Pop's Warrior Queen: Lady Gaga's 15 Career Defining Moments

Where were you when you first heard “Just Dance?” The 2008 number #1 smash captivated us to, well, just dance. It was Lady Gaga’s debut single and since then, she has become one of pop’s biggest heavy hitters.

She makes dance music that defined her generation and earned comparisons to Madonna, Britney Spears and Michael Jackson. We all wanted to learn “Pokerface” on the piano and desperately tried to do the “Bad Romance” choreography. She has given us some the most iconic stage performances in the past 10 years and pop music wouldn’t be the same without her.

Yet, Mother Monster is so much more than just a popstar: She is an activist for LGBT rights, a feminist, and advocate for anti-bullying. Did we mention she also is an actress? Lady Gaga appeared in the film “Machete Kills” and started in the critically acclaimed “American Horror Story: Hotel.” She is what music needed for so long and we are ready to countdown the 15 Lady Gaga moments that made the whole world ‘gaga.’ Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, we love you!

15. ‘”Just Dance”

Let’s kick off where it all began! “Just Dance” first premiered in April 2008 and was seen with mass critical appeal. Critics stated that the song was “fun and different” and could see Gaga becoming a huge star. They were right, of course. The single gained steam throughout 2008 and eventually went to #1 in January 2009. It was one of the biggest pop singles of the year and went on to sell more than 12 million digital copies worldwide. She became an international superstar overnight.

14. The Monster Ball Tour 2010-2011 



If you got to attend this concert, you were lucky. Extremely lucky actually. The tour dates sold out in seconds (faster than Adele’s recent tour) and she had to add multiple dates for many cities. The tour had more than 5 legs and grossed over 250 million US dollars. It was described as a “pop opera” and it lived up to the hype. The tour established Lady Gaga as a touring force and an icon. The costumes were groundbreaking and the theatrics were what dreams are made of. The tour even got an HBO special and a DVD release.

(Editor’s note: this was the BEST show of my whole life)

13. Fame Perfume Launch

Lady Gaga decided to expand her empire when she jumped into the world of perfumes. This delicious fragrance was launched in 2012 and was the first “black liquid” perfume ever.   Fame went to sell over 8 million bottles opening weekend. Slay Gaga!

12.  LGBT Speech 2009

LIVING. I mean this is all we have to say about this…… The video does all the explaining.

11.  Born This Way Era

In 2011, Lady Gaga released her 3rd studio album, Born This Way, for the whole world to hear. The album featured the smash #1 single “Born This Way” which spoke of acceptance for race, religion and the LGBT community. The single started a movement for the LGBT community to speak up about issues and for teens to feel comfortable to come out.

Powerful lyrics like “No matter Gay, Straight, or Bi, Lesbian, Transgender life/I’m on the right track, baby,  I was born to survive,” helped a generation understand it’s alright to be different. Other singles “Judas,” “Marry The Night,” “Edge of Glory” and “You and I” also saw huge success on the charts. Gaga even wrote a track, “Fashion of His Love” for the late designer Alexander McQueen after his 2010 suicide. Gaga embarked on the The Born This Way Ball to further promote the album. The tour grossed more than 200 million dollars, putting two of her concerts in the highest tours of all time.

10. Tony and Gaga Team Up


After her ArtPop era, Gaga decided to team up with jazz legend Tony Bennett for a collaboration album. Cheek to Cheek was released in 2014 with rave reviews and debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200. The album was described as a “jazz classic,” review stating they like seeing another side of Gaga. The album also won Bennett and Gaga a Grammy and sold over 1.5 million copies worldwide. The duo even went on a tour for the album and have announced they plan to make a sophomore album as well.

9.  The Born This Way Foundation

Lady Gaga inspires and loves the LGBT community so much that in 2011 she started the Born This Way Foundation.  The foundation’s purpose is to donate and support LGBT teens that face homelessness and neglect from their families. The Born This Way Foundation mission statement is as follows “ Born This Way Foundation is committed to supporting the wellness of young people, and empowering them to create a kinder and braver world. We achieve this by shining a light on real people, quality research and authentic partnerships.” Lady Gaga, unlike other musicians, truly lives to help her fans. She has stated that it “breaks her heart” to see the struggles her LGBT fans face. She, in all purposes, is a true warrior.

8. “PokerFace”

This is THE song that made her a pop music legend. “Just Dance” was huge, however, “Pokerface” was a game changer. The pop community never heard such a different and powerful song like this number one smash. “Pokerface” quickly became of the biggest singles of all time on pop radio . It charted for over half a year on Billboard’s Hot 100 and sold millions on millions of digital copies. The single is what helped The Fame (her debut effort) sell more than 15 million copies worldwide. To this day, nothing has come close to the impact “Pokerface” had on pop music.

