In the video Lady Gaga sings about Alejandro because she is pining for the love of her gay friend. Alejandro is a gay man and he is not interested in Lady Gaga no matter how many times she calls him.
The Fame Ball Tour
"LoveGame" is a song by American recording artist Lady Gaga from her debut album, The Fame (2008). Produced by RedOne, the track was released as the album's third single in North America and Europe and the fourth single in Australia, New Zealand and Sweden after "Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)". "LoveGame" was also released as the fourth single in the United Kingdom, after "Paparazzi".
The song was critically appreciated for its catchy tune and the "I wanna take a ride on your disco stick" hook. Gaga had explained that the term 'disco stick' is a euphemism for a penis and was inspired by her sexual attraction with a stranger at a night club. Musically carrying the vibe of underground New York discos, the song talks about love, fame and sexuality which was the central theme of the album. "LoveGame" has charted within the top ten in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and other European countries. It became Gaga's third consecutive number-one song on Billboards Pop Songs chart.
The New York underground inspired music video for the song, portrayed Gaga dancing through an underground subway station and in a parking lot. The music video was a tribute by Gaga to the New York lifestyle including its glamour, fans and fashion. The diamond like coating on her body is reminiscent of Britney Spears' video of her hit single "Toxic". The video has several qualities of Michael Jackson's "Bad" music video, which also took place in a subway station. In Australia, the music video was banned from being aired at the PG rated time slots because of its sexual content. "LoveGame" has been performed live a number of times by Gaga, including her first headlining The Fame Ball and Monster Ball tours, where she performed it while holding her "trademark" disco stick in one hand.
"LoveGame" was written by Lady Gaga and RedOne who also produced the track. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Gaga explained the meaning of the song and her inspiration behind it, especially for the line "Let's have some fun this beat is sick / I wanna take a ride on your disco stick". She said,
"It's another of my very thoughtful metaphors for a cock. I was at a nightclub, and I had quite a sexual crush on somebody, and I said to them, 'I wanna ride on your disco stick'. The next day, I was in the studio, and I wrote the song in about four minutes. When I play the song live, I have an actual stick — it looks like a giant rock-candy pleasuring tool — that lights up.
While commenting in regards to the lyrical content of the song "LoveGame," on Australian talk show Rove, Gaga said that she is unrepentant about her "disco stick" metaphor, though it led to a banning of the music video on Network Ten in Australia. She further said,
"I don't think disco stick is subtle. It's very clear what that lyric is all about. If anything, I happen to think people are frivolously hard on me. A lot of youth-oriented pop music is much racier than mine. 'Throw me on the floor, take off my clothes, give it to me, baby, let's dirty dance'. All these records are so provocative, but it's the context of what I'm doing that makes people concerned.[...] It's the music in relation to the visual, in relation to the way I move and the way I articulate the lyrics. But if I wanted to make music to make people sing 'la di da' that would be very boring."
Musically "LoveGame" is an uptempo electropop and dance-pop song. According to Kerri Mason of Billboard, the composition "carry the pleather-and-sequins vibe of the downtown New York scene out of the underground and onto the FM dial without losing its smut and sass." "LoveGame" has received a number of remix treatments, one of which featured rocker Marilyn Manson in the vocals. Gaga explained that the lyrics of "LoveGame" were very clear about what the song is all about. She thought that the lyrics portrayed a powerful message about love, fame and sexuality which was the central theme of her album The Fame.
Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine commented that the song has cheap lyrics and it painfully enunciates without any resemblance of actual sex appeal. About.com reviewer Ben Norman said that "'LoveGame' continues the siege war tactical beats of previous single 'Just Dance' and assaulting us with clever lyrics like, 'Let's have some fun/This beat is sick/I wanna take a ride on your disco stick.'" The Phoenix music editor Daniel Brockman said that "Gaga ups the ante in terms of catchy song writing and sheer high-in-the-club-banging-to-the-beat abandon." He also commented on the lyrics saying that "'Let’s have some fun, this beat is sick/I wanna take a ride on your disco stick' might be the trashiest-yet-awesomest refrain I’ve heard on a major-label record this year." While reviewing The Fame, BBC said that the song sounded robotic in the line "I wanna take a ride on your disco stick". But it was deemed as brilliant as well as utterly cold which "leaves us awarding Gaga the yearbook title of 'pop star most likely to kill'."
Ben Hogwood from MusicOMH.com declared the song as "top notch, diamond-encrusted pop" along with other tracks like "Starstruck" and "Paparazzi" but commented that the lyrics were sometimes odd especially the statement, "I'm on a mission, and it involves some heavy touchin'." Sarah Rodman of The Boston Globe said that the song "has a gutter level quippage with sinuous moves." Priya Elan from The Times was not impressed with the song and called it calculated. Billboard music editor Chris Williams gave the song a positive review, commenting that "It has all the winning ingredients of its predecessors: a radio-friendly, club/electropop feel; a provocative, yet silly enough catchphrase and hook ("Let's have some fun, this beat is sick/I wanna take a ride on your disco stick"); and a dash of '80s synth magic, so the adults can play along. On 'LoveGame' Gaga is in it to win it."
The song debuted on the Hot 100Billboard at number ninety-six for the issue dated April 4, 2009 but fell off the chart the following week. After six weeks it reached position six by selling 107,000 digital downloads and becoming the weeks greatest digital gainer. Two weeks from that, "LoveGame" reached a peak of position five on the chart. The song has reached number one on the Hot Dance Club Songs and became Gaga's third number one song on the Pop Songs chart. It has sold 2.5 million paid digital downloads in the United States as of June 2012 according to Nielsen Soundscan. In Canada, the song debuted on the Canadian Hot 100 at number sixty-eight before its official release as a single. Its second appearance was on the chart of January 10, 2009 at number eighty-seven. Subsequently, "LoveGame" climbed to a peak of five. After fluctuating down the chart for a few weeks "LoveGame" reached a new peak of two on the chart. The song was certified two times platinum by the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) in June 2009, for sales of 80,000 paid digital downloads.
In Australia, the song debuted at number ninety-two, and then moved up the charts to forty-one the next week. On the issue dated May 11, 2009, the song peaked at number four becoming Gaga's third top five single there. On the issue dated July 6, 2009, the song was certified platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) for shipment of 70,000 copies of the single. In New Zealand, the song debuted at number thirty-six and moved up to a peak of twelve. On the issue dated March 6, 2009 the song entered the Irish Singles Chart at number forty-nine. It peaked at number thirty. It also debuted at number nineteen in Finland and has since moved to a peak of twelve.
In early 2009, the song charted on the UK Singles Chart and peaked at number eighty-nine based on downloads only. It re-entered the chart at number sixty-four after the release of the single was announced, and peaked at nineteen, becoming her lowest-charting single in the UK. In the Netherlands the song debuted at twenty-eight and has peaked at five. The song also debuted at number six in France and moved to five the next week. It debuted at numbers nineteen and thirty-eight on the Belgian Flanders and Wallonia charts respectively. In Flanders it has reached a peak of six. In Wallonia it moved to a peak of five. The song has also reached seven on Billboards European Hot 100 Singles.
"This is all part of a movement. My artistry is much deeper than fashion or anything like that. I love pop music, and I want to bring it back. [...] People are truly hungry for this. They generally miss the '90s and the superfans flooding Times Square, crying and wailing and doing anything to see the fingernail of a star. I want that back, and [the 'LoveGame' video] is just another move towards that. 'LoveGame' is a genuine New York lifestyle video. It's got that feeling of 'gay, black New York,' of inclusion and glamour," [...] I wanted to really bring forth the girl that I was four years ago, and I wanted to put it in the setting of the underground subway. I worked with Joseph Kahn, and he did an amazing job. He didn't just capture the fashion; he captured the artist."
The music video of "LoveGame" was directed by Joseph Kahn and premiered on March 23, 2009, in Australia, while in the UK it premiered on August 13, 2009, at 7pm on 4Music. The video mainly takes place in a subway station. Several qualities of the video are reminiscent to Michael Jackson's "Bad" music video, which also took place in a subway station. Although the video was shot in Los Angeles in January 2009 alongside with the music video for "Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)", it has a New York City setting. Gaga spoke to Entertainment Weekly during the Behind the Scenes of the shoot regarding what she thought about the video and the development of it including the new creative measures undertaken:
"I wanted to have that big giant dance video moment, I wanted it to be plastic, beautiful, gorgeous, sweaty, tar on the floor, bad-ass boys, but when you got close, the look in everybody's eyes was fucking honest and scary. [...] The whole idea behind the subway 'Bad' thing is that me and my friends from New York, we're all, like, the dopiest fucking artists,[...] Best designers, performance artists, dancers. The dancers in the video...those are not hot L.A. people that you see in everybody's video. Those are kids who don't get cast, because they're too fucking real. [...] I love the imagery of a downtown, bad-ass kid walking down the street with his buddies, grabbing a pair of pliers, and making a pair of sunglasses out of a fence on the street, [...] I thought that imagery was so real, and it shows that no matter who you are, or where you come from, or how much money you have in your pocket, you’re nothing without your ideas. Your ideas are all you have. The opening of the video is me with this chain link hood and these intense glasses. They look so hard. It looks like I plied them right out of the fence and put them on my face."
The video starts with the heading "Streamline presents" and three men moving through Times Square. They open a man-hole cover on which "Haus of Gaga" is written. Gaga is then shown naked with blue and purple paint and glitter on her body, frolicking with two men who have the words "Love" and "Fame" shaved into their heads. The scene shifts to a subway where Gaga starts singing in a grey-white leotard with a hood. She carries her trademark 'disco stick' and wears chain-linked glasses. The chorus starts with Gaga and her dancers progressing through the subway and dancing down a staircase. Her trademark dogs, two harlequin Great Danes, are also shown on top of the staircase. The video shifts to a train where the second verse takes place amidst choreographed dance routines and Gaga wearing a black jacket. The group move on to a car-park. Gaga is then shown with the two men again and enters a ticket booth with an inspector. This next scene shows Gaga in makeshift kissing and caressing. As the camera pans from right to left the inspector changes from a man to woman in each frame. The final scene incorporates Gaga in a choreographed dance routine with her crew of backup dancers. The video comes to an end as Gaga and her dancers hold their groins as they gesture towards the camera.
The music video was censored in many countries after its release in 2009. The video faced censorship troubles in Australia where it was rated AV18+ by Network Ten due to suggestive video footage involving bondage and sexual acts. The channel demanded to be provided with an edited version of the video which would not violate censorship rules. Video Hits refused to air the video in its G and PG rated time slots. They cited "numerous sexual references both visually and lyrically" as the reason they could not create a child-friendly edit without bleeping the repeated hook "I wanna take a ride on your disco stick". Australian programs like Rage and cable networks Channel V and MTV aired the video in its original form. The video also faced a ban from MTV Arabia citing the same reason as Australia. Since it was very rare to ban videos in MTV, head of MTV Arabia Samer al Marzouki commented, "We represent the young generation’s mentality and culture so we can’t play something that conflicts with that. If they can’t watch something comfortably with their brother, sisters or friends then we will not play it." In the US, VH1 and MTV played an edited version that removed almost all scenes of Gaga naked, and blurred the label on a bottle of alcohol one of the dancers holds. No lyrics were changed.
Gaga performed "LoveGame" live on the UK program The Album Chart Show on February 14, 2009 as promotion for The Fame. On March 20, 2009, the song performed live at the AOL Sessions along with Gaga's other singles such as "Just Dance", "Paparazzi", "Beautiful, Dirty, Rich" and an acoustic version of "Poker Face". An acoustic version was performed at the MTV Sessions in January. The song was a major part of Gaga’s performance in her first headlining Fame Ball tour as the second number of the setlist and was performed alongside "Starstruck". Gaga wore a silver and black short skirt like a tutu shaped like a peplum with a triangular piece set on her right breast and high heeled ultra spike shoes. Gaga's hair was made an austere blond bob and she wore black sunglasses. She was surrounded by her dancers holding plates which were encrusted with crystals and completely hid them. The plates were angled similar to the dress she wore. As the performance of the opening number "Paparazzi" ended, the plates opened up and Gaga started singing the song "Starstruck" while standing on the platform. Pre-recorded music and mixing were provided in the background by DJ Space Cowboy. Gaga also brought out her "trademark" disco stick for the performance of "LoveGame". It ended with Gaga doing a dance routine for the last chorus and coming down to the front of the stage and saying the line "People say some really terrible things about me, [...] I've thought about it, and they're mostly true."
On May 17, 2009, Gaga performed the song live on Australian talk show, Rove while wearing a one-legged black leotard and a blond bob haircut similar to that of her Fame Ball tour performance. She also performed the song at the season finale of the American Dancing with the Stars season eight. A remixed version of "Poker Face" and "LoveGame" was performed at the 2009 MuchMusic Video Awards, during the indoor-outdoor streetside show. The performance, which included Gaga being trapped in a fake subway car surrounded by fake police officers, was billed as a tribute to New York City. Gaga wore a Madonna inspired bustier with pyrotechnics which went off at the end. On September 8, 2009, Gaga performed the song live at the season seven premiere of The Ellen DeGeneres Show. A version featuring a full live band was performed by Gaga at the thirty-fifth season of American comedy show Saturday Night Live, while wearing a big gyroscope-like contraption that rotated around her. It was also performed on Gaga's The Monster Ball Tour. Gaga wore an off-white costume with skeletal lighted headgear and breastplates shaped like ribs. A digital background of flames and mechanical fog was featured, with the dancers also wearing skeletal headgear. The intro of the song featured a number of psychedelic fractal images on the backdrops, as the dancers writhed on stage. The video portrayed a rave-like haired Gaga purging green liquid on the white dress of a demure looking Gaga. On the revamped shows, she performed the song during the second act. During the performance she and her dancers emerge from a New York City subway car and perform a dance routine. While wearing a revealing plastic dress and an exaggerated nun's habit, Gaga bears her infamous "disco stick", except this time around the prop has been modified to look more like an Olympic style torch. The performance incorporates the Chew Fu remix of the song which commences at the end after Gaga screams to the audience "now dance you mother fuckers!" The song was also included on the set list of the 2012 Born This Way Ball Tour. The song was shortened and had Gaga performing it in a clear bath tub while wearing a Statue of Liberty styled head piece.
Credits adapted from The Fame album liner notes.
The Fame Ball Tour was the debut concert tour by American recording artist Lady Gaga, in support of her debut studio album The Fame (2008). North American shows began in March, followed by dates in Oceania and a solo trek through Europe. Dates in Asia soon followed, as well as two performances at England's V Festival and two shows in North America that had been postponed from April. Gaga described the tour as a traveling museum show incorporating artist Andy Warhol's pop-performance art concept. Tickets were distributed for charity also. Alternate versions of the show with minimal variations were planned by Gaga to accommodate different venues.
The show consisted of four segments, with each segment being followed by a video interlude to the next segment, and it ended with an encore. The set list consisted of songs from her debut album only. Gaga appeared on the stage in new costumes including an innovative dress made entirely of bubbles and premiered an unreleased song called "Future Love". An alternate set list with minor changes were performed after the first North American leg of the tour. The show has received positive critical appreciation with critics complimenting her vocal clarity and fashion sense as well as her ability to pull off theatrics like a professional artist.
The tour was officially announced on January 12, 2009 through Gaga's official MySpace page. It was her first headlining tour; she has previously served as opening act for New Kids on the Block's New Kids on the Block: Live tour, as well as The Pussycat Dolls' World Domination Tour. Gaga stated, "I consider what I do to be more of an Andy Warhol concept: pop performance art, multimedia, fashion, technology, video, film. And it's all coming together, and it's going to be traveling museum show." Gaga started planning for the show while on the tour with The Pussycat Dolls. In an interview with MTV News, she described the tour as,
"It's not really a tour, it's more of a traveling party. I want it to be an entire experience from [the] minute you walk in [the] front door to [the] minute I begin to sing. And when it's all over, everyone's going to press rewind and relive it again. [...] It's going to be as if you're walking into New York circa 1974: There's an art installation in the lobby, a DJ spinning your favorite records in the main room, and then the most haunting performance that you've ever seen on the stage. [...] I'm on the phone every minute of every day, talking to people, being creative, planning this Ball, and my tour manager is constantly saying, 'Come on, we have to go, we've got to go right now,' [...] But to me, the Ball is so important. I want so much to make every depression dollar that everyone spends on my show worth it. And, yeah, I'm paying a lot for it — out of my own pocket. But that's OK. I just don't care about money."
Gaga prepared three versions of her show to cater to different sizes of the venues she played. In an interview with Billboard she said,
"I am so mental and sleepless and excited for this tour, [...] This is so different than anything you've seen from me in the past year. What's fantastic about [the show] was I was able to plan it while I was on another tour that was on a much smaller scale, opening for the Dolls. This is going to be, like, the ultimate creative orgasm for me 'cause I'm ready to move on. I'm not restricted to a certain structure for my show anymore. No limitations. I'm free. [...] I want to have a clear schedule of the dimensions for each venue so that we can properly execute all the technology and visuals. I need to mentally prepare days in advance if things are going to be taken out; otherwise, I won't have a good show...Every show's gonna be an A show by the time I'm done screaming at everyone – 'Hang it! Hang everything! Find a place to hang it!' That's gonna be my motto."
The set list consisted of songs from her debut album mainly, but some new songs like "Fashion" from the Confessions of a Shopaholic soundtrack were also considered. In May, during an interview with Edmonton Sun Gaga announced that the tour would continue through European festivals in summer. She also declared plans for a bigger North American tour including Canada. Gaga explained that the show is supposed to be much bigger than the previous version. She said, "Oh, you have no idea, [...] The tour that we're about to announce is such a dream that I have to pinch myself almost every day to remind myself that it's happening."
The show is mainly divided into four parts with the last part being the encore. The main show began with a video introduction called "The Heart" where Gaga appeared as alter-ego Candy Warhol. She was shown dressing up and displayed the symbol of a pink heart on her t-shirt and said "My name is Lady Gaga, and this is my Haus". The video was projected on a giant screen in front of the stage. As the video approached towards the end, a countdown from ten to one happened, Gaga's face was shown wearing the video sunglasses, and flames engulfed the screen as it dropped. Gaga appeared in the middle of the stage being surrounded by her dancers holding glass encrusted plates which camouflage them. She wore a futuristic black dress in geometric patterns with a triangular piece on her right breast and peplum. DJ Space Cowboy was present at a corner, playing the backing music. Gaga came out in the center as the plates rolled around and started singing "Paparazzi". The performance ends with continuous clicking of the camera. Gaga comes to the top of the pillar and sings a combination of "Starstruck" and "LoveGame" as she is joined by her dancers in tracks and jackets and hands Gaga her trademark disco stick. She said that she "travelled the whole world, and when I come home, I can still smell the stench of greed," and sang "Beautiful, Dirty, Rich". This leads to the end of the first part wherein a video introduction called "The Brain" starts with Gaga appearing again as Candy Warhol and brushing her hair. After the video ends, Gaga appears on the stage in a black and white leotard with high-pointed "puff" shoulders and lightning shaped symbols, while riding on a similarly colored vespa. She then starts singing "Money Honey". This is followed by the performance of "Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)" and "The Fame", both accompanied by hand-waiving and Gaga wore a hat made of toppled dominoes.
Gaga then leaves the stage only to appear shortly after in a dress completely made of plastic bubbles. She sits in front of a glass piano and starts singing a new song called "Future Love" whose lyrics referenced far-off galaxies, mechanical hearts and constellations. She was surrounded by a glowing mannequin while singing the song. "Future Love" was followed by a piano version of "Poker Face". She sometimes placed her leg on the piano and even played it with her stilettos. The stage had a blue setting amidst mechanical cloudings. Gaga left for a costume change as the third video interlude titled The Face starts. After the video ended, she then came on the stage wearing a tutu shaped dress with pointed shoulder pads and peplum. Her dancers were clad in Louis Vuitton Steven Sprouse printed trousers which matched Gaga's shoes. The backdrop changed to show blinking disco lights and Gaga stood in the center wearing her video sunglasses which display the line "Pop Music Will Never Be Low Brow". A remix of the intro for "Just Dance" started and Gaga was joined by her dancers on stage. The encore of the tour consisted of "Boys, Boys, Boys" and the original version of "Poker Face". Gaga was dressed in a khaki leotard embellished with crystals. She wore an admiral's cap and gloves on her hands, both were decorated with the word Gaga on them.
Since the Fame Ball show in Auckland, New Zealand, Gaga performed a different setlist during the rest of the tour, involving outfit changes as well. "Paparazzi", "LoveGame", and "Beautiful, Dirty, Rich" were performed in a similar, this time tinfoil tutu with a triangular piece. "The Fame" and "Money Honey" was then followed by "Boys Boys Boys" – all three songs were performed in a glittering silver leotard with small pointy wings, riding a similarly colored vespa. "Just Dance" and "Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)" were performed in the yellow dress from the American leg of the tour. After performing "Brown Eyes" (replacing "Future Love") and "Poker Face" on the piano, Gaga closed the show with the album version of "Poker Face", wearing a nude corseted leotard embelished with crystals.
