First comes a breakup, then comes a makeup.
While most people are still buzzing over Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper‘s insane-in-the-membrane chemistry during their performance of “Shallow” at the 2019 Oscars on Sunday night, another major moment went down for Mother Monster on Sunday night.
No, we’re not talking about winning her first-ever Academy Award for Best Original Song for the hit from A Star Is Born; we are talking about the end of her almost decade-long feud with Madonna, her fellow Queen of Pop. Quick, run to your window and see if there are pigs flying outside!
Following her huge win, Gaga was invited to attend “The Party,” an exclusive after-party thrown by Guy Oseary and Madonna, 60. And at that party, the two pop icons seemed to finally bury the hatchet and call a truce, cozily posing for a portrait together for Time magazine.
While the party has a strict social media ban, a fan site managed to get a short video of the pair nose-kissing for the cameras as well.
The comments section was filled with fans shocked over and/or celebrating the end of Gaga, 32, and Madonna long and well-documented public feud, one that started with seemingly mutual admiration and respect before turning bitter thanks to accusations of plagiarism and jealousy.
In 2008, Lady Gaga burst onto the mainstream pop scene with her album The Fame, and she was in your face, making headlines for her over-the-top outfits and hairstyles, as well as her unapologetic stance on sex, religion and everything in between. Of course, the comparisons to Madonna’s own entrance on the pop culture landscape in the ’80s were immediate and undeniable, as both ushered in new waves of feminism in music during their respective debuts.
But like Madonna, Gaga also had the artistry to back up all the dramatics, and by 2009, her song “Poker Face” was the best-selling single of the year., spending a record 83 weeks on the Billboard’s Digital Songs chart.
It was official: Pop music had a new princess.
But with a new princess came rumors of jealousy from the genre’s queen, which Madonna was quick to shoot down.
“No, I’m very flattered,” she said when asked by MTV News if she was threatened by the comparisons between the two artists.
Madonna even brought her then 11-year-old daughter Lourdes Leon to one of Gaga’s New York City concerts in 2009, with Gaga saying she was “very humbled” that one of her musical icon’s was attending her show. “I had been hearing all week that she was going to come,” she explained. “and I was like, ‘Oh, OK,’ and I didn’t want to talk about it or tell anyone ’cause I thought it was kind that she would want to come at all.”
And she even expressed concern over Madonna’s safety at the event.
“I was hoping and praying she would get out safely,” she told MTV News. “If she got spotted she would have been trampled like the queen she is.”
See? No drama here.
In fact, in 2009, the two women caused a stir when they surprised Saturday Night Live fans by appearing in a sketch together, mocking rumors of simmering tension.
As part of a mock-MTV show called “Deep House Dish,” the two women came out in stage in matching outfits, performing side-by-side while making snide comments to each other. “What’s wrong Madonna, can’t get into the groove?” Gaga asked, with Madonna firing back, “Looks like your wig needs a fix!” The two went on to pull each other’s hair and pretend to strangle each other.
They then sat down for a joint interview with Kenan Thompson, where the jabs kept a-comin’ until they almost kissed and made up.
But when Gaga released “Born This Way,” the first single off of her second album, in 2011, music critics pointed out the apparent nods to Madonna’s earlier work.
In Rolling Stone‘s review of the album, the magazine’s critic wrote she “pulls an expert bitch-stole-my-look on Madonna’s ‘Express Yourself.'”
But some Madonna fans found “Born This Way” more of a rip-off than homage to Madonna’s 1989 hit “Express Yourself.”
The first to address the comparison was Lady Gaga, who went on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in February 2011, saying, “There is really no one that is a more adoring and loving Madonna fan than me. I am the hugest fan personally and professionally.”
Gaga went on to reveal she had received an e-mail from Madonna’s representation, “sending me their love and complete support on behalf of the single, and if the queen says it shall be, then it shall be.”
Alas, the Queen of Pop and her team denied ever sending said e-mail, with Madonna then going on to say she found the songs a little too similar for her taste, finding it more imitative than inspired by.
In fact, in a 2012 interview with ABC News, Madonna said, “It feels reductive.”
When asked if that’s good, she breezily said, “Look it up,” before taking a literal sip of tea. (Per a quick search, the definition of crude is “tending to present a subject or problem in a simplified form, especially one viewed as crude.)
“When I heard [‘Born This Way’] on the radio, I said, ‘That sounds very familiar,'” she added.
While she called Gaga “a very talented artist,” Madonna went on to say, “I certainly think she references me a lot in her work. And sometimes I think it’s amusing and flattering and well done.”
Still, there was more: “There’s a lot of ways to look at it. I can’t really be annoyed by it…because, obviously, I’ve influenced her.”
And her comments also influenced Gaga to take a moment during a concert in New Zealand to address critics of “Born This Way.” So not calling Madonna out by name, but not not calling Madonna out.
“It sometimes makes people feel better about themselves to put other people down or make fun of them or maybe make mockery of their work. And that doesn’t make me feel good at all. That just makes me feel like I’m not being a good human being,” she told the crowd. “I feel like if you’re a really good human being, you can try to find something beautiful in every single person, no matter what.”
She continued, “I don’t even want to fight back because it’s more important to me to keep writing music. Because that’s really all I care about, is the music… things are really different than they were 25 years ago, and that’s what makes ‘Born this Way’ so relevant for me. We’re socially in a different place and it’s OK, we don’t have to all slice and hate each other anymore.”
“You could never invalidate the power of ‘Born This Way,'” she added. “I don’t want to be your f–king queen, I want to be your friend.”
