Today, we celebrate the Queen of Pop Lady Gaga‘s 34th birthday.
The world first fell in love with Lady Gaga in 2008. Now, 30 million albums and 146+ million singles sold, 11 GRAMMYs, 1 Oscar, 2 Golden Globes, 1 CFDA, 2 Critic’s Choice Awards, 3 BRITs, 1 BAFTA, 14 Guinness World Records, 4 #1 Hits, 16 Top 10s, 2 Diamond singles, and 30+ billion streams later, we celebrate the visionary Queen of Pop’s 34th birthday.
While we patiently await Gaga’s sixth studio album, Chromatica, and I count the days until the Chromatica Ball @ Fenway Park, I’m sharing 34 Essential Lady Gaga performances you need to relive.
34 – “The Cure” @ The AMAs 2017
At the height of her Joanne tour, Lady Gaga invited the AMAs to telecast her performance of “The Cure” live from D.C.’s Capital One Arena. The track dropped ahead of her headlining sets at Coachella 2017 but this performance was simply one of the best because she started it off on the piano.
33 – “Bad Romance” @ X Factor UK (2009)
Returning to the X Factor stage in 2009, the ruler of absurd larger-than-life props, Lady Gaga performed in one of the largest tubs I’ve ever seen before slamming on an adjacent piano to her international hit “Bad Romance.” No one else at the time, and even by some standards now, could even conceive anything nearly as fascinating and attention-demanding.
32 – “Fashion” feat. RuPaul @ The Muppets Holiday Spectacular
Gaga and RuPaul singing “Fashion” on the Muppets holiday special was another severely underappreciated moment during the ARTPOP era. Slaaaay, slaaaaay.
31 – “Speechless” for @ Royal Variety 2009
Lady Gaga has performed twice for Queen Elizabeth II. In 2009, however, she arrived with a towering high-heeled piano and sat on a hoisted bench while singing “Speechless” in a red leather gown equally as long. Always the humble pop queen, she floated down after her performance, bowed to the Queen of the United Kingdom, and left.
30 – G.U.Y. @ Roseland Ballroom 2014
G.U.Y. is such an insane track and one of the best on ARTPOP. NYC’s historic venue, The Roseland Ballroom shut its doors permanently in 2014 but not before a 6-night residency by Lady Gaga. See its final moments here.
29 – New York, New York (Live from Sinatra 100)
Lady Gaga is truly one of a kind and this performance proves that in spades. Performing at Frank Sinatra’s 100th birthday celebration while giving off total Jo Calderone vibes, the icon sang “New York, New York” and blew the roof off.
28 – “Sexxx Dreams” at VEVO ArtRAVE 2011
Justice for “Sexxx Dreams,” one of the best songs on ARTPOP. The VEVO ArtRAVE was a MOMENT and everyone in attendance was so lucky to witness every second of it. It’s only natural that this performance hit the list.
27 – “Someone To Watch Over Me / Bad Romance” @ Today Show 2010
The queen of versatility. Gaga opens her Today Show performance with a rendition of the Gerswhin classic “Someone To Watch Over Me” before playing her own timeless classic, “Bad Romance.” What a power move.
26 – “Judas” on Saturday Night Live 2011
This may be one of the only times I’ve ever watched SNL on a SN. Lady Gaga DEVOURED this performance of “Judas” at the height of the Born This Way era and it was everything. She famously gave “glitter birth” during her other performance that night.
25 – “Just Dance” on NewNowNext Awards (2008)
Exactly two months after releasing her debut single, “Just Dance,” Lady Gaga made her debut on the NewNowNext Awards and even then she was already a star. With her signature blue lightning bolt and disco stick in-hand, Gaga closed the show with an unforgettable first TV performance. Space Cowboy was on the decks and threw down a house-infused remix that Gaga danced to before a huge confetti-filled ending and roaring applause.