Whitney Pastorek from Entertainment Weekly gave a mixed review of the concert saying, "Her onstage banter was at times a bit silly ("I travel the whole world, and when I come home, I can still smell the stench of greed") and the visuals occasionally lacking in coherent theme, but her voice was strong and refreshingly free of overbearing tracking vocals. For all her cocky bluster, perhaps the most undeniable aspect of GaGa's talent is this: The girl can, and does, sing." The show was described to be a "sartorial experimentation that it made Rocky Horror look like cotillion. One presumed the Lady approved – and somewhere, to be sure, Andy Warhol stirred in his grave." Sheri Linden from Yahoo! gave a positive review of the concert saying "Gaga's first theater tour is a hot ticket – and the Lady did not disappoint. Borrowing from Madonna, Grace Jones, David Bowie and Daryl Hannah's "Blade Runner" replicant, Gaga put on a compelling show revolving around her mysterious persona, a trio of leather-jacketed dancers, multiple costume changes and props and a lone DJ providing musical accompaniment." Christopher Muther from The Boston Globe reviewed the concert in House of Blues and said "The combination of song and spectacle was crowd-pleasing and exhilarating. Her club-ready songs were delivered by a woman who is clearly studied, intelligent, and talented." Lynn Saxberg from Ottawa Citizen gave a positive review of the concert at Bronson Centre in Ottawa and said, "Accompanied by a DJ who also played a funky electric guitar, the curvy dynamo (Gaga and Space Cowboy) fronted one of wildest spectacles ever mounted at Bronson Centre, an action-packed circus of sound, lights, video images, fog and choreography. Though heavy on theatrics, there was no skimping on the music." She also commented on Gaga's fashion sense and style in her costumes by saying, "In an hour, Gaga proved her star power by packing in all her hits, displaying influences that ranged from Motown to 80s pop, and exhibiting a fearless fashion sense in several costume changes, none of which covered her bum."
Andy Downing from Chicago Tribune was impressed by the show at House of Blues and said "The work is paying off. Just weeks into her first nationwide headlining tour, the 22-year-old New Yorker [...] already commands the stage like a seasoned pro." Jill Menze from Billboard also gave a positive review for the performance and complimented songs like "Just Dance", LoveGame", Poker Face", "Boys, Boys, Boys" and the fame obsessed "Paparazzi". The reviewer also said that "[From] her chart success, Lady Gaga has proven herself to be an of-the-moment pop sensation. Dig deeper, and it’s clear she’s versatile and talented enough to have staying power." Mikel Wood from Rolling Stone also gave a positive review saying "The tongue-in-cheek tabloid-victim shtick that provides some laughs on The Fame grew somewhat tiresome at the Wiltern, especially when the singer started spewing half-baked media-studies nonsense like, 'Some say Lady Gaga is a lie, and they’re right: I am a lie, and every day I kill to make it true.' Fortunately, this is a woman who knows how to lighten a mood: Within 10 minutes or so, she’d donned a flesh-colored leotard and a bedazzled admiral’s cap and was rhyming 'boys in cars' with 'buy us drinks in bars." On March 13, 2009 Gaga was presented with a plaque from the Recording Industry Association of America by social blogger Perez Hilton commemorating three million sales of her debut single "Just Dance", during her performance at the Wiltern Theatre. This show was also attended by rapper Kanye West. Craig Rosen from The Hollywood Reporter said that "Lady Gaga showed she's a serious contender to Madonna's crown Friday at the Wiltern. She might be a relative newcomer, but the artist born Stefani Joanne Germanotta commanded the stage with a royal air during her hourlong set, at times even sporting a glowing scepter."
Poker Face (Lady Gaga song)
" is a song by American recording artist Lady Gaga from her third extended play The Fame Monster
(2009). A collaborative effort between Gaga and RedOne, the lyrics of "Bad Romance" subsumes Gaga's fear of derisive relationships and the paranoia that she endures in her relationship with fame. Following a demo leak, Gaga showcased the final product at Alexander McQueen's show at the Paris Fashion Week in October 2009, followed by the release of the single's cover art. Musically, "Bad Romance" features a spoken bridge, a full-throated chorus and sung lyrics about being in love with one's best friend. The song, which is imbued with elements of German-esque house and techno, as well music from 1980s and the 1990s, was touted by Gaga as an experimental pop record. The song contains a few lines in French.
Most commentators were enticed by "Bad Romance", who attested the song as one of the highlights of The Fame Monster
. It was included in the best-of lists in several media outlets such as Rolling Stone
and Pitchfork Media, and acquired a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. In the United States, "Bad Romance" peaked at number two on the Hot 100Billboard
and has been certified ten-times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), having sold more than 5.2 million copies as of June 2012. It achieved worldwide success by topping the charts in a variety of markets, ultimately selling 9.7 million copies worldwide by the end of 2010, thus becoming one of the best-selling singles of all time.
The accompanying music video of "Bad Romance" features Gaga inside a surreal white bathhouse. There, she gets kidnapped by a group of supermodels who drug her and sell her to the Russian mafia for sexual slavery. The music video ends with Gaga killing the man who bought her. The song's video garnered favorable reviews from critics, who not only applauded the risqué and symbolic nature of the plot, but its artistic direction and vivid imagery. It was nominated for numerous superlatives, including ten awards at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, where the singer won seven of those, including a recognition for Video of the Year. In addition, the song's music video snagged a Grammy for Best Short Form Music Video. Gaga has performed "Bad Romance" on various television programs and award ceremonies such as Saturday Night Live
and the 2009 American Music Awards, as well as two of her tours, with the most recent being the Born This Way Ball.
Gaga collaborated with Nadir "RedOne" Khayat in writing "Bad Romance", while Khayat took charge of production. The song was recorded at Record Plant Studios in Los Angeles and FC Walvisch Recording Media Studios in Amsterdam. "Bad Romance" was released as the lead single from The Fame Monster
(2009), Gaga's follow-up to her debut album The Fame
(2008). Before its official release, a demo version of the song was published illegally on the internet, prompting Gaga to comment via Twitter, "leaked next single is makin my ears bleed. Wait till you hear the real version." A snippet of the song was performed on Saturday Night Live
on October 3, 2009, along with "Poker Face" and "LoveGame". The final version of "Bad Romance" premiered during the finale of fashion designer Alexander McQueen's 2010 Paris Fashion Week show, followed by the song's release on October 19, 2009. According to Gaga, the song was one of the initial efforts she wrote in 2009 while touring. The songs composed during that time were about the various abstract "monsters"—metaphors that refer to her paranoias—she faced during the tour. One of these concepts was the "love monster", the central inspiration behind "Bad Romance". Gaga explained that she generally felt lonely when she was involved in a relationship, and concluded that she was allured by men with whom the romance never works out. As such, "Bad Romance" explored her preference for such lonely relationships and her poor choice in men.
Gaga constructed the lyrics of "Bad Romance" in Norway on her tour bus. She further elaborated on the writing process in an interview with Grazia
: "I was in Russia, then Germany, and spent a lot of time in Eastern Europe. There is this amazing German house-techno music, so I wanted to make a pop experimental record. I kind of wanted to leave the '80s a little bit, so the chorus is a '90s melody, which is what the inspiration was. There was certainly some whisky involved in the writing of the record. It's about being in love with your best friend." The cover art was released on October 15, 2009, and shows Gaga in a red dress, with her face down and covered by the dress fabric. Bill Lamb from About.com praised the cover art, saying, "Gaga is maintaining her hitting streak of generating powerful images to accompany her music and stage presentations".
"Bad Romance" is a dance-pop song with house, New Wave and techno influences. According to the sheet music published at Musicnotes.com by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, "Bad Romance" is set in common time with a metronome of 119 beats per minute. It is composed in the key of A minor with Gaga's vocal range spanning from the low-note of E3
to the high-note of C5
. The song follows in the chord progression of Am–C–F–C–G in the verses and F–G–Am–C–F–G–E–Am in the chorus. The song opens with Gaga singing a portion of the chorus, then transitioning into the "Rah-rah--ah-ah-ah, Roma-roma-ma, Gaga-ooh-la-la" hook. It is followed by the sound of drum beats and keyboards. After the first verse, the prechorus follows, with Gaga voicing the line "You know that I want you, And you know that I need you, I want your bad, your bad romance". The full-throated chorus then follows, where she sings "I want your love, And I want your revenge, You and me could write a bad romance [...] Caught in a bad romance".
Gil Kauffman from MTV found similarities between the tempo of "Bad Romance" to that of Gaga's previous single "Poker Face". Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine noticed the 1980s influences that resonated throughout the track; "If melodies could be time-stamped, these would have '80s' branded on their asses." About.com writer Bill proclaimed that the song was well-suited for fashion shows and on the runway, a view that was echoed by Daniel Brockman of The Boston Phoenix
, who not only pinpointed liberating declarations "from a significant other", but the Depeche Mode and Madonna-esque qualities that were imbued in "Bad Romance". To Pitchfork Media journalist Scott Plagenhoef, Gaga was able to transform her persona in a similar vein to various female entertainers, often reminiscing the likes of Britney Spears, Madonna, and Amy Winehouse. Simon Price from The Independent
heard characteristics of Boney M in the chorus, and stated that the first line of the song "I want your ugly, I want your disease" established the grim tone of The Fame Monster
The lyrics address aspects of a bad relationship but also discuss fashion in the line "Walk, walk fashion baby, Work it move that bitch crazy." In an interview, Gaga pointed out that she was listing Alfred Hitchcock films in the verse, "I want your psycho, your vertigo shtick, Want you in my rear window, Baby, you're sick." She said, "What I'm really trying to say is I want the deepest, darkest, sickest parts of you that you are afraid to share with anyone because I love you that much."
"Bad Romance" received acclaim from a variety of music commentators. In a 2011 review for the song, Rolling Stone
declared it as the best song out of Gaga's discography. Epitomizing the "essence of Gagaism", the publication was enamored by the song's "relentlessly" catchy chorus and "pummeling" beat that reflected a track that was pompous, "joyful", and "melancholy". One of the highlights of the The Fame Monster
in the eyes of Lamb, he asserted that Gaga's vocals were at its peak in "Bad Romance", as evident when the singers alters from "threatening to floating sweetness and back again." Lamb continued, "If you had any fears that Gaga would be one album flash in the pan, the room filling beats and melodies of 'Bad Romance' should help dispel them." Kaufman, while applauding the drastic transition into a bombastic "Erasure-esque throb during the chorus", felt that the instant catch that was apparent in her earlier singles was absent in "Bad Romance". Kitty Empire of The Guardian
argued that instances such as this established Gaga to be more comparable with Madonna.
Referring to her emerging popularity, Jon Dolan from Rolling Stone
said that "Bad Romance" made the singer's name a "Teutonic chant". A columnist from the aforementioned publication, Daniel Kreps, while writing about the song's initial leak, felt that the song was comparable to "Poker Face" and was not on par with her other singles. Christopher John Farley from The Wall Street Journal
praised the "Jabberwockian" catchiness of the hook, while Michael Hubbard from MusicOMH opined that the chorus of the song was Gaga's best yet. Pitchfork Media placed "Bad Romance" at number 39 in its top 100 tracks of 2009, saying it was "epic in construction". Likewise, Edna Gundersen of USA Today
commented that the song was a "ferocious club thumper" that possessed a "sordid underbelly". The Boston Public Health Commission rated "Bad Romance" as number 10 on its list of "Top 10 List of Songs with Unhealthy Relationship Ingredients".
To Los Angeles Times
s Mikale Wood, the "Euro-soul" lead single was "turbocharged" throughout, while BBC critic Paul Lester summed up "Bad Romance" as a song with "cheesy rave synths, the now typically Gaga stomping beat and a controversy-lite lyric." Though not as catchy as her previous efforts, Monica Herrera from Billboard
commended the track's "wicked" sex appeal. Jon Blistein from L Magazine
wrote about the organization of the song. He felt that "'Bad Romance' revels in the nightmare it tries to create with Hitchcock references and somber vocals," but the song lacked cohesion. Blistein called it an amalgamation of Cher song, faux-European accented verses, power disco chorus and a bland spoken-word bridge. Rolling Stone
also ranked the song at number nine on its list of the "25 Best Songs of 2009". On February 13, 2011, the single won the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
In the United States, "Bad Romance" debuted at number nine on the Hot 100Billboard
on November 14, 2009, making it Gaga's highest debuting song on the chart at the time. It sold 142,000 paid digital downloads in its first week. After two weeks the song moved from number eleven to number two, which became its peak. It held the spot for seven non-consecutive weeks, held out of the top spot by Empire State of Mind by Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys and "Tik Tok" by Kesha. The movement to the runner-up spot was first spurred by 49 percent digital gain, which took the song to the top of the Hot Digital Songs chart, selling 209,000 digital copies that week. "Bad Romance" became her second highest peaking song on the Hot 100, behind "Just Dance" and "Poker Face". The song was certified four-times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), for shipment of a four million copies of the single. As of June 2012, "Bad Romance" has sold 5.2 million paid digital downloads in the United States, according to Nielsen Soundscan, making Gaga the second artist in digital history to have three singles—along with "Just Dance" and "Poker Face"—pass the five million mark in digital sales. After RIAA started including video streams in their tabulation of the single certifications, "Bad Romance" was certified diamond for ten million in total of sales and streaming. "Bad Romance" debuted on the Pop Songs chart at number 38 and moved to the number one position, making it Gaga's fifth consecutive number one single on the chart. The same week it also topped the Hot Dance Club Songs chart. According to Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems, "Bad Romance" set the record for most weekly plays in the 17-year history of the Pop Songs chart, registering 10,859 plays from 130 radio stations monitored for the chart. The record was later broken by Kesha, with her song "Tik Tok".
The song debuted on the ARIA Charts of Australia at number 16, and at number 33 on the New Zealand RIANZ charts. The next week, "Bad Romance" was the greatest gainer on the ARIA charts and moved to position three. On its seventh week on the chart, the song reached a new peak of two in Australia, and a peak of three in New Zealand. The song was certified four-times platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) for shipment of 280,000 copies of the single. On October 29, 2009, "Bad Romance" debuted on the Irish Singles Chart at number 20; it reached the top in its seventh week. On the Canadian Hot 100, "Bad Romance" debuted at number 58. The following week it reached number one, making it the third song by Gaga to top the Canadian chart. After being replaced by "Tik Tok" for two weeks, "Bad Romance" again claimed the top spot on the chart. The Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) certified "Bad Romance" seven-times platinum, for shipment of 280,000 copies of the single.
After its release in the United Kingdom, "Bad Romance" debuted at number 14 on the UK Singles Chart. In December 2009, the song reached the top spot, making it Gaga's third UK number one single. She became the first female in British chart history to have three number one singles in one year. Two weeks later, in the first week of 2010, "Bad Romance" returned to the number one spot, making her only the second female artist of the 21st century to have two separate runs at the top spot. "Bad Romance" was certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for shipment of 400,000 copies of the single. As of January 2011, Bad Romance has now sold over 800,000 copies in the United Kingdom. In Sweden, the song debuted at number three and after two weeks, reached the top of the chart. Across Europe the song debuted on the main charts of Austria, Belgium (Flanders and Wallonia), Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland (to be on top 50 for 65 weeks from late 2009 to early 2011), Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland. The song debuted on the European Hot 100 Singles at number 40 and on January 23, 2010, "Bad Romance" topped the chart, remaining there for two weeks. According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, the song has sold 11.2 million copies across the world.
During an interview with Rolling Stone
, Gaga confirmed that film director Francis Lawrence had directed the music video for "Bad Romance", and that she was impressed with the final version. She explained, "I knew [Lawrence's] ability as a director is so much higher than what I could [do]." Her creative team Haus of Gaga
managed the art direction, and the final video premiered on November 10, 2009. Gaga described her experience of working with Lawrence:
I wanted somebody with a tremendous understanding of how to make a pop video, because my biggest challenge working with directors is that I am the director and I write the treatments and I get the fashion and I decide what it's about and it's very hard to find directors that will relinquish any sort of input from the artist. [...] But Francis and I worked together. [...] It was collaborative. He's a really pop video director and a filmmaker. He did I Am Legend
and I'm a huge Will Smith fan, so I knew he could execute the video in a way that I could give him all my weirdest, most psychotic ideas, [...] But it would come across to and be relevant to the public.
The concept of the music video was a joint collaboration between Gaga and Lawrence. Originally, the video was going to be shot in New York City, with more elaborate sets, including ones outdoors. The idea was scrapped, however, due to budgetary issues, as the budget for the video was low and there was no product placement. Because of Gaga's schedule, the video was shot in Los Angeles over a two-day period. Lawrence described Gaga's work ethic and creativity during the video shoot: "She loves the art form of music videos and she is a real creative partner and has great ideas and really cool and unique tastes. She has a great team working with her as well, helping build really fantastic things that she wears. She works hard, she shows up on time and she's pretty spontaneous [...] it was great [...] if she had a new song and wanted to do something, I would do it in a second. She was really fun to work with."
Gaga created a pair of razor-blade sunglasses—which she believed portrayed tough female spirit—to wear in the video, explaining "I wanted to design a pair for some of the toughest chicks and some of my girlfriends [...] they used to keep razor blades in the side of their mouths, [...] That tough female spirit is something that I want to project. It's meant to be, 'This is my shield, this is my weapon, this is my inner sense of fame, this is my monster.' Gaga also said that the video shows "how the entertainment industry can, in a metaphorical way, simulate human trafficking - products being sold, the woman perceived as a commodity." The white latex suits in the video were inspired by the wolf costume from the film Where the Wild Things Are
. Gaga also wore designer Alexander McQueen's 12-inch (300 mm) high shoes and the famous "Alien" shoes.
The main idea behind the video is that of Gaga getting kidnapped by a group of supermodels who drug her, and then sell her off to the Russian mafia for a million rubles. It takes place in a fluorescent white bathhouse. The video begins with Gaga sitting on a white throne in a brightly lit white room. The scene shows her wearing the razor blade glasses and surrounded by people and a harlequin Great Dane. She has her finger on the mute button of an iPod speaker, and as she releases it, "Bad Romance" begins to play and a dimly lit bath house is shown. A bright light pans across the walls, activating fluorescent lighting, that shines through a sign reading "Bath Haus of GaGa". As the first hook of the song begins, a group of female dancers wearing white long-sleeved leotards with knee high boots and matching crowns crawl out of white, coffin-like pods. The center pod has "Mons†er" written on it, and Gaga emerges wearing a similar outfit to the others, who begin to dance behind her. A pastiche of following scenes alternates between Gaga singing to herself in front of a mirror and lying in a bathtub.
When the chorus of the song begins, two women pull Gaga out of the bathtub, rip her clothes off and force her to drink a glass of vodka. As the second verse begins, Gaga, wearing a diamond-covered outfit topped with a crown, seductively dances for a group of men bidding for her. She straddles one of the men, played by Slovenian model Jurij Bradač, and performs a lap dance for him. Afterwards, the man raises his bid and becomes the highest bidder for her. When the chorus is played for the third time, Gaga is shown wearing a faux polar bear hide jacket. She walks towards the man, who is sitting on a bed and unbuttoning his shirt, while drinking a glass of vodka. Gaga has a look of indifference on her face and removes her jacket and sunglasses. Suddenly, the bed spontaneously combusts with the man still sitting on it and Gaga sinisterly sings in front of the flames. The video ends with her lying beside a smoldering skeleton, on top of the destroyed bed, covered in ashes. With soot smeared across her body, she calmly smokes a cigarette, while her pyrotechnic bra activates.
After the video's release, the response from critics and fans was overwhelmingly positive. Tim Stack from Entertainment Weekly
called the video "amazing." He said, "I don't think Gaga has ever looked prettier than in the close-ups where she's more stripped down." Jennifer Cady of E! was also impressed by the video and commented, "This music video really makes us appreciate everything Gaga actually brings to pop music. She's exciting to watch, plain and simple. [...] We need someone like Gaga to really bring it. To put actual thought and care into her product so that it feels alive." Issie Lapowsky of New York Daily News
thought Gaga laid the "theatrics on thick" in the video and complimented Gaga without makeup, calling it "refreshingly normal." Todd Martens of the Los Angeles Times
said the video brought back his faith in performance art and "Gaga brings enough of it [drama] on her own, thank you very much." He also thought the set for the video was "worthy of a feature-length film." Daniel Kreps from Rolling Stone
felt that the scenes from the music video were reminiscent of the work of Stanley Kubrick. He added that in "Bad Romance" Gaga portrays her craziest ideas yet. Jocelyn Vena from MTV believed that the video was symbolic and portrayed that "the old Gaga is over, here's the brand-new Gaga: the one who seems to delight in pushing the boundaries and exploring all manner of sexual proclivities." She further believed that the video was a testament to Gaga's brilliance "as an artist that uses the video art form as the jump-off point for the next leg of their career." In 2011, Claire Suddath of Time
said that although later Gaga videos were more elaborate, "Bad Romance" was Gaga at her best. In Lady Gaga: Behind the Fame,
Emily Herbert drew comparisons between the underlying theme of the video and the theme of The Fame Monster
: the relationship with fame. "Was this the price that Gaga had to pay for the fame she so desired? Did she feel as if she'd had to prostitute herself in some way? The themes were all based around sex, decadence, and corruption; alcohol and even cigarettes, twenty-first century society's biggest no-no, were present, and so by implication, [...] drugs." The Wall Street Journal
noted Gaga as one of the few pop stars of present time, who really understood spectacle, fashion, shock, choreography—all the things Madonna and Michael Jackson were masters of in the 1980s. Bill Lamb from About.com wrote that "like the song [the video] blasts at your senses until you are just left drowning in the audio and visual power of it all." In 2011, "Bad Romance" was voted the best video of the 2000s by readers of Billboard
, narrowly beating Britney Spears's "Toxic." Time Magazine
also included "Bad Romance" on its list of the best music videos since the 1980s.
