Lady Gaga — she who wears raw meat in public — proves there is power in eccentricity.
The Born This Way singer moved up four spots from last year to knock Oprah Winfrey off the top of Forbes magazine’s annual list of the 100 most powerful celebrities. Compiled since 1999, the list ranks celebs based on earnings, popularity on the Internet, and mentions in newspapers and on radio. “Lady Gaga beat Oprah this year because of her social media power,” said Forbes editor Dorothy Pomerantz. “She’s the best example of how celebrities will need to manage their careers in the coming years.”
(PHOTOS: See portraits of Lady Gaga’s “Little Monsters”)
Gaga’s earnings of $90 million last year pale in comparison to Oprah’s $290 million. But she holds incomparable sway over her ever-growing fan base of “Little Monsters,” which includes 10 million Twitter followers and 32 million Facebook fans. They downloaded her recently released single “Born This Way” more than 1 million times in just five days.
Justin Bieber, who is adored by millions of teens and at least one Brazilian drug lord, debuts on the list at #3. He earned $53 million last year thanks to concerts that rake in $600,000 in gross ticket sales per night, and his concert movie “Never Say Never,” which grossed $100 million globally. Given that his hit song “Baby” has been viewed on YouTube a record 500 million times, it’s no wonder he’s ranked #2 in Forbes’ “web ranking” dimension—just behind Gaga.
Elsewhere, Britney Spears, who reached #6 last year, has fallen off the list completely, despite the recent success of her song Till the World Ends. And tiger blood connoisseur Charlie Sheen (28) has beaten Two and a Half Men producer Chuck Lorre (77). Elton John (5) and Simon Cowell (10) lead the British contingent (sorry David Beckham, you’re down at 35), while Gisele Bundchen (60) has sashayed past models Heidi Klum (83) and Kate Moss (94). Beyonce Knowles (29) sits above her husband Jay-Z (38). But the rapper is still the breadwinner in the Z-Knowles household: he earned $37 million—$2 million more than the Single Ladies singer.
(VIDEO: Watch Lady Gaga’s “Little Monsters” in Mexico)
In the world of sports, Tiger Woods (6) and LeBron James (10) lead the pack, though Kobe Bryant (14) and Roger Federer (25) aren’t too far behind. Tennis ace Serena Williams (84) edges out her sister Venus (86). NewsFeed wonders: Did coverage of Venus’ appalling Australian Open dress count for or against her in the media ranking?
Here’s the Top 10, along with their estimated earnings over the past year:
1. Lady Gaga ($90m)
2. Oprah Winfrey ($290m)
3. Justin Bieber ($53m)
4. U2 ($195m)
5. Elton John ($100m)
6. Tiger Woods ($75m)
7. Taylor Swift ($45m)
8. Bon Jovi ($125m)
9. Simon Cowell ($90m)
10. LeBron James ($48m)
(PHOTOS: See Lady Gaga and other celebs greet Queen Elizabeth)