On the Scene: Lady Gaga Rocks 30 Rock

Not many pop stars could compel me to wake up at 5 am for a Today show concert, but Lady Gaga is one. This morning Her Ladyship performed at Rockefeller Plaza as part of the “Toyota Concert Series on Today,” and needless to say, she rocked the Rock. I was far from the only one who wanted a little Gaga with my morning coffee, though. The courtyard outside of Today’s Studio 1A was crawling with Little Monsters—paws up, clenched, and suffering from serious “Bad Romance” cat-scratch-dance fever. As Gaga herself acknowledged on Twitter, some of her fans even camped out as much as 12 hours before the show, jockeying for the best possible vantage point for an eye-popping view of their idol in all her spandex-and-sequins glory. Ann Curry reported that the largest crowd ever for a Today show concert—20,000 screaming fans—had assembled in Rockefeller Plaza, breaking the previous record held by Justin Bieber.

Many young Gagaphiles sported the lighting-bolt face paint from the “Just Dance” video. Others donned her sequined mask and stylish swimming cap from the beginning of the “Poker Face” vid, when Gaga emerges from a pool of water not so much as Botticelli’s Venus as the Creature from the Black Lagoon.  One male Little Monster showed off his very own homemade cigarette glasses—and gave them to Meredith Vieira for her to model. Another dude came bedecked in Gaga’s Tholian crystal outfit and headpiece she wore at the Grammys in February.

I attended Gaga’s Monster Ball concert for the first time at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night and, as always, admired the level of passion and intensity she brought to otherwise mostly shallow pop songs. Her commitment to pure artifice is truly inspiring and challenges our tired conceptions of “depth” and “superficiality” more than any other artist of her generation. But I’ll confess I felt some trepidation as her Today concert started.

First of all, and most obviously, Gaga’s never particularly struck me as a morning person. Secondly, the Today show would require her to contain her excesses within the family-friendly parameters of daytime television. She wouldn’t be devoured onstage by a giant anglerfish, or sprawl herself out on her piano’s keyboard and gracefully pound the ivories over and over with her buttocks. When she’s performed on The Ellen DeGeneres Show or The Oprah Winfrey Show–and she doesn’t wear the arch-camp persona she assumes in her Monster Ball concerts–she can lay on sappy clichés like “I love my fans so much” as thick as poisoned honey poured over greasy diner food.

When interviewed by Meredith and Ann, Gaga repeated some of these platitudes, but my fears were mostly groundless. Flaunting her Broadway-caliber pipes, she started in right before 8:30 with a passionate rendition of “Someone to Watch Over Me,” followed immediately by “Bad Romance.” During the commercial break, she continued to consult with her musicians, telling her pianist, Joe, he should have left “a little more space” in his accompaniment between the verses of “Someone to Watch Over Me.” Then the heavens opened up. As if it wasn’t enough that Gaga already commanded the crowd, apparently she could summon the weather, as well, because the rain only seemed to enhance her performances of “You and I,” “Alejandro,” and “Teeth”:

It’s hard to believe how far Gaga has come in the 19 months since she first appeared on Today as a fourth-hour guest brought on to give Kathie Lee and Hoda a hilariously awkward dance lesson. From high school outsider to global superstar, Gaga’s career is itself the ultimate wish-fulfillment fantasy—to the point that her audience almost becomes part of her act. During her Monster Ball concerts she talks about how she used to be where all the rest of us are—in the crowd, screaming for her (and our) favorite popstars.

Apparently, she once even camped outside MTV’s Times Square studio to catch a glimpse of Britney Spears performing on TRL. That Gaga has taken such pains to narrativize her journey from obscurity to fame in a way democratizes the experience of being famous. As one fan sporting Diet Coke cans in her hair told me after the show today, “When I see her perform, I feel like a superstar too.” Lady Gaga has not merely captured the hearts of her fans, but like the hungry beast of her song “Monster,” she’s devoured them.

More from EW.com’s Music Mix:
Lady Gaga’s Monster Ball Tour: EW’s Top 5 Moments
Pete Wentz announces new bad Black Cards. Are you excited?
Ringo Starr’s 70th birthday concert: Guests galore, and Paul McCartney, too!
Katy Perry rules the Billboard Hot 100 chart for the fifth week in a row
Lady Gaga preps ‘Remix’ album for US release
‘American Idol’ tour dates canceled as Summer of Sadness claims another victim

Comments (31 total) Add your comment
  • joe

    I love u EW, but enough with the Lady GaGa posts. There have seriously been at least 7 in 2 days. Enough! This looks more and more like her fansite and less like an entertainment site everyday.

    • crispy

      What has the world come to when Lady GagGag gets a bigger audience than Justin Bieber? I believe this post is a lie.. Lady GooGag has done to much to quickly. She is tired, old and overdone. She copies Madonna and no one really likes her anymore. Stick to wearing crappy outfits GagGoo as you can’t sing. Justin Bieber will return and he shall own you!

      • RC

        Justin Bieber, give me a break…I don’t think so. Gaga’s got a voice and an act, even if she is over the top, it’s an eye-popping one.

      • Brian

        Is the Justin Bieber thing above supposed to be ironic? Are people over 12 seriously outspoken fans of him? That doesn’t make any sense. I get it if you like him, but come on, if you’re over 12 and like him, you should know better than to flaunt that unironically. And saying Lady Gaga stinks but Justin Bieber is rad is like saying “Everyone knows ‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’ is crap while ‘Garfield 2: Tale of Two Kitties’ is a masterpiece.” They’re both manufactured acts! Get real.