The video and its choreography also drew many comparisons to Michael Jackson's Thriller
, both with robotic, zombie-like arm movements and morbid themes. Tim Stack from Entertainment Weekly
compared some of the dance choreography of the video with the music video of "Thriller" Issie Lapowsky from New York Daily News
compared the pods in the video to coffins and called the dance "zombie-like". Gaga "[stole] a page from Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' video," she said. Los Angeles Times
said the video had some "twitchy, 'Thriller'-like dance moves." The Wall Street Journal
compared the shock art of "Bad Romance" to the shock art of Michael Jackson during the 1980s. Evan Sawdey of PopMatters also compared the video to "Thriller", but was not sure whether the homage was intentional by Gaga or "just another excuse for Gaga to wear the mostweirdass outfits ever designed by mankind".
On August 3, 2010, the video received 10 nominations at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards in the categories of Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Art Direction, Best Special Effects, Best Choreography, Best Direction, Best Dance Video, Best Pop Video, Best Female Video, and Video of the Year, tied with Peter Gabriel's song "Sledgehammer" for the record for most nominations for a single video in the history of MTV Video Music Award. It went on to win seven of the categories. The video also won the Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video.
A portion of the song was performed on Saturday Night Live
on October 3, 2009. Gaga wore a complex outfit called "The Orb", designed by Nasir Mazhar and her production group "Haus of Gaga". Described by Gaga as a "fashion installation", it consisted of concentric metallic rings that revolved around her. After finishing her performance of "LoveGame", Gaga sat at her piano and played an acoustic version of the chorus of "Bad Romance". She performed the song on the TV show Gossip Girl
episode "The Last Days of Disco Stick". The performance took place at a private show arranged by the character Blair Waldorf. In an interview with MTV, Gaga explained that the decision to perform on the show was inspired by her sister. She stated that she did not want the performance to be out-of-tune with the storyline of the show, so she worked with the script-writers to incorporate it into the plot. The performance included many ladders, symbolizing bad luck; it featured Gaga wearing a 35-foot (11 m) long dress. According to the show's executive producer Stephanie Savage, the song incorporated a few Gossip Girl
specific lyrics. The performance began with her emerging from two giant doors in a large red gown. She climbed up a ladder, from where she sang parts of the song. Her male dancers danced around the ladder as she continued to sing.
"Bad Romance" was also performed at the 2009 American Music Awards, where she coupled it with "Speechless", from The Fame Monster
. Gaga was dressed in a flesh colored bodysuit wrapped with white piping, and embedded with flashing lights, imitating ribs and spine. The performance started with "Bad Romance" and Gaga dancing around the stage, ultimately breaking open a glass door with the microphone stand. It was performed on The Jay Leno Show
where Gaga wore a pair of black sunglasses and a black jacket with shoulder pads that extended above her head. Her male backup dancers were dressed in black suits and S&M inspired headgear. Both "Bad Romance" and "Speechless" were performed at The Ellen DeGeneres Show
on November 25, 2009. Gaga performed "Bad Romance" on the British TV show The X Factor
on December 6, 2009. The performance had her singing inside a four meter long bath tub as well as playing the piano while sitting on a toilet. "Bad Romance" was performed as the last song of Gaga's The Monster Ball Tour. She performed the song in an '80s-inspired white power suit with exaggerated high shoulders and highwaisted pants. The performance was done while standing in a human sized gyroscope. On January 15, 2010, Gaga performed "Bad Romance" as part of a three song medley on The Oprah Winfrey Show
. Gaga was dressed in a metallic jacket and had spikes in her hair. She carried a spiked ball dangling from a chain in her hand. "Bad Romance" was also performed at NBC's Today Show
, along with "Alejandro", "Teeth" and her later, 2011 single release called "You and I". In May 2011, Gaga performed the song during Radio 1's Big Weekend in Carlisle, Cumbria. She also performed the song on Good Morning America
as a part of their "Summer Concert Series". It was the opening song of the show and Gaga entered the stage, flying on a harness, and stretching out her hands towards the audience as steam billowed from the center-stage. Once she reached the song started and Gaga's dancers removed the white cape she was wearing, to reveal her in red fishnet stockings with black felt pieces, a red leotard and black lace boots. The song was added to the set list of Gaga's 2012 Born This Way Ball. It was performed after an interlude by Mother G.O.A.T. The performance featured the original choreography and Gaga wore a white, ram style outfit designed by the Haus Of Gaga. During the European leg of the tour, Gaga began the performance in an egg shaped container reminiscent of the one she came out of at 53rd Grammy Awards.]
On March 14, 2010, Marco Hietala from Nightwish covered the song on the Finnish choir singing TV show Kuorosota
. Hayley Williams, the lead singer from the band Paramore covered a piano version of the song and posted it on her Twitter on March 28, 2010. On March 29, 2010, 30 Seconds to Mars covered the song in BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge. The cover was later released as a bonus track on the deluxe edition of the band's album This Is War
and reached number 11 on the UK Rock Chart. Glee
performed it on one of the episodes titled "Theatricality"; it was a group number for which the actors donned Lady Gaga outfits. When glee club New Directions member Rachel Berry discovers that rival glee club Vocal Adrenaline are planning on performing a Lady Gaga number at Regionals, the character Will (Matthew Morrison) sets the club a Gaga assignment. The girls and Kurt then create costumes inspired by Gaga and perform "Bad Romance". The version sold 48,000 digital downloads according to Nielsen Soundscan, and entered the Billboard
Hot 100 at 54, staying on the chart for one week.
Scottish a cappella group The Other Guys released a parody of the track onto YouTube on April 11, 2011. The lyrics were slightly rewritten to coincide with the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton and the song was retitled "Royal Romance". The video has since received almost 750,000 views in a year. Pop group Evil Adam covered the song and made it available to stream and download. Lissie posted a cover of the song on YouTube. Her version of "Bad Romance" received praise from filmmaker David Lynch and The Washington Post
writer David Malitz, who included it on "Click Track – Singles Files", the paper's weekly playlist.
The Grandmono Orchestra also covered the song, with Dutch singer Caro Emerald, on 1 June 2011. This was included as a bonus track on Caro's debut album Deleted Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor, and has received many positive criticisms. Singer Lulu and actor Cuba Gooding, Jr. performed a version of "Bad Romance" as a duet on the August 5, 2011, episode of Channel 4's Chris Moyles' Quiz Night
. The band Halestorm recorded the song for their 2011 EP "ReAniMate:The CoVeRs eP". The song was covered by Alvin and the Chipmunks and The Chipettes with lyric changes in the 2011 film Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked
and appears on its soundtrack.
Credits adapted from The Fame Monster
album liner notes.
Since May 9, 2013, RIAA certifications for digital singles include on-demand audio and/or video song streams in addition to downloads, resulting in the 10× Platinum certification for the track.
Born This Way (song)
"Poker Face" is a song by American recording artist and songwriter Lady Gaga from her debut album, The Fame. Produced by RedOne, it was released as the album's second single in late 2008 for some markets and in early 2009 for the rest of the world. The song is an uptempo electropop and dance-pop song in the key of G# minor, following in the footsteps of her previous single "Just Dance" but with a darker musical tone. The main idea behind the song is bisexuality and was a tribute by Gaga to her rock n' roll boyfriends. Lyrically, "Poker Face" is about a woman engaged in the practice of cockteasing.
"Poker Face" was well received by most critics, who praised the robotic hook and the chorus. The song attained worldwide success, topping the charts in twenty countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and many European countries. "Poker Face" is also the most downloaded song in the British chart history. It is among the best-selling singles of all time, having sold over 12 million copies. The accompanying music video for the song portrays Gaga singing it in various costumes and playing strip poker in a getaway villa.
Gaga performed the song for the eighth season of the television show American Idol as well as the Fame Ball and Monster Ball tours. The live performances included an electronic version and an acoustic version, which she played on the piano. It was nominated for both Song of the Year and Record of the Year at the 52nd Grammy Awards, and won the Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording. Rolling Stone ranked it number ninety-six on their list of 100 Best Songs of the 2000s decade. In October 2011, NME placed it at number 103 on its list "150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years".VH1 Placed the song as number 3 on their list of 100 best songs of the decade.
"Poker Face" was written by Lady Gaga and RedOne, while the music has been produced by RedOne. Gaga stated in an interview that "Poker Face" was written by her as a pop song and was a tribute to her "rock 'n' roll boyfriends." She also stated that the main idea behind the song was sex and gambling. In an interview with UK's Daily Star, Gaga noted of the song, "It's about a lot of different things. I gamble but I’ve also dated a lot of guys who are really into sex and booze and gambling, so I wanted to write a record my boyfriends would like too." In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, when asked about the meaning of the line "bluffin' with my muffin", Gaga explained that it really was a metaphor for her vulva.
"Obviously, it's my pussy's poker face! I took that line from another song I wrote but never released, called 'Blueberry Kisses.' It was about a girl singing to her boyfriend about how she wants him to go down on her, and I used the lyric. [Gaga sings] 'Blueberry kisses, the muffin man misses them kisses'."
During her Fame Ball Tour performance at Palm Springs, California, on April 11, 2009, Gaga explained to the crowd the true meaning behind the term "Poker Face" used in the song. She suggested that the song dealt with her personal experience with bisexuality. The idea behind the song was to be with a man but fantasizing about a woman, hence the man in the song needs to read her "Poker Face" to understand what is going through her mind. The idea was taken from AC/DC's song "The Jack" off their High Voltage release.
"Poker Face" is an uptempo electropop and dance-pop song, and follows the footsteps of the previous single "Just Dance". Whereas "Just Dance" was predominately electropop, "Poker Face" carries a dark sound with clear vocals on the chorus and a pop hook while combining the synths from "Just Dance" and the more dance-oriented beat of the next single "LoveGame". According to Kerri Mason of Billboard, the composition "carr[ies] the pleather-and-sequins vibe of the downtown New York scene out of the underground and onto the FM dial without losing its smut and sass."
According to the sheet music published in Musicnotes.com by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, the song is set in the time signature of common time, with a moderate tempo of 120 beats per minute. It is written in the key of G-sharp minor with Gaga's vocal range spanning from the note F3 to the note B4. It begins with a medium tempo followed by electronic chord arrangement and the "Mum-mum-mum-mah" hook. The chords follow in this order: Gm–Gm–E–F, and then for the chorus Gm–E–B–F. This is followed by the sound of dance music, produced by a powerful beat from the instruments, and a stuttering hook following the chorus.
Lyrically, "Poker Face" is all about sexual innuendo and teasing. According to Daily Star, the chorus repeats two alternating lyrics. After the hook "Can't read my Poker Face" the backup singer says "He's got me like nobody" and then in the next line says "She's got me like nobody". Gaga explained in an interview with them that the line carries a bit of an undertone of confusion about love and sex. However, the liner notes from the album booklet indicate both these lines only repeat "she's got me like nobody". According to BBC, the "Mum-mum-mum-mah" hook used in the song references Boney M.'s 1977 hit "Ma Baker".
Priya Elan from The Times, in a review for The Fame, said that "Poker Face" was one of the finest moments of the album with its "love-as-card-game cheek." BBC reviewed the "strut-tastic" single as "expressing her overwhelming desire for celebrity and fortune." Bill Lamb of About.com said, "'Poker Face' works well on pop radio, but with slight mixing alterations it would be equally at home in a dark, sweaty, late night party atmosphere. She has refreshed the pop world in the US and UK at one of the slowest times of the year. 'Poker Face' keeps the motors humming as everyone waits for the next step forward from Lady Gaga." Chris Williams of Billboard also gave a positive review of the song saying, "Once again, hooks are aplenty, with '80s-inspired synthesizers, robotic verses and a warm, sunny hook in the chorus, which is even more addictive than the previous single ('Just Dance')...With a focused artistic vision, a swagger in her interview style and above all, a fantastic collection of diverse pop nuggets, Gaga is playing her cards right—and "Poker" is another obvious ace."
Slant Magazine music reviewer Sal Cinquemani included "Poker Face" among the songs that work in The Fame, namely tracks like "Starstruck," "Paper Gangsta" and "Summerboy". Matthew Chisling from Allmusic called the song "infectious" and along with the title track "The Fame", complimented them for "rejuvenating the vibe on the album for its second half." Andy Downing from The Chicago Tribune called the song "jaunty" while reviewing Gaga's Fame Ball tour. Evan Sawdey from PopMatters.com felt that "Poker Face" along with the track "Paparazzi", duplicate much of the same "glitzy territory that previous single 'Just Dance' had covered, but never once does it feel like Gaga is deliberately repeating herself." Rolling Stone in a review for The Fame Ball Tour compared the live acoustic "bluesy" version of "Poker Face" with the music of singer Amy Winehouse. Erika Hobert from the New Times Broward-Palm Beach newspaper called the song "trashtastic Europop." The song was nominated for Grammy Awards in the categories for Song of The Year, Record of The Year, and Best Dance Recording, ultimately winning the last of these.
In the United States, the song entered the Hot 100Billboard at ninety-two and reached number six on the issue dated March 7, 2009. The next week the song climbed another three places to reach a peak of three and stayed there for two additional weeks. On the Billboard issue dated April 11, 2009, the song topped the chart. "Poker Face" became Gaga's second consecutive number one song on the Hot 100, marking the first time a new artist has had their first two charting singles hit number one on the Hot 100 since Christina Aguilera did so with "Genie In a Bottle" and "What a Girl Wants" in 1999–2000. The song stayed on the Hot 100 for 40 weeks. The song also peaked on both the Hot Dance Airplay and Hot Dance Club Play charts. "Poker Face" became the first single since Madonna's 2006 single "Sorry", to top all the three dance charts in a single week including the Hot Dance Singles Sales chart. The song has sold 6.866 million paid digital downloads in the United States as of January 2013 according to Nielsen Soundscan, making Gaga the first artist in digital history to top the six million mark in paid downloads with two songs, the first being "Just Dance".
In Canada, the song debuted at number forty-one on the Canadian Hot 100. On the chart dated December 13, 2008, "Poker Face" ascended to the number one spot and then spent nine non-consecutive weeks at the top. The song was certified eight times platinum by the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) for paid digital downloads of 320,000. "Poker Face" entered the Australian charts at number twenty-six, and in its seventh week peaked at number one. "Poker Face" has shipped over 420,000 copies in Australia, earning six-times platinum certification by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). In New Zealand, the song debuted on the official chart at number twenty-one. In its sixth week, it peaked the chart spending ten consecutive weeks at number one. "Poker Face" was certified two times platinum after twenty-seven weeks on the chart, selling over 30,000 copies, according to the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ).
In the United Kingdom, "Poker Face" debuted at number thirty on the UK Singles Chart. On the chart issue dated March 22, 2009, "Poker Face" climbed to number one, thus giving Gaga her second consecutive British number one single. According to The Official Charts Company, the song has sold over 1.11 million downloads there. It became the biggest selling digital single in the United Kingdom, before being overtaken by "I Gotta Feeling" by The Black Eyed Peas in June 2010. However, the song became the country's biggest-selling single of 2009, and was awarded The Record of the Year. In Italy the song debuted at number nineteen and peaked at number two. The song has also reached the peak in a number of European countries including Austria, Belgium (Flanders and Wallonia), Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden and Switzerland. In Germany, the song spent 75 weeks on the chart, 13 weeks of them at number one. There, Poker Face is the most successful download single of all time and the first one to sell more than 500,000 downloads. The song also peaked on the Billboard European Hot 100 Singles and was on the top for sixteen weeks making it the longest running single in the chart. Worldwide the song has sold 12.3 million copies according to IFPI.
The music video for "Poker Face", directed by Ray Kay and aided by Anthony Mandler, was filmed at the luxury villa on bwin PokerIsland. bwin also provided the poker equipment and obtained product placements in return. The video premiered on October 22, 2008. It is set by a pool, as well as in a mansion. It begins with Gaga emerging from the pool wearing a mirror masquerade mask and a black full-body leotard, with two Great Danes beside her. She throws the mask aside and the song begins with a facial shot of Gaga singing it. Gaga wears a metallic sticker on her left cheek in this shot. Featured in the video are scenes of Gaga in a mansion and dancing poolside with her dancers in a turquoise leotard. Gaga attends a wild party where every man and woman tries their luck on a strip poker game. The party gets wilder when all the party's guests strip down to their underwear, dance around, and share kisses with each other. The video also features several white mannequins on her swimming pool deck. During the musical interlude before the "I won't tell you that I love you" hook, Gaga is shown in her trademark "Pop Music Will Never Be Low Brow" sunglasses while sitting beside the pool. The video ends with the head shot of Gaga singing the Mum-mum-mum-ma hook.
Gaga explained in the nineteenth episode of her "Transmission Gagavision" series, the main idea behind the music video of "Poker Face". She said that "I knew I wanted it to be sexy, so I thought no pants, because that's sexy, [...]And I knew I wanted it to be futuristic, so I thought shoulder pads, because that's my thing." The music video premiered on MTV UK on February 17, 2009. In some versions of the song, the words "muffin" (being a slang term for the woman's vagina), "Russian Roulette" and "gun" are censored out (bleeped). On June 21, 2009, the video won the Best International Artist Video at the 2009 MuchMusic Video Awards. The video received four nominations at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, in the categories of Video of the Year, Best New Artist, Best Female Video and Best Pop Video. Along with five other nominations for "Paparazzi", Gaga was tied with Beyoncé for most nominations each for that year.
"Poker Face" has been performed by Gaga at a number of shows including the AOL Sessions, the Cherrytree House of Interscope Records, and also the MTV sessions. The song was performed by Gaga both in the original version and the acoustic piano version in her headlining The Fame Ball tour. She performed the piano version wearing a dress made of plastic transparent bubbles and playing the glass piano with her stilletoes with a glowing mannequin, like the music video, standing in front of the stage. Gaga claimed that the transparent bubble filled piano was specifically made to match her dress. The actual version was performed by Gaga as the final song of the encore, after "Boys, Boys, Boys". She started the performance saying "Some say Lady Gaga is a lie, and they’re right: I am a lie, and every day I kill to make it true." Gaga wore a nude corseted leotard embellished with crystals and an admiral's hat during the performance. The hat as well as the fingerless gloves worn were decorated with the word Gaga on it.
On April 1, 2009, both the acoustic and normal version of "Poker Face" was performed live on Fox's American Idol. The performance started with Gaga sitting at a Plexiglass piano filled with bubbles and bathed in pink light. She started singing the second verse of "Poker Face" in a Bette Midler style accompanied by a violin player while wearing a shiny aluminum shoulder pad and platinum bleached blond wig. After the first chorus, the pace increased whence the original intro for the song started. Gaga got up from her seat and proceeded to perform the song in the middle of the stage. She wore a silvery leotard with a giant star on her shoulder and tassels. As the song progressed to the intermediate verse, the violist played a hoe-down version of the music and Gaga danced around frantically over the stage. The performance ended with Gaga staring towards the audience while revealing an open zipper, patched over her left eye. The performance was described an "alien-disco performance art." Cortney Harding of Billboard wrote, "[it was] Gaga's crowning TV moment ... show[ing] middle America that she was a bona fide pop star."
The acoustic version was performed by Gaga at BBC Live & In-Session on April 19, 2009. In the same day, she had her first appearance on Italian TV, on the TV program Quelli che... il Calcio. She also performed "Poker Face" in the United Kingdom on The Paul O'Grady Show. First she played an acoustic version first before going on to the normal version, and a rock version on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross. On May 12, 2009, Gaga performed "Poker Face" on The Ellen DeGeneres Show while wearing a gyroscope on her head, designed by theatrical hat designer Nasir Mazhar and playing the piano while standing on the stool. Gaga referred to the gyroscope as her "Gaga barrier". It prevented Ellen DeGeneres from greeting her because of the size of the gear. A remixed version of "Poker Face" and "LoveGame" was performed at the 2009 MuchMusic Video Awards, during the indoor-outdoor streetside show. This performance, which included Gaga being trapped in a fake subway car surrounded by fake police officers, was billed as a tribute to New York City. Snippet of the song was performed by Gaga at the thirty-fifth season of American comedy show Saturday Night Live, while wearing a giant contraption ("The Orbit") of several metallic concentric rings that rotated around her. It was also performed on Gaga's The Monster Ball Tour. The piano version was played by Gaga while balancing on the piano stool and holding one leg up in the air. Rapper Kid Cudi joined her then to perform his song "Make Her Say" which contains a sample of "Poker Face". The actual version was performed at the last segment of the show. Gaga wore a dress made of guns and during the performance she pumped her hands in the air. It was also performed at the 52nd Grammy Awards, where she opened the show with the song while standing on a pedestal. In the middle, she was then flung into the garbage chute of the Fame Factory set, before emerging seated at a piano, facing Elton John. In May 2011, Gaga performed the song during Radio 1's Big Weekend in Carlisle, Cumbria. The song was included on the set list of her 2012 Born This Way Ball Tour in which she sports a modified version of her famous meat dress. At the end of the song Her dancers dump her down a giant meat grinder.
