Lady Gaga is a name that needs no introduction. Gaga came from humble beginnings, but has made quite a name for herself as a singer and now as an actress. A controversial, yet very iconic figure in the entertainment industry, Gaga never fails to shock and amaze all audiences.
From her wild costumes to her excellent live performances, we don’t think there’s anyone like her!
On this list, we cover some of the times that Gaga surprised everyone, perhaps incident where she amazed herself too. Keep in mind, though, that we have deliberately left out some Gaga moments that everyone already knows about, moments that have become associated with her name; like the meat dress and the sixteen-minute Met Gala entrance.
Paparazzi, And Being ‘Murdered’ On Stage
At the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, Gaga’s performance of Paparazzi began just like any of her other live performances; she wore in a flashy costume surrounded by back up dancers, and sang, “Amidst all of these flashing lights, I pray the fame won’t take my life.” And thus began a performance that was not only shocking, but it also served as a warning to pop culture.
In the 2000s in particular, the tabloids were vicious when it came to talking about celebrities (remember how closely the media followed Britney Spears’ breakdown?), and Gaga had been a victim of this herself.
Throughout the performance, Gaga had a scary edge to the way she said the word paparazzi, suggesting a more dangerous connotation. In the end, Gaga begins to bleed to death, with a very audible collective gasp from the audience, and her lifeless body is then strung up by her dancers for the world to see. Yikes.
All in all, Gaga made a very effective statement about how the media loves to destroy celebrities and female ones in particular.
A Perfume Of ‘Blood And Semen’
Gaga’s first perfume, The Fame, was hyped up a LOT before it even released. With big names attached to the project, such as Nick Knight who designed the bottle and Steven Klein who took care of the photography, the direction of the product, people were expecting a lot.
And they weren’t disappointed.
Gaga’s new fragrance was meant to be the first black perfume, which turned invisible when used. This formula was the first of its kind, and scientists put their blood and sweat into making it.
Speaking of blood, Gaga told the press that her fragrance would have traces of ‘blood and semen’ and make you smell like an ‘expensive hooker,’ Very Gaga indeed!
The perfume itself smelled like honey, nectar, and apricots, and was an immediate hit. The black did not stain clothes at all, which had been a concern many people had.
Gaga also released a second fragrance called Eau de Gaga.
The Revolutionary Message Behind Born This Way
Born This Way was the album that marked the point in Gaga’s career when she started using her fame to actively help people. The album was somewhat misunderstood at the time, despite being a major hit. We think this was because the whole project itself was way ahead of its time.
Self-care and self-acceptance are very popular in 2019, to the point where it’s considered the norm. But this hasn’t always been the case, and Born This Way’s message of being beautiful the way you are was a refreshing change from the way mainstream media wanted you to feel about yourself.
The kind of inclusivity that Gaga showcased with the album and the title track was unheard of at the time. Her message of acceptance was also adhering the LGBT community as well, at a time when gay marriage wasn’t even legal.
These are things we may take for granted, now, but back then these themes depicted in Gaga’s songs were revolutionary at the time.
Shocking as it was, we still think people should have expected this from someone like Gaga, who is bisexual and always tried to make media question her gender and sexuality.
You’ll see what we mean with our next point in particular.
You And I: Performing As A Man
You may or may not be familiar with a certain gentleman named Jo Calderone.
Mr Calderone is Gaga’s drag alter ego; a short man with big hair, a distinct accent, and a frantic smoking habit.
Gaga has mostly dressed like this man during the Born This Way era. In the You and I music video, Calderone sits atop a piano that Gaga is playing, and he is presumably her lover.
Flash forward to the MTV Video Music Awards in 2011, where Calderone takes the stage to give the audience an angry monologue of how Gaga broke up with him.
This was when the audience had expected Gaga to come on stage in a crazy costume but she amazed the audience once again, just to show you how good she is at subverting expectations.
Calderone then went on to deliver a stunning rendition of You and I, which included a cameo by Brian May of Queen. What is more, Calderone would also go on to hit on Britney Spears later on during the night.
Gaga’s alter ego is sleazy and unlikeable, and we wonder if she was trying to make a point about the kind of men she meets when she came up with this persona.
The Judas Controversy
Judas is a 2011 song by Lady Gaga, which is a part of her album Born This Way. The lyrics and music video of this song were considered sacrilegious by many Christian groups, and there was quite some backlash at the time, with Gaga being accused of being a ‘Satanist.’
Sure enough, Gaga plays Mary Magdalene to both Jesus and Judas in the music video, complete with over the top costumes and choreographed routines. The lyrics are on the same level as well (‘Jesus is my virtue, and Judas is the demon I cling to.’).
As an instance of the kind of backlash that Gaga faced, Bill Donahue, president of The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, called the song a “stunt.” He further added, “She is trying to rip off Christian idolatry to shore up her talentless, mundane and boring performances.” Ouch!
