With 2018 marking Lady Gaga’s tenth year in the business, it’s become impossible to deny her colossal presence. 

Hers is a catalog that boasts multi-platinum singles, six Grammys, 13 Guinness World Records and the most-watched Superbowl performance of all time. We’ve seen her as an avant-garde electropop superstar, Tony Bennett’s partner in jazz, and one of the most prominent figures in pop culture ever. She’s combined the theatrics of David Bowie, the provocative pop of Madonna and the punk spirit of Debbie Harry to create something truly extraordinary.

With A Star is Born, we see Lady Gaga star as the leading lady, alongside first-time director Bradley Cooper, in the fourth adaption of the Hollywood classic. The film currently holds an astonishing 95% on Rotten Tomatoes and is generating some serious Oscars buzz. The accompanying soundtrack also features new, original songs written by Cooper and Gaga herself, making now the perfect time to revisit Gaga’s genre-bending discography. Below, we’ve picked out ten of the very best Gaga bangers.

10. ‘Til It Happens to You’ (2015)

Why we love it

This haunting orchestral rock ballad was written for the Netflix documentary, The Hunting Ground. The film covers the abundance of sexual assault on college campuses and ‘Til It Happens to You’ forces the listener to stand in the victim’s position and recognize the trauma of sexual violence. The song won an Emmy, as well as being nominated for both a Grammy and an Oscar.

The song’s journey begins with soaring strings and a somber piano, accompanied by a vulnerable sounding Gaga – “You say, I’ll pull myself together / pull it together / you’ll be fine.” It then increasingly gets more chaotic, loud, and filled with fury, as a defiant Gaga cries out, “Tell me, how the hell could you talk? / How could you talk? / ‘Cause until you walk where I walk / It’s just all talk.” Her operatic and emotional vocal delivery commands the song and makes it all the more heart-wrenching.

Behind the bop

Gaga reportedly struggled to record this song, as she had to recall her own past with sexual abuse. As co-writer Diane Warren explained: “It was very emotional for her. She couldn’t even talk through it at times.” Lady Gaga told Variety: “I feel like what this song accomplishes is women – or men- rising to say, ‘You think you can hurt me? You don’t know about power. Because after what you did to me, you don’t even know how much stronger I am.”

Most Gaga moment

The powerful 2016 Oscars performance, where she was joined on stage by over 50 survivors of sexual violence with the words “survivor” and “it’s not your fault” written on their bodies.

9. ‘Diamond Heart’ (2016)

Why we love it

Lady Gaga’s last record, ‘Joanne’, was created in tribute of her poet aunt, whose death at just 19 haunted Gaga’s childhood. The album sees her forge an unforeseen fusion of blues, indie-rock, pop and country with ‘Diamond Heart’ as the perfect opener. The track evolves from a sweet ’70s electric piano intro to a fierce indie-rock stomper, featuring roaring drums and chunky, bluesy guitars. The song feels contained underground, until it erupts at the chorus with a gutsy-sounding Gaga unleashing, “I’m not flawless but I got a diamond heart.” Her compelling, rockabilly vocals are a driving force here.

‘Diamond Heart’ impeccably introduces Joanne – Lady Gaga as you had never heard her before; unpolished, gritty and exposed. Although Gaga has used her skillset to create weird and wonderful realities in the past, here she simply welcomes you in to her own.

Behind the bop

‘Diamond Heart’ was penned by Gaga and Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme, and it also features Father John Misty, and Arctic Monkey’s Matt Helders on the drums. The lyrics cover remaining defiant and self-assured when the world feels like a constant battle. The singer told NME“I might not be flawless – Dad! World! – but I have a diamond heart. I have a good and strong spirit within me. Life is a dog fight for a lot of people and when you find the pitbull within yourself, that’s Joanne.”

Most Gaga moment

“Young, wild, American” – homage to David Bowie’s ‘Young Americans’, a major influence on Gaga.

8. ‘Paparazzi’ (2008)

Why we love it

The fifth and final single from Gaga’s colossal debut album, ‘Paparazzi’ uses a techno beat, UFO-like synthesizers and a killer hook to dissect the often venomous relationship an artist has with the press that gave them their success. Over the top of an electro-synth groove, Gaga alluringly invites the listener into the mind of a fame-obsessed stalker – is it the predatory paparazzi, or is it really the artist?