Rock musician Chris Daughtry performed an acoustic version of the song while at a radio station in Germany. In 2009, rapper Kid Cudi's single "Make Her Say" contains a vocal sample of the acoustic version of "Poker Face" from The Cherrytree Sessions EP. The song was originally entitled "I Poke Her Face" but was changed to make it more acceptable for radio. It features Kanye West, who also produced the track, and Common, as well as scratches from DJ A-Trak. Actor Christopher Walken performed a special a capella rendition of "Poker Face" on BBC1's Friday Night with Jonathan Ross for Halloween 2009. The song was also covered by British singer Mika during his visit to the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge. It was later released as a track on his single Rain The song was also featured in the South Park episode titled "Whale Whores", sung by series character Eric Cartman. On March 16, 2010, South Park's version of "Poker Face" became available as a downloadable song for the video game Rock Band, in the same day a Lady Gaga track pack featuring the original song was released. On a live special Family Guy episode, the song was performed by Alex Borstein who was parodying Marlee Matlin who interrupted the performance in a guest stint. Lea Michele and Idina Menzel, in character as Rachel Berry and Shelby Corcoran respectively, covered an acoustic version of "Poker Face" in the "Theatricality" episode of American TV series Glee. Their version debuted at position 100 on the Billboard Hot 100, and moved up to a peak of 20 on the next week. During the end credits of the 2012 The Simpsons season-finale episode "Lisa Goes Gaga", Homer Simpson performed a parody version entitled "Homer Face".
Credits adapted from The Fame album liner notes.
*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone
The Monster Ball Tour
"Born This Way" is a song by American recording artist Lady Gaga, from her second studio album of the same name. Written and produced by Gaga, Fernando Garibay, Jeppe Laursen and DJ White Shadow, it was developed while Gaga was on the road with The Monster Ball Tour. Inspired by the 1990s empowering music for women and the gay community, Gaga explained that "Born This Way" was her freedom song. She had sung part of the chorus at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards in 2010 and announced the song as the lead single from the album. The single was released on February 11, 2011.
The song is backed by rumbling synth sounds, a humming bass and additional chorus percussion, with sole organ toward the end. The lyrics discuss the self-empowerment of minorities including the LGBT community as well as racial minorities, referring to "cholas" and "orients", which drew criticism from Latino and Asian communities. Some critics favored the song, callin it a "club-ready anthem", though it faced criticism for having similarities with Madonna's 1989 single "Express Yourself". The song reached number one in over 25 countries. It became her third single to top the US Hot 100Billboard chart and the 1000th song in history to reach number one. It became the fastest-selling song in iTunes history at the time, later bested by Taylor Swift's "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together". "Born This Way" has sold 8.2 million copies worldwide, becoming one of the best-selling singles of all time.
Nick Knight directed the accompanying music video, which was inspired by painters like Salvador Dalí and Francis Bacon and their surrealistic images. Gaga is depicted as giving birth to a new race during a prologue. A series of dance sequences later, the video concludes with the view of a city populated by this race. Critics noted cultural references and artistic similarities to the work of Madonna, Michael Jackson, Björk, late fashion designer Alexander McQueen, as well as to Greek mythology and surrealism.
The song along with its music video won two awards at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards and two awards at the 2011 MTV Europe Music Awards. Gaga performed the song at the 53rd Grammy Awards after coming out of an incubating vessel. It was also performed during the last leg of The Monster Ball Tour and in television shows such as Saturday Night Live, Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve and Good Morning America. The song was treated with different remixes, including a Country Road version recorded by Gaga herself and another by Indian production duo Salim and Sulaiman Merchant. Alice Cooper, Madonna, Katy Perry, Maria Aragon, and the cast of the TV series Glee have covered the song.
"The nexus of 'Born This Way' and the soul of the record reside in this idea that you were not necessarily born in one moment. You have your entire life to birth yourself into becoming the ultimate potential vision that you see for you. Who you are when you come out of your mother's womb is not necessarily who you will become. 'Born This Way' says your birth is not finite, your birth is infinite."
In 2010, Lady Gaga was touring for her second world tour, The Monster Ball. At that time she started developing ideas for her second studio album, Born This Way. The first song written and recorded for the album was the title track itself which she wrote in Liverpool and Manchester, England, described by Gaga as a "magical message" song. She wrote it in ten minutes and compared the process to an Immaculate Conception. One of the first people to listen to the track was Gaga's friend Perez Hilton, who considered it to be a staple song for the gay community and felt it would be successful. White Shadow, one of the producers of the track, credited Gaga for coming up with the idea and the theme behind the song. "We recorded it around the world, on the road, in whatever was available. It sounds like it reads, but not like you think until you hear it," he added. Gaga wanted to record her own freedom song, and explained with Billboard her inspiration behind the song:
"I want to write my this-is-who-the-fuck-I-am anthem, but I don't want it to be hidden in poetic wizardry and metaphors. I want it to be an attack, an assault on the issue because I think, especially in today's music, everything gets kind of washy sometimes and the message gets hidden in the lyrical play. Harkening back to the early '90s, when Madonna, En Vogue, Whitney Houston and TLC were making very empowering music for women and the gay community and all kind of disenfranchised communities, the lyrics and the melodies were very poignant and very gospel and very spiritual and I said, 'That's the kind of record I need to make. That's the record that's going to shake up the industry.' It's not about the track. It's not about the production. It's about the song. Anyone could sing 'Born This Way'. It could've been anyone."
On the 43rd episode of her web video series, Transmission Gagavision, Gaga told the interviewer that the greatest challenge she faced while writing "Born This Way" was how she could leave her insecurities behind her, and become confident. "'Born This Way' is who I am. An artist in a constant state of half-fantasy/half-reality at all times," she added.
On February 8, 2011, Gaga tweeted the words "Trois Jours" ("Three Days"), along with a picture of the official single artwork, via TwitPic. Gaga is shown topless in the black-and-white cover art and displays the tattoos on her back. Her hair is air-blown and she wears heavy make-up while sharp edges protrude from her face and shoulders. The artwork was described by Charlie Amter from The Hollywood Reporter as harkening back to the classic record covers from the 1980s. He compared it to the artworks by bands like Missing Persons, Roxy Music and Duran Duran. Gordon Smart from The Sun also felt that the "stark black and white image" had a glossy eighties air about it. Tanner Stransky from Entertainment Weekly gave a positive review of the cover art, feeling that Gaga looked almost "animalistic" in the picture, and her flowing hair made her look like a creature from the African jungle. She also added that the artwork was "totally and completely fierce". Archana Ram from the same publication found similarities between the "Born This Way" cover art and Kylie Minogue's cover art for her 2007 single "2 Hearts". Nicole Eggenberger from OK! described the artwork as a perfect balance between the singer's "wild side" and her glamorous looks. Leah Collins from Dose believed that the extreme make-up and tattoos were an ironic play on the title of the song.
Gaga had sung a few lines from the song while accepting the 2010 MTV Video Music Award for Video of the Year, for "Bad Romance". Given as a Christmas gift to her fans, Gaga announced, via Twitter, the release dates of the album and the lead single at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Day, 2011. The single was dated to be released on February 13, 2011, while the album on May 23, 2011. Supplementing this announcement came a black-and-white photograph in which Gaga, according to Jocelyn Vena from MTV, is "nude from the waist down, with her hair blowing about, and sporting a jacket with 'Born This Way' emblazoned in what looks like bedazzled jewels." In late January 2011, Gaga released the lyrics of the song, before announcing that she planned to release the single two days prior to its stipulated date. Hence the song was premiered on radio stations worldwide at 6 a.m. EST on February 11, 2011, and was released for digital download from online retailers at 9 a.m. EST the same day.
"Born This Way" was written and produced by Gaga, Jeppe Laursen, Paul Blair (a.k.a. DJ White Shadow) and Fernando Garibay, while it was mixed at Abbey Road Studios in London and Germano Studios in New York. The club-beat influenced song begins with Gaga's voice uttering the line "It doesn't matter if you love him or capital H-I-M" on a loop, backed by a rumbling synth sound and a humming bass. As the synths change into a beat, Gaga belts out the song's first verse, followed by the bass dropping off and the percussion-backed chorus, "I'm beautiful in my way, 'cause God makes no mistakes; I'm on the right track, baby, I was born this way", which Jocelyn Vena from MTV likened as being "meant to be heard in a big space. It's fast and hard-hitting." After the chorus she chants the line "Don't be a drag, Just be a queen" a number of times on top of handclaps, before moving to the second verse. After the second chorus an interlude follows, where Gaga chants the names of various communities. Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine felt that the interlude is a mixture of the music from American television show, Glee, and the song "There But For the Grace of God Go I" by Machine. The music fades out for a moment as Gaga sings a capella, before the addition of an organ and Gaga closes the song. According to the sheet music published at Musicnotes.com by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, "Born This Way" is written in the time signature of common time, with a moderate dance beat tempo of 124 beats per minute. It is composed in the key of B major as Gaga's voice spans the tonal nodes of F3 to C5. "Born This Way" follows a chord progression of F5–F–E–B–F in the chorus.
The lyrics during the verses talk about empowerment, while the chorus talks about making no apologies and accepting one as themselves. It features the names of LGBT and other minority communities, which was due to the support Gaga had received from the community over the years. She also explained that since The Fame and The Fame Monster did not directly address those communities, "Born This Way" was her chance to create something that not only supported her political and social beliefs, but also empowered her to artistically say, "'I'm not being safe with this record.' I'm not trying to gain new fans. I love the fans I already have, and this is for them."
After the early release of the lyrics, it had garnered criticism from some Asian and Hispanic communities, including Latino groups MECha and Chicanos Unidos Arizona, claiming that the usage of the terms "chola" and "orient" was offensive and derogatory. In response to the lyrics, Robert Paul Reyes of Newsblaze.com stated that while he agreed with its pro-gay stance, he questioned the use of the term "chola", asking, "Are Latinos supposed to be grateful that a white superstar, born of privilege, included a racist shout out to our community? Not all Latino ladies are 'cholas' in the barrio, some of them are teachers, writers, engineers and nurses and doctors." Radio stations in Malaysia chose to garble the part of the lyrics dealing with the acceptance of the LGBT community, due to concerns over censorship in the country, on content deemed offensive. In response, Gaga urged her Malaysian fans, who wanted the uncensored version to be played, to take action by stating: "It is your job and it is your duty as young people to have your voices heard. You must do everything that you can if you want to be liberated by your society. You must call, you must not stop, you must protest peaceably."
A number of remixes were commissioned by Interscope Records, to accompany the song. The first set of remixes were done by LA Riots, Chew Fu and DJ White Shadow. Titled Born This Way – The Remixes Part 1, the remixes were released as CD single and digital download on March 15, 2011. Another set of remixes were done by Michael Woods, Grum, Dada Life, Zedd, Bimbo Jones and Twin Shadow. It was released on March 29, 2011, for digital download only, with the name Born This Way – The Remixes Part 2. Gaga released a "Country Road Version" of the song on March 15, 2011, via her Twitter account. The version opens with the sound of guitars and then introduces a fuzzed-out slide guitar and harmonica wheeze, with the original disco beats replaced by restrained brush drumming and a more laid-back vibe. Once the first chorus starts, the song chugs alongside the harmonica sounds. Just before the three-minute mark, Gaga sings new lyrics, "If I wanna make it country, baby, then it's OK, cuz I was born, I was born, I was born this way," over a picked mandolin. According to Gil Kaufman of MTV, the song breaks into full-on country-rock mode, reminiscent of late-period Bon Jovi music, in the final minute. A portion of the money earned from sales of "Country Road Version" went to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).
A Bollywood version of the song was done by Indian music producer duo Salim and Sulaiman Merchant. The remix was released on DesiHits.com, a website for South Asian music and entertainment news. The Merchants were discussing music projects with Anjula Acharia-Bath of DesiHits.com, when they came to learn that Gaga, who did not have much reach within the Indian diaspora, was interested in a Bollywood remix for "Born This Way". The Merchants were contacted by Gaga's manager, Troy Carter, and the remix was finalized. Sulaiman explained that they received Gaga's raw vocals from "Born This Way", and using it as a base, they designed the remix. "We sent her a rough cut of our composition for initial feedback on whether we were giving it the right groove. She loved it and that's how we went about it," he added. The Merchants used a number of Indian musical instruments like the dugi, sitar by Sunil Das, and the dhol and dholak in the chorus. Sulaiman told MTV News' Jocelyn Vena:
"It's been such a big track, it's been very popular, and when you consider the style, it's very aggressive. It's got all the stuff that's required to make it a nice clubby track, so for us, the most important thing was: How do you get it into a zone where it's palpable to the Indian flavor? And the first thing we did was bring in a sitar, and that changed the flavor a little bit. We kept the aggression but changed the style and made it a little more four on the floor, a little more house."
Salim said that he sang a little bit of alaap to give the remix a Sufi touch, "as that's the kind of music we do and it was also about adding our signature." Gaga's management team were satisfied with their remix and wanted them to do another remix of her next song, "Judas". The Bollywood remixes were a part of the Indian tracklist of Born This Way.
Born This Way received generally positive reviews from music critics upon its release. Michael Cragg from The Guardian called the song a "disco anthem", and said the chorus "crashes in with the weight of a discarded meat dress". He also felt that the "campness" of the music made the lyrics sound less serious than it is. Rick Florino of Artistdirect gave the song five out of five stars and labeled it as "an immediate pop classic", complimenting the hook and the chorus. Alison Schwartz from People added that "the club-ready anthem, complete with a few A Capella chants and Italian lyrics, shows off Gaga's powerhouse vocal chords—and knack for powerful songwriting." Jem Aswad from Billboard responded positively to the anthemic nature of the song, and felt that it would become a staple song to be played on the radio and dancefloors in the following months. Nick Levine of Digital Spy gave the song five out of five stars, describing it as a "life-affirming equality anthem, a straight-up club pumper and a flat-out fantastic pop song." Writing for Slant Magazine, Sal Cinquemani understood that Gaga "has tapped into something truly special, maybe even important." He also complimented the song's underlying message of equality. Meghan Casserly of Forbes expected "Born This Way" to be the biggest gay anthem ever, since, according to her, it was written with that purpose in mind. Annie Yuan of The Hollywood Reporter labeled the song "a hodge-podge of other pop tunes." Kevin O'Donnell of Spin gave a mixed review, pointing out lyrical similarities to Michael Jackson's "Black or White" (1991). He added that seeing the hype surrounding the project, he expected Gaga to release a song "as epic and instantly classic as The Beatles' 'A Day in the Life' or Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody'. Imagine what she'd come up with if she'd spent more than ten minutes writing [the song]."
Many critics noted similarities between "Born This Way" and Madonna's 1989 song, "Express Yourself". Popjustice website pointed out the influence of other Madonna songs like "Deeper and Deeper" (1992) and "Vogue" (1990). Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone acknowledged the influences of Madonna but pointed out that they would not overshadow the song, as it "[summed] up all the complex Gaga mythos, all her politics and Catholic angst and smeared lipstick, in one brilliant pop blast." Caryn Ganz, while writing for Yahoo! Music, criticized "Born This Way", stating that the song was "overworked, overwrought, noisy, cheesy, and very, very derivative." She specifically noted the similarities to songs like "When Love Takes Over" (2010), "Waterfalls" (1995), and three of Madonna's songs: "Express Yourself", "Ray of Light" (1998), and "Vogue". Megan Friedman from Time and Marissa Moss from The Huffington Post summarized their reaction as "mixed", due to the similarities they found with "Express Yourself". Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph noted that the imitative nature of the song would affect perceptions of Gaga's artistry, since "Born This Way" was "[basically] a reworking of Madonna's 'Express Yourself' with a touch of 'Vogue', which is a bit too much Madonna for someone who is trying to establish her own identity as the, er, new Madonna."
"I certainly think [Gaga] references me a lot in her work," Madonna said in the ABC interview. "And sometimes I think it's amusing and flattering and well-done. When I heard ['Born This Way'] on the radio … I said, 'that sounds very familiar."
Ann Powers of the Los Angeles Times concluded that "Born This Way" had an entirely different message from the Madonna songs it was being compared to and further defended it by saying, "Whether its sound comes too close to one or another Madonna song seems beside the point; what current pop hit doesn't go green by recycling something familiar?". Gaga herself addressed the comparisons on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, explaining that she had received an e-mail from Madonna's representatives, who had mentioned their support for "Born This Way". "If the Queen says it shall be, then it shall be," she added. CNN later reported that Madonna's representatives were not aware that the singer, or her team, had sent Gaga an e-mail regarding the situation. Two months later, while getting interviewed by NME magazine, Gaga further addressed the comparisons to "Express Yourself":
"Why would I try to put out a song and think I'm getting one over everybody? That's retarded. I will look in your eyes and tell you that I'm not dumb enough or moronic enough to think that you are dumb or moronic enough not to see that I would have stolen a melody. If you put the songs next to each other, side by side, the only similarities are the chord progression. It's the same one that has been in disco music for the last 50 years. Just because I'm the first fucking artist in 25 years to think of putting it on Top 40 radio, it doesn't mean I'm a plagiarist, it means I'm fucking smart. Sorry."
When interviewed by ABC News in 2012, Madonna was asked about the similarities between "Born This Way" and "Express Yourself", stating: "When I heard ['Born This Way'] on the radio ... I said, 'that sounds very familiar' ... It felt reductive." She also came to report to The Newsweek Daily Beast Company what she had in mind when she heard "Born This Way": "I thought, 'What a wonderful way to redo my song'. I mean, I recognised the chord changes. I thought it was… interesting."
At the end of 2011, Slant Magazine listed "Born This Way" as the fifth best song of the year, with Ed Gonzalez from the website commenting that the song is an "unmistakable landmark pop-cultural moment, a post-irony, post-metaphor, pansexual celebration, aimed squarely at the audience that probably needs it the most." It also placed the same rank on the list by MTV, with Gil Kaufman from the channel saying that the song and the music video "added to Gaga's mind-tripping visual canon and further established her as one of the biggest triple threats in music." PopMatters listed it at position 73 on their list of "The 75 Best Songs of 2011", with Sean McCarthy from the website saying that although Born This Way "is a labor to listen to because of its over-the-topness. No such problems exist with the title track. All of the Gaga's strengths on her one-hour monolith are condensed into a four-minute unstoppable ode to the outcasts of the world." Furthermore, The Guardian listed "Born This Way" as the 18th best song of 2011.
"I can't believe it. I'm humbled, honored and overwhelmed at the reception to 'Born This Way'. This has been so life-changing for me. Between Billboard and the international No. 1s, and the radio numbers... I couldn't be more blessed to have the fans I have. I knew when I wrote the song it was special, but I also knew that perhaps my fans or my label were hoping for me to deliver 'Bad Romance the Third' or 'Poker Face the Third'. I wanted to do exactly the opposite."
In the United States, "Born This Way" debuted at number one on the Hot 100Billboard chart, for the issue dated February 26, 2011, as well as becoming Gaga's third number one single. "Born This Way" became the nineteenth song to debut at number one on the Hot 100, and the 1000th number one single in the chart's history. The song sold 448,000 digital downloads in three days, the most downloads in a first week by a female artist, beating the previous record held by Britney Spears' "Hold It Against Me". The record would be later broke by Taylor Swift's "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" when it sold 623,000 digital copies in its debut week in the week ending September 1, 2012. "Born This Way" remained at the top the following week, selling another 509,000 copies in its first full week of release, and becoming the first song to enter the Hot 100 at number one and hold that position for a second week since Clay Aiken's "This Is The Night" in 2003. Subsequently, the song held the number one spot for six weeks making it the only song to debut at number one and stay there for over a month since Elton John's "Candle in the Wind 1997" in 1997. "Born This Way" went onto break the record for the fastest selling song in iTunes history, selling a million copies worldwide in five days. The song's CD single sold 24,000 copies in its first week of release and a total of 40,000 copies till March 2011. "Born This Way" sold 3.47 million digital copies in 2011 and became the tenth-best-selling song of the year in the United States. It is her eighth consecutive song to top the two million mark, and her sixth song to reach three million downloads. As of May 2012, it has sold 3.70 million digital downloads in the US.
"Born This Way" debuted at number 14 on Billboards Pop Songs chart with 4,602 plays after three days of availability, the highest detections total by a debuting song in the chart's history. It was the second-highest debut on that chart, behind Mariah Carey's "Dreamlover" (1993) which debuted at number 12. In its seventh week on the chart, "Born This Way" reached the top, becoming Gaga's seventh number-one song there, thus tying her with Pink and Rihanna as the artist's with the most number one songs on the chart. In addition, the song broke the overall airplay debut record with a first week audience of 78.5 million, entering at number six on the Radio Songs chart; this feat surpassed Janet Jackson's "All for You" (2001) which had debuted at number nine with an audience of 70 million. "Born This Way" topped the chart after seven weeks, becoming her second number-one radio song after "Paparazzi". "Born This Way" topped the Japan Hot 100 and Hot Dance Club Songs charts, reached top-ten on Latin Pop Airplay and Adult Contemporary, and number 11 on Adult Top 40 charts. "Born This Way" took the number one position in its debut week in Canada, remaining atop the Canadian Hot 100 for seven weeks.
On February 20, 2011, the single debuted at number one in Australia on the official ARIA Singles Chart, becoming Gaga's third number-one single there, and the highest selling song to debut at the top. "Born This Way" was certified four-times platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) for shipment of 280,000 copies of the single. The single debuted at number one on the New Zealand RIANZ charts, becoming Gaga's second number-one single there after "Poker Face" (2008). It was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ) for shipment of 15,000 copies of the single. In the United Kingdom, "Born This Way" logged first week sales of 60,000 digital copies, landing it at number three on the UK Singles Chart, which became its peak position. It has sold 625,000 copies in 2011 in the UK. Elsewhere, the song debuted atop the charts in Spain, Finland, Ireland and the Netherlands. "Born This Way" debuted at number two in Italy, France, Sweden, Norway, Austria, Germany and Belgium (Flanders). In addition, it debuted at number-four in Denmark and then moved to the second spot. It also entered the top ten of the charts in Czech Republic and Hungary and reached the top of the charts in South Korea. "Born This Way" had sold 8.2 million digital copies by November 2011 and had become the fifth best-selling digital single of the year, worldwide.
