Lady Gaga’s Singles Ranked, From Worst to Best
In celebration of that milestone -- or perhaps in mourning of all we've lost in this new era of Certified Gaga Realness -- we decided to take a look back at her lengthy discography and rank 20 of her singles. It is, admittedly, a hefty and difficult undertaking that no true stan should ever be forced to submit to, but here we are.
Sorting through the best (and, admittedly, worst) of Gaga's lengthy arsenal has, at least, reinforced one thing: she will forever be a game-changing artist who willingly and consistently reinvents herself -- era after occasionally exhausting era.
Check out our full ranking of Lady Gaga's singles below.
It's still difficult to listen to "Dope," a promotional single that shot straight into the Hot 100 Top 10, even more in retrospect. Gaga's mid-to-post ARTPOP depression is plainly evident on the slurring, overwrought piano ballad: she sounds totally broken-down and defeated as she struggles to kick the habit of getting high "for so long." Far from the campy darkness of The Fame Monster, this drugged dirge is actually just plain grim. — Bradley Stern
Gaga's Born This Way is all about youthful revelry and an impassioned cry for individuality, and her five-minute rebel yell "Hair" is a joyous, if not corny celebration of self. It's musical theater set to a dizzying beat — much as with all things Gaga — a pop star who trades out her wigs on the daily. The production is fun, even if the lyrics are occasionally hard to stomach. ("I want lots of friends who invite me to their parties!") Live free, dye hair. — Bradley Stern
18) "Born This Way"
Beyond "Reductive"-gate — and yes, the message and the music is very much out of the Madonna "Express Yourself" playbook — "Born This Way" still matters a whole lot to a whole lot of people, especially within the LGBT community. (Hey, she shouted out each letter.) It's sonically kind of jarring, like a space-age kaleidoscope of hard-edged Euro club-pop and some Eastern influences thrown in. It's Gaga's more-than-earnest love letter to her fans, and for that alone, it deserves our respect. Isn't that what Gaga's message is, anyway? — Bradley Stern
17) "Perfect Illusion"
“Perfect Illusion” is a grower, for sure, and it comes with at least one caveat: Conceding to Gaga’s newfound direction as an Authentique Artiste is a premeditative necessity in appreciating the least radio-friendly stint in her career thus far. But! Push past your initial disappointment (I sure as hell had to) — or at least erase all preconceptions and abandon the perma-hope that Gaga will someday return to catchy, dance-pop — and you’ll be greatly rewarded with a brash, rock-leaning eruption that blends Gaga’s overt theatricality with explosive, full-force guitars. Welcome to Joanne. — Ali Szubiak
Offering one of the most heavy-handed betrayal metaphors in the history of pop music, “Judas” highlights Gaga at her (legendary!) lyrical weakest: “Judas kiss me if offensed / or wear an ear condom next time." But barring that nonsense, the track’s dark, electro-pop blend contrasts nicely on its chorus with Gaga’s bubblegum sweet vocals. Still, "Judas" -- with all its vocal affectations and stylistic risks -- is little more than a weak attempt at replicating the greatness of "Bad Romance" while never quite getting there. — Ali Szubiak
15) "Marry the Night"
Born This Way satisfied Gaga's desire to dabble in a hair metal '80s rock fantasy while still keeping her dance-pop devotees thoroughly satiated. "Marry the Night," titled rather aptly, is a relatively perfect marriage of her sonic transition: totally danceable, with a dose of rock 'n roll, Gaga lifts her whiskey up to the sky and runs wild around the city on her highway unicorn in a reckless, adrenaline-inducing rush. — Bradley Stern
Like a lost Ace of Base smash echoing through an American Horror Story house of horrors, "Alejandro" comes waltzing into The Fame Monster with bravado. It's got all the characteristics of early Gaga: a st-stuttering chorus, campy nonsense lyrics and undeniable earworm hooks. The theatrical kiss-off to her Latin lover came bundled with a Steven Klein-directed homoerotic mixture of dudes in the buff, weapons and religious imagery — one of many times she'd receive those pesky Madonna comparisons. — Bradley Stern
You probably didn’t buy "Applause" on iTunes, but you should’ve. An open-letter of sorts to her fans, “Applause” sees Gaga in rare form: Here, she admits with full transparency her inherent need for approval. But she never gets weepy with it, disguising all that fatiguing desperation with her signature, warped pop flair instead. Even at her most despairing, Gaga delivers the type of bizarre, infectious hooks that first propelled her to superstar status. — Ali Szubiak
ARTPOP isn't nearly as bad of an album as Stan Twitter or some critics might suggest, and "G.U.Y." is a key example of Gaga getting it right on her overstuffed 2013 effort. The synth-slathered, twinkling intergalactic ode feels as fun and lyrically insane ("love me, love me, please retweet") as anything on The Fame did years ago, as she dreamily pays homage to being, uh, a power bottom. ("I don't need to be on top to know I'm worth it"!) Based on her next two albums, however, it seems Gaga is truly a versatile queen, after all. — Bradley Stern
11) “The Edge of Glory”
With its overwrought lyrics, ‘80s pop-rock sound and a sax solo thrown in for good measure, there’s nothing about “The Edge of Glory” that should fare well for pop radio, at least not in its current incarnation. But it works in spite of itself, with the kind of bright, celebratory melody that sees Gaga’s at her most anthemic. Equal parts simple and uplifting, “Edge of Glory” is an unencumbered, euphoric delight, rivaling even the most elated of pop songs in its sheer joy. -- Ali Szubiak
