Lady Gaga's Killer Year
Falling short of the success of her earlier projects, Lady Gaga’s last album of solo original material, 2013’s ARTPOP, was seen by some as a low point in the pop icon’s recent career. However, Mother Monster has since steadily reclaimed her throne, quietly dominating in multiple pillars of pop culture. From Cheek to Cheek with Tony Bennett to a Golden Globe-winning role in American Horror Story: Hotel, check out highlights from Lady Gaga’s banner year, ahead.
Cheek to Cheek
Who knew jazz and Gaga go together as well as Aretha and soul? Apparently Tony Bennett did, as the legendary crooner teamed up with the pop star to release an album of standards, Cheek to Cheek, which shot to the top of the Billboard 200 albums chart upon its release in September 2014. Gaga and Bennett then took Cheek to Cheek on the road, visiting concert halls across Europe and North America — including four nights at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall — throughout 2015.
Valentine's Day Engagement to Chicago Fire Actor Taylor Kinney
Despite what the title of her 2009 hit suggests, romance isn’t all that bad for Lady Gaga. The singer’s longtime boyfriend, Chicago Fire actor Taylor Kinney, proposed to her on Valentine’s Day with a massive heart-shaped diamond. The couple began dating after filming the music video for Gaga’s 2011 single “Yoü and I,” in which Kinney starred. During a Late Late Show appearance last year, Kinney told James Corden the couple enjoys watching Bob Ross DVDs while challenging each other to “paint-offs,” but Gaga seemingly motivates Kinney to succeed at more than just putting colors on canvas. After winning the 2016 Critics Choice Award for Favorite Dramatic TV Actor, Kinney dedicated his acceptance speech to his fiancée. “I love you babe. Thank you for having my back and supporting me. You inspire me every day,” he said.
Musical Tribute to Julie Andrews and The Sound of Music at the 87th Academy Awards
With a rousing, one-woman tribute to Julie Andrews and The Sound of Music, Lady Gaga stole the show at the 87th Academy Awards. Watched live by 37 million viewers, Gaga performed traditional interpretations of selections from the 1966 Best Picture-winning film, including “My Favorite Things,” “Edelweiss,” “The Sound of Music,” and “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” in honor of the 50th anniversary of its release. Gaga brought members of the star-studded audience to their feet for a standing ovation while generating a massive 154,000 tweets per minute in the U.S. alone. Andrews, who took the stage to embrace Gaga after the performance, told People that she was impressed by the performance: “As they say in Hollywood jargon, ‘She rates tall in my book,'” the actress said.
Performance at the Opening Ceremony of the European Games
From Hollywood to Azerbaijan, Lady Gaga showcased her vocal prowess across the globe in 2015. She belted out a spirited cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine” at the opening ceremony of the inaugural European Games, blowing kisses to the 68,000-strong crowd at Baku’s Olympic Stadium. “What an honor to have a few moments with the world watching,” she posted on Instagram.
Winning the Contemporary Icon Award at the Songwriters Hall of Fame
Lady Gaga’s voice wasn’t the only thing that caught the world’s attention in 2015. Her skills as a lyricist took center stage in June at the Songwriters Hall of Fame, where the pop star was presented with the Contemporary Icon Award. At the ceremony, Gaga performed a piano version of “What’s Up?,” originally sung by fellow honoree Linda Perry, who then sang a stripped version of Gaga’s own “Bad Romance.” “At the end of the day, writing songs is really what makes me feel like I matter,” Gaga said. “You’ve chosen to honor me for the only thing which I know I have.”
Appearing on the September 4, 2015 Cover of Entertainment Weekly as American Horror Story: Hotel's the Countess
In September 2015, fans got an in-depth look at Lady Gaga as American Horror Story: Hotel’s Countess on the cover of Entertainment Weekly. The issue featured a detailed preview of Gaga’s involvement in the FX anthology series’ fifth season, in which she played the bloodthirsty owner of the haunted Hotel Cortez in Los Angeles. “I’ve just been weeping while I’m here because I have returned to something I’ve believed in so much, which is the art of darkness,” she told EW. “It’s not something that everyone understands, but for the people that do — Horror Story fans, my fans — there is a true connection between us, and it’s a language within itself.”