Gaga, however, never meant for the song or video to be offensive. She had a Catholic upbringing herself, and the song was never meant to be anything but art.
Despite the church backlashing the song, Judas was well-received by critics. Gaga won an award for it and some argued that the song actually uses religious imagery to address themes such as “feminism, religious patriarchy and most significantly, religious cultural hegemony.”
Singing Jazz With Tony Bennet
2013’s Artpop had mixed reviews. (we think the album is one of her best!) Some said the album was boring and more of the same old pop, whereas fans argued that the album was actually great. The problem was that Gaga was being held to a different standard than other pop stars.
In 2014, Gaga once again reinvented herself while rebelling against herself at the same time; as a response to Artpop’s reception. Gaga recorded a Jazz (that’s right, Jazz) album with none other than Tony Bennett himself, called Cheek to Cheek. Gaga also recorded some other duets with Bennett in 2013, such as The Lady is a Tramp.
Gaga’s Jazz persona was a refreshing change in her pop extravagance. “It’s me rebelling against my own pop music,” she told press upon its release. And sure enough, Gaga singing cheek to cheek (pun intended) with Bennett, dressed in ball gowns, giant curly hair, which only furthers her rebellion against her old costumed, backup dance performances.
Gaga’s jazz singing also sharply contrasts her auto-tuned and electropop songs. Gaga claims that Bennett was one of Gaga’s icons growing up, and singing his music helped her develop her voice.
The Countess On American Horror Story
In 2015, Gaga made her official acting debut on season five of anthropology series, American Horror Story. Gaga plays the Countess, a blood-drinking, wildly sexual diva that rules the motel that the season features.
The Countess is cold, beautiful, and powerful. And Gaga seems right at home with AHS’s horror aesthetic.
For a debut, Gaga’s performance was spectacular. Many people thought that it just came naturally to her because she seemed so similar to the Countess. But Gaga claims this wasn’t the case.
“I find it funny that people wonder if that’s just the way that I really am, so this was very easy for me to just kind of walk in here with my blonde hair on and just be a bitch,” she said, adding that it actually isn’t easy or comfortable to play such a part.
It’s clear that, just like with all her projects, Gaga put a lot of effort into not only playing this role but preparing for it was just as challenging. Gaga says she studied serial killers in films such as Psycho’s Norman Bates and The Silence of the Lambs’ Hannibal Lecter as preparation. Now that’s what we call commitment.
Setting Up Her Personal Red Carpet
Lady Gaga could not attend the 2017 American Music Awards because she was on tour at the time. But Gaga is the queen of extra, and such a minor inconvenience could never stop her. Not one to disappoint, Gaga set up her very own red carpet for the AMAs. Yes, you heard us right.
Before her show in Washington DC, Gaga had a red carpet complete with the AMAs’ background set up for herself, and she posted pictures of herself posing on it on Instagram. And we must say, she never looked better!
Gaga wore a black dress that hugged her curves and showed off her tattoos, complete with nine-inch platform heels. Her hair and makeup had a metallic touch; coppery-gold curls and bronze metallic makeup.
She even changed into a second black and white dress for some of the pictures (foreshadowing the Met Gala, much?).
The Super Bowl Halftime Show
Lady Gaga’s 2017 Super Bowl Halftime performance has been called one of her most confrontational moves yet. At a place where people expected something like the meat dress or the Grammy egg, Gaga did the unexpected; she spent fifteen minutes being Lady Gaga in all her glory.
Gaga sang splendidly live, as always, and managed to change into her costumes (very subtly, just a couple of details at a time), danced along with the music, changed stages and play the piano. Too much? We don’t think so. A lesser artist couldn’t have pulled it off. But Gaga always can!
Gaga switched between fast-paced, older hits, and slowed down recent songs like Million Reasons.
Her performance remained consistent. We must say, singing Born This Way in a stadium that has Mike Pence in attendance is quite the statement. You go, girl!
The Victoria’s Secret Show
Victoria’s Secret runway shows traditionally have a few artists performing live as the models strut down the runway. The artists each time are different, as well as the genres; you’ll see everything from Taylor Swift to Fall Out Boy on that stage. Lady Gaga, of course, could not be left out.
2016’s VS show had big names like Bella and Gigi Hadid, Adriana Lima, and Kendall Jenner, but it was Gaga who stole the show.
Beginning with a dramatic entrance (fog and all), she sang Million Reasons in a sheer, body tight dress. Gaga held hands and walked with some of the models along the catwalk.
Next, she performed A-Yo and John Wayne in a sequined, metallic bodysuit, making an outfit change between the songs. On stage. Wow!
In the end, before John Wayne came to a close, Gaga put on a leather jacket that had huge wings pop out, and proceeded to strut down the runway with no other than Joan Smalls.
