Lady Gaga’s 18 Biggest Hits: Revisited & Ranked

Lady Gaga's 'Joanne': Album Review
Is Lady Gaga's fifth LP a hit or miss? Read our review of the polarizing 'Joanne.'

There’s a lot riding on Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl performance. Mother Monster’s Joanne LP hasn’t exactly set the charts on fire and the other pop girls smell blood. This could be the 30-year-old’s last opportunity to enjoy a reversal of fortune on the charts and remind the world that she’s still at the top of her game. While Gaga’s setlist is still under wraps, she has rehearsed “Born This Way” and “Bad Romance.” That hints at a hit-filled show largely comprised of singles from her imperial phase.

Speculation about the setlist inspired me to reboot Idolator’s Revisited & Ranked franchise. Basically, I give my two cents on all of the pop diva’s biggest hits and rank them from worst to best. It’s not an easy task. As disinterested as I am in Gaga’s country-lite phase, she still has enough hits for two best-of albums. And then there’s the fact that she didn’t put a foot wrong until the Born This Way era. So, Monsters — take a deep breath and dive into my analysis of the superstar’s discography below.

18. “Dope”
Year: 2013
Album: ARTPOP

This was technically a promo single, but I’m including it due the controversy surrounding its inexplicably high chart placing. (It remains Gaga’s last top 10 hit, peaking at number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2013). There’s not much else to say about “Dope.” A grungy piano ballad about drug addiction, the song was intended to be the “Speechless” or “You And I” of ARTPOP, but came up short.

17. “Million Reasons”
Year: 2016
Album: Joanne

I know this campy anthem has a lot of supporters, but I’m not one of them. (Sorry). Sounding like a cross between a show tune and a country ballad, “Million Reasons” feels like it was written for an episode of Glee. Maybe I’ll change my mind when she belts it out at the Super Bowl.

16. “G.U.Y.”
Year: 2014
Album: ARTPOP

Interscope hammered the final nail into ARTPOP’s coffin when they released “G.U.Y.” as the album’s third single instead of the still-great “Gypsy.” It stiffed at number 76 on the Hot 100 and is probably best-remembered for the Real Housewives-starring video. Which is a shame because it’s catchy enough in a forgettable kind of way.

15. “Perfect Illusion”
Year: 2016
Album: Joanne

“Perfect Illusion” is a lovable mess. It made no sense as a lead single and gave a false impression of Joanne, but it’s still the most quintessentially Gaga song on the album. Who else would have the audacity to attempt a rock/disco hybrid and an octave-stretching (literally) chorus? The fact that she even came close to pulling it off is impressive.

14. “Born This Way”
Year: 2011
Album: Born This Way

“Born This Way” changed lives. That’s not hyperbole. I know living, breathing human-beings who came out to friends and family after hearing this song. What an amazing accomplishment. On the other hand, it was the first indication that something had gone awry at the Haus of Gaga. The perfectly-executed dance-pop of The Fame Monster era was now a little sloppy and reeked of excess.

13. “Judas”
Year: 2011
Album: Born This Way

There’s no denying that “Judas” is a bop. The production is aggressive and that chorus packs a punch. However, it’s still one of the weaker songs on Born This Way and, let’s be honest, a cynical remake of “Bad Romance.” I guess that’s what made it a safe bet in the eyes of execs. Well, as safe as a sexy banger about a religious figure can be. The video also left a lasting impression.

12. “LoveGame”
Year: 2009
Album: The Fame

This is where it starts to get difficult for me. I put “LoveGame” at number 12 on the list, but it could have just as easily been top 5. I’ve bumped it down a couple of places because it hasn’t aged as gracefully as much of The Fame and the lyrics are endearingly awful. “It’s complicated and stupid, got my ass squeezed by sexy cupid” is not ok. That being said, I rushed out to buy the CD single and played it several hundred times in 2009.

11. “You And I”
Year: 2011
Album: Born This Way

I loved this song at the time. Back in the good, old days when Gaga churned out bone-shaking bangers at an alarming rate, it was almost a relief when she sat at the piano and exercised her vocal chords. Now it’s just the norm. Which is probably why this falls outside the top 10. I’m done with the ballads and want our club queen back.

