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Lady Gaga gets adventurously intimate, wrastles with Madonna on 'SNL'

October 4, 2009 |  1:45 pm


Lady Gaga brought the expected weird fashion to "Saturday Night Live." Watching the artist attempt to sit at a piano while outfitted in an array of circular metal rings -- all spinning around the Lady Gaga axis -- was a hoot, and an early comedic standout in "Saturday Night Live's" young season. But there was one bit of window dressing Lady Gaga could have done without: Madonna.

The artist formerly known as the Material Girl popped up in an early skit for a brief exchange of put-downs with the current pop fave. Perhaps a symbol of passing of the pop diva torch, or perhaps some sort of mocking her 2003 MTV Video Music Awards pairing with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, which was then meant to serve as some sort of passing of the pop diva torch, Madonna looked uncomfortable, and not quite sure of why she was tussling with Lady Gaga. It all felt a bit hastily thrown together, and little more than an excuse to show two pop stars in a cat fight.

Not to mention -- Madonna doesn't need to stump to these kind of promotional appearances. Even with a greatest hits collection released to stores last week, let's let Lady Gaga have her moment, or at least give Madonna something better to say than, "Guess what, I'm totally taller than you."

Or perhaps we should just give credit where credit is due.

Lady Gaga was joined by Madonna on "Saturday Night Live," and the high-profile guest shot failed to overshadow Gaga's second music performance, a piano-based medley of her hits, as well as a touch of new song "Bad Romance."

Pulling off a medley is no small feat itself, as they reek of award-show self-aggrandizing. But Gaga looked free and unrehearsed, and tossed off a rare medley worth watching. While it would have been nice to hear a bit more of forthcoming single "Bad Romance," what audiences received was even better. Free from the tired retro '80s synth pop of "LoveGame," Gaga flashed her nightclub-ready pipes when she went solo at the piano, and also showed off a bit of improvisation.

While diving in and out of "Poker Face," Gaga played to the New York crowd, bragging about the hot dogs on 72nd Street ("they're tasty and they're cheap") and even exposed some baseball loyalties. Gaga copped to being nostalgic for the days when she "cheered for the Yankees with my dad in Section 6," and Major League Baseball responded by giving her a shout-out (perhaps a National Anthem at a playoff game is in her near future).

Yet whereas most artists come to late night television to show off their latest singles and generate a few headlines, Gaga, who can say the words "disco stick" with a straight face, displayed a side of herself that isn't always in evidence on her 2008 smash album, "The Fame": She's not afraid to take risks.

Walking around in glass bras is nice and all, but a willingness to go musically bare and dismantle an electro-pop song on national television is surprisingly (sadly?) rare these days. For once, it was nice to see a pop star stretching herself by doing something more than showing some skin and spinning around a pole. A shame it had to happen well after midnight. 

Watch the clip until it gets stricken from YouTube:

-- Todd Martens

Photo: Lady Gaga, left, and Madonna. Credit: NBC