24 – “Brown Eyes” on Jonathan Ross 2010
The dress. The song. The pink and yellow wig. Lady Gaga’s performance of “Brown Eyes” on The Jonathan Ross Show is simply one of the best moments of The Fame Monster era. Who else had the audio downloaded on their iPods?
23 – “Perfect Illusion/Joanne” – Live in Japan 2016
Vocally, this is by far one of the most beautiful and moving renditions of “Perfect Illusion,” the lead single off Joanne. The performance is followed by the album’s title track and it really is just the icing on the cake for this performance.
22 – “The Edge of Glory” on The Howard Stern Show (2011)
“The Edge of Glory” is such a hard song to sing and Gaga nails it every time. This performance on Howard Stern, however, is simply otherworldly and one of the best renditions on the internet. Gaga really is at her best while on the piano.
21 – “Sinner’s Prayer” @ Bud Light Dive Bar Tour – Nashville
“Sinner’s Prayer” is one of the best songs on Joanne and Nashville got a first taste of the track during the Bud Light Dive Bar Tour in 2016. Gaga performed the track in her pink cowgirl hat and it was a special moment not many got to see.
20. “Monster / Bad Romance / Speechless” – Oprah 2010
The Oprah Show will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the most-viewed and loved talk shows in history. Not only did Gaga perform “Monster” on the show, but she then went all out trying to smash the windshield of a taxi cab on stage while Oprah herself danced along to “Bad Romance.” Iconic TV moments that will never happen again for any artist.
19 – “National Anthem / Star-Spangled Banner” @ Super Bowl 50
Lady Gaga’s soulful rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner was a defining moment in the star’s career. Her versatility and range was on full display for 102 million viewers and she nailed it. In an amazing red Gucci suit no less.
18 – “The Edge of Glory” on American Idol (2011)
Some viewers thought this performance was too hot for pre-9pm television, and for that reason alone, Lady Gaga’s American Idol performance of “The Edge of Glory” lands on this list. Also, the queen of dramatic stage dives ended her performance with an epic jump. (She’d been practicing for the Super Bowl for years and we didn’t even notice).
17 – Scheiße w/ fan @ Toyota Center (2013)
Houston 2013. Gaga invites a superfan on stage during “Scheiße” and the rest is Little Monster history.
16 – “Shallow” w/ Bradley Cooper @ The Oscars (2019)
Taking the stage alongside co-star and director Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga performed “Shallow,” the most awarded song in history, in a 128-carat Tiffany necklace. Following the performance and her first Oscar for “Best Original Song,” the song from A Star Is Born jumped twenty-one spots to notch its first week at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The movie’s soundtrack achieved its fourth non-consecutive week atop the Billboard 200 that week.
15 – Marry The Night on X Factor UK (2011)
Gaga’s “Marry The Night” performance on The X Factor UK turned heads because her outfit lacked one. Appearing with a decapitated version of herself atop her shoulders, the pop star stunned while vocally slaying the night. Also, The X Factor always had the best artist intros on TV.
14 – “Gypsy” @ The AMPYA Moment (2013)
Donning a mustache, Gaga performed a touching cut of ARTPOP‘s “Gypsy” while in Germany. Vocally, it’s one of the best renditions of the track – as evidenced by the tears rolling down the audience’s face. Justice for ARTPOP, NOW.
13 – “Hair” @ iHeart Radio Festival 2011
It’s no secret Gaga loves her fans. In 2011, the world lost a very special Little Monster, Jamey Rodemeyer. In his memory, Gaga played “Hair,” a song about identity and self-love, and it’s easily one of the most special performances of the song.
12 – 2017 Halftime Show @ Super Bowl LI
The second time football was played at a Lady Gaga concert was in 2017. It will go down in history as one of the best Super Bowl halftime performances of all time. After starting atop Houston’s NRG Stadium, Gaga jumped off the edge and played a medley of her biggest hits. Gaga’s performance of “Born This Way” marked the first time the words “gay, straight, bi, lesbian, and transgendered” were used on the NFL stage. According to Nielsen, 111.3 million people tuned in to watch Super Bowl LI.
