Since the start of Lady Gaga’s meteoric rise to pop prominence, there was only one thing I ever truly wanted to see from her: A clear view of who she really was underneath the artistry.
Granted, that doesn’t mean I didn’t love her unforgettable glitzy shtick. On the contrary, her myriad of costumes, overt wildness in every live performance and music video, and her overall persona as living art through aural pleasures such as “Bad Romance,” “Poker Face,” and even “Applause,” one of her most loathed offerings, gave me all the life I needed and then some since my main pop diva, Britney Spears, took a turn for the worse in 2007 (she’s since rebounded quite wonderfully, but it’ll never be the same).
But I also knew that for all of the glamour and kookiness that she brought to the table, so to speak, she would ultimately have to show the world a more honest side of herself. One that displayed the rawness and fire that allows common, everyday talents to become so much more than a person who just so happens to be talented. This weekend, after nearly eight years of opulent oddity (her first single, “Just Dance,” was released in 2008 — feel old yet?), Lady Gaga finally did just that.
As noted by TMZ, during a promotional stop in London to push “Perfect Illusion,” the first single from her fifth offering that has been affectionately nicknamed LG5, Gaga pulled off a surprise appearance in a pub called Moth Club to perform a two-song set. However, it wasn’t the Lady Gaga who we’ve all come to know who took that stage — in her place was a simple, yet enigmatic and energetic enchantress who, with nothing more than a barely-there crop top and glittery shorts, sang and danced her heart out as if her life truly depended on every note she sung and every step she took.
And it was, frankly, everything I ever needed from her and so much more (the following video is slightly NSFW. Proceed with caution).
Borrowing from the raw energy that makes “Perfect Illusion” such a contested track — critics from Vulture and Mashable (and myself!) seem to love it, while fans who got too comfortable with her more perfectly-crated-for-radio singles feel otherwise, according to Populove — Gaga peeled back the coverings, both physical and emotional, that allowed Lady Gaga to become a thing in the late 2000s and early 2010s, and let the New York-born Stefani Germanotta shine through in a way that most have never seen before (unless they’re familiar with her performances alongside Lady Starlight, that is). Everything about this moment was bare bones in the best way possible; an aspect that Gaga has always had inside of her, but for some reason, rarely lets out.
See Lady Gaga's energetic live debut of "Perfect Illusion" in London https://t.co/5PqbUOx2Kq
— Rolling Stone (@RollingStone) September 10, 2016
Now, before anyone laughs me off the hypothetical stage for taking this performance as something other than some kind of “real” marketing ploy, know that I am well aware of how the game of celebrity is actually played. I’ve been an entertainment news writer for nearly half a decade, and I’ve been in tune to that particular world for nearly two-and-a-half decades, so I’m wise enough to realize when something is purposefully molded, and when something isn’t. With that being said, that still doesn’t mean that this “revealing” reinvention of the disco-stick loving, pro-LGBT fighting Gaga isn’t worth getting a little gaga over, because it most definitely is.
Over the past few years, but none more so than the last two, the world of pop music has become far too stagnant in its continuous pristine display. Certain female singers, who will go unnamed here, rely far too often on the glamour that their makeup and outfits allow them to have as a way to continue selling records and keep their names in the mainstream, instead of utilizing their voices or occasional lyrical prowess. In fact, if we’re being totally honest, just one female singer from this place in time, the effervescent Adele, stands out among that pack for choosing not to follow the norm. But then again, she’s a very different kind of pop star. And that’s no shade to her — that difference is respected for a reason.
However, just as it was when she first made her mainstream debut, Lady Gaga is proving to be a breath of fresh air at a time when it’s desperately needed. Back in 2008, we needed something flashy to make things fizzle again in the pop world — seriously, look at who Billboard noted as being “popular” at that time. Now, in 2016, we’ve had more than enough flash, and we need something else. Lady Gaga is incredibly able to bring that to the masses, and I, for one, truly look forward to seeing how the rest of the LG5 era plays out. Welcome back, girl. You’ve been sorely missed.
[Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images]