The music video was shot the weekend of January 22–24, 2011 in New York City, and was described by Gaga's team as a "profound, so inspiring and so incredibly beautiful" video. The video was directed by Nick Knight. Choreographer Laurieann Gibson told MTV News that the video would be "shocking" and one can expect the execution of the highest level of vocal music art and dance. Hollywoodlife.com reported that Gaga spent the first week of February editing the video at the Greenwich Hotel, New York, working during the night as she had to spend the morning rehearsing for her upcoming Grammy Awards performance. Media reports suggested that the singer might play the character of Jo Calderone, the male model she had portrayed in the September issue of Japanese Vogue Hommes. Fernando Garibay explained that the video "is of cultural relevance, and hopefully helps people that are an outcast, bullied. Hopefully makes people aware that it's OK to be yourself." According to Gaga, she was inspired by the paintings of Salvador Dalí and Francis Bacon, and their surrealistic images. Gibson explained the inspiration behind the video to MTV News:
"When she played it for me, it took me a while to find out the visual interpretation that I could give back to her. And so I woke up one night and I got it, and I said, 'I got it: We have to birth a new race.' From the gate, Gaga was like, 'I want Nick Knight for this video. I want a visual.' She was always birthing something visual in her head, and Nick Knight is just, well, he's prolific but he's so genius. It was about pushing the bar of what a music video should be and can be. [...] It's a different time; it's a different era; there are no limits. It is a viral message. I think that there's something in there for everyone, and that's what's so amazing about the video and so specific about the message."
Gibson recalled having to work with Gaga on her dancing in the video, and to make her a better dancer she wanted Gaga to be confident. Gaga chose New York to shoot the video because the city is her birthplace. Before shooting started, Gibson and Gaga decided there was only one place to work on the avant-garde, modern dance routine for the video, Alvin Alley, where Gibson had studied dance. "We rehearsed there because the choreography is really modern-based. It's, like, more technical than anything she's ever done," she recalled. Shooting also took place in Brooklyn for two days. Since Gaga did not want set pictures to be taken before the video was ready, her team had to hide the location and were successful, except at the last day when paparazzi started sneaking around.
The video featured full-bodied tattooed model Rick Genest (Rico), better known by his stage name Zombie Boy. Gaga painted her face in a similar way to Genest, in one of the main series of sequences. She said that the sequences displayed the fact that she would not allow society or critics to dictate her sense of beauty. "I tell you what I think is beauty, and hence the scene was of me and Rico defining ourselves in artistic way and not relying on society to dictate it," she added. The costumes for the video were designed by Formichetti, who blogged about the various designer pieces shown in it. In the opening sequence of the video, Gaga wore a head accessory by Alexis Bittar, a diamond neckpiece by Erickson Beamon with earrings by Pamela Love, and a stained-glass dress by Petra Storrs. Finger rings were provided by Erickson Beamon and chiffon clothes by Thierry Mugler. For the skeletons sequences, both she and Rico wore tuxedos by Mugler while the slime during the orgy scenes were courtesy of Bart Hess. For her Michael Jackson impression in the alley at the video's end, Gaga wore shirt and pants by Haus of Gaga, shoes by Natacha Marro, a Billykirk belt and LaCrasia gloves.
Released on Monday, February 28, 2011, the video begins with a brief shot of a unicorn's silhouette in a steam-filled alley, inside a pink triangle frame. The triangle transitions to a shot of Gaga, with two opposite facing heads, inspired by the Roman god of transition and beginnings Janus, sitting in an ornate glass throne amidst a star-filled space. As Bernard Herrmann's prelude to the movie Vertigo plays, Gaga tells the story of the creation of an extraterrestrial race that "bears no prejudice, no judgment, but boundless freedom." Gaga sits in the throne, giving birth to a "new race within the race of humanity." She explains that this was followed by the birth of evil, due to which Gaga splits into two opposing forces of good and evil. Her new half gives birth to a machine gun and fires it. The prologue concludes with Gaga questioning, "How can I protect something so perfect, without evil?"
Gaga, with shoulder and facial protrusions (prosthetic makeup mimicking subdermal implants) walks in a seemingly endless black space, where people are on their hands and knees in an organized pattern. She raises her hand and crouches down to join them. When the first verse begins, everyone dances to choreography. The scenes alternate between the dance, and Gaga singing on her throne in space. In the second verse, Gaga and Rico are in tuxedos, with her face painted to mirror his. Alternating clips show Gaga caressing and attempting to dance with him while he stays expressionless and motionless for the most part. When the chorus plays for the second time, Gaga sings in a room of mirrors, with her head displayed in a glass box among oddly distorted mannequin heads. In the succeeding shots, she is once again shown on her throne giving birth to more members of the new race. After choreographed routines by Gaga and her dancers, they all gather in a circle and embrace in a hug.
In the video's conclusion, Gaga's silhouette struts in an alley in a tribute to Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel" video. Her face is misconstrued, with sharp horns protruding from her face, glowing eyes, uneven hair, and a distinct Madonna-esque gap between her front teeth. Gaga has commented that she was teased as kids would call her "rabbit teeth". She sheds a single tear as the pink triangle frame appears again, and inside it, a silhouette of Gaga sitting atop the unicorn. A city and a rainbow appear in the background, and Gaga is seen in her zombie makeup, chewing bubble gum and blowing it, as the pink triangle zooms away.
The music video for "Born This Way" was met with generally positive reception among music critics. James Montgomery of MTV praised the overall creationism concept of the music video, adding that it "sort of makes sense, it sort of doesn't, but that 100 percent doesn't really matter much. This is Gaga at her most fabulous, her most out-there, her most, well, Gaga." In conclusion of his review, he wrote that the fantasy aspects of the video is overshadowed by the overall spectacle, which he believed was analogous to Gaga, "after thoroughly dominating this world with 'Born This Way,' [she] seems content to create brand-new worlds to tower over." Myrddin Gwynedd of The New Zealand Herald felt that Gaga's penchant for eccentric and provocative imagery, was extreme in the video. Raphael Chestang from Entertainment Tonight praised the performance of Gaga and her dancers in the video, also complimenting the fashion. Monica Herrera from Billboard noticed that the video bore similarities to the music video of Madonna's "Vogue" and "Borderline" (1984), while believing it to be "more of a high-fashion short film than a conventional music video". Jim Farber from New York Daily News wanted Gaga to add more humor in her videos, adding that although the video had "joyous" shock value, it definitely lacked creativity.
Oscar Moralde from Slant Magazine noted that in the video, "Gaga fully embraces the monstrous as a part of her." Moralde further explained that previously the singer had acknowledged her role as "Mother Monster", but never to the visceral, fully embodied extent that she does in the video. "The things that are monstrous, the things that are different—for Gaga, those are the things that are beautiful," he concluded. Gina Serpe from E! Online criticized it for being a "Madonna rip-off", while Matthew Perpetua of Rolling Stone noted similarities to some of Madonna's work and the imagery from in the 1927 German expressionist film, Metropolis. Ann Powers from Los Angeles Times noted that the video paid tribute to the Goddess movement and feminism. According to her, with the video Gaga made goddess culture accessible to the mass, by portraying images borrowed from fine art, cinema and cool subcultures. Examples given by her included the portrayal of Rico as her partner, instead of a conventional-looking male or female consort. Powers further added that "Gaga has found a way to place female empowerment at the center of her vision without sacrificing the gains she makes by being a daddy's girl or a 'boy toy'." Megan Powers from Time criticized the video and Gaga's usage of shock-imagery, which she still found "strange". The video has been noted for its cultural references and artistic similarities, not only to other recording artists such as Jackson and Madonna, but to Greek and Roman mythology, surrealism and the work of Swiss painter H. R. Giger and late fashion designer Alexander McQueen.
The video won two awards at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, in the categories of Best Female Video and Best Video With a Message. Along with the song winning the 2011 MTV Europe Music Award for Best Song, Gaga won also the award for Best Video with "Born This Way" at the same event.
On the February 9, 2011, episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, singers Justin Bieber and James Blunt performed their own rendition of the song along with DeGeneres, improvising the music, while singing the chorus. During the show, Gaga confirmed via telephone, that she will perform "Born This Way" on February 13, 2011, at the 53rd Grammy Awards. Gaga arrived at the ceremony in a giant incubating vessel that was carried onto the red carpet by numerous fashion models. She later emerged from another bigger egg on stage, dressed in a high ponytail, gold bra top and long skirt, with black and gold makeup and pointed shoulders and horns protruding from her face. The "Born This Way" performance was introduced by Ricky Martin. In the first few seconds after performing the intro of the song, Gaga emerged from the egg, and after the first chorus, she whipped her hair in a manner similar to singer Willow Smith. Before the "No matter gay, straight or bi" line of the song, an organ emerged from the stage floor. Gaga played the music on the organ, which was surrounded by mannequin heads submerged in gel, before belting out the rest of the bridge as her dancers surrounded her. Before leaving the stage, Gaga put on her trench and hat as the song faded out and Gaga and her dancers ended the performance with their hands put up in paws.
According to Gaga the Grammy performance was inspired by many things, including Gregorian music, Alvin Ailey dance moves and Martha Graham's dance energy. On The Tonight Show with Jay Leno she explained that Smith inspired her to "whip my hair back and forth on stage," referring to Smith's similar named song. Gaga continued that the incubating vessel was meant to signify an artistic statement of birthing a new race with no prejudice. The idea occurred to her when she was in Amsterdam on her tour bus, and was thinking about birth and embryos. She had thought to herself, "Gosh, the thing I hate most about doing award shows is, it can be distracting... I want to exist only for my fans and for the stage. I don't want to exist in this machine or this circus that is the industry. I wish I could be encapsulated for three days and just think only about my performance, think only about the album, think only about the future of my fans. So that's what I did." Jocelyn Vena from MTV felt that the performance was "surprisingly" sparse compared to Gaga's previous "over-the-top" endeavors. Soraya Roberts from New York Daily News was disappointed with the "highly expected" performance, feeling that it had copied Madonna and her Blond Ambition World Tour choreography. Jason Lipscultz from Billboard described the performance as "spirited", and felt that Gaga's appearance inside the egg was one of the memorable moments of the Grammy Awards. Jennifer Armstrong from Entertainment Weekly praised the performance saying that although there were definite influences of Madonna in it, the performance was one of the highlights of the show. Matthew Perpetua from Rolling Stone concurred that "It should come as no surprise that Lady Gaga's performance of her new single 'Born This Way' was the evening's most visually stunning and bizarre spectacle."
At the February 19, 2011, date of The Monster Ball Tour, Gaga performed "Born This Way" as a second encore, using the same general attire and choreography as the Grammy performance, however the incubation vessel was not present and slight alterations were made in the outfits of her dancers. The track was then added to the set-list of the concert tour. Tris McCall from The Star-Ledger was most impressed with the performance, calling it one of the highlights of the concert. He added that "reinterpretation of the single, which was far more Laura Nyro than Madonna, was such an improvement over the mechanized, tricked-out hit version that it was hard not to wish she could get back to the studio and re-cut it before the album comes out." Gaga performed an acoustic version on The Oprah Winfrey Show, in May 2011, along with another song from Born This Way, "You and I". Sitting atop a high stool, Gaga—in a red leather blazer, a floppy mask-like hat and see-through leopard bodysuit—played a piano made out of a wire high-heel structure. She began with an acoustic, piano-driven version of "Born This Way", and then removed the hat as a synth kicked in for "You and I". The high-heel structure was designed by Gaga's sister Natalie Germanotta.
At The Graham Norton Show in May 2011, Gaga performed "Born This Way" as the closing song of the show, while on Radio 1's Big Weekend in Carlisle, Cumbria it was the opening song of the set list. Gaga started the show by emerging from a coffin, with a pregnant belly and dressed in leather. She started singing the song, and her biker-punk theme dressed dancers removed her pregnant belly to display her spiky shoulder outfit. Another performance took place at the season finale of Saturday Night Live, where the singer wore a metallic dress and a side ponytail. Midway through her performance, she displayed a pregnant belly as she emerged from within her dancers. Few days later, Gaga performed the song on Good Morning America as a part of their "Summer Concert Series". She wore gold horns and a gold sequined jacket, and near the end of the performance she joined her dancers in a tank filled with 1,800 pounds of dyed gel. During a promotional visit in Europe in June 2011, piano versions of the song was performed on the final show of the sixth season of Germany's Next Topmodel, and at the EuroPride 2011 in Rome. A medley of "Judas" and "Born This Way" was the closing performance on the Paul O'Grady Live show in London. Ryan Love of Digital Spy had a preview of the show's recording, and felt that this was the best performance of the two songs by the singer. Gaga closed the 2011 MuchMusic Video Awards with "Born This Way", appearing on stage inside a hanging cocoon, and emerging from it wearing a high-waistline trouser and a ruffled feathered top. Near the end of the song, she removed the feathered top and the yellow jacket underneath it. While on tour in Japan, "Born This Way" was performed along with "The Edge of Glory" on the 2011 MTV Video Music Aid Japan. Gaga was dressed in a sparkly sequined bra and long skirt with a split up each thigh. After finishing performing "The Edge of Glory", she sneaked around the stage, and climbed some stairs to reach her piano—which was decked up to look like a giant spider—before launching into an acoustic version of "Born This Way". After the first verse, she came down from the piano and joined her dancers for the album version of the song. The song was included on her 2012 Born This Way Ball Tour of which she comes out screaming in what appears to be a giant alien womb. She then proceeds onto the floor and does a dance routine with her dancers. During this she sports a Medieval inspired dress similarly colored to the one she wore on her performance of the song at the 53rd Grammy Awards.][
On March 3, 2011, during her concert in Toronto (Canada), Gaga performed an acoustic version of the song with ten-year old Maria Aragon. Gaga had been impressed by Aragon's singing abilities when the ten-year old uploaded her own version of "Born This Way" to YouTube. Aragon was subsequently invited on stage to sing with Gaga. She appeared wearing a fedora hat and carrying a stuffed monkey. Gaga sat at the piano, pulled Aragon onto her lap, before proceeding to sing a soul-inspired rendition of "Born This Way", trading off verses. "Maria represents what this song is all about," Gaga told the Canadian crowd after the performance. "It's all about the next generation and the future." Later, Aragon was invited at Radio Hot 103, where she sang the chorus of "Born This Way" through the phone. She also performed the song on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on February 23, 2011.
Fellow American singer Katy Perry performed a stripped down version of "Born This Way", on the March 7, 2011, date of her California Dreams Tour, in Paris. The performance was accompanied by two guitarists playing acoustic guitars. The castGlee covered the song during a thematic episode of their second season. The episode was named "Born This Way", and aired in the United States in April 2011, on Fox. Their version of the song was released for digital download, and sold 73,000 copies to enter the Billboard Hot 100 at number 44, and on the Canadian Hot 100 at number 31. Later, the Glee cover version was performed at the 2011 leg of the Glee Live! In Concert! tour, the song also was included on the concert-film Glee: The 3D Concert Movie and the original soundtrack.
American singer-songwriter and parodist "Weird Al" Yankovic had sought permission from Gaga to parody "Born This Way", providing a brief description of the concept for his song. Her management responded that she must hear the song before providing approval. Yankovic obliged with the lyrics of "Perform This Way", which was released on April 25, 2011, as the first single from his thirteenth studio album, Alpocalypse, on iTunes Store. After what Yankovic described as "considerable expense" in writing, recording, and mastering the song in the studio, he contacted Gaga's management again with a completed recording of the song. He was subsequently refused permission, without Gaga listening to the track and Yankovic getting the impression that the refusal came from the singer herself. Left with a completed song and abandoned plans for an outlandish music video to promote the song and album, Yankovic released it on YouTube. It was then that Gaga actually heard the song, and personally contacted Yankovic, giving him green light to include the song on Alpocalypse, telling him that her manager had been the one to refuse permission, which was done without her knowledge or input. In July 2011 Kidz Bop Kids did Born This Way on their 20th studio album Kidz Bop 20 BBC Radio 1's Alex Full a.k.a. the Cornish Fairy and singer Kirsten Joy Gill recorded a cover of the song called "Cornish This Way" in August 2011 as a modern Cornish anthem. The song was recorded at the Maida Vale Studios in London, and the music video was shot in Newquay, Cornwall at the Boardmasters Festival. In 2011, Alvin and the Chipmunks and The Chipettes covered the song as the first in the three-song finale medley (the others being "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" and "Firework") for their film Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked and appears on its soundtrack. French Canadian superstar Marie-Mai included the song on a radio hits medley during her Tournee Version 3.0 tour. On May 20, 2012, a video leaked from rehearsals of Madonna's MDNA Tour showed Madonna incorporating "Born This Way" into "Express Yourself" followed by a performance of "She's Not Me", a song from her 2008 album Hard Candy, creating a media frenzy with many speculating that she was "dissing" Gaga and the song. Madonna included the sequence in her tour, during the second segment. Alice Cooper added a cover of the song to the 2012 leg of his No More Mr. Nice Guy tour. It features altered lyrics, though it maintains the chorus and melody of Gaga's version. Later, Gaga showed appreciation for the cover on her Twitter account.
Credits adapted from Born This Way album liner notes.
The Monster Ball Tour was the second worldwide concert tour by American recording artist Lady Gaga. Staged in support of her album The Fame Monster (2009) and comprising a set list of songs from that and her debut album The Fame (2008), the tour visited arenas and stadiums from 2009 through 2011. Described as "the first-ever pop electro opera" by Gaga, the tour was announced in October 2009 after an intended joint concert tour with hip-hop artist Kanye West was suddenly canceled. The Monster Ball Tour commenced four days after the release of The Fame Monster in November 2009.
A revision of the tour occurred after only a few months of performances, due to Gaga's concern that the original version was constructed within a very short span of time. The stage of the original show looked like a frame, comparable to that of a hollowed-out television set. Since The Fame Monster dealt with the paranoias Gaga had faced, the main theme of the original shows became human evolution, while elements of the canceled tour with West were still included in some parts. From 2010 onwards, the revamped shows had a New York theme and portrayed a story set in the city, where Gaga and her friends got lost and had to find their way to "the Monster Ball". Both versions of the show were divided into five segments, with the last being the encore. Each of them featured Gaga in new outfits, singing songs related to the concept of the segment, as they were followed by a video interlude.
Commentators commended Gaga's singing abilities, theatricality of the show, and her sense of style and fashion. The Monster Ball was a commercial success, with sold-out shows and demand for tickets prompting organizers to add more dates to the itinerary. It ultimately grossed an estimated US$227.4 million from 200 reported shows and an audience of 2.5 million. The Monster Ball Tour became one of the highest-grossing tours of all time. At the 2010 Billboard Touring Awards, Gaga won the Breakthrough Performer Award, as well as the Concert Marketing & Promotion Award, the latter being an acknowledgment of her partnership with sponsor Virgin Mobile.
HBO filmed a special of The Monster Ball Tour during Gaga's February 2011 shows at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Documenting the whole concert with intersperses of backstage footage, the special, titled Lady Gaga Presents the Monster Ball Tour: At Madison Square Garden, aired in May and was released on DVD and Blu-ray on November 21, 2011.
Initially, hip-hop artist Kanye West and Lady Gaga had plans to launch a joint tour in October 2009, known as "Fame Kills: Starring Lady Gaga and Kanye West". Amid negative response to his controversial outbursts at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, West declared that he would take a hiatus from his music career. Nevertheless, the complete schedule for Fame Kills was released, with the tour set to begin on November 10, 2009, in Phoenix, Arizona. Shortly afterwards, the tour was officially cancelled without any explanation. Gaga addressed the situation at Billboards annual Women in Music luncheon, where she cited creative differences as the reason for the tour's cancellation. In an interview she stated, "[Kanye] is going to take a break, but the good news is, I am not."
After assuring the public that she would be embarking on her own tour, Gaga officially announced The Monster Ball Tour on October 15, 2009. It was originally planned to debut in London in early 2010, but ended up kicking off on November 27, 2009, in Montreal. Rapper Kid Cudi and singer Jason Derülo were confirmed as the supporting acts for the tour, with Cudi supporting Gaga from the beginning of the tour, and Derülo joining from December 28, 2009. The official poster for the tour featured Gaga in Versace 676 sunglasses and wearing a gyroscope around her called "The Orbit", which she first wore on the October 3, 2009, episode of Saturday Night Live. The contraption was designed by Nasir Mazhar in collaboration with Gaga's own creative production company, Haus of Gaga. The tour's sponsor of the American leg was Virgin Mobile USA, who introduced the "Free I.P." program which offered free show tickets to fans who volunteered their time to homeless youth organizations.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Gaga explained that she wanted to put together an expensive looking, beautiful show which would be affordable for her fans. She asserted that the tour was a "pop-electro opera" because the theatrics and the story elements interwoven in it were played like an opera. According to her, the design of the show was innovative and forward in terms of creativeness. Gaga wanted to change the shape of the stage and designed one with Haus of Gaga that was "essentially a frame with forced perspective, and the frame is put inside the stage." The stage had a triangular inset, like a diamond, and everywhere the show took place, the dimensions were measured in such a way that the box fit any stage. "So no matter where I go, my fans get the same experience. So often you go into theaters and there's ambient light flying in from all sorts of places, and the audience is in different spots, and the stage is in different shapes and lengths and widths and depths, so this is a way for me to control all the light and all of the different elements of the show," she added.
