On March 28, Lady Gaga celebrated her 37th birthday, and since the start of her career at just 19 years old, the singer has created an iconic discography that the world will always remember as one of pop music’s living legends. From ballads to jazz tunes to Madonna-esque anthems, Lady Gaga is an artist who has defied gender norms and stereotypes of the music industry for her creative vision and authenticity.
In honor of her 37 years on this earth, here are 37 of Lady Gaga’s best songs:
37. "Just Dance"
Don’t get me wrong, “Just Dance” by Lady Gaga served as the singer’s iconic breakthrough into pop music back in 2008, but compared to the rest of her discography, this song has simply been overplayed too much, nor does it prove the singer’s vast range vocally.
36. "Bloody Mary"
While “Bloody Mary” has made a comeback to the pop music scene thanks to the help of Netflix’s “Wednesday,” this song is also not at the top of this list because of its annoying familiarity. However, Lady Gaga singing from the perspective of a sinner during a time period that was still highly conservative was a serve, highlighting her willingness to break societal norms within her music.
As much as “LoveGame” hits different during a night out with friends, it also was one of Gaga’s earlier hits, fitting more into the mold of radio-charting pop music than experimenting with her sound, which luckily she did later on in her career. All in all, this song is a safe choice on the singer’s part, but it’s still a classic after all this time.
34. "The Cure"
“The Cure” honestly can be heard playing in the background at a grocery or department store, but hey, it still deserves some recognition. Released right before her 2017 Coachella performance, this song still gets a spot on this list because of how heartfelt and genre-bending it is, as Lady Gaga integrated an EDM sound into a love song.
This may be controversial, but out of all of Lady Gaga’s albums and songs, “Paparazzi” has never done it for me. You have to give some credit to the track for its drama and cinematic nature, and of course for the singer’s timeless performance of it during the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, making it a definite hit to keep on this list.
Coming off of Lady Gaga’s deluxe edition of “The Fame Monster” from 2009, “Alejandro” is another song that occasionally gets integrated into a DJ set or queued up on a local radio station, but it also is similar to many of the singer’s other hits from the time such as “Bad Romance” and “LoveGame,” which is why it’s ranked lower on this list. Yet, its opening lines, “I know that we are young / And I know that you may love me / But I just can’t be with you like this anymore / Alejandro” is one of the most memorable in Lady Gaga’s repertoire.
31. "Why Did You Do That?"
“Why Did You Do That?” from the 2018 film, “A Star Is Born,” aka arguably one of Gaga’s breakout roles as an actress, is a song only dedicated fans may know. Yet, its upbeat chorus and lack of deeper meaning is what places it at No. 31. Made for the film, this song obviously doesn’t sound like any of the singer’s past music, but it was still a valid attempt at making a trendy pop hit.
30. "Starstruck (feat. Space Cowboy and Flo Rida)"
Honestly, this collaboration is still a questionable one by Mother Monster, but it actually kind of worked. Integrating rap, disco-tech and pop sounds, “Starstruck (feat. Space Cowboy and Flo Rida)” is the forgotten bop of the late 2000s. While it lacks emotional brevity and depth, it’s still a fun song to listen and dance to by Lady Gaga.
Unknown to many fans at the time, it turned out that Lady Gaga knows some German, hence why she made a song with most of its lyrics in the language. Robotic and daunting in tone, “SchieBe” is a song you can listen to when you’re hyped up on energy or ready for a dance battle, and it’s one of Lady Gaga’s most experimental songs to date.
28. "Stupid Love"
Sadly, Lady Gaga’s “Chromatica” era never came to full fruition due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but its lead single, “Stupid Love,” is a song all about celebrating love and positivity. Acting as a change in sound compared to her previous album, “Joanne,” this 2020 hit saw the singer return to the origins of her early 2000s sound, reminding fans of her place in the industry.
If you ever need a song to strut to, “Babylon” by Lady Gaga is the song for you. Taking influences from the club-infused anthems of the 1980s, this song is all about working through your pain and making it look easy. “Strut it out, walk a mile / Serve it, ancient city style / Talk it out, babble on / Battle for your life, Babylon” is also one of the singer’s best choruses, bringing the energy and vibrancy back into her music again.
26. "So Happy I Could Die"
Another underrated song from “The Fame Monster” is by far “So Happy I Could Die,” a queer anthem that took Little Monsters by surprise for the singer’s candidness about her sexuality. A song all about wanting someone after suppressing feelings for too long, it’s a pop ballad that doesn’t feel like one because of its synthy and bass-bumping production qualities.
