Lady Gaga’s illustrious career has been punctuated by a series of standout Oscar performances throughout the years, with each one further cementing her status as one of the most versatile and dynamic performers of her generation.
Coincidentally, she has also been nominated for four Oscars — one for each of her three Best Original Song contenders and once as a tribute performer.
With another high-profile performance under her belt as of last week, it’s worth taking a closer look at each of these showings and assessing how they stack up against one another.
Here are Gaga’s four Academy Award performances, ranked from “worst” to best.
4. Hold My Hand
Gaga’s stripped-down performance of “Hold My Hand” from Top Gun: Maverick was one of the most anticipated moments of the 2023 Oscars.
Although the tune was nominated for Best Original Song, her performance was not confirmed until the day of the ceremony, as the team behind the Oscars had initially said she would not be performing.
Gaga graced the red carpet in full makeup and a stunning black gown but changed into a more casual outfit of a black t-shirt and jeans with holes in the knees for her performance.
Before singing, Gaga spoke to the crowd, sharing a message of hope and encouragement.
“We need a lot of love to walk through this life, and we all need a hero sometimes,” she said. “There are heroes all around us in unassuming places, but you might find that you can be your own hero even if you feel broken inside.”
Despite her inspiring words, the performance itself was somewhat underwhelming. While a stripped-down performance can be powerful, Gaga’s vocals were not quite right, and the overall effect fell short of expectations.
3. Til It Happens To You
When then-Vice President Biden took the stage at the 2016 Oscars to introduce Gaga and speak in support of the White House’s “It’s On Us” campaign to prevent campus sexual assault, it was clear that this was going to be a special moment.
Biden spoke passionately about the need to change the conversation around sexual assault to make sure that no victim ever needs to ask themselves, “What did I do?”
Gaga’s performance of “Til It Happens to You,” the nominated track from The Hunting Ground, was already set to be major before she took to the stage.
It took an even more powerful turn when 50 survivors of sexual violence were revealed, holding hands, as a backdrop was raised mid-song.
It was a stunning and emotionally charged moment that left many in the audience in tears. Although Gaga didn’t win the Oscar for Best Original Song that night, her performance and advocacy showed that she was on track to become a powerful force in this space, using her platform to raise awareness and effect change.
2. The Sound of Music
One year before Gaga earned her first Oscar nomination, she delivered a performance that would prove she was one of the best vocalists in the entertainment industry.
It was a tribute to the beloved musical The Sound of Music, which was celebrating its 50th anniversary, and she made it her own.
As the opening notes began to play, Gaga emerged from behind a curtain, dressed in a sweeping white gown reminiscent of Maria von Trapp. She launched into a medley of songs from the musical, showcasing her vocal range and stage presence.
The audience was enraptured, and as she soared through the memorable cuts, it was clear that something special was happening. When she reached the final notes of the medley, the audience erupted into applause, giving the singer a standing ovation.
The pinnacle of the performance, however, came when the legendary Julie Andrews took the stage immediately following Gaga’s number.
The two women shared an embrace that spoke volumes, as Andrews was clearly touched by the younger singer’s remarkable talent and tribute to the film that had launched her career.
When Gaga and Bradley Cooper took the stage to perform their duet of “Shallow” at the 91st Academy Awards in 2019, they didn’t just give a standout performance, they created a moment that will go down in Oscar history. The duo began their segment while still seated in the front row, and then they calmly stood up to take the stage, holding hands.
The audience was already captivated, but the best was yet to come.
As they began to sing, it was clear that their chemistry and vocal talents were perfectly matched. The power of their collaboration was undeniable, and it was easy to forget that this was just a performance, as the emotion and authenticity of their delivery were that convincing.
Even though voting had long closed, their showing alone would have been enough to earn Gaga the trophy. Not long after their stunning performance, she would go on to accept the Oscar for Best Original Song.
The performance of “Shallow” was a testament to the incredible direction and creativity of Cooper, as well as the inspiring vocals of Gaga.
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