The show revolved around themes of evolution, as well as her paranoias represented on The Fame Monster. While developing the tour Gaga spoke about original sin and demons inside human beings; "So we talked about growth, and that led us into this kind of scientific space, and we started talking about evolution and the evolution of humanity and how we begin as one thing, and we become another." This theme of monsters and evolution played a part in the fashion for the tour, which according to Gaga was "another level from where we were with the Fame Ball. [...] It's going to be a truly artistic experience that is going to take the form of the greatest post-apocalyptic house party that you've ever been to." Although Gaga stated that she was inspired by the things she and West were doing with the Fame Kills tour, she concluded that she did not want to use any of the things that they had designed together. Later, she said that Fame Kills was "the great lost tour", but confirmed that some of the elements of it were incorporated into The Monster Ball.
In an interview with MTV News, Gaga further described the tour:
"I begin as a cell and I grow and change throughout the show. And it's also done in what now is becoming my aesthetic, which is, you know, it's part pop, part performance art, part fashion installation—so all of those things are present... It's a story, it's me battling all my monsters along the way. I'm playing all the music from The Fame, all the music from The Fame Monster. And the stage that I designed with the Haus [of Gaga] is a giant cube that sits. Imagine you were to hollow out a TV and just break the fourth wall on a TV screen. It forces you to look at the center of the TV. It's my way of saying, 'My music is art.'"
For the performance of "Paparazzi", Gaga had collaborated with her Haus of Gaga creative partner Matthew "Matty Dada" Williams. She had a different vision for it in the beginning. Dada thought that Gaga should wear her hair braided, which Gaga had never done before. Dada's explanation for the concept was the look of Rapunzel, the fairy-tale character. He felt that "it's something people deeply understand. And when you're wearing sunglasses on a scaffolding piece with a giant alien dancing behind you, I promised [to Gaga] it's not going to look like Rapunzel.'"
In December 2009, Gaga revealed that she planned to cancel the concept of the original shows of The Monster Ball Tour and start afresh. She felt that the revamp of the show was needed as the original tour was constructed in a very short span of time. Gaga recalled that after West and she split up for this tour, she was unsure if she could get a show together in time, but nevertheless wanted to promote The Fame Monster. Hence she was able to put together "something that, in truth, I never would have done if I had a longer amount of time". The revamp of the tour was planned from the arena shows in the United Kingdom from February 2010. "My team thinks I'm completely psychotic. But I don't fucking care what they think. [...] Well, just to give you an idea, the stage is about four times the size of the one we're on now and conceptually, it's completely different. One thing that has been lost over the past 10-15 years, in pop music, is the idea of showbiz. And this is definitely going to bring that back," clarified Gaga. The main inspirations behind the show were film musicals like The Wizard of Oz (1939) and West Side Story (1961), science-fiction film Metropolis (1927), and the television mini-series Angels in America (2003).
During an interview with London's 95.8 Capital FM radio station, Gaga further elaborated on the changes in the show. She said that the show was constructed like a piece of musical theater. It also incorporated a number of contemporary and old musical pieces, some of them being re-recorded specifically for the show itself. A new keytar was constructed for the show and was named Emma. The instrument was created by the Haus of Gaga and the singer said, "We have this new instrument that I brought to the Brits tonight, 'Emma', which is what I was playing on the stage. She's a hybrid from all these other instruments." During an interview on KISS-FM with Ryan Seacrest, on his show On Air with Ryan Seacrest, Gaga explained that the concert tour was still called Monster Ball, but it had become more of a musical and less of a concert. It had a New York theme at its core; telling a story where Gaga and her friends traveled to the Monster Ball, but got lost.
Beginning behind a giant, green, laser lit video screen featuring scrim lights, Gaga appeared in a bulb-covered futuristic silver jeweled jumpsuit with matching eye makeup and mask and sang "Dance in the Dark" as dancers, dressed in white balaclavas and white jumpsuits, moved around her. The video screen, resembling an electric mathematical grid, was eventually lifted during the performance. After the song, Gaga strapped a portable silver jeweled keyboard to herself and began to perform "Just Dance" while emerging from the inside of a white cube on a platform. This was followed by a brief video intermission and Gaga returned onstage in an off-white costume, that resembled an alien ecto-skeleton, while the dancers wore skeletal headgear. She started performing "LoveGame", which ended with Gaga pointing towards her groin. Flames appeared on the video screens, as she got out of her ecto-skeleton outfit. After stripping down to a silver bodysuit she performed "Alejandro", and was carried by her crotch by one of her male dancers, and later lowered onto another one of them.
The section was followed by a video interlude featuring snarling dogs and brooding ravens. The performance of "Monster" began with Gaga emerging in a black feathered jacket and performing dance moves reminiscent of Michael Jackson as the backdrops featured a black bird's wings. She continued with two songs from The Fame Monster titled "So Happy I Could Die" and "Teeth", after which she removed the feathered dress. Gaga then started performing the song "Speechless" on piano, and continued with an acoustic version of "Poker Face". Rapper Kid Cudi joined her then to perform his song "Make Her Say" which contains a sample of "Poker Face". This segment was followed by the performance of "Fashion" and "The Fame", during which Gaga wore a gold Egyptian styled crown and matching body suit, compared to the garment of a viking. Gaga crawled atop her piano during the follow-up songs "The Fame" and "Money Honey", after which she returned to the stage, dressed in black vinyl and nearly nude in a red patent leather bikini, to perform "Boys Boys Boys," backed by a squadron of skinny and shirtless leather boys. During "Poker Face", she wore a bondage inspired black leather dress with guns hanging from it and a hat made of muzzles, and pumped her hands in the air while performing the song. This was followed by Gaga sitting on a dentist's chair and spreading her legs during "Paper Gangsta". Another video interlude followed, displaying arty poses of Gaga in gothic looks.
She returned to the stage while wearing multiple donned braided extensions for "Paparazzi". Gaga was perched atop a railing and from each of her braids, a dancer was attached on the stage. A backdrop of stars were shown during the performance. The performance ended with the railing taking Gaga high above the stage, where she faked her death. This was followed by "Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)" as she descended from the top—which signified her rebirth—amidst white lights and mechanical fog. She wore a giant gyroscope around her, akin to "The Orbit" by Haus of Gaga. The last song of the show was "Bad Romance" which she performed in an '80s-inspired white power suit with exaggerated high shoulders and high-waisted pants. The show ended with a video of Gaga getting a heart-shaped tattoo on her shoulder, with the word "Dad" in the center of it.
After revisions, the show was divided into four sections: City, Subway, Forest, Monster Ball and concluded with an encore. It began with a projected video onto a curtain—which contained images of Gaga smoking a cigarette—while a club remix of "Dance in the Dark" played. Surrounded by violet light, her silhouette appeared on the curtain while she performed "Dance in the Dark". Once the curtain was removed and the chorus reached, the New York cityscape and neon lights were revealed. Gaga gyrated on the set dressed in a "futuristic, angular, glitter ball suit". After descending from her fire escape, she poked around in the hood of a dilapidated green Rolls Royce while performing "Glitter and Grease". Upon checking under the vehicle's bonnet, Gaga revealed a keyboard and began to play the opening notes of "Just Dance". Gaga then performed "Beautiful, Dirty, Rich" while scaling various pieces of scaffolding and subsequently "The Fame" where she rose from beneath the stage and played her keytar Emma, wearing a giant red cape.
"LoveGame" saw the beginning of the Subway section, with Gaga wearing a translucent nun's habit, and a skeletal hand. The song was performed with the aid of a gilded subway car and a "disco stick" while her next number "Boys Boys Boys" featured muscly male dancers cavorting in spandex shorts. After a costume change, Gaga burst into "Money Honey" with an extended keytar solo after emerging from beneath the stage as the New York scenery disappeared around her. As she walked towards the Glitter way, Gaga recalls when she was in jail and her friend Beyoncé bailed her out, thus performing the song "Telephone". A piano is then brought in and Gaga goes into the song "Brown Eyes", after which she performs "Speechless". This segment also saw the performance of "You and I" in some of the shows; the song was later added to Gaga's second studio album, Born This Way. During this song, she tells the audience about her life as a teen in New York, and how she became who she is today. Gaga and her friends then continue down the Glitter Way, and soon they run into an angel, who plays a tune that summons a twister, taking them closer to the Monster Ball, but landing them in a strange place that they did not know. Gaga sings "So Happy I Could Die", decked in a white dress, that moves on its own accord.
The third segment begins with Gaga returning on the stage and singing "Monster", inside a forest with black, thorn-like trees. Her dancers conglomerate around her near the end and Gaga reveals herself to be covered with blood. She then states that the thing she hates more than money is the truth and performs "Teeth", while introducing her band. Gaga and her friends then find the Eternal Fountain, which pours out red colored liquid and Gaga explains that it bleeds for anyone. She starts singing "Alejandro" while jumping into the fountain and singing, as blood pours over her. Gaga then returns and sings "Poker Face" on the cat-walk. After the performance, she and her friends find themselves in a dark place, and after some dialogue, Gaga's friends run off, leaving her alone to deal with the Fame Monster, a giant angler fish. Gaga starts singing "Paparazzi" and eventually kills the Fame Monster by shooting sparks from her pyrotechnic bra and underwear. She then leaves for the Monster Ball and after appearing there, meanwhile Fan's assume the show is over, suddenly Gaga appears on stage and performs "Bad Romance" while standing inside a giant gyroscope.
Jane Stevenson from Toronto Sun gave the concert four out of five stars and said that Lady Gaga came across as a "confident, colourful, and campy performer. [...] Gaga's success was evident with slick-looking videos, lights, elaborate costumes, dancers, and yes, a band, even if her stage was sometimes left dark as she left to make numerous changes." T'Cha Dunlevy for The Gazette noted that the performance was lacking—adding that the show never reached its peak until the end, when Gaga performed the "real rendition" of "Poker Face" and "Bad Romance." "Better late than never," Dunlevy concluded. Aedan Helmer from Jam! magazine said that "At first blush, it might seem the real driving force behind Gaga's meteoric rise to fame is her hand-picked cadre of costume and set designers—dubbed Haus of Gaga—who seemingly know no bounds when it comes to pushing the envelope of haute couture and the theatre of the absurd. [...] But what really sets Gaga apart from the middling masses of lip-synching Britney clones and Idol wannabes is her pure, unadulterated musical talent. [...] The Lady can sing." Theatre critic Kelly Nestruck, while writing for The Guardian, said "While The Monster Ball has nothing on the great operas or the golden age of musical theatre, Lady Gaga's 'electro-pop opera' is at least twice as entertaining and infinitely fresher than any stage musical written over the last decade." Lauren Carter from Boston Herald praised the show saying "[Gaga] only has two albums under her belt but who cares? Every song feels like a hit, and Gaga-as-star is already taking on Madonna-like proportions. [...] After [the show] at the Wang Theater, fans could justifiably walk away thinking Lady Gaga is crazy, brilliant or both." Jeremy Adams from Rolling Stone reviewed the performance at Wang Center in Boston and said that "Throughout the evening, Gaga [..] aimed for a kind of pop theatricality that might potentially cement her burgeoning status as performance artist."
Chris Johnson of Daily Mail complimented the costumes worn in the tour. Aidin Vaziri of San Francisco Chronicle said that "During her 90-minute performance—not so much a live concert as a meticulously choreographed spectacle—Lady Gaga also evoked Kanye West with the futuristic set, Britney Spears in her heavy-lidded stage movements, Courtney Love with her interminable between-song monologues highlighted by four-letter squelches and—who else?—Madonna for, oh, just about everything else." Jim Harrington from San Jose Mercury News felt that the show would have been better technically if around thirty minutes were lessened from it. James Montogomery from MTV reviewed the concert at San Diego and said that "[Gaga] powered through and turned the San Diego Sports Arena into a raucous, delightfully raw discotheque." Writing for the Las Vegas Sun, Joe Brown observed that "Lady Gaga out-Cher-ed Cher, made Cirque du Soleil and Britney's 'Circus Tour' look like county fair carnivals, and made New Year's Eve in Las Vegas anticlimactic." Los Angeles Times writer Ann Powers avouched that the tour was "an invigoratingly ambitious show, executed with vigor by its star and her expressive dancers." Jon Pareles from The New York Times said that the tour always provided "something worth a snapshot: a sci-fi tableau, perhaps, or a skimpy, glittery costume. The more her image gets around, the better Lady Gaga does."
Mark Savage from BBC Online reviewed the first of the revised performances in the United Kingdom. Savage described the concert as a hugely ambitious, terrifyingly loud show, "spread over four acts and held together by a flimsy 'narrative' about Gaga and her dancer friends trying to get to a party." He was also impressed that the entire spectacle was put together in just four weeks. MTV's James Montogomery reviewed the first North American performance of the tour in Montreal, Canada. He said that the tour was "packed with more wattage than an overheated power plant and more costume changes than a thousand Vegas reviews, it's the kind of show that leaves you with wide eyes, ringing ears, aching limbs and absolutely zero chance of making it to work in the morning." New York Daily News writer Jim Farber expected that the theatricality of the show might have obscured the songs, but instead felt that Gaga's voice was perfect and the concert actually "pushed Gaga a long way towards her obvious goal – to be the queen of this pop moment." Glenn Gamboa from Newsday said that Gaga "built her monster-sized fame on knowing how to create a spectacle and then having the substance to back it up. For every coat made of Kermit the Frog dolls or headdresses that covered her face in red lace, there was a stomping disco anthem or tender piano ballad to match. That back and forth is the centerpiece of her Monster Ball Tour." Dan Aquilante from the New York Post was critical of the show, calling it "scripted, silly, and tired, right down to Gaga's patter." He added that the 15 costumes Gaga wore during the two-hour plus gig were "more successful helping her cement the notion of an erotic and exotic otherworld." Writing in the Telegram & Gazette, Craig S. Semon was appreciative of the show, calling it "an out-of-this-world blast and end-of-the-world blow-out that must be seen to be believed."
Rick Massimo, reviewing the concert for The Providence Journal, wrote that as a musical theater, the Monster Ball was not that exciting, but "that leaves the music, and when you lay two hours of her songs end-to-end, it’s easy to see the vision, the intelligence and a serious songwriting talent at work." Jay N. Miller from The Enterprise was impressed with the show, saying that the music was somewhere between industrial disco and house music with a rock edge, but "always danceable". Philip Borof from Bloomberg Television reviewed the concert in New York's Madison Square Garden and found it average, calling the crowd decked in various costumes as the "most entertaining". Toronto Stars Ben Rayner appreciated the show, exclaiming "hot damn, that was one hell of a show Gaga brought to the Air Canada Centre Sunday night and suddenly it doesn’t seem redundant to add one more voice to the Lady Gaga choir." Mariel Concepcion from Billboard felt that Gaga "may be best known for her gaudy outfits and over-the-top stage shows, but at her hometown headlining debut at Madison Square Garden last night, the pop phenomenon proved she's a regular girl at heart." The Seattle Times staff writer Marian Liu declared that as "one of the most anticipated touring acts of the year, [Gaga] stimulated the crowd's senses on Saturday night in a way few artists can. She brought spectacle and backed it up with soul." The Guardian journalist Alexis Petridis reviewed the opening show of the European leg, and commented that "it takes a certain je ne sais quoi to open your show doing something that looks suspiciously like mime on a rickety metal staircase while wearing an outfit with shoulderpads the size of the deck on a small aircraft carrier." Due to the release of her second single 'Judas' from her then upcoming album 'Born This Way' she performed the new single during the last leg of the tour to promote the single. The song 'Judas' closed the show instead of the single 'Born This Way'.
As soon as the dates for the show were announced, there was high demand for tickets. As sponsor of the North American Monster Ball Tour, Virgin Mobile customers had access to presale tickets. Bob Stohrer, VP of Marketing for Virgin Mobile USA said "We are excited to take our partnership with Lady Gaga and The Monster Ball Tour to another level. [...] We'll also build on our partnership around combating youth homelessness and continue to enhance the tour experience for fans and our customers." Shows in the first leg of the tour were sold-out completely, prompting Live Nation Inc. to announce that Gaga will return to the U.S. in February 2011 for another run of U.S. dates. The 2011 dates for the North American Monster Ball Tour were announced as starting from February 19 in Atlantic City, with ten arena dates confirmed through April 18. Additional shows were announced, and Semi Precious Weapons collaborated with Gaga until the tour ended. Live Nation Entertainment's global touring division, headed by chairman Arthur Fogel, held the reins as promoter/producer of the Monster Ball tour.
Fogel commented on Gaga's lack of experience in a tour and said that it was an opportunity for her. "As an artist with that kind of talent and vision emerges, it creates a lot of excitement, and ticket sales worldwide demonstrate that people are really excited to see the show. Over the course of the next many months we're trying to play to as many people in as many places as possible," Fogel added. "It's an across the board home run." Demands increased and another additional six dates were added to the announced itinerary. The Monster Ball sold out shows in Toronto, Vancouver and San Jose who were compelled to add second dates in each city. In Los Angeles, to ensure that concert goers had the best possible access to tickets, a second performance was announced prior to the onsale of the first shows, and both Staples Center concerts were completely sold out. Billboard estimated that by the time the tour wraps up in 2011, it would have grossed close to US$200 million worldwide.
The ticket money from the final performance at Radio City was donated for the Haiti earthquake relief. Gaga announced on the re-scheduled show at Elliott Hall of Music on January 26, 2010, that about US$500,000 was collected for the relief. At the 2010 Billboard Touring Awards, Gaga won the Breakthrough Performer Award, as well as the Concert Marketing & Promotion Award, the latter being an acknowledgement of her partnership with Virgin Mobile. Billboard also placed The Monster Ball Tour at position four on their Year-end Top 25 Tours of 2010. They reported that the tour had grossed US$116 million from 122 shows, with an audience of 1.3 million. By the end of the year, Pollstar announced that the tour had earned a total of US$133.6 million from 138 shows, making her the only woman to be placed in their list of the Top 10 Tours of 2010.
The top grosser of The Monster Ball Tour were the two concerts at the Bell Centre in Montreal, which collectively earned over US$10 million. By amassing an audience of 111,060 from two shows, the performances at the Foro Sol in Mexico City attained the largest audience of the tour. Gaga's show at the United Center in Chicago became the highest-grossing concert of the third American leg; it earned an estimated US$1.8 million from 15,845 sold seats at an February 28, 2011 performance. The largest crowd, however, came from the Nashville market with 14,925 present at the Bridgestone Arena performance on April 19. The tour continued its presence in the Atlanta market on April 18, 2011, where she performed to 10,864 people at the Arena at Gwinnett Center. The third American leg concluded in Uniondale, New York with a sellout crowd of 13,195 at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on April 23, 2011. At the conclusion of 2011, The Monster Ball Tour grossed over US$70 million dollars from 45 shows. By May 2011, the tour had grossed a total of US$227.4 million from the 200 reported shows, drawing an audience of 2.5 million.
HBO filmed a special of The Monster Ball Tour during Gaga's February 21–22, 2011 shows at Madison Square Garden. The special, titled Lady Gaga Presents the Monster Ball Tour: At Madison Square Garden, aired on HBO in May 7, 2011 and Sky1 on May 21, 2011 in the United States and the United Kingdom respectively. Prime showed the special in New Zealand on June 2, 2011. The special showed the whole of the Monster Ball Tour, and some backstage footage, which was shown in black-and-white. It ended with another black-and-white backstage scene where Gaga and her backup singers perform "Born This Way" a capella.
After its broadcast, the special received positive reviews; critics praised Gaga's performance, but doubted her sincerity during her on-stage rambling and in pre-concert scenes. The special was nominated for five honors at the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards: Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special; Outstanding Directing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Special; Outstanding Technical Direction, Camerawork, Video Control for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special; Outstanding Picture Editing for a Special (Single or Multi-Camera); and Outstanding Lighting Design/Lighting Direction for a Variety, Music or Comedy Special.
November 27, 2009 – January 26, 2010
February 18, 2010 – May 6, 2011
Act 1: City
Act 2: Subway
Piano ballads (usually two of the listed songs performed)
Act 3: Forest
Act 4: Monster Ball
Credits and personnel as per The Monster Ball Tour (original and revised show) booklets.
Born This Way
Haus of Gaga
Lady Gaga songs
Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta ( ; born March 28, 1986), known by her stage name Lady Gaga, is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, activist, businesswoman, fashion designer and actress. Born and raised in New York City, she primarily studied at the Convent of the Sacred Heart and briefly attended New York University's Tisch School of the Arts before withdrawing to focus on her musical career. She soon began performing in the rock music scene of Manhattan's Lower East Side. By the end of 2007, record executive and producer Vincent Herbert signed her to his label Streamline Records, an imprint of Interscope Records. Initially working as a songwriter at Interscope Records, her vocal abilities captured the attention of recording artist Akon, who also signed her to Kon Live Distribution, his own label under Interscope.
In 2008, Lady Gaga came to prominence with her debut studio album The Fame, which was a critical and commercial success. The record included the international number-one tracks "Just Dance" and "Poker Face". In 2009, her extended play The Fame Monster was released to a similar reception, and produced the hit singles "Bad Romance", "Telephone", and "Alejandro". Its accompanying Monster Ball Tour became one of the highest-grossing concert tours of all time. Lady Gaga's second album Born This Way (2011) topped albums charts in most major markets and generated chart-topping songs "Born This Way", "Judas", and "The Edge of Glory". Her third album Artpop is planned for release in 2013.