“Joanne,” dedicated to her late-aunt of the same name, Lady Gaga once again shocked the world when she created a country-pop album back in 2016, also with the same title. With only the singer’s vocals and wispy guitar, it feels she’s just singing to you and you only because of how vulnerable her voice sounds. “Girl, where do you think you’re goin’?” is a line that Gaga repeats throughout the song, wishing that her aunt could see the woman she’s become.
24. "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)"
After the tumultuous release of her 2013 album “ARTPOP,” Lady Gaga decided to join forces a year later with jazz icon Tony Bennett, creating a joint jazz album called “Cheek to Cheek.” Showing off her impressive vocal range on “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down),” the singer solidified herself as not only a pop singer, but a legitimate jazz singer as well.
23. "Sour Candy (feat. BLACKPINK)"
“Sour Candy (feat. BLACKPINK)” is a song that Lady Gaga finally got to perform over the summer at her “Chromatica Ball,” signaling that it was one of her favorites off of the album. By fusing the languages of English and Korean, the singer made teaming up with one of K-pop’s biggest girl groups BLACKPINK look easy, and their collaboration was one that broke language barriers through promoting unity and sensuality.
Even if many argue that “ARTPOP” was a total disaster on Lady Gaga’s part, it still serves as one of her best albums, shaping much of what experimental pop music has become. In particular, “Donatella” saw the singer channel fashion designer and collaborator Donatella Versace, giving listeners a taste of what her day to day life looks like, while also idolizing her friend at the same time. “I am so fab” is how the song starts off, and once you’ve listened to it, you’ll never get tired of it.
“Fashion!” is another song from “ARTPOP” that is full of life and simply shows off Gaga’s playful side. Singing of the wonders that having a passion for fashion can bring, the song emphasizes the singer’s need for clothing and art in her life, as well as the need for a creative outlet. Being the fashion icon that Lady Gaga is, it’s no surprise that she made a song all about her love for the outlet.
20. "Bad Romance"
Don’t hate me for putting this song at the fair end of the Top 20 of this list, as “Bad Romance” I believe serves as the foundation for the songs and albums that have come after it. Without this track, Lady Gaga would not be Lady Gaga, nor would she have been able to keep creating music that is weird, fun, experimental and emotional.
“ARTPOP” is a track that details Lady Gaga to her core, an authentic, passionate and strong woman who has had to overcome a lot in her career from sexual assault to her struggles with fibromyalgia. “A hybrid can withstand these things / My heart can beat with bricks and strings / My ARTPOP could mean anything” is also an homage to her fanbase for allowing the singer to combine pop music with art, as well as giving her the opportunity to use the two outlets for her creative expression.
18. "Diamond Heart"
Also from “Joanne” is “Diamond Heart,” a track all about embracing your flaws. This song is another indication that Lady Gaga can adapt to any genre, using a southern growl that shouldn’t be messed with. Uplifting and powerful, this song is another one people tend to overlook in her musical catalog, but it has made her the singer she is now.
“I live for the applause” is a line almost every music lover has heard within the last 10 years, being that Gaga’s “Applause” is one of her standout hits. Similar to other tracks off “ARTPOP,” this song discusses owning who you are, and from Lady Gaga’s perspective, standing proudly behind your work and your accomplishments.
16. "Poker Face"
You’re not a real Little Monster if you don’t listen to “Poker Face” at least once a day, and its impact still lingers within the current pop music scene today. This song is also extremely coded, making it an interesting listen each time as Lady Gaga hints at her past romantic and sexual encounters.
A track all about vulnerability, Lady Gaga dives head first into her trauma with “911.” “My biggest enemy is me, pop a 911” is a line that admits to self destruction and harmful behavior, which the singer has dealt heavily with after being in the spotlight for almost 20 years. Discussing her battles with mental health, this song also showed that the singer should be treated as a human being, not a commodity because of her fame.
Another tongue and cheek song, Lady Gaga mocks Christian values on “Judas,” which is all about having the power in a relationship. From a female-identifying perspective, it reversed the narrative of heterosexual relationships, the singer emphasizing that women can also be powerful and dominant when they want to be just by using their voice.
13. "Rain On Me (feat. Ariana Grande)"
“Rain On Me (feat. Ariana Grande)” was the ultimate pop collaboration of 2020, a much needed ballad during a time that didn’t seem like there would be a light at the end of tunnel. Between Gaga and Grande, the two flawlessly pulled off shared harmonies and belts, highlighting their strengths as vocalists. A song all about embracing one’s pain and struggle, its themes encourage listeners to keep moving forward and to stay hopeful, a message that is always applicable.