10. “Applause”
Year: 2013
Album: ARTPOP

Life is strange. I was so underwhelmed by “Applause” in 2013, but I’d probably go into cardiac arrest from sheer joy if she released it today. The wacky anthem makes perfect sense in the anything-goes soundscape of ARTPOP and boasts a genuinely brilliant chorus. Unfortunately, the verses let it down. With one exception. “One second I’m a Koons, then suddenly the Koons is me” is iconic and Grammy worthy.

9. “Do What U Want” (feat. R.Kelly)
Year: 2013
Album: ARTPOP

Everything about “Do What U Want” is icky apart from the song itself. If she hadn’t collaborated with an alleged sex offender or called on an alleged rapist to film the (never-released) video, this would have been a well-deserved top 10 hit. By ARTPOP standards, the song is as understated and fully realized as it gets. The version with Christina Aguilera also gives me life.

8. “Paparazzi”
Year: 2008
Album: The Fame

Lady Gaga was a force of nature in 2008. Everything she touched turned to gold and this was no exception. A relatively straightforward dance-pop song, “Paparazzi” felt a lot bolder due to the pop star’s outrageous image and visual nous. However, at its core, it was pure bubblegum. This wouldn’t have been out of place on a late ’00s Hilary Duff album. Which is a big compliment.

7. “Telephone” (feat. Beyonce)
Year: 2010
Album: Fame Monster

As far as rejected Britney Spears’ demos go, this is pretty good! I was already on the Gaga bandwagon by 2010, but my stanning reached fever pitch when she teamed up with Beyonce. It felt like a pop culture moment at the time and still holds up as one of the better superstar duets of the 21st century. I prefer Queen Bey and Shakira’s “Beautiful Liar,” but this comes close.

6. “Marry The Night”
Year: 2011
Album: Born This Way

Can we agree that “Marry The Night” is the unsung hero of Born This Way? While not as stirring as “The Edge Of Glory” or as trashily enjoyable as “Hair,” “Bad Kids” or “Heavy Metal Lover,” the album’s fifth single is a banger with forward-thinking production and a monster chorus. Six years have passed and this still sounds fresh and exciting. It also boasts the last great Lady Gaga video.

5. “Just Dance”
Year: 2008
Album: The Fame

Gaga was getting a lot of heat online in 2008, but hadn’t actually scored a hit anywhere. That changed when “Just Dance” exploded and a superstar was born. In retrospect, “Just Dance” was always going to be huge. It surfed the electro-pop wave that started with Robyn and was popularized by Britney’s Blackout LP, but added a fiery, relatable component. Who hasn’t lost their keys, phone or dignity at a club?

4. “Alejandro”
Year: 2010
Album: Fame Monster

Lady Gaga made a deal with the devil. That’s the only explanation I have for the perfection — sonically and visually — of The Fame Monster. All eight songs were flawless, which made choosing singles a chore. “Bad Romance” soared above the other gems and “Telephone” was a no-brainer given the Beyonce connection, but the third single was a toss-up between “Dance In The Dark” and “Alejandro.” In the end, the better song won. Sounding like a cross between Ace Of Base and ABBA (without the cheese), this is an act of alchemy.

3. “Poker Face”
Year: 2008
Album: Fame Monster

A lot of us secretly wondered if Lady Gaga was going to be a one hit wonder after “Just Dance.” After all, it’s notoriously hard to break a dance diva and, well, she was kind of weird looking with all those crazy wigs. “Poker Face” erased those doubts real fast. It was even bigger than “Just Dance” and ranks as one of the catchiest songs of all time. Also, the line about “bluffin with my muffin” will never not put a smile on my face.

2. “The Edge Of Glory”
Year: 2011
Album: Born This Way

The perfect marriage of dance-pop and ’80s rock. If Pat Benatar and Madonna merged into one person, she might come up with something like “The Edge Of Glory.” Written from the perspective of Gaga’s (now) late grandfather looking back on his life, this song packs a hefty emotional punch. It’s also a genuine lighters-in-the-air anthem with one of the most euphoric choruses of all time. A modern classic.

1. “Bad Romance”
Year: 2010
Album: Fame Monster

100 years from now when music historians are putting together their list of the best songs of the 21st century, “Bad Romance” will no doubt feature somewhere near the top. Lady Gaga might reach these heights again one day, but I suspect this will go down as her masterpiece. This is the standard by which dance-pop is measured. Relive the magic up top.

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