Influenced by David Bowie, Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Queen, Lady Gaga is recognized for her flamboyant, diverse and outré contributions to the music industry through her fashion, performances and music videos. As of October 2011, she had sold an estimated 23 million albums and 64 million singles worldwide and her singles are some of the best-selling worldwide. Her achievements include five Grammy Awards and 13 MTV Video Music Awards. Lady Gaga has consecutively appeared on Billboard magazine's Artists of the Year (scoring the definitive title in 2010), ranked fourth in VH1's list of 100 Greatest Women in Music, is the fourth best selling digital singles artist in US according to RIAA, is regularly placed on lists composed by Forbes magazine, including The World's 100 Most Powerful Women from 2010 to 2013, and was named one of the most influential people in the world by Time magazine. Besides her musical career, she involves herself with humanitarian causes and LGBT activism.
Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta was born on March 28, 1986, in New York City, to Cynthia (née Bissett) and Joseph Germanotta, an internet entrepreneur. Descending from Sicilian/Italian and more distant French-Canadian roots, Gaga is the elder of two children. Her sister, Natali, a fashion student, was born in 1992. Despite her affluent upbringing on Manhattan's Upper West Side, Gaga says that her parents "both came from lower-class families, so we've worked for everything—my mother worked eight to eight out of the house, in telecommunications, and so did my father." Gaga was raised Roman Catholic. From age eleven she attended the Convent of the Sacred Heart, a private all-girls Roman Catholic school on Manhattan's Upper East Side. She described her academic life in high school as "very dedicated, very studious, very disciplined" but also "a bit insecure": "I used to get made fun of for being either too provocative or too eccentric, so I started to tone it down. I didn't fit in, and I felt like a freak." Acquaintances dispute that she did not fit in at school. Gaga began playing the piano at the age of four, wrote her first piano ballad at thirteen, and started to perform at open mic nights by the age of fourteen. She performed lead roles in high school productions, including Adelaide in Guys and Dolls and Philia in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. She also appeared in a very small role as a mischievous classmate in the television drama series The Sopranos in a 2001 episode titled "The Telltale Moozadell" and auditioned for New York shows without success.
After high school, her mother encouraged her to apply for the Collaborative Arts Project 21 (CAP21), a musical theatre training conservatory at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. By age seventeen, after becoming one of twenty students to gain early admission, she lived in an NYU dorm on 11th Street. In addition to sharpening her songwriting skills, she composed essays and analytical papers on art, religion, social issues and politics, including a thesis on pop artists Spencer Tunick and Damien Hirst. She also auditioned for various roles and won the part of an unsuspecting diner customer for MTV's Boiling Points, a prank reality television show.
Gaga withdrew from CAP21 at 19, in the second semester of her sophomore year, deciding to focus on her musical career. Her father agreed to pay her rent for a year, on the condition that she re-enroll at Tisch if unsuccessful. "I left my entire family, got the cheapest apartment I could find, and ate shit until somebody would listen," she remembers. Settled in a small apartment on Rivington Street towards the summer of 2005, Gaga recorded a couple of songs with hip-hop singer Grandmaster Melle Mel, for an audio book accompanying the children's book The Portal in the Park, by Cricket Casey. She also began a band called the Stefani Germanotta Band (SGBand) with some friends from NYU – guitarist Calvin Pia, bassist Eli Silverman, drummer Alex Beckham and booking manager Frank Fredericks – in September of that year. The band played a mixture of songs: some self-penned alongside classic rock numbers like Led Zeppelin's "D'yer Mak'er". Playing in bars like the Greenwich Village's The Bitter End and the Lower East Side's the Mercury Lounge, the band developed a small fan base and caught the eye of music producer Joe Vulpis. Soon after arranging time in Vulpis' studio in the months that followed, SGBand were selling their extended plays Words and Red and Blue (both 2005) at gigs around New York while becoming a local fixture of the downtown Lower East Side club scene. SGBand reached their career peak at the 2006 Songwriters Hall of Fame New Songwriters Showcase at The Cutting Room in June where Wendy Starland, a musician, appeared as a talent scout for music producer Rob Fusari. Starland informed Fusari – who was searching for a female singer to front a new band – of Gaga's ability and contacted her. With SGBand disbanded, Gaga traveled daily to New Jersey to work on songs she had written and compose new material with the music producer. While in collaboration, Fusari compared some of her vocal harmonies to those of Freddie Mercury, lead singer of Queen.
Fusari claims to have created the "Lady Gaga" moniker after the Queen song "Radio Ga Ga". Gaga was in the process of trying to come up with a stage name when she received a text message from Fusari that read "Lady Gaga." He explained, "Every day, when Stef came to the studio, instead of saying hello, I would start singing 'Radio Ga Ga'. That was her entrance song" and that the text message was the result of a predictive text glitch that changed "radio" to "lady". She texted back, "That's it," and declared, "Don't ever call me Stefani again." The New York Post, however, has doubted the accuracy of this version of events, and claims that the name resulted from a marketing meeting.
Although the musical relationship between Fusari and Gaga was unsuccessful at first, the pair soon set up a company titled Team Lovechild in which they recorded and produced electropop tracks and sent them to music industry bosses. Joshua Sarubin, the head of A&R at Def Jam Recordings, responded positively and vied for the record company to take a chance on her "unusual and provocative" performance. After having his boss Antonio "L.A." Reid in agreement, Gaga was signed to Def Jam in September 2006 with the intention of having an album ready in nine months. However, she was dropped by the label after only three months – an unfortunate period of her life that would later inspire her treatment for the music video for her 2011 single "Marry the Night". Devastated, Gaga returned to the solace of the family home for Christmas and the nightlife culture of the Lower East Side. She became increasingly experimental: fascinating herself with emerging neo-burlesque shows, go-go dancing at bars dressed in little more than a bikini in addition to experimenting with drugs. Her father, however, did not understand the reason behind her drug intake and could not look at her for several months. "I was onstage in a thong, with a fringe hanging over my ass thinking that had covered it, lighting hairsprays on fire, go-go dancing to Black Sabbath and singing songs about oral sex. The kids would scream and cheer and then we'd all go grab a beer. It represented freedom to me. I went to a Catholic school but it was on the New York underground that I found myself." It was then when she became romantically involved with a heavy metal drummer in a relationship and break-up she likened to the musical film Grease: "I was his Sandy, and he was my Danny, and I just broke." He later became an inspiration behind some of her later songs.
During this time, she met performance artist Lady Starlight, who helped mold her on-stage persona. Starlight explained that, upon their first meeting, Gaga wanted to perform with her to songs she had recorded with Fusari. Like SGBand, the pair soon began performing at many of the downtown club venues like the Mercury Lounge, The Bitter End, and the Rockwood Music Hall. Their live performance art piece was known as "Lady Gaga and the Starlight Revue" and, billed as "The Ultimate Pop Burlesque Rockshow", was a low-fi tribute to 1970s variety acts. Soon after, the two were invited to play at the 2007 Lollapalooza music festival in August that year. The show was critically acclaimed, and their performance received positive reviews. Having initially focused on avant-garde electronic dance music, Gaga had found her musical niche when she began to incorporate pop melodies and the glam rock of David Bowie and Queen into her music. While Gaga and Starlight were busy performing, producer Rob Fusari continued to work on the songs he had created with Gaga. Fusari sent these songs to his friend, producer and record executive Vincent Herbert. Herbert was quick to sign her to his label Streamline Records, an imprint of Interscope Records, upon its establishment in 2007. Gaga later credited Herbert as the man who discovered her, adding "I really feel like we made pop history, and we're gonna keep going." Having served as an apprentice songwriter under an internship at Famous Music Publishing, which was later acquired by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Gaga subsequently struck a music publishing deal with Sony/ATV. As a result, she was hired to write songs for Britney Spears and labelmates New Kids on the Block, Fergie, and the Pussycat Dolls. At Interscope, singer-songwriter Akon recognized her vocal abilities when she sang a reference vocal for one of his tracks in studio. Akon then convinced Interscope-Geffen-A&M Chairman and CEO Jimmy Iovine to form a joint deal by having her also sign with his own label Kon Live, making her his "franchise player."
As 2007 came to a close, her former management company introduced her to songwriter and producer RedOne, whom they also managed. The first song she produced with RedOne was "Boys Boys Boys", a mash-up inspired by Mötley Crüe's "Girls, Girls, Girls" and AC/DC's "T.N.T.". Gaga continued her collaboration with RedOne in the recording studio for a week on her debut album and also joined the roster of Cherrytree Records, an Interscope imprint established by producer and songwriter Martin Kierszenbaum, after co-writing four songs with Kierszenbaum including the singles "Christmas Tree" and "Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)". Despite her secure record deal, she admitted that there was fear about her being too "racy", "dance-orientated" and "underground" for the mainstream market. Her response: "My name is Lady Gaga, I've been on the music scene for years, and I'm telling you, this is what's next."
By 2008, Gaga had relocated to Los Angeles in order to work extensively with her record label to complete her debut album and set up her own creative team Haus of Gaga, modeled on Andy Warhol's Factory. The Fame was first released on August 19, 2008 to slow radio play. Gaga supported it by performing around Europe and in small gay clubs around the US in addition to being billed as a supporting artist on the North American leg of New Kids on the Block's reunion concert tour. A sleeper hit, lead single "Just Dance" had preceded the album's release by four months but only hit the summit of the international charts in January 2009, provoking the instant success of the album, earning her first Grammy Award nomination (for Best Dance Recording) and becoming one of the best-selling singles worldwide. Gaga achieved a greater unexpected success when "Poker Face", another sleeper hit, reached number one in most major music markets worldwide in early 2009, selling 9.8 million singles worldwide. The follow-up single won the award for Best Dance Recording at the 52nd Grammy Awards over nominations for Song of the Year and Record of the Year.
The Fame itself was nominated for Album of the Year while winning Best Dance/Electronica Album at the same ceremony. Contemporary critics lauded the album, describing it as an exploration of her obsession with fame and the intricacies of a rich and famous lifestyle, noting its combination of genres "from Def Leppard drums and hand claps to metal drums on urban tracks", the inspiration drawn from 1980s synthpop and incorporation of dance music with clear hooks. The Fame went to number one in Austria, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland and the UK and appeared in the top five in Australia, the US and 15 other countries. It also stayed atop the Dance/Electronic Albums chart for 106 non-consecutive weeks and, since its release, has sold over 12 million copies worldwide. The album's success spawned many 2009 honors including Billboard magazine's Rising Star award and the accumulation of 3 of 9 MTV Video Music Awards nominations, winning Best New Artist with the video for her single "Paparazzi" gaining Best Art Direction and Best Special Effects. In addition to being an opening act on the Pussycat Dolls' Doll Domination Tour during the first half of 2009 in Europe and Oceania, she also embarked on her own six-month critically appreciated worldwide concert tour The Fame Ball Tour which ran from March to September 2009.
While she traveled the globe, she wrote The Fame Monster, an EP of eight songs released in November 2009. Each song, dealing with the darker side of fame from personal experience, is expressed through a monster metaphor. Making Gaga the first artist in digital history to have three singles (alongside "Just Dance" and "Poker Face") to pass the four million mark in digital sales, its lead single "Bad Romance" topped the charts in eighteen countries and reached the top two in the US, Australia and New Zealand while accruing the Grammy Awards for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Best Short Form Music Video. The second single "Telephone", which features singer Beyoncé, was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals and became Gaga's fourth UK number one single; its accompanying music video, although controversial, received positive reception from contemporary critics who praised her for "the musicality and showmanship of Michael Jackson and the powerful sexuality and provocative instincts of Madonna." Her following single "Alejandro" paired Gaga with fashion photographer Steven Klein for a music video similarly as controversial – critics complimented its ideas and dark nature but the Catholic League attacked Gaga for her alleged use of blasphemy. Despite the controversy surrounding her music videos, they made Gaga the first artist to gain over one billion viral views on video-sharing website YouTube. At the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, Gaga won 8 of her 13 nominations, including Video of the Year for "Bad Romance" (with "Telephone" also nominated), which made her the first female artist to be nominated twice for the award. In addition, The Fame Monster garnered a total of six nominations at the 53rd Grammy Awards – equating to the amount of Grammy nominations her debut received – winning Best Pop Vocal Album and earning her a second-consecutive nomination for Album of the Year. The Fame Monster and the 2010 compilation The Remix were Gaga's final releases under Cherrytree Records. While her reasons for departing the label are unknown, her manager Troy Carter stated in 2011 that they still collaborate with label head Martin Kierszenbaum on strategies for marketing Gaga overseas.
The success of The Fame Monster allowed Gaga to start her second worldwide concert tour, The Monster Ball Tour, just weeks after the release of the album and months after having finished The Fame Ball Tour. Upon finishing in May 2011, the critically acclaimed and commercially accomplished tour ran for over one and a half years and grossed $227.4 million, making it one of the highest-grossing concert tours of all time and the highest-grossing for a debut headlining artist. Concerts performed at Madison Square Garden in New York City were filmed for a HBO television special titled Lady Gaga Presents the Monster Ball Tour: At Madison Square Garden. The special accrued one of its five Emmy Award nominations and has since been released on DVD and Blu-ray. Gaga also performed songs from the album at international events such as the 2009 Royal Variety Performance where she sang "Speechless", a power ballad, in the presence of Queen Elizabeth II; the 52nd Grammy Awards where her opening performance consisted of the song "Poker Face" and a piano duet of "Speechless" in a medley of "Your Song" with Elton John; and the 2010 BRIT Awards where a performance of an acoustic rendition of "Telephone" followed by "Dance in the Dark" dedicated to the late fashion designer and close friend, Alexander McQueen, supplemented her hat-trick win at the awards ceremony. Other performances may have included her participation in Michael Jackson's This Is It concert series at London's O2 Arena. "I was actually asked to open for Michael on his tour," she stated. "We were going to open for him at the O2 and we were working on making it happen. I believe there was some talk about us, lots of the openers, doing duets with Michael on stage."
In 2009, she collaborated with consumer electronic company Monster Cable Products to create a pair of in-ear jewel-encrusted headphones titled Heartbeats. "They are designed to be the first ever fashion accessories that double as the absolute best sonically sounding headphones in the world," she commented. Gaga also partnered with Polaroid in January 2010 as their Creative Director. Excited about "blending the iconic history of Polaroid and instant film with the digital era," Gaga unveiled the first trio of new products called Grey Label: a pair of picture-taking sunglasses, a paperback-sized mobile printing unit and an updated version of the traditional Polaroid camera at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show. But her collaboration with past producer Rob Fusari led to her production team, Mermaid Music LLC, being sued in March 2010 when he claimed that he was entitled to a 20% share of the company's earnings. Gaga's lawyer, Charles Ortner, described the agreement with Fusari as "unlawful" and declined to comment, but five months later, the New York Supreme Court dismissed both the lawsuit and a countersuit by Gaga. In addition to such strife, Gaga was tested borderline positive for lupus, but claimed not to be affected by the symptoms. The revelations caused considerable dismay among fans, leading to Gaga addressing the matter in an interview with Larry King, saying she hopes to avoid symptoms by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Gaga released her second studio album, Born This Way, on May 23, 2011. Described as a marriage of electronic music with metal, rock 'n' roll, pop and anthemic style melodies with sledge-hammering dance beats and referred to as an album "about what keeps us up at night and what makes us afraid," Gaga characterized it as "something so much deeper than a wig or lipstick or a fucking meat dress" and, upon hearing it, Akon remarked that she is taking music to the "next level." Upon release, the album received generally positive reviews from music critics, who praised its range of different styles and her vocals. Born This Way sold 1.108 million copies in its first week in the US, debuted atop the 200Billboard, and topped the charts in more than 20 other countries. In addition to exceeding 8 million copies in worldwide sales, Born This Way received 3 Grammy Award nominations, including her third consecutive for Album of the Year. In March 2012, Gaga was ranked fourth on Billboard's list of top moneymakers of 2011, grossing $25,353,039 dollars, which included sales from Born This Way and her Monster Ball Tour.
In the months prior to its unveiling, Gaga released the singles "Born This Way", "Judas" and "The Edge of Glory" alongside promotional single "Hair". The lead single and title track, first sung live at the 53rd Grammy Awards in a performance that saw Gaga emerge from an egg-like vessel, deals with self-acceptance regardless of race or sexual orientation. The single debuted atop the Hot 100Billboard, becoming the 19th number-one debut and the 1,000th number-one single in the history of the charts. It sold more than 3 million digital copies in the US by October 2011, becoming her eighth consecutive single to exceed sales of 2 million and, with worldwide sales of 8.2 million copies by November 2011, one of her five best-selling singles worldwide. Critics noted artistic and cultural references and praised the concept of the song's accompanying music video, in which Gaga gives birth to a new race amidst surrealistic images. The video for "Judas", in which Gaga portrays Mary Magdalene, and Biblical figures such as Jesus Christ and Judas Iscariot are also featured, was criticized for its religious references but received acclaim for its overall delivery and praise from others who claimed that there was nothing offensive about it. "Judas" also peaked within the top ten in several major musical markets, while "The Edge of Glory", first a commercial success in digital outlets, was later released as a single to critical appreciation, accompanied by a video which was notably stripped down from her usually "extravagant" efforts. She released "You and I" and "Marry the Night" as the following singles from Born This Way. Although their "crazy and ambitious" videos were praised for their audacity, both songs failed to match the similar international success that their predecessors achieved. Gaga was later ranked as the second most-played artist of 2011 in the UK by the PPL.
Throughout 2011, Gaga continued her musical endeavors by pairing with veteran artists like Tony Bennett to record a jazz version of "The Lady Is a Tramp". She also recorded a duet with Cher on a "massive" and "beautiful" track, which Gaga says that she wrote a long time ago, but had not put it on any of her albums. Gaga also lent her vocals to an original duet with Elton John for the animated feature film Gnomeo & Juliet. The song, "Hello, Hello", was released without Gaga's vocals but the duet version features in the film. She also continued her live appearances in 2011, performing a one-of-a-kind concert at the Sydney Town Hall in promotion of Born This Way and at the celebration of former US president Bill Clinton's 65th birthday, wearing a blond wig as a nod to the famous performance of Marilyn Monroe for John F. Kennedy and changing the lyrics to "You and I" specifically for the performance. Televised appearances comprised her own Thanksgiving Day television special titled A Very Gaga Thanksgiving which was critically lauded, attained 5.749 million American viewers, and spawned the release of her fourth extended play A Very Gaga Holiday. Her second performance on Saturday Night Live saw her singing a selection of Born This Way songs alongside appearing in number of sketches with Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg. Lady Gaga also appeared in Times Square to perform songs from Born This Way on the 40th anniversary of ABC's Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve and in addition, she also had the honor of welcoming 2012 by dropping the famous Times Square Ball with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at midnight. In 2012, Gaga also guest-starred on the 23rd season finale of The Simpsons titled "Lisa Goes Gaga". In June 2012, Gaga announced her first fragrance in association with Coty, Inc., Lady Gaga Fame, which was released worldwide in September 2012. In December 2012, Gaga made an appearance at the final show of The Rolling Stones' 50th anniversary concert series to perform "Gimme Shelter", along with Bruce Springsteen and The Black Keys.
The accompanying tour for Born This Way, titled simply The Born This Way Ball, kicked off at the end of April 2012 at Seoul's Olympic Stadium in South Korea. Although the tour – consisting of 110 shows across the globe – was a commercial success with positive reviews, several conservative political commentators denounced the Born This Way Ball shortly after the conception of the tour. This early controversy, particularly notable in several locations of the tour's leg in Asia, saw protests from several religious groups who viewed the tour as satanic and against religious values, resulting in protests mainly from the Islamic Defenders Front, causing a cancellation in the Indonesian city of Jakarta, where Gaga was denied a license to perform. She and promoters were initially optimistic that the performance would go on but, due to threats of violence from Muslim hardliners, Gaga decided to cancel the concert although 52,000 tickets had sold out in just a few days. Due to a labral tear of her right hip, Gaga announced on February 12, 2013, that the remainder of her Born This Way Ball was canceled. She posted on her blog February 20, 2013, that she had hip surgery, and was recovering.
New songs for her new album Artpop (stylized as ARTPOP) were "beginning to flourish" as she worked with producer Fernando Garibay in early 2012. Gaga's manager, Vincent Herbert, said that Gaga began work on her upcoming album during the Born This Way Ball tour, stating that the material is "insane, great records". She was also planning to record a collaborative jazz album with Tony Bennett whom she had already collaborated with. In December 2012, Gaga announced that Terry Richardson was also working on a documentary about Gaga's life, the Haus of Gaga and "the creation of Artpop". In mid-2013 it was announced that the first single from Artpop—titled "Applause"—will be released on August 19, with pre-orders beginning on the same day, followed by the album's and the app's release on November 11, 2013. It was also announced that Gaga will perform the first single on the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards on August 25, 2013.
Alongside her music endeavors, Gaga will make her debut film appearance in Robert Rodriguez's upcoming movie Machete Kills. She will play the role of La Chameleón, starring alongside an ensemble cast in the action film that is due to hit cinema screens on September 13, 2013.
Gaga's parents, who exposed her to artists like The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Queen, Bruce Springsteen, Pink Floyd, The Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, Whitney Houston, and Elton John had significant influence on her childhood and still do. "I am a real family girl. When it comes to love and loyalty, I am very old-fashioned. And I am quite down-to-earth for such an eccentric person", she insists. "I'm quite traditional in the family sense. I've always been that way." According to Gaga, Joanne Germanotta – her aunt who died of lupus aged 19 – lives on through her and inspires all of her music and art. Joanne's date of death is tattooed on Gaga's body and, despite dying 12 years before her birth, Gaga commented, "I really believe I have two hearts. I think I actually carry two souls in my body, and that I'm living out the rest of her life and her goodness – she died a virgin, she died never having experienced all these things that we all get to love and experience in our lives."