Were Cher on Twitter at the time, we'd almost surely have a "wtf is a DISCO STICK?" to retweet. Gaga's stomping "LoveGame" kept The Fame going strong in 2009, and feels like one of the signature statement pieces from her deliciously campy dance-pop debut. The sick beat spawned a million killer remixes (even one with Marilyn Manson), and further solidified the still-new Gaga as a force to be reckoned with beyond just "Poker Face." It's especially amusing to hear "LoveGame" years later in a post-Joanne world, and the production already seems suspended in time, but make no mistake: it's still fierce. HUH! — Bradley Stern
9) “Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)”
Overshadowed by the more eccentric tracks in her arsenal, “Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)” is Gaga at her sweetest and most unassuming. A straight-forward breakup song without even a shadow of a gimmick, “Eh, Eh” is a breezy, bright, calypso-influenced pop gem. Sure, it lacks Gaga’s typical bite but that’s the whole point, isn’t it? Not all ends are teeming with misery and broken bottles — sometimes things just don’t work out. Simple. — Ali Szubiak
8) “Poker Face”
You can thank Gaga for Top 40’s sudden (and unrelenting) obsession with synth-pop, but “Poker Face” offered something unique at the time. With its robotic vocals and explosive chorus, it's a decidedly dark pop offering with a melody that hooks inside your brain and sticks around for the long haul. — Ali Szubiak
7) "Just Dance"
"Just Dance" -- dubbed the unofficial party anthem of 2008 upon its initial release -- quickly catapulted Lady Gaga to pop star status, and rightfully so. A brilliant electronic dance track, chock full of lively synths and the most infectious vocal melody of the year, “Just Dance” served as a fitting introduction to an artist who would only continue to up the ante with each successive release. Talk about humble beginnings. -- Ali Szubiak
6) "You and I"
Gaga went full-on country-inspired with Joanne, but she did it first (and, perhaps, best) with “You and I” — a mid-tempo, piano-driven slow-burn that introduced the world to the most insufferable of all pop star alter-egos, Jo Calderone. But the track itself — a lush ode to the kind of all-encompassing, long-ago love you never quite move on from — is Gaga at her most vulnerable and, consequently, her most believable. — Ali Szubiak
5) “Do What U Want” featuring R. Kelly
Problematic R. Kelly feature notwithstanding, “Do What U Want” offered fans a sole shred of luminosity among the endless dearth that was Gaga’s blackest ARTPOP era. It's a shame Gaga's never further explored R&B past "Do What U Want," but considering the results, we welcome it anytime. She is a vocal revalation here, manipulating her runs with the kind of finesse of a pop star who's not only fully invested in her craft, but possesses the kind of all-encompassing talent to back it up. -- Ali Szubiak
4) "Telephone" featuring Beyonce
Lady Gaga singlehandedly resurrected the Music Video, making sure the unveiling of "Telephone" -- her joint venture with the all-powerful Beyonce -- was a highly-anticipated musical event. Thus was the Power of Gaga back in 2010, and the track -- with its rapid-fire vocal delivery and inclusion of honest-to-god cellular bleeps and bloops -- beautifully follows suit. "Telephone" also demonstrates the power of the guest feature done right, with Beyonce roaring in on the bridge, an absolute musical triumph. -- Ali Szubiak
3) "Dance in the Dark"
"Dance In The Dark" totally got the shaft, serviced as an official single only in a few territories outside of America, but it remains one of The Fame Monster's brightest (and darkest) highlights. The jagged cut, with its razor-sharp stabs of New Wave electro, is one of Gaga's finest offerings of all time, as she shimmers beneath the shadows in a tragic bout of insecurity. (It also made for the perfect opening to her Monster Ball Tour.) The middle eight is twisted genius — a nod to Madonna's "Vogue" breakdown — as she name-checks tragic pop culture icons through the ages. — Bradley Stern
While Gaga's earliest music videos were fun enough offerings of glam-pop revelry featuring all her charming disco-nonsense innovations, "Paparazzi" is the first time Gaga shook the world with a deadly, if not prophetic visual as strong as a song — and what a song! Like a tongue-in-cheek love note to the extra-invasive X17 celebrity culture of the late '00s mixed with a dose of sugary-sweet sincerity, Gaga married her album's fame-obsessed concept with incredible pop melodies that go the distance beyond its somewhat already-dated production. Beyond the song and the video, the blood-soaked performance of "Paparazzi" at the 2009 MTV VMAs thoroughly changed the game. — Bradley Stern
1) "Bad Romance"
“Just Dance” may have introduced Gaga to the pop lexicon all those years ago, but “Bad Romance” solidified her staying power. It’s true that Gaga’s always been best when she turns the dial all the way up to "Bizarre" and “Bad Romance” offers it up in droves. The track kicks off with a vocal jolt, before segueing into 2009's most iconic nonsense verse ("Rah rah-ah-ah-ah! Roma ro-mah-mah! Gaga ooh-la-la!"). What a brazen move, to lyricize your own stage name into an unrelenting chant — but Gaga’s near-immediate, cult-like status as Queen of the Weirdos had her army of worshippers at the ready, more than willing to fall over themselves to scream it right back to her. "Bad Romance" offered naysayers 'round the world definitive proof that Gaga was more than a mere flash in the pop pan, forever may she slay. -- Ali Szubiak
Every Lady Gaga Single + Album Cover Ever
Lady Gaga's Best Live Vocals