Simply, this song is otherworldly as Lady Gaga sings of being head over heels for someone. “When you touch me, I die / Just a little inside / I wonder if this could be love / This could be love” perfectly relates to anyone experiencing a debilitating crush, making “Venus” a colorful and majestic one that shoots you straight into outer space.
11. "Plastic Doll"
In “Plastic Doll,” Lady Gaga admits to feeling like a spectacle, especially in relationships, because of her status. Comparing herself to a plastic doll, she yearns for respect and trust in her relationships, wishing that people could see her beyond just as a pop star. “Don’t play with me, it just hurts me / I’m bouncing off the walls / No-no-no, I’m not your plastic doll” rings out to listeners, proving it to be an important feminist anthem in the end.
“Monster” is all about entering a relationship that you know is bad for you, but you can’t help but be intrigued by the person who finds interest in you. Reflecting on a relationship gone wrong, Lady Gaga tells the story of her friends warning her not to pursue the person she once dated, leading her into making the wrong decisions for herself and her well-being. Using horror imagery, this song is perfect for late nights and dark rooms, creating a scene that is deadly but intriguing.
9. "Yoü and I"
“Yoü and I” is for sure one of Lady Gaga’s best ballads, perfect if you’re completely in love and in a stable relationship. Professing her love, the singer details her relationship’s ups and downs, knowing that they only made it stronger in the end. “You and I, you and I / Oh yeah, I’d rather die without you and I” is what Gaga screams towards the end of the track, full of passion and sacrifice for the one she loves.
8. "Born This Way"
Obviously, “Born This Way” has proven Lady Gaga’s devotion to the LGBTQ+ community, especially for its empowering lyrics, and it will go down in history as one of the most influential queer anthems of the 2010s. A message to embrace who you are and never apologize for your sexuality or gender identity, the singer created a song that lifted up minorities and gave a voice to the unspoken, something she didn’t have to do with her platform but chose to.
7. "Marry The Night"
If you’ve never seen the “Marry The Night” music video, you need to after reading this. In this track, Lady Gaga once again embraces the darkest parts of herself, admitting to her vices and misbehavior in the past. With a memorable DJ breakdown at the end, it feels like you’re hearing Gaga shed her skin to create a new version of herself, one that is bolder and unafraid of the future ahead of her.
6. "Telephone (feat. Beyoncé)"
Most people who witnessed the duet between Lady Gaga and Beyoncé on “Telephone” will argue it’s one of pop music’s most noteworthy collaborations, and rightfully so. Nowadays, it would be unheard of to see these two do what they did back in 2009, and their joined forces symbolized the need for feminist figures in the media, as well as two vocal powerhouses.
“MANiCURE” is purely just another song you can get up and dance to by Lady Gaga, but also one that saw her channel her rock-n-roll influences. All about showing off your girly side, this song encourages listeners to dress and act how they want, as well as go after the relationships they seek.
Speaking of changing the narrative, “G.U.Y.” does just that. In this, Lady Gaga talks openly about sex, wanting to be in control with her lover. “I wanna be the girl under you (oh, yeah) / I want to be your G.U.Y” is what the singer demands, creating a song all about gender equality in the bedroom, which is why this song is just too good.
3. "Sexxx Dreams"
Even if the title is a bit absurd, “Sexxx Dreams” is one of the rare occurrences where we see Lady Gaga open about her sexuality, admitting to having dreams about a woman. Using two voices in this song, listeners hear the internal dialogue of the singer, pacing back and forth between pursuing a same-sex love affair or keeping it a secret. All in all, this is one of Gaga’s best because of how seductive and dangerous the song sounds, creating a tension that listeners can’t stop from wanting to know more about.
2. "John Wayne"
“Every John is just the same / I’m sick of their city games / I crave a real wild man / I’m strung out on John Wayne” is a chorus you’ll never want Gaga to stop screaming when listening to “John Wayne.” With an accompanying music video that is just as wild and glamorous as the song, the singer takes you through the perspective of a cowboy, running away from his problems and emotional baggage, which she finds deathly attractive.
1. "Perfect Illusion"
Finally, the best song by Lady Gaga just has to be “Perfect Illusion.” With this track, the feelings of guilt, betrayal, sadness and anger come to the forefront, evident as the singer wails, “It wasn’t love, it wasn’t love / It was a perfect illusion.” All about getting your lover wrong, this is Gaga’s songwriting at her finest, even if the lyrics are simpler. With every listen, you can feel the way she felt during the breakup she talks about, reeling you within her cries and screams for a happy ending.