But two can go on tour, and Madonna doubled-down on her claims of copy-catting, performing a mash-up of the two songs during her Tel Aviv concert in 2012.
“She’s not me!” Madonna chanted to the crowd after the performance.
And yes, for those of you wondering, Gaga did address Madonna’s mash-up message in an interview with Attitude magazine, turning the move into a form of flattery.
“I have to be really honest, I was completely kind of floored that Madonna was singing my song on her stage every night,” she said. “I’m certainly not thinking about anybody but me and my fans when I’m on stage. The fact that I was on her mind at all. I mean, Madonna’s… she’s Madonna. I looked up to her for a long time. I’m not quite sure what her intention was—to do that in the show—but I don’t really care.”
In the interview, Gaga did a masterful job of interweaving compliments with sly jabs, even bringing her age into the mix.
“All it meant to me was that Madonna Ciccone was singing my song on her stage and I’m 27!” she continued. “And as a punk-rocker from New York, I’ve basically been hoping that I would become so good that one day I would piss off Madonna!”
And no, the “Bad Romance” singer wasn’t done just yet.
“I think playing into the gossip of the tabloids and, I guess the fodder of the competition, that’s just not what I’m about,” she said. “She chooses to use her voice the way she chooses to use hers and I choose to use mine the way I use mine.”
And her final blow was a particular savvy one, subtly suggesting Madonna was threatened by her.
“I truthfully believe that there was nothing about those records sounding alike, and everything about this gay icon versus gay icon nonsense,” she explained. “I don’t need to take anybody’s torch. I have no interest in taking anybody’s torch. I am over here and they are over there and if you feel connected to it, the door is open for you to come in and enjoy this with us. But this need for competition was everything that ‘Born This Way’ isn’t about!”
But the concert back-and-forth and Gaga’s biting interview about it after the fact seemed to be in response to warring comments the two women gave that went more into the technical specifics when it came to comparing the songs.
Speaking with Nightline, Madonna said, “I thought, what a wonderful way to redo my song. I mean, I recognized the chord changes. I thought it was… interesting.”
Then, in an interview with NME, Gaga fired back, calling Madonna’s claim “completely ridiculous.”
“If you put the songs next to each other, side by side, the only similarities are the chord progression,” she said. “It’s the same one that’s been in disco music for the last 50 years. Just because I’m the first f–king artist in 25 years to think of putting it on Top 40 radio, it doesn’t mean I’m a plagiarist, it means that I’m f–king smart. Sorry.”
Still, the biggest winner in this showdown? “Born This Way,” which went on to break the iTunes record for the fast-selling song in its history at the time.
In 2013, Gaga decided to make light of the feud about the songs during her appearance on Saturday Night Live, performing “Born This Way” as a “cover” of “Express Yourself.”
Back in 2013, Gaga made light of the song comparisons on Saturday Night Live when she performed “Born This Way” as a “cover” of “Express Yourself.”
The pop feud remained dormant for a few years…until it resurfaced with another round of backhanded compliments.
In February 2015, Madonna graced the cover of Rolling Stone, and of course, her feud with Gaga was one of the big topics of conversation.
“I don’t think she wants my crown,” Madonna said of the “Just Dance” singer. “We live in a world where people like to pit women against each other. And this is why I love the idea of embracing other females who are doing what I’m doing.”
And yet, she went on to once again bring up her one big beef with Mother Monster: “The only time I ever criticized Lady Gaga was when I felt like she blatantly ripped off one of my songs.”
She continued, “It’s got nothing to do with ‘she’s taking my crown’ or ‘she’s in some space of mine.’ She has her thing. I do think she’s a very talented singer and songwriter. It was just that one issue. And everybody’s obviously running with it and turned it into a huge feud, which I think is really boring, quite frankly. And you know what? I don’t care anymore.”
Someone who still seemed to care about it? Lady Gaga.
While promoting her 2016 album Joanne, Gaga wasn’t down for any comparisons to Madonna, her one-time inspiration.
“Madonna and I are very different,” she told Beats 1 Radio host Zane Lowe after he made the comparison. “Just say. We’re very different. I wouldn’t make that comparison at all and I don’t mean to disrespect Madonna, she’s a nice lady, and she’s had a fantastic huge career, biggest pop star of all time. But I play a lot of instruments. I write all my own music. I spend hours a day in the studio. I’m a producer. I’m a writer. What I do is different.”
She continued, “I just will not be compared to anyone anymore, I am who the f–k I am and this is me. My life story is my life story, just like yours is.”
Of course, Madonna eventually caught wind of Gaga’s subtle shade (enough to keep you covered on a sunny afternoon, we’re just saying), and took to her Instagram to address it without directly addressing it, using a Hillary Clinton meme.
In it, the politician is solemnly sitting down and checking her phone with dark sunglasses on with the text, “Can’t hear you. Too busy being awesome.” She captioned the photo, “Like a boss! LOL.”
Still, that wouldn’t be the end of the duo’s dalliance with
In her critically acclaimed Netflix documentary, Gaga: Five Foot Two, Gaga once again sounded off on Madonna’s criticism of “Born This Way,” addressing that whole “reductive” comment directly.
“She wouldn’t look me in the eye and tell me that I was reductive,” she said. “Telling me you think I’m a piece of s—t through the media? It’s like a guy passing me a note through his friend.”
Still, the Oscar winner went on to say, “I admired her always, and I still admire her no matter what she might think of me. I just want Madonna to push me up against the wall and kiss me and tell me I’m a piece of s–t.”
Judging from the intimate photo of them from the post-Oscars bash, it seems like that might just happen.