We think it’s safe to say that on that night, it was Gaga who was everyone’s favorite angel.
The Badly Received Bowie Tribute
The legendary artist and pop culture icon David Bowie saddened the world with his 2016 sudden passing. Gaga was amongst the many artists’ tributes to Bowie, but Gaga’s one was very, well, Gaga-like!
Lady Gaga was dressed in many of Bowie’s characters and performed live covers of his songs. This tribute was not well received and it was even deemed as offensive by some. Even Bowie’s son called Gaga out.
While Gaga may have a strong voice and a shapeshifting ability, as Bowie has, her tribute did not “do either artist justice,” as the Guardian puts it.
Gaga sang some of Bowie’s hits from the 70s and 80s, but nothing from his farewell album Blackstar. She changed outfits on stage, as always, sang well, and played the piano. But something wasn’t quite right.
People felt that Gaga was reducing Bowie to nothing but a wildly costumed spectacle. Gaga was hurt by the criticism, and she was understandably so.
We think that her tribute was well-intentioned, but it might have been better if she had performed a Bowie song and nothing more, as her voice and singing abilities would have been enough.
The Audrey Hepburn Necklace
Lady Gaga is no stranger to making a statement on the red carpet, but in the past, she has done this by wearing exaggerated or bizarre clothing or making grand entrances. This year at the Oscars, however, it was not Gaga’s clothing that caught everyone’s attention.
The black Alexander McQueen gown, completed the outfit with elbow-length gloves and it was certainly gorgeous, but it was Gaga’s accessories that were more noteworthy; her necklace to be exact. Gaga wore the Tiffany diamond on a string of smaller diamonds.
In case you’re not familiar with the Tiffany diamond, it is a 128.54-carat yellow diamond owned by Tiffany and Co. The diamond is worth about thirty million dollars (for reference, A Star Is Born took about thirty-six million dollars to make!). The diamond has only been worn twice before, despite having been discovered in 1877.
It was first worn by Mrs Sheldon Whitehouse at the Tiffany Ball in 1957. Before Gaga, it was Audrey Hepburn who wore the diamond on a different necklace when promoting Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1962.
Record-Setting Awards In 2019
Lady Gaga set the ultimate record this year by winning five (that’s right, FIVE) major awards in ONE award season. This makes her the first woman in the history of Hollywood to achieve something like this. Wow.
We might need a minute just to take this in!
“If you have a dream, fight for it,” Gaga said during her tearful Oscar acceptance speech. And she certainly has fought for it. It began with the Golden Globes, where Gaga won an award for ‘Best Original Song’ for Shallow, along with her three co-writers.
Most of Gaga’s awards were for Shallow, and we certainly believe she deserves them! Next Gaga won a Critic’s Choice award for ‘Best Actress,’ although this was a tie with Glenn Close.
Gaga then went on to win three Grammys out of her five nominations, one of which was for Shallow as well. Gaga also performed the song solo that night as Bradley Cooper attended the BAFTAs.
Speaking of which, Gaga also won a BAFTA along with Cooper and her co-writers for ‘Best Film Music.
Gaga’s Costume Museum
Haus of Gaga is a museum in Las Vegas that is a must-see place for Lady Gaga fans. Gaga opened the museum this year, and it is possibly the first of its kind. Located at Park MGM, the museum has free admission and remains open till 8 pm every night.
Sometimes, in the case of Gaga performing, the museum stays open until midnight.
Haus of Gaga displays all the bizarre and iconic costumes that Gaga has worn throughout the years, including the bodysuit she worn during her 2009 Paparazzi performance, as well as many other outfits, such as the outfit she wore during her Super Bowl performance.
Some of these costumes will be auctioned in the future, in the attempt of raising money for Gaga’s charity called Born This Way Foundation.
Additionally, the museum includes some miscellaneous Gaga memorabilia, such as the lyric sheet for I’ll Never Love Again that is written by Cooper’s character in A Star Is Born, and the guitar string ring that Gaga’s character wears in the movie.
Gaga’s Makeup Line
As we can all see very clearly now, Gaga has no intention of slowing down. 2019 has been a big year for her and we don’t think she has any intention of stopping. Just recently, Gaga unveiled her makeup line that she has been working on for years, called Haus Laboratories, done in collaboration with her longtime friend and makeup artist, Sarah Tanno.
Gaga gave us an exciting first look at her products on Instagram. For now, the line is limited to lip liners (RIP Lip Liner), lip glosses (Le Riot Lip Gloss), and a liquid to powder eyeshadow (Glam Attack). Each product has six shades, but they are also available in sets of two and three. All the products promise high impact, which is just what you’d expect from Gaga.
Now, these products are only available for pre-order, for now, and can be ordered via Amazon Prime. However, the pre-orders themselves have been enough to make most of her products best sellers in their own categories.
The demand has been so great that most orders aren’t expected to be received until September when the brand officially launches.