Madonna Throws Shade at Lady Gaga — By Covering One of Her Songs
[There was a video here]
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At rehearsals for her Tel Aviv concert — set for this Thursday — Madge decided to work what sounds like a fleeting knock at her protégé-in-absentia, Lady Gaga.
During a run through of "Express Yourself" (skip to 1:07), Madge transitioned into Gaga's "Born This Way" without saying a word, presumably to call attention to the obvious similarities. Really, it's just a matter of chord progression, but many found "Born This Way" so reminiscent of Madonna's 1989 proto-pop-house smash that "Express Yourself" trended on Twitter on the release date of "Born."
Hopefully this is the way she'll perform it on her upcoming MDNA tour, because it's hilarious. It is the lack of commentary and inherent criticism in this medley that makes it so bitchy. It's helpful to revisit Dorian Corey's definition of "shade" in Paris Is Burning (and really, when is it not helpful to revisit the wit and wisdom of Dorian?): "Shade is I don't tell you you're ugly, but I don't have to tell you because you know you're ugly. And that's shade." In this case, shade is Madonna doesn't tell Lady Gaga that she ripped her off, because the world knows she did. Madonna was obsessed with the ball scene of the day enough to bring it to the mainstream ("Vogue"), but this is some next level queen shit, from one gay icon to another. Madonna has learned well. Finally.
This isn't her first comment on the songs' perceived similarities. Madonna previously called "Born This Way" "reductive," whatever that meant. (I like Madonna and all, but she's worse than Mariah Carey at selling big words as anything other than tools to make a pop star sound smart.) Despite the resemblance, Gaga denied directly referencing "Express Yourself," calling the allegations "moronic" and "retarded."
She later apologized for using the word "retarded."