Releasing “Til It Happens To You”
On September 18, 2015, Lady Gaga released her first original recording since 2013’s Artpop, “Til It Happens To You,” a piano-heavy ballad she wrote for the soundtrack to the campus rape documentary The Hunting Ground. Co-written by eight-time Oscar nominee Diane Warren, the somber tune’s debut was accompanied by a Catherine Hardwicke-directed music video starring actress Nikki Reed. The video also served as a public service announcement to raise awareness about rape culture on college campuses. “Til It Happens To You” hit No. 1 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart thanks to a number of DJ remixes, and Gaga will perform the song at the upcoming 88th Academy Awards on Feb. 28.
Getting Two Digital Singles Across the 7 Million Downloads Mark
According to Billboard, through the week ending September 24, 2015, Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance” crossed the 7 million digital sales mark, following in the footsteps of her 2008 hit “Poker Face.” Later, the Recording Industry Association of America, which includes streaming data in its tracking numbers, awarded “Poker Face” diamond certification, making Gaga one of the only artists with two diamond-certified singles, the other being “Bad Romance.”
Becoming Billboard's Woman of the Year
At Billboard’s annual Women in Music event, Gaga was named Woman of the Year in a ceremony that included a performance of “Til It Happens To You” by the Lady herself. She was given the award by her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, who revealed that Gaga wrote her first song, “Dollar Bills,” at age 6. Gaga fought back tears as she accepted the honor, telling the crowd, “I would like to say thank you to everyone that didn’t believe in me, because there were a lot of people. I might not be a lot of things, but I can write songs and I can sing.” Past recipients of Billboard’s Woman of the Year include Reba McEntire, Beyoncé, and Taylor Swift.
Winning a Golden Globe for Her Performance in American Horror Story: Hotel
Contributing to some of American Horror Story’s highest ratings ever (in the 18-49 demographic, Hotel’s first four episodes rated 7 percent higher than that of Freak Show), Lady Gaga’s talents as an actress were further validated by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. She took home the Best Actress in a Miniseries or Television Film award at the 73rd Golden Globes, facing stiff competition from Queen Latifah (Bessie), Kirsten Dunst (Fargo), Sarah Hay (Flesh and Bone), and Felicity Huffman (American Crime) and earning her first major acting prize.
Picking Up an Oscar Nomination for "Til It Happens to You"
Four months after the release of “Til It Happens to You,” Lady Gaga and Diane Warren were nominated by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in the Best Original Song Oscar category for penning the track, which was written for the campus rape documentary The Hunting Ground. “This nomination lends a voice to victims and survivors all over the world,” Gaga posted to Twitter. “Thank you to the Academy for recognizing the movement of people who have come together for this film & song in the name of sexual assault.”
Opening Super Bowl 50
Joining an elite group of singers — including Mariah Carey, Cher, and Aretha Franklin — who’ve performed the National Anthem at the Super Bowl, Lady Gaga sang a soaring rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” at Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, Calif. “Congratulations to both teams and football fans. It was really an honor to sing for you on your big day,” Gaga tweeted after the performance, which was largely celebrated by critics.
Paying Tribute to David Bowie at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards
Partnering with Intel on a tech-heavy performance of the future to commemorate an icon of the past, Lady Gaga hit the stage at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards to pay tribute to David Bowie, an artist she says influenced a great deal of her career in music. Performing a medley of eight Bowie’s hits, from “Space Oddity” to “Heroes,” Gaga took to the stage with Let’s Dance producer Nile Rodgers as she cycled through a variety of costumes inspired by Bowie, including a tear-away cape made with the help of Kansai Yamamoto, who designed similar fashions for the late icon’s Ziggy Stardust Tour.