Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande rain excellence on VMAs with epic performance of 'Rain on Me'
It's raining drops of superior pop over at the MTV VMAs.
After months without a single live performance to promote her latest album, Lady Gaga reclaimed her citizenship on planet Chromatica with a stellar performance at the annual awards show Sunday evening, during which she teamed with her fellow "Rain on Me" vocalist Ariana Grande for the first-ever live rendition of one of the summer's biggest hits. The duo took home the awards for Best Collaboration and Song of the Year earlier in the night. Gaga also won the accolade for Artist of the Year.
Gaga kicked things off, lounging on a couch in a turquoise bodysuit, watching a '90s throwback VMAs ceremony, before sliding down a pole into a room full of mannequins. She then ran to join her backup dancers to perform "Chromatica II," which then segued into "911." Gaga's costume then turned purple as she was joined on stage by Grande to perform their hit single "Rain on Me." The two singers hit high notes and performed exuberant choreography, wearing futuristic masks the entire time.
After Grande left the stage, Gaga reappeared in a pink bodysuit to sit at a piano that resembled a brain to perform a stripped-back rendition of "Stupid Love." Halfway through the performance, the pop icon stopped to deliver a powerful message to her fans. "I want your love, I want it all night, all day, but I want you to love yourself tonight and every day," she said. "Celebrate yourself. Love who you are. Be kind. Mask up. Be brave and braver all the time."
Gaga and Grande both tallied nine MTV VMA nominations for the futuristic "Rain on Me" music video, which marked Gaga's first nod in the category in 10 years, when she won for "Bad Romance."
The pair initially dropped "Rain on Me" as a single in May. It later debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 ahead of Chromatica's release. The album — Gaga's sixth solo pop LP — would go on to become her sixth No. 1 album in nine years (following 2011's Born This Way, 2013's Artpop, 2014's Cheek to Cheek, 2016's Joanne, and 2018's A Star Is Born soundtrack). With the album's debut atop the charts, Gaga broke a record for the fastest accumulation of six albums to reach the Billboard summit in history.
Produced by frequent Gaga collaborator BloodPop and electronic artist Burns, "Rain on Me" initially began as an acid house-inspired dance track early in the album's creation.
"We all knew that 'Rain on Me' had huge potential and was an incredible song, but the production didn’t fit with the overall sound. So, Blood had asked if I could try some stuff with it. I took the vocal and wanted to try some new movement of the chords and explored different progressions to see if it changed the mood," Burns told EW in June. "It was kind of subconscious that I started playing the bassline from “All This Love That I’m Givin'” by Gwen McCrae under the chorus, and that felt like another lightbulb moment. I remember Blood turning to me and smiling like we’d just cracked a code."
Watch Gaga and Grande blast off to Chromatica in their MTV VMAs performance above.