Written by Ilana Kaplan • Photography by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images • March 28, 2017
Since the release of Lady Gaga’s fifth studio album Joanne last October, listeners have had an opportunity to see a different side of her: the pop star known for her outrageous getups and theatrical live shows has focused on revealing a more personal, authentic version of herself and her voice. While elements of pop are still apparent on Joanne (“Hey Girl” and “A-YO”), the album has stripped-down rock and roll at its core.
With her epic Super Bowl halftime show, 2017 is guaranteed to be a great year for Gaga live. This August, fans will be able to catch heras she hits the road in support of Joanne. To celebrate her birthday and gear up for her summer tour, we rounded up some of Gaga’s best live moments, so far.
American Idol, 2008
By 2008, Gaga had her first number one hit with “Poker Face,” and at that point, the pop icon garnered a slew of beloved fans who appreciated her flair for choreography, costumes and booming vocals. On American Idol, Gaga revealed her ability to seamlessly transition from a stripped-down, cold open to a disco-fueled dance performance. This show was only the beginning for Gaga.
The MTV Video Music Awards, 2009
Performance art at its finest: Gaga reveals the dark, twisted side of fame at the 2009 Video Music Awards, singing “Paparazzi.” The set features a surrealist scene that ends with Gaga soaked in fake blood, hanging by a noose: she’s the victim of fame. Thanks to the theatrics, her VMA performance proves to be unforgettable.
Back in 2010, Gaga not only made sure her shows would be memorable, but her friends' shows too. Before she took to the main stage at Lollapalooza for the Monster Ball, she surprised fans by appearing onstage during Semi-Precious Weapons' set. In true Gaga fashion, nothing was off limits: she danced with lead singer (now celebrated songwriter for everyone) Justin Tranter, and then dove into the pit nearly nude where fans couldn't have been happier.
O2 Arena, 2010
Gaga had quite the Scrooge moment back in 2010 during the Monster Ball tour in London. During her greeting to the audience, Gaga discovered a Santa doll on the stage and grabbed it, "I do like Christmas,"she confessed. "But for those of you who are feeling lonely this Christmas, just to keep everyone happy…." To everyone’s surprise, Gaga bit the Santa doll's head off as she screamed. Needless to say, she probably ended up on Santa’s naughty list that year.
The Grammy Awards, 2011
Donning all gold, Gaga’s “Born This Way” performance reminds us that only she knows how to make an entrance. She arrived at the awards show inside a giant egg and proceeded to emerge from the device on stage, performing as an imagined extraterrestrial creature.
Roseland Ballroom, 2014
Before Roseland Ballroom ended its 95-year run, Mother Monster paid tribute to the New York City venue with a seven-night residency. There were no huge eggs or inflatable tentacles: instead the icon used her string of shows to honor the city she calls home. Outside a faux apartment stoop, Gaga played a raw version of “Born This Way” to open the evening. Later on, Gaga got up close and personal with her Little Monsters as she moved into a makeshift subway car. The antics weren’t what made this performance great: it was Gaga’s ability to capture the true spirit of New York City that made the final days of Roseland Ballroom truly remarkable.
BB&T Center, 2014
During the first night of the ARTPOP Ball tour in Sunrise, Florida, Gaga decided to give her Little Monsters a bit of a peep show. Following her performance of "Alejandro," she told fans that she wasn't "afraid to get a little filthy." Ripping off her wing and stripping onstage, Gaga made her costume change to the instrumental version of "Ratchet” something to remember. Although it wasn't necessarily a choreographed part of the show, it was a way for Gaga to flaunt her body confidence and connect with her listeners.
Super Bowl 50, 2016
All of America witnessed the naked grandeur that is Lady Gaga's powerhouse voice when she donned a red pantsuit to belt out "The Star Spangled Banner" at Super Bowl 50. Anyone out there who somehow still thought she was just some pop star was surprised by her sheer talent, and anyone who was already a fan loved it just like they knew they would.
The Academy Awards, 2016
In one of Gaga’s most moving performances, the pop star belts out ballad “Til It Happens To You,” a song she wrote about the consequences of sexual assault. As her voice echoes onstage, Gaga is surrounded by 52 rape survivors who bravely stand beside her. When the survivors leave the stage, Brie Larson, who played a kidnapped, sexually assaulted woman in Room, hugs each individual.
The Bitter End, 2016
Last October, Gaga brought her Dive Bar Tour back to the intimate club where everything started: The Bitter End in New York City. It was only a 30-minute show, but Gaga poured her heart out on Joanne’s "Diamond Heart," "A-YO" and bonus tracks, "Grigio Girls" and "Just Another Day." The special evening even had appearances by Mark Ronson and Hillary Lindsey. Later on, bystanders outside the venue were in for a special treat when Gaga belted “Joanne” and “Angel Down” from the rooftop. It just goes to show Gaga will never forget New York.
The Super Bowl Halftime Show, 2017
Mother Monster didn’t have to say anything about politics for her performance to be political — she let the songs speak for themselves. By singing the unifying anthem “Born This Way” and election day release “Million Reasons,” Gaga’s subtext for the current political climate of America was seen far and wide: she sent a clear message to the public while raising the nation’s spirits in just under 15 minutes.
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