"You do know how to make an entrance," Robin Roberts gushed to Lady Gaga on Good Morning America earlier today. That is true. However due to what seemed like a major technical fail, Gaga's GMA arrival was slightly less of an OMG moment than the spectacular stunt she'd planned.
While the sounds of her hit "Bad Romance" filled Central Park, Gaga was nowhere to be found. There were shots of dancers onstage, shots of the crowd, and more shots of the crowd anxiously looking for Gaga. The first verse passed... and the first chorus... then GMA provided a strange shot of the superstar wearing a unicorn's horn offstage, clearly preparing for her big moment. It was like seeing a theme park Mickey Mouse without his head -- quite jarring -- and took the oomph out of what was about to come: Lady Gaga soared through the air on a zipline from the back of the crowd to the stage, dangling just inches above her fans' heads like the Flying Nun. It should have been a WOW! but it wound up a meh.
Lady Gaga sounded solid and looked adequately insane, but something about this over-the-top performance just didn't click. When she landed onstage during "Bad Romance," there was an awkward moment when her dancers disconnected her from her harness. The frantic choreography for "Judas" left her breathless. The bizarre staging of "Born This Way" didn't translate well on TV (Gaga crawled into a hot tub of glittery goop with her dancers and spent part of the song behind plexiglass). Her attempt to squeeze in fifth song "Hair" was literally too ambitious -- she got cut off after one verse for a local news break.
Her most effective performance was the second song, Born This Way's latest single "The Edge of Glory," which she performed simply -- no complex dance routine, no props, no sax solo by E Street legend Clarence Clemons, no mountaintop, sexy romp, or plunge off a literal edge. It was a rare moment of restraint, and it totally worked.
Not that Gaga can help herself from believing more is more: "I live halfway between reality and theater at all times -- and I was born this way!" she told the hosts during a brief sit-down interview between the first two songs. Gazing out into Central Park, she reminisced, "I used to come and play in these fields. I used to walk down this street and look into the sky and dream that someday I would fill the park the way that all of the singers before me had." She spoke about her her responsibility to her fans ("The word power makes me very uncomfortable, I just want to do the right thing and I want to be a voice with them, among them"), bullying ("If you're not being bullied, all I would say, be something that nurtures") and what she'd be doing if she wasn't Lady Gaga ("I would still be a singer, I just wouldn't be famous").
"I'm really myself every single day, and I do it because I know my fans would want me to," she said. Which made one moment during "Hair" especially interesting -- Gaga hit an errant piano chord and for a very brief, very rare second seemed thrown. Then she charged on, put on another wig and explained, "Without my wigs I feel like I can only be one person and I want to be so many."
[Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com]