2013 VMAs: Lady Gaga Earns Your “Applause”

by (@unclegrambo)

Lady Gaga found herself in an unusual position last week: Second place. By rushing “Applause”—the first single from her highly anticipated ARTPOP LP—to market in order to combat leaks, she placed herself in direct competition with the juggernaut that is the Katy Perry Machine. So when Gaga came out on the losing end of that battle, the pressure on her to deliver a stunning opening performance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards really intensified. And guess what? She delivered.

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The performance began with an extremely tight shot of Gaga’s face filling the frame, one that was a bit reminiscent of the cover of her “Applause” single, only sans face paint. Somehow, though, her lack of Toucan Sam facepaint made the image hilariously horrifying. See what we mean?

As the camera pulled back the “Applause” performance began with a round of boos. It’s unclear whether the jeers were the crowd or an intentional part of the show. Unfazed, Gaga worked five costume changes — and a few wigs — into her roughly five minute performance. For those who have studied her “Applause” video closely, you’ll recognize some familiar characters: Zombie Marilyn Monroe, Seventh Seal meets Edie Beale from Grey Gardens Gaga and, most impressively, Botticelli‘s Venus. (Sadly, there was no appearance of the Shadow Hands bra.)

But, as we all know, all of these costume changes mean very little if the song itself doesn’t resonate. “Applause” may have come out of the gate a little slower than Gaga or her label anticipated, but it’s got all the makings of a real “grower.” In particular, this song feels tailor-made for an arena setting, and the crowd at the Barclay’s Center responded in kind. After the response she got tonight, we can’t imagine that Gaga would open her upcoming ARTPOP world tour with anything other than this song.

[Photos: Getty Images]