7. VMA’s 2009

Mother Monster’s debut MTV Video Music Award’s performance took place in 2009 and became an iconic moment in pop culture history. The VMA’s can define an artist’s career in pop music. Madonna’s wedding? Britney and the snake? Miley’s Twerk Fest? They have become some of the most iconic moments in music history. 2009 was Gaga’s year and she was about show the world what she was made of. The performance was for her hit “Paparazzi.”

It began with Gaga in all white and a headpiece strutting down the stage - GIVING SASS. Midway through the song, fake blood starts pouring out of her outfit. She is then swung up in the air and at the end of the song appears to “die.” The performance was shocking, yet had a message: “Death of celebrity” was what Gaga called it, stating society and the media is so celebrity obsessed that they ultimately drive them to their deaths. Gaga was being real and the world just had to deal with it.

6.  Bad Romance

The Video. The Song. The Fashion. This is GAGA. This is her signature. It was out of this world and pop music at its finest.  The single went on to win Grammys, VMAs, and multiple other awards. It also is one of Vevo’s most viewed videos of all time. Not to mention, “Ra Ra, Ah ah ah, Romma Romama, Gaga Gaga, Ooh La La” is almost as iconic as Michael Jackson’s “hie hies”.

5. The Meat Dress Lady Gaga is known for fashion. She pushes the envelope and wears, well, whatever the hell she wants. At the 2010 VMA’s, Gaga shocked the fashion world when she accepted Video Of The Year (for “Bad Romance” ) in a dress made of …meat. Yes, raw meat. And who could forget her meat purse? “Cher, can you hold my meat purse”( Cher was presenting the award) became a THE quote in fashion and pop music. By the way, Cher did hold that meat purse.

4. The National Anthem No One Can Forget

We will just leave this here. Do we really need to explain this? She brought America and the world to tears. TEARS DON’T DRY ON THEIR OWN PEOPLE OK?

3. Oscars 2015 When Gaga was asked to pay tribute to legend Julie Andrews at the 2015 Oscar Awards, people were shocked. How would Lady Gaga pay tribute to such a legend? However, Gaga did it and she did it absolutely brilliantly. She served vocals we have never seen her display and literally looked like a legend herself. She gave a performance people couldn’t forget and received a standing ovation from some of Hollywood’s most elite. Julie Andrews herself even came up herself to thank Gaga.

2. American Horror Story: Hotel Twisted. Dark. Crazy. This is how one can describe American Horror Story. Rumors flew in early 2015 that Lady Gaga would be starring in the upcoming fifth season. Those rumors were put to rest when Lady Gaga appeared in a clip saying “American Horror Story. Season 5”. Fans went CRAZY. Would she be able to pull it off? Answer - yes. Gaga slayed the Countess, the blood-thirsty vampire vixen who only truly seeked love. She played the character flawlessly. Ryan Murphy even stated she was “one of the most talented people of all time” and she was a “genius” on the show. She did so well that she even won a Golden Globe for her performance.  American Horror Story proved Gaga could sing, dance, write, and now act. Gaga recently confirmed she would be appearing in the upcoming 6th season as well.

1.”Till it Happens To You’ Oscar Performance

Lady Gaga’s most career defining moment came this year at the Oscars. “Til It Happens To You” was nominated for Best Original Song for the documentary The Hunting Ground. The song spoke about rape culture and that people didn’t know what it is like “til it happened” to them.  The performance would be especially powerful due to the issues fellow pop icon, Kesha, has been facing. Kesha become a warrior when she came public with that her producer Dr.Luke “drugged and sexual assaulted her.” Kesha went to court and the judge appealed her claim. Kesha would still be signed to Dr. Lukes label. Lady Gaga soon rushed to Kesha’s defense, taking the broken down pop princess under her wings. The night of the Oscars, Gaga tweeted “Thinking of you tonight @KeshaRose.” Lady Gaga then gave a performance that changed the lives of many. She brought sexual abuse survivors on stage with her and gave the vocal performance that we can’t forget. Towards the end of the song, Gaga and the survivors all joined hands together. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room. Lady Gaga was truly pop music’s warrior. A mother for the people who didn’t have a voice. She became their voice.

Mother Monster is undoubtedly a pop music icon. She gave us pop hits we will never forget and dance moves we’re still trying to learn. This woman remains hero for a generation that was at the crossroads. They didn’t have someone to speak for them, but wanted change. She brought change. Lady Gaga changed music and the world forever. Her Campus is forever grateful for you, Gaga. Thank you for using your power to making this world just a little brighter. We know it’s hard to countdown Gaga’s most iconic moments, but tell us one is your favorite at @HCPointPark.