11 – The Sound of Music Medley @ The Oscars (2015)
VOCALS. Lady Gaga lit up the 2015 Oscars with a medley of songs from The Sound of Music. Not only did she deserve the standing ovation that erupted, she then humbly introduced the legendary Julie Andrews like a true queen.
10 – “Marry The Night” @ MTV EMAs 2011
By 2011, Gaga really was already out of this world. Dancing on the moon, she performed Born This Way album opener, “Marry The Night” and the crowd ate every second. What a night.
9 – “Born This Way” @ The GRAMMYs (2011)
The only artist to ever arrive at The GRAMMYs in an egg. Gaga finally hatched on stage to perform “Born This Way” for the first time at the 53rd GRAMMYs. From the prosthetic body mods that would characterize the era to the rubber-like outfits, organ interlude, and synchronization, Gaga is simply untouchable.
8 – “Applause” @ MTV VMAs 2013
Lady Gaga’s first televised ARTPOP performance opened with a song excerpt called “The Stage.” She then performed the album’s lead single, “Applause” for the first time. The pop icon had four on-stage outfit changes while devouring dance moves and singing. To this day, ARTPOP remains ahead of its time and this performance alone is evidence of the same.
7 – “Telephone & Dance In The Dark” @ the 2010 BRITs
In 2010, Lady Gaga took the stage at The BRITs to perform a special tribute performance for fashion designer, Alexander McQueen who tragically committed suicide less than a week prior. Adorned in white lace and in front of a massive statue of herself, Gaga adlibbed a piano rendition of her hit “Telephone” before transitioning to “Dance In The Dark” from The Fame Monster. The unforgettable night was sealed with three BRIT Award wins for “International Breakthrough Act,” “International Female Solo Artist” and “International Album” for The Fame.
6 – “You & I” @ MTV VMAs 2011
She’s the queen of championing LGBT rights on the world’s main stages. Gaga performed “You and I” at the 2011 VMAs dressed in drag as Jo Calderone, a male persona she created. She referred to herself as a guy throughout the performance and had the audience, even Adele and Katy Perry, in complete shock. Legendary guitarist Brian May of Queen also joined and shredded away.
5 – “Poker Face / Your Song / Speechless” w/ Elton John @ GRAMMYs 2010
I had to dig for this grainy video (so please don’t have it removed) but Gaga opened the GRAMMYs in 2010 and it was a breathtaking moment. After singing her hit “Poker Face” and being thrown off the stage – Gaga returned with a surprise performance by Elton John. They sang his timeless track “Your Song” before transitioning into “Speechless” and it was absolutely incredible.
4 – “Bad Romance / Speechless” @ The American Music Awards 2009
The illuminated monster outfit. The shattered glass. The fiery piano during one of Gaga’s most intimate and personal songs. The world watched in awe as Gaga annihilated every performance while continuing to sonically distance herself from any other artist.
3 – “Poker Face / Paparazzi” @ MTV VMAs 2009
Do I even need to even explain this historic moment? The Phantom of the Opera-influenced medley that launched Gaga out of the pop stratosphere hit as hard as her white leather boot on the keyboard. This one performance alone had the music world shaking and it happened just months after her Much Music performance.
2 – “Poker Face / LoveGame” @ Much Music Awards 2009
From the NYC subway props and powerhouse vocals to the spikes, studs, and head-to-toe leather, the 2009 MMAs were not ready for the iconic performance unfolding before them. The pyrotechnic finish to Gaga’s first Candian televised performance? Nothing would ever compare.
1 – “Born This Way” @ MTV VMAs 2010
While the infamous meat dress, a commentary on “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” was already stirring enough controversy, Gaga then won the last VMA of the night for “Video of the Year.” Promising fans she’d announce the follow-up to The Fame and The Fame Monster if she won, a teary-eyed Gaga took the stage, announced the legendary album Born This Way and sang a snippet of its title track. In just 20 seconds, Lady Gaga produced one of the most memorable and iconic moments in pop music history.
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