As I listened to ARTPOP for the millionth time last night, it occurred to me: Lady Gaga is perhaps the only current pop superstar whose live performances are both much different than her recorded material and equally as great. That brings us to today’s merry occasion: We’re counting down her 10 best live performances (that we can remember, anyway), and I think our #1 is as close to a sure bet as one can make. So in that case: Let’s have some fun, this beat is sick — let’s take a ride back through Gaga’s disco shtick.
10. “Marry the Night” on X Factor
Not only do I love Gaga’s vocals in this performance — in fact, all of her UK X Factor performances are spectacular — but I love her funereal getup. This is what Jinkx Monsoon would look like as a character in the final scene of Steel Magnolias. You know he’s imagined that scenario several times.
9. “Just Dance” the NewNowNext Awards
Gaga delivers “Just Dance” in her first-ever TV performance at the 2008 NNN Awards.
Gaga’s first performance on American TV was this jolty, disco stick-aided trip from Logo’s own NewNowNext Awards. Look, I love this woman always, but I have a particular fondness for her early days of robo-kicking and bedazzled sunglasses. Or are they becrystaled sunglasses? Whatever they were, they ruled, and she proved her professionalism by powering through this jam while almost losing control of her most famous prop.
8. “Poker Face,” Chicago’s B96 Radio Station
Gaga foreshadowed her own superstardom in 2008-’09 by giving us tons of different, weird, loopy, yet amazing live versions of “Poker Face.” Who else can trick out their own catalog this way? This “Poker Face” reboot is my favorite: a tempo-changing, accent-heavy cabaret version complete with hilarious gesturing. She’s proving she can do anything and remain cool, collected, and bizarre as she does it.
7. “You and I” (with Sugarland), Grammy Nominations Concert
For such a proud imp, Gaga is a remarkably adept duettist. Here with Sugarland, her anthem “You and I” becomes a countrified sensation. Both singers are killing it here, and the song feels more authentic than the album version.
6. “King of Pain” (with Sting)
“King of Pain” is just weird enough to be a perfect fit for Ms. Germanotta. The song’s hallucinatory imagery and world weariness sound refreshed and bad-ass when delivered by Gaga’s ferocious instrument. And hey: Sting sounds like he’s having a great time too. Do “Can’t Stand Losing You” next!