      • A

        Oh shut up, how Justib Beiber got an audience at all is what stuns me.

        Lady Gaga hasn’t done too much in little time, she’s just successful which is a feeling niether you or Justin will be familiar with.

      • 费杨明

        justin is a mess,there is no aspect about him that i like.gaga will be great forever

    • MsDaisy

      At least she’s not a vampire.

      • j


    • mike

      Say what you will about her, but she’s gonna be around for as long as she wants to. You people seem to overlook the fact that this woman is a creative, hit making, pop music genius. As long as she can continue cranking out those infectious songs, she will be on top.

  • James Apterson

    Gaga jumped the shark 5 months ago.

    • JumpYourself

      You jumped the shark as soon as you wrote that. Tired hack.

      • ZBee1

        Indeed. LG could jump an actual shark and it would be outrageously neat.

      • A

        I’m guessing that will probably be part of her next act.

  • ZBee1

    Hey now! Keep the GAGA posts going!!! Rahhrrrrr!

    • jennyb

      Yeah, but keep them better than this one. This is horribly written. To wit: she can lay on sappy clichés like “I love my fans so much” as thick as poisoned honey poured over greasy diner food. WTF?

      • @jennyb

        A hit is a hit.Those “horribly” written lyrics are producing hit songs. Nobody cares how dumb the lyrics are if she’s making it work.

      • milos

        I thought it was written fairly well. I especially liked this part “as thick as poisoned honey poured over greasy diner food”. I’m not sure if you’ve seen the video for Telephone, but if you did, you might have got this. This line is clearly a reference to this video. Specifically the scene in which they are at a diner and Gaga is serving up food covered in poison laced honey.

  • Kj

    Lol at silly justina beiber fans hating on Gaga. Anyway EW u got it spot on, its crazy how far she has come. She is a brillant live performer and extremely talented. Her dedication to her music n fans is amazing. So sweet of her 2 send fans pizza n water dat camped out 2 see her. Its incredible 19 months ago she would have battled 2 play for 20 people now 20 000 show up.She will always have her detractors but she deserves all da success in da world. LOVE the Gaga.

  • sv

    She was AWESOME!!! I hope madonna was watching so she could hear what actual SINGING sounds like.

    • u

      Right, cause poor Madonna hasn’t had much success in her career, I mean she’s not even important enough to influence other artists like Lady Gaga. Dumb Gaga fans…

  • Russ

    Lady Gaga is this generations Madonna. Love her or hate her she is great a getting a reaction from people. You feel “something” about her which, in this day and age of information overload, is pretty impressive. She is not someone that people simply shrug their shoulders over and ignore. I like her music (it is catchy, but not amazing), but I do think she does have a lot of untapped talent. Her voice is really, really good. It will be interesting to see her mature as a person and an artist (she is only 22 or 23 right?). It doesn’t hurt that she seems to have a huge fanbase that would seem like they would follow her anywhere she wants to take them.

  • Plutonium57

    Great points in this posting, e.g., the shallowness of the pop songs but the passion and artistry she has. I was encouraged by the song “You and I” that she will move behind the tired Warholian “fame” shtick and the Madonnaesque “Alejandro” crap and show that she in fact has more inborn talent than Ms. Ciccone ever had (she owes her best album to William Orbit, in my view). I had a feeling that Elton John gave GaGa a bit of advice to use her strengths and write/perform closer to a rock vein, past the pop, even if “Bad Romance” is indeed a killer pop tune and video.

  • Joe

    Best damn thing I’ve ever read!

    • FoHoForever

      Best damn comment I’ve ever read.

  • Brian

    Gaga, Googoo, Goomoo stupid Madonna clone. Crapola!

    • A

      What an articulate statement.

  • mario

    this is why i love lady gaga, her music is so versatile its incredible. loved the trombone players.

  • Katie

    So, she’s trying to be Madonna, right? Like, when she picked out the outfit for Alejandro, she consciously thought, “I’m going to dress like Express Yourself/Dick Tracy Madonna for this song”? Makes sense since the Alejandro video “borrowed” so much from Express Yourself. Which would be fine if she wasn’t always prattling on about how original she is.

  • ProfLinus

    Gaga is already getting tired. She’s really been losing a lot of steam in the last couple of months. Her next album will decide everything (as it should, not her gimmicks). If it is more of the same veiled in faux-avant-garde BS, people will see through it this time. If she makes a legitimately interesting, challenging, and risky album, she might stick around.

    Too many people are fooled by her “Look at me, I’m edgy b/c I’m wearing a bubble costume”. I’m tired of her.

    • u

      The novelty of her shallow music won’t last very long, so unless she wants to go down in history only for her weird outfits, she better step it up on the musical front. Maybe she will do just that, or maybe she will allow the fame and riches go to her head (if it hasn’t already, judging by her classy behavior at that recent Mets game) and continue to churn out mindless, unoriginal, filler pop tunes. I personally can’t stand her, but she is undeniably talented, and can make music that is a cut above from all the crap that pollutes our airwaves. The only way I’ll be converted into a fan is if she does just that.

  • Beauty Beth

    I love gaga and christiandatingusa was inspired

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