of whom are bestselling artists, as Taylor Swift (who has been selected twice), Pink, and Katy Perry.

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The choice is an interesting one because Gaga is coming off a far-from-traditional year for a pop singer. Swift, for example, was chosen last year around the time she was about to release her smash album “1989” and after her successful 2012 work “Red.” Pink, who was selected the year before, was coming off her successful 2012 album “The Truth About Love.” 

Billboard didn’t choose to select Gaga after she released her hugely successful albums “The Fame” (2008), “The Fame Monster” (2009), or “Born This Way” (2011). 

Instead, Gaga now holds the Billboard title after Gaga’s most recent pop album, “Artpop,” came out in 2013 but failed to win the acclaim or sales of her previous works. Gaga’s next project that was released was then a 2014 standards album with singer Tony Bennett. "Cheek to Cheek" debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 album chart and had some reviewers praising the power of her voice. 

Even more acclaim went to Gaga’s vocals after she performed at the 2015 Oscars, performing a medley of songs from the 1965 film “The Sound of Music” in honor of the movie’s anniversary. Viewers and critics alike praised her performance. Gaga herself said in an interview of the decision to take on the number, “The truth is, you can either nail a performance like that or butcher some of the most classic songs sung by an all-time great." (They were sung in the film by Julie Andrews.) "I took the gamble because everyone had written me off.”

In terms of her music work, it seems to have been a year of focusing on her vocal talent rather than focusing on the unusual costumes and performances that have drawn headlines in the past. “Because of the meat dresses or whatever, you forget that underneath is a super, ridiculously talented person,” songwriter Diane Warren said in an interview.

Possibly contributing to Billboard's selection of Gaga this year was the artist's activism, with Gaga having co-written a song, “Til It Happens To You,” with Warren that aimed to bring attention to incidents of sexual assault on college campuses and was released earlier this year. Gaga was praised by many for releasing the track and bringing attention to the issue. The song was called “socially conscious” and “an anthem for a movement.”