Although Lady Gaga’s professional debut came in 2009, she was signed to a major label 4 years prior. Def Jam was that label and Gaga was dropped only 3 months after being signed, a fact that caused her to go through a wild phase of performing eccentric shows in underground clubs and experimenting with drugs. It was this period that would later inspire Just Dance according to Gaga: “If you’ve ever been so high that it’s, like, scary, the only way you can deal with it is not deal with it, so you just kind of dance through the intoxication.”
It was also around that time that Akon, already an established artist for Interscope Records with hits such as Lonely and Don’t Matter, discovered Gaga and gave her another shot at success. Her stage name was adopted from Queen’s classic hit Radio Ga Ga. Akon co-wrote Just Dance and so did producer RedOne, both namechecked in the song’s intro (the former by his nickname, Konvict). R&B singer Colby O’Donis was also featured with a guest verse.
Besides the eccentric image and lyrical themes, Lady Gaga was also noted for reintroducing synth-driven dance music into the mainstream. She draw comparisons to both the Europop movement of the 90s (Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys) and the synthpop of the 80s (Duran Duran, Pet Shop Boys). Aforementioned producer RedOne called Just Dance “essentially a rock track but with synths instead of guitars and big drums.”