‘Paparazzi’ was a huge summer hit, landing Gaga her third top five hit in the UK (after two Number Ones), top 10 spots across the globe and is certified 3x platinum in the US. With its contagious chorus and sultry synth arrangement, ‘Paparazzi’ still feels innovative and fresh 10 years later.

Behind the bop

Lady Gaga explained the song has multiple meanings to “It’s also about wooing the paparazzi to fall in love with me, the media whoring,” she said. “Lindsay Lohan and Nicole Ritchie are shock artists in their own way. They’re not necessarily doing fine arts – something they put in a museums – but it’s an art form.”

Another explanation is the deadly impact of celebrity culture, Gaga explained in her Netflix documentary Five Foot Two: “If I’m gonna be sexy on the VMAs and sing about the paparazzi, I’m gonna do it while I’m bleeding to death and reminding you of what fame did to Marilyn Monroe.”

Most Gaga moment

During the 2009 VMA Awards, Gaga bled to death on stage and was hung from a chandelier, amongst other madness. This was when the world realized the Lady was in fact, Gaga.

7. ‘Alejandro’ (2009)

Why we love it

‘Alejandro’ sees Gaga bid farewell to past lovers over a stomping synth-pop beat, perfectly balanced with classical production. It draws from europop and disco, and critics have even likened it to ABBA. ‘Alejandro’ exists in a dimension between banger and ballad, creating a melodramatic masterpiece.

The track opens with a bewitching violin piece from Italian composer Vittoro Monti, as a distressed Gaga states: “I know that we are young, and I know that you may love me / but I just can’t be with you like this anymore, Alejandro.” There is a sense of longing as Gaga slurs out her words, giving an almost melancholic edge to the song. Yet ‘Alejandro’ is executed as a seductive and uplifting dance number, which went on to be a double-platinum top 10 hit.

Behind the bop

‘The Fame Monster’ was a concept album covering the various ‘monsters’ that plagued Gaga’s life.  Alejandro tackles her “fear of men” monster. The three protagonists of the song – Alejandro, Fernando and Roberto – are rejected by Gaga: “I’m not your babe Fernando” and “Stop please / just let me go, Alejandro.” Gaga is bittersweet in her independence – she yearns for ex-lovers, but gives them the cold shoulder, in fear of commitment amongst a life of celebrity and scrutiny, or perhaps that one day they will reject her too.

The director of the highly-controversial music video, Steven Klein, told MTV: “It is about a woman’s desire to resurrect a dead love and who cannot face the brutality of her current situation. The pain of living without your true love.”

Most Gaga moment

In the music video Gaga swallows rosary beads in latex nun attire, gets kinky with gender bending German soldiers and wears the iconic machine gun bra.

6. ‘Applause’ (2013)

Why we love it

2013’s ‘ARTPOP’ sees Gaga at peak avant-garde weirdness, and its lead single, ‘Applause’ sounds like glam-rock-goes-EDM with a dash of 80’s nostalgia. It opens with aggressive pulsating synths, and the techno-inspired chaos only develops from there. ‘Applause’ reached the Top 10 in over 17 countries, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US.

Lady Gaga’s vocal presence could send chills to the spine – she speaks every word with absolute authority while maintaining a disturbing tone. Critics compared the delivery to that of Talking Heads and David Bowie.

Behind the bop

The lyrics are a ‘kiss my ass’ to critics who debate her artistry – “I stand here waiting for you to bang the gong / To crash the critics saying, ‘is it right or is it wrong?’”– though Gaga also analyses the dependent nature an artist has with their admirers.

During the ‘Born This Way Ball’ tour, she powered through extreme physical pain and exhaustion in fear of disappointed fans, resulting in major hip surgery and permanent chronic pain. Gaga told Sirius XM, “I just couldn’t cancel because the thought of leaving 50,000 kids in the arena broke my heart. So I went out every night and I played and I played and I played until I couldn’t walk one night.”

Most Gaga Moment

“I’ve overheard your theory / ‘Nostalgia’s for geeks’ / I guess sir, if you say so / some of us just like to read” – a response to Maroon 5’s Adam Levine calling Gaga an art teacher rather than an artist.

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