Lady Gaga’s “Applause” At The VMAs, And Why It Was The Best

lady gaga applause

The 2013 MTV VMAs. Blurgh.

No! They actually weren’t that bad this year. They were fairly good — which is an improvement from the past few years, which were objectively awful. I don’t know if I’ll actually get around to a full wrap-up of the night’s events, but I did want to spotlight my favorite performance of the night, which probably ought to surprise a few of you…

Lady Gaga‘s “Applause.”

“TRAITOR!” (Throws wine)

The Gaga backlash is strong this year. It’s not entirely unmerited, either — from the thirsty #ARTPOP and #BuyApplause tweet rampages, to the #sabotage drama aired unnecessarily in public with Perez Hilton, to the nearly offensively obtuse Reverse Warholian Experience she’s been pushing out with Marina Abramovic, it’s all been a bit…grating.

But after seeing the “Applause” performance, everything suddenly clicked. THIS IS WHY.


Blockhead Romance

The narrative that Gaga’s providing with ARTPOP should all make sense by now, yes? The clown shtick. The video concept. The “Don’t Buy ARTPOP” video. Gaga’s suggesting that she’s been mocked by the public in the past few years — cue the boos, et al — and that deadpan introduction was her reliably over-the-top way of acknowledging the Born This Way backlash, twirling through it all and wandering onto a new chapter in her career. She’s a blank canvas, etc.


Liza With A Wig Snatch

First of all, the glitter and jazz hands? So Liza.

From her “Just Dance” blunt bob Fame wig to her pee-stain yellow “Telephone” Fame Monster wig to her — um, Beyoncé-hair-caught-in-a-fan ARTPOP wig, it’s clear that Gaga not-so-subtly — subtlety and Lady Gaga are like oil and water, after all — shuffled through almost all her “eras” so far in a single performance.

True, it’s only been 5 years since she debuted, but hey — if Rihanna can reference her past looks, so can Gags.

BRB appropriating ur work lol bai

The Koons Bubbles

It’s not “kuntz.” It’s not a racial slur. It’s Jeff Koons, who makes art — like this. Those metallic balloons were a reference (REFERENCE) to his work. “Suddenly the Koons is me!


Just Dance, It’s Still Gonna Be Okay

There was real dancing during this performance! And it was very good! She even did the Illuminati eye thingy a few times — cheers to that! It was all sorts of The Fame/The Fame Monster-era splendor.


Put Your Paws Up, Botticelli

The one look she pulled from the “Applause” video — apart from the clown/mime thing, obviously — was the Birth of VenusGa. She also happened to look amazing while wearing mostly nothing — the GaGoods were out in full force. (On a related note, I’m very grateful that no swans were harmed in the making of this performance.)

That Last A-R-T-P-O-P Spelling Head Swivel



Now, look: I’m not a Little Monster. I’m not calling it iconic. Nor am I suggesting that there weren’t other amazing performances tonight: Kanye West‘s performance of “Blood On The Leaves” was as perfectly moody and aggressive as Yeezus sounds, Justin Timberlake remained a true class act (and the best male pop performer of our generation), and Katy Perry delivered arguably her most well-choreographed award show routine to date — and managed to jump rope successfully in front of the world without tripping.

But Lady Gaga, for me, provided the most fun of all. And for that, I’m gagging for Gags tonight.


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