From “Just Dance” To “Stupid Love,” Lady Gaga’s Lead Singles Ranked

Mike Nied | March 3, 2020 3:27 pm

Lady Gaga’s due date is rapidly approaching! Nearly a full year after informing fans she was pregnant with her sixth studio album, Mother Monster is finally gearing up to drop Chromatica. And she launched the era with a certifiable banger – “Stupid Love.” The euphoria-inducing track implies that the enduring diva is returning to her pop roots on the upcoming LP. That’s welcome news after her dalliances in jazz on Cheek To Cheek and Americana on Joanne and the A Star Is Born soundtrack. Pop Gaga is back, and we’re already wigless.

I decided to celebrate the birth of the Chromatica era by revisiting and ranking Gaga’s lead singles. Now before you say anything, I know we’re gearing up for LG6. However, you’ll note there are eight entries on this list. That’s because I chose to include “Bad Romance” off The Fame Monster and “Shallow” from ASIB. Why? Because both introduced a new era in the diva’s career and signified a sonic shift in her sound. Also, they’re simply too good to ignore. Check out the ranking below and let us know if you agree about what comes out on top.

8. “Anything Goes” – Cheek To Cheek

After the reverse Warholian and downright odd experience that was the ARTPOP era, it’s hard to imagine how Gaga could have continued raising the bar on her zany antics. So Mother Monster did what she does best: throw a curve ball at her fans. In this case, she switched things up by linking up with the legendary Tony Bennett to record an album of reimagined jazz standards. They introduced the project with an excellent cover of “Anything Goes.” While the jazzy bop highlights the versatility of her voice, it’s something of an outlier for fans of the iconic diva’s pop collective.

7. “Applause” – ARTPOP

Speaking of ARTPOP, its lead single is next up on this list. The album itself is a polarizing work of art. Depending on who you ask, it’s either a misunderstood masterpiece or an overcooked collection that underdelivered. However, there’s something commendable about the honesty of “Applause.” On it Gaga cops to her hunger for a positive reaction from an audience. After the awe-inspiring success of previous eras, it’s easy to imagine that she’d grown accustomed to a warm reception. I’ll give her points for being a realist, but the clumsy lyrics on this one never did it for me.

6. “Perfect Illusion” – Joanne

After trying out a side hustle as a jazz singer, Gaga moved further away from her dance roots on 2015’s Joanne. The album still carries a distinctive pop patina, but it shimmers dully over a plethora of rock and Americana influences. That was evident from the first listen to lead single “Perfect Illusion.” The stadium-worthy anthem packs one of Mother Monster’s super-sized choruses. The sing-along quality of that elevates it to a tier above “Applause.” However, there isn’t enough staying power to help the song compete with some of her better releases.

5. “Born This Way” – Born This Way

Released in an era of feel-good bangers the likes of Kesha’s “We R Who We R” and Katy Perry’s “Firework,” the title track to Born This Way was very with the times. Gaga’s long and storied history as an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community makes her contribution to the sub-genre all the more expected and welcome. Additionally, there’s nothing about the song that feels remotely pedestrian. The pop provocateur still managed to stand out by embedding an otherworldly element to the track. That was helped in large part by its blockbuster video.

4. “Stupid Love” – Chromatica

After one listen to Chromatica’s lead single “Stupid Love,” it’s abundantly clear Gaga hung up that damn pink hat and is ready to give us more of what she does best. That would be euphoria-inducing pop bangers. Her long-awaited comeback single delivers retro production (courtesy of BloodPop and Tchami) and a massively uplifting chorus Little Monsters will have no problem belting out while on the dance floor of any gay club. If the rest of LG6 is this strong, then there’s no doubt in my mind it will be one of 2020’s best releases.

3. “Shallow” – A Star Is Born

Joanne toyed with a pop-edged brand of Americana, but Gaga fully submerged herself in the genre when she signed on for A Star Is Born. The movie didn’t do it for me (a story for another day), but the soundtrack is an undeniable work of art. That’s especially the case for the Bradley Cooper-assisted lead single “Shallow.” The chart-topping, Grammy- and Oscar-winning anthem highlights the duo’s literally perfect chemistry. Then there’s Gaga’s powerfully delivered bridge. Sorry Charlotte Awbery, but no one will ever be able to do it quite the same.

2. “Just Dance” – The Fame

The song that started it all remains one of Lady Gaga’s very best. “Just Dance” cinched Mother Monster her status as one of pop’s best and brightest Dance Commanders. Twelve years later and the boozy bop remains a must-hear on party playlists across the globe for obvious reasons. Chiefly because it’s just that good. Not only that, but it launched the diva’s career with her first number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Talk about making an entrance. There’s only one lead single in her discography that can compete…

1. “Bad Romance” – The Fame Monster

And that would be “Bad Romance.” Technically speaking, The Fame Monster isn’t an entirely new album. However, the re-release of The Fame packed enough new tunes to almost qualify as her sophomore effort. And it’s introductory track instantly became a staple in her discography. Everything about the classic from her staccato delivery on the verses to the anthemic chorus and the weird, very Gaga chants simply work. It should be a literally unforgivable offense that this (the song against which we compare all of Mother Monster’s releases) didn’t top the Hot 100. However, nothing will ever dim its shine.

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