Another spiritual influence on Gaga has been the Indian physician, public speaker and writer Deepak Chopra. Labeling him a "true inspiration", she stated that "he's always reminded me to work in a life of service to my fans and to fulfill my vision and my destiny" in addition to thinking about Chopra when it comes to her work as a musician: "I want so much for it to go beyond the music for my fans." Gaga also lifted a quote from Osho's book Creativity on Twitter. When asked about her connection to him, Gaga said she was influenced by his work and that, for her, "the creativity is the greatest way of rebellion": "Equality", she concluded, "is one of the most important things in my life."
Musically, Gaga takes influence from numerous musicians from dance-pop singers like Madonna and Michael Jackson to glam rock artists like David Bowie and Queen whilst employing the theatrics of artists like Andy Warhol and of her musical theatre roots in performance. The Queen song "Radio Ga Ga" inspired her stage name: "I adored Freddie Mercury and Queen had a hit called 'Radio Gaga'. That's why I love the name [...] Freddie was unique—one of the biggest personalities in the whole of pop music," she commented. Gaga receives regular comparisons to recording artist Madonna who admits that she sees herself reflected in Gaga. In response to the comparisons, Gaga stated, "I don't want to sound presumptuous, but I've made it my goal to revolutionize pop music. The last revolution was launched by Madonna 25 years ago" in addition to commenting that "there is really no one that is a more adoring and loving Madonna fan than me. I am the hugest fan personally and professionally."
Like Madonna, Gaga has continued to reinvent herself and, over the years of her career, has drawn musical inspiration from a diverse mix of artists including Whitney Houston, Grace Jones, Cyndi Lauper, Blondie singer Debbie Harry, Scissor Sisters, Prince, Marilyn Manson, Yoko Ono, and Britney Spears. Gaga has mentioned Spears in several interviews, and revealed, "Britney certainly doesn’t need any freakin’ tips from me! Britney Spears is the queen of pop. I was learning from her." Gaga also paid tribute to Spears during the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards with the MTV Video Vanguard Award, adding that the pop singer "taught us all how to be fearless, and the industry wouldn't be the same without her."
Gaga has identified fashion as a major influence and has been stylistically compared to English eccentrics Leigh Bowery and Isabella Blow and to American recording artist Cher. She commented that "as a child, she somehow absorbed Cher's out-there fashion sense and made it her own." She has considered Donatella Versace her muse and the late British fashion designer and close friend Alexander McQueen as an inspiration, admitting that "I miss Lee every time I get dressed" while channeling him in some of her work. Modeled on Andy Warhol's Factory, Gaga has her own creative production team, which she handles personally, called the Haus of Gaga, who create many of her clothes, stage props, and hairdos. Her adoration of fashion came from her mother, who she stated was "always very well kept and beautiful."
"When I'm writing music, I'm thinking about the clothes I want to wear on stage. It's all about everything altogether—performance art, pop performance art, fashion. For me, it's everything coming together and being a real story that will bring back the super-fan. I want to bring that back. I want the imagery to be so strong that fans will want to eat and taste and lick every part of us." Gaga made her runway debut at Thierry Mugler's Paris fashion show in March 2011 where she wore items from Nicola Formichetti's debut women's wear collection. She has since devoted her time as a fashion columnist for V magazine, where she has written about her creative process, her studying of the world of pop culture, and her ability to tune into the evolution of pop-culture meme.
The Global Language Monitor named "Lady Gaga" as the Top Fashion Buzzword with her trademark "no pants" a close third. Entertainment Weekly put her outfits on its end of the decade "best-of" list, saying, "Whether it's a dress made of Muppets or strategically placed bubbles, Gaga's outré ensembles brought performance art into the mainstream." In June 2011, she won the Council of Fashion Designers of America Award for Fashion Icon. Time Magazine placed Gaga on their "All-Time 100 Fashion Icons List" amongst some of Gaga's inspirations such as Michael Jackson, Madonna, and the The Beatles, stating: "Lady Gaga is just as notorious for her outrageous style as she is for her pop hits. After all, Gaga, born Stefani Germanotta, has sported outfits made from plastic bubbles, Kermit the Frog dolls, and raw meat."
Continually experimenting with new musical ideas and images, Gaga's musical and performance style is the subject of much analysis and scrutiny from critics. She professes that she is "liberating" herself by constantly reinventing her sound and image, insisting that she has been drawn to such a practice since her childhood. Vocally, Gaga possesses the range of a contralto and exhibits "overwhelming expression, instinctive vocal phrasing, '80s rock reminiscent chest belts and animalistic vocal ticks" while being able to move through 2.7 octaves. Refusing to lip sync, Gaga – whose range is frequently compared to those of Madonna and Gwen Stefani – has manipulated her vocal style over the course of her career yet considers Born This Way (2011) "much more vocally up to par with what I've always been capable of." In summation of her voice, Entertainment Weekly wrote, "There's an immense emotional intelligence behind the way she uses her voice. Almost never does she overwhelm a song with her vocal ability, recognizing instead that artistry is to be found in nuance rather than lung power."
Although her early lyrics have been criticized for lacking intellectual stimulation, "[Gaga] does manage to get you moving and grooving at an almost effortless pace." She admits that her songwriting has been misinterpreted; her friend and blogger Perez Hilton articulated her message in a clearer way: "you write really deep intelligent lyrics with shallow concepts." Gaga opined, "Perez is very intelligent and clearly listened to my record from beginning to end, and he is correct." "I love songwriting. It's so funny – I will just jam around in my underwear or I could be washing my dishes. I wrote several songs just at the piano," she confesses. Gaga believes that "all good music can be played at a piano and still sound like a hit." She has covered a wide variety of topics in her songs: while The Fame (2008) meditates on the lust for stardom, The Fame Monster (2009) expresses fame's dark side through monster metaphors. Born This Way (2011) is sung in English, French, German and Spanish and includes common themes in Gaga's controversial songwriting like love, sex, religion, money, drugs, identity, liberation, sexuality, freedom and individualism.
The structure of her music is said to echo classic 1980s pop and 1990s Europop. Her debut album The Fame (2008) provoked The Sunday Times to assert "in combining music, fashion, art and technology, [Gaga] evokes Madonna, Gwen Stefani circa 'Hollaback Girl', Kylie Minogue 2001 or Grace Jones right now" and a critic from The Boston Globe to comment that she draws "obvious inspirations from Madonna to Gwen Stefani... in [her] girlish but sturdy pipes and bubbly beats." Music critic Simon Reynolds wrote that "Everything about Gaga came from electroclash, except the music, which wasn't particularly 1980s, just ruthlessly catchy naughties pop glazed with Auto-Tune and undergirded with R&B-ish beats." The follow-up The Fame Monster (2009), saw Gaga's taste for pastiche, drawing on "Seventies arena glam, perky ABBA disco and sugary throwbacks like Stacey Q" while Born This Way (2011) also draws on the records of her childhood and still has the "electro-sleaze beats and Eurodisco chorus chants" of its predecessor but includes genres as diverse as opera, heavy metal, disco, and rock and roll. "There isn't a subtle moment on the album, but even at its nuttiest, the music is full of wide-awake emotional details," wrote Rolling Stone, who concluded: "The more excessive Gaga gets, the more honest she sounds."
With constant costume changes, backup dancers, and provocative visuals, Gaga's music videos are often described as short films. "Being provocative is not just about getting people's attention. It's about saying something that really affects people in a real way, in a positive way," she professes. Exploring bondage and sadomasochism in addition to highlighting prevalent feminist themes, "the three central themes that shape Lady Gaga's music videos are sex, violence, and power." "Vaudevillian and carnal, Lady Gaga has got the knack of sending rape-like fantasies—in songs and videos that double as catch club hits—to the top of the charts," wrote one critic. "Whether it is physical violence or sexual exploitation, these videos offer vivid depictions of male power over women's bodies," wrote another. While she labels herself "a little bit of a feminist" and asserts that she is "sexually empowering women," Gaga strives to empower young women to stand up for what they believe in. She also attempts to liberate her fans so they can feel "less alone." "She not only reiterates her assertion of total originality," professed pop critic Ann Powers, "but also finesses it until it's both a philosophical stance about how constructing a persona from pop-cultural sources can be an expression of a person's truth—a la those drag queens Gaga sincerely admires—and a bit of a feminist act." In summation of her videos, Rolling Stone used the rhetoric: "does anyone look to a Lady Gaga video for restraint?"
Her performances are described as "highly entertaining and innovative"; the blood-spurting performance of "Paparazzi" at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards was described as "eye-popping" by MTV. She continued the "blood soaked" theme during The Monster Ball Tour, in which she wore a revealing leather corset and was "attacked" by a performer dressed in black who gnaws on her throat, causing "blood" to spurt down her chest, after which she lies "dying" in a pool of blood. Her performances of that scene in England triggered protests from family groups and fans in the aftermath of a local tragedy, in which a taxi driver had murdered 12 people. "What happened in Bradford is very fresh in people's minds and given all the violence which happened in Cumbria just hours earlier, it was insensitive," said Lynn Costello of Mothers Against Violence. Her unconventionality continued at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards: performing in drag as her male alter ego, Jo Calderone, and delivering a lovesick monologue before a performance of her song "You and I". Some have defended her flamboyant and provocative behavior. "Well, she's Lady Gaga," Chris Rock said. "She's not 'Lady Behave Yourself.' Do you want great behavior from a person named Gaga? Is this what you were expecting?" As Gaga's choreographer and creative director, Laurieann Gibson provided material for her shows and videos for four years. However, the pair parted in November 2011; Gaga replacing her with Gibson's assistant Richard Jackson. Gaga admits to being a perfectionist when it comes to her elaborate shows. "I'm very bossy. I can scream my head off if I see one light fixture out. I'm very detailed – every minute of the show has got to be perfect."
While Chris Molanphy from Rolling Stone named Gaga the "Queen of Pop" in a ranking published by the magazine in 2011 (between 15 artists, such as Adele and Britney Spears), public reception of Gaga's music, fashion sense and persona are mixed. Her status as a role model, self-esteem booster for her fans, trailblazer and fashion icon who breathes new life into the industry is by turns affirmed and denied. Gaga's albums have received mostly positive reviews and critics have pointed out her unique place in pop music, the need for new movements in popular culture, the attention Gaga brings to modern social issues, and the inherently subjective nature of her art. In view of her influence on modern culture and her rise to global fame, sociologist Mathieu Deflem of the University of South Carolina has organized a course titled "Lady Gaga and the Sociology of the Fame" since spring 2011 with the objective of unravelling "some of the sociologically relevant dimensions of the fame of Lady Gaga." When Gaga briefly met with US president Barack Obama at a Human Rights Campaign fundraiser, he described the interaction as "intimidating" as she was dressed in 16-inch heels making her undoubtedly the tallest woman in the room.
Contrary to her outré style, the New York Post described her early look as like "a refugee from Jersey Shore" with "big black hair, heavy eye makeup and tight, revealing clothes." Gaga is a natural brunette; she bleached her hair blonde because she was often mistaken for Amy Winehouse. She has nine tattoos on the left side of her body (her father has banned etchings on her right): a unicorn head with a ribbon wrapped around its horn that says "Born This Way"; a small heart with "dad" written inside it; several white roses; a treble clef; three daises; "Tokyo Love" with a little heart; "Little Monsters" written in cursive; a peace symbol, which was inspired by John Lennon, whom she stated was her hero; and a curling German script on her left arm quoting the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, her favorite writer, commenting that his "philosophy of solitude" spoke to her. In a question posed about the necessary procedure to attach the prosthetics to give the unconventional appearance of recent horn-like ridges on her cheekbones, temples, and shoulders, Gaga responded, "They're not prosthetics, they're my bones." She also clarified that they were not the result of plastic surgery, believing such surgery to only be the modern byproduct of fame-induced insecurity to which she does not subscribe. The interviewer's further probing brought Gaga to the conclusion that they are an artistic representation of her inner inspirational light and part of the "performance piece" that is her musical persona: an inevitability of her becoming who she now is.
Towards the end of 2008, comparisons were made between the fashions of Gaga and recording artist Christina Aguilera that noted similarities in their styling, hair, and make-up. Aguilera stated that she was "completely unaware of [Gaga]" and "didn't know if it [was] a man or a woman." Gaga released a statement in which she welcomed the comparisons due to the attention providing useful publicity, saying, "She's such a huge star and if anything I should send her flowers, because a lot of people in America didn't know who I was until that whole thing happened. It really put me on the map in a way." When interviewed by Barbara Walters for her annual ABC News special 10 Most Fascinating People in 2009, Gaga dismissed the claim that she is intersex as an urban legend. Responding to a question on this issue, she stated, "At first it was very strange and everyone sorta said, 'That's really quite a story!' But in a sense, I portray myself in a very androgynous way, and I love androgyny." In addition to Aguilera's statement, comparisons continued into 2010, when Aguilera released the music video of her single "Not Myself Tonight". Critics noted similarities between the song and its accompanying music video with Gaga's video for "Bad Romance". There have also been similar comparisons made between Gaga's style and that of fashion icon Dale Bozzio from the band Missing Persons. Some have considered their respective images to be strikingly parallel although fans of Missing Persons note that Bozzio had pioneered the look more than thirty years earlier.
While devout followers call Gaga "Mother Monster", Gaga often refers to her fans as "Little Monsters" which has been tattooed on "the arm that holds my mic" in dedication. To some, this dichotomy contravenes the concept of outsider culture. Camille Paglia in her 2010 cover story "Lady Gaga and the death of sex" in The Sunday Times asserts that Gaga "is more an identity thief than an erotic taboo breaker, a mainstream manufactured product who claims to be singing for the freaks, the rebellious and the dispossessed when she is none of those." Writing for The Guardian, Kitty Empire opined that the dichotomy "...allows the viewer to have a 'transgressive' experience without being required to think. At [her performance's] core, though, is the idea that Gaga is at one with the freaks and outcasts. The Monster Ball is where we can all be free. This is arrant nonsense, as the scads of people buying Gaga's cunningly commercial music are not limited to the niche worlds of drag queens and hip night creatures from which she draws her inspiration. But Gaga seems sincere." Gaga has also launched "littlemonsters.com", the first official social network devoted to fans of an artist titled that went online in July 2012.
In 2012, Lady Gaga become a feature of a temporary exhibition The Elevated. From the Pharaoh to Lady Gaga marking the 150th anniversary of the National Museum in Warsaw. An exhibition devoted to the mechanisms and the iconography of power was co-financed from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage funds. Its purpose was to show the ubiquity of hierarchy from antiquity to the present. Showpiece of the exhibition was a compilation of effigies of two women who have achieved a high status in the society of its time. One of them, Dorothea de Biron came from a princely family and as a matter of birth, but also beauty and intellect, was universally admired figure in the late 18th-century court culture, celebrity at that time. Lady Gaga, presented in a dress of raw meat, is an icon of modernity elevated by the power which she exercises over mass media, a prominent specialist in creating her own image. The meat dress will be displayed at the National Museum of Women in the Arts located in Washington, D.C. with an explanation of her political message.
A new genus of ferns, Gaga, and two new species, G. germanotta and G. monstraparva have been named in her honor. "The epithet “monstraparva” honors Lady Gaga’s fervent and loyal fans, her “little monsters.” The official little monster greeting is the outstretched “monster claw” hand, which bears a striking resemblance to a tightly inrolled young fern leaf prior to unfurling."
Besides her career in music, Gaga has also contributed to various charities. For natural disasters, Gaga has helped various relief efforts. Although declining an invitation to appear on the single "We Are the World 25" to benefit victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, she donated the proceeds of her January 24, 2010 concert at New York's Radio City Music Hall to the country's reconstruction relief fund. All profits from her official online store on that day were also donated. Gaga announced that an estimated total of US$500,000 was collected for the fund. Hours after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami hit Japan on March 11, 2011, Gaga tweeted a message and a link to Japan Prayer Bracelets. All revenue from a bracelet she designed in conjunction with the company was donated to relief efforts. As of March 29, 2011, the bracelets raised $1.5 million. However, attorney Alyson Oliver filed a lawsuit against Gaga in Detroit in June 2011, noting that the bracelet was subject to a sales tax and an extra $3.99 shipping charge was added to the price. She also believed that not all proceeds from the bracelets would go to the relief efforts, demanding a public accounting of the campaign and refunds for people who had bought the bracelet. Gaga's spokesperson called the lawsuit "meritless" and "misleading". On June 25, 2011, Gaga performed at MTV Japan's charity show in Makuhari Messe, which benefited the Japanese Red Cross.
In October 2012, Gaga was reported to have met the founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, at the Ecuadorean embassy in London. On October 9, 2012, Yoko Ono gave Gaga and four other activists the LennonOno Grant for Peace in Reykjavík, Iceland. On November 6, 2012, Gaga pledged to donate $1 million to the American Red Cross to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Gaga also contributes in the fight against HIV and AIDS, focusing on educating young women about the risks of the disease. In collaboration with Cyndi Lauper, Gaga joined forces with MAC Cosmetics to launch a line of lipstick under their supplementary cosmetic line, Viva Glam. Titled Viva Glam Gaga and Viva Glam Cyndi for each contributor respectively, all net proceeds of the lipstick line were donated to the cosmetic company's campaign to prevent HIV and AIDS worldwide. In a press release, Gaga declared, "I don't want Viva Glam to be just a lipstick you buy to help a cause. I want it to be a reminder when you go out at night to put a condom in your purse right next to your lipstick." The sales of Gaga-endorsed Viva Glam lipstick and lipgloss have raised more than $202 million to fight HIV and AIDS.
In 2012 she launched the Born This Way Foundation (BTWF), a non-profit organization that focuses on youth empowerment and issues like self-confidence, well-being, anti-bullying, mentoring, and career development. It takes its name from the 2011 single and album. The foundation plans to work with a number of partners, including the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The California Endowment and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. Media proprietor Oprah Winfrey, writer Deepak Chopra, and United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius spoke at the inauguration at Harvard University. The foundation's original funding included $1.2 million from Lady Gaga, $500,000 from the MacArthur Foundation, and $850,000 from Barneys New York. The foundation works in partnership with the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, the MacArthur Foundation, the California Endowment, and, as lead media partner, Viacom. In July 2012, the BTWF partnered with Office Depot, which will donate 25% of the sales-a minimum of $1million-of a series of limited edition back-to-school products that promote the foundation's message The foundation's initiatives have included, in March–April 2012, a poster competition that asked participants to submit images that answer the question "What does bravery mean to you?"; the "Born Brave Bus" that would follow her on tour as a youth drop-in center as an initiative against bullying; and the "Born Brave" community and school groups.
She also jumped into the debate surrounding SB 1070, Arizona's recently enacted anti-immigration law, after premiering her Born This Way song "Americano" on the Guadalajara stop of The Monster Ball Tour in Mexico, telling the local press that she could not "stand by many of the unjust immigration laws" in the US. Gaga is an outspoken activist for LGBT rights worldwide. She attributes much of her early success as a mainstream artist to her gay fans and is considered a gay icon. Early in her career she had difficulty getting radio airplay, and stated, "The turning point for me was the gay community." She thanked FlyLife, a Manhattan-based LGBT marketing company with whom her label Interscope works, in the liner notes of The Fame One of her first televised performances was in May 2008 at the NewNowNext Awards, an awards show aired by the LGBT television network Logo. In June of the same year, she performed at the San Francisco Pride event. After The Fame was released, she revealed that the song "Poker Face" was about her bisexuality. In an interview with Rolling Stone, she spoke about how her boyfriends tended to react to her bisexuality, saying "The fact that I'm into women, they're all intimidated by it. It makes them uncomfortable. They're like, 'I don't need to have a threesome. I'm happy with just you'." When she appeared as a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in May 2009, she praised DeGeneres for being "an inspiration for women and for the gay community".
She called the October 11, 2009 National Equality March rally on the National Mall "the single most important event of her career." Gaga attended the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards accompanied by four gay and lesbian former members of the United States Armed Forces who had been unable to serve openly under the U.S. military's "Don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) policy. She released three videos on YouTube urging her fans to contact their Senators in an effort to overturn DADT. In September 2010 she spoke at a Servicemembers Legal Defense Network's rally in Portland, Maine. Following this event, editors of The Advocate commented that she had become "the real fierce advocate" for gays and lesbians, one that Barack Obama had promised to be. Gaga appeared at Europride, a pan-European international event dedicated to LGBT pride, held in Rome in June 2011. She criticized the intolerant state of gay rights in many European countries and described homosexuals as "revolutionaries of love".
Gaga wore a dress made of raw beef to the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards which was supplemented by boots, a purse, and a hat that were also all made out of raw beef. Partly awarded in recognition of the dress, Vogue.com UK named her one of the Best Dressed people of 2010 while Time magazine's named the dress the Fashion Statement of 2010. However, it received divided opinions, evoking the attention of worldwide media but invoking the fury of animal rights organization PETA. She denied any intention of causing disrespect to any person or organization and wished for the dress to be interpreted as a statement of human rights with focus upon those in the LGBT community, adding that "If we don't stand up for what we believe in and if we don't fight for our rights, pretty soon we're going to have as much rights as the meat on our own bones." [sic]