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The 20 best Lady Gaga songs ever, ranked

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We’re counting down the 20 best songs of gay icon and pop superstar, Lady Gaga.

20. “Marry The Night” from Born This Way

The opening track off of her second full-length album is absolute dancefloor-ready euphoria, and it serves as one of many Gaga songs considered an ode to nightlife, dancing and leaving it all out there before you call it a night. It epitomizes electro, dance pop perfection, and yet it feels like a song that only she could pull off. 

19. “Just Dance” feat. Colby O’Donis from The Fame

The song that started it all. While other songs off of Lady Gaga’s debut album rank higher on this list because they proved to be more indelible and boundary-pushing, “Just Dance” still hits so hard after all these years. She reportedly wrote it in 10 minutes with Akon and frequent collaborator RedOne, and it ended up being a total sleeper hit — after five months on the Hot 100, it went No. 1 nearly nine months after its initial release. From there, the rest was history.

18. “Monster” from The Fame Monster

He ate my heart… we all know how that feels, and Gaga captured the feeling in the form of a dark, synth-heavy pop song complete with overt monster imagery. Like many of her best songs (so, many on this list), “Monster” feels like a song that only Gaga could not only come up with but also pull off as a total homerun. Bonus points for the meta “Just Dance” reference on the bridge.

17. “Stupid Love” from Chromatica

How would we have gotten through the early months of the pandemic without Chromatica? “Stupid Love,” the lead single off of the album, signaled Gaga’s long-awaited return to dance-infused music, and what the kick-off it was! The Max Martin and BloodPop production is bombastic and pulsating and simultaneously felt like a return to her roots while also showcasing the immense evolution she’s undergone throughout her career. We want her stupid love — forever.

16.  “Always Remember Us This Way” from A Star Is Born Soundtrack

“Always Remember Us This Way” was always overshadowed by its scene-stealing counterpart “Shallow,” but for those who really know, she’s always been that girl. Co-written by Gaga and several high-power country music songwriters, the ballad is at once a showcase for her rock ‘n’ roll vocals and her ability to effortlessly go from delicate to rousing and back to delicate again. It captures a distinct, nostalgic emotion that hooks from from the first line, “that Arizona sky…” Chills!

15. “Scheiße” from Born This Way

“Scheiße” is europop heaven, and it’s undeniably Gaga. The fact that the song’s title is the German word for “shit,” the fact that she sings the entire first verse in fake German (she can’t speak German, but she can if you like!) and yet it still somehow manages to soar into a perfect pop song is a testament to Gaga’s prowess as a hitmaker. 

14. “Dance in The Dark” from The Fame Monster

You know those songs that sound happy and make you want to dance, but you realize maybe after several listens that the lyrics are actually a little sadder than you realized? This is one of those songs, and it’s part of why the song is still so effective. With “Dance in The Dark,” Gaga showed how adept she is at incorporating touchier issues into her pop music, with this belter addressing body image and insecurities and how those affect our relationships. The bridge is also a very Gaga moment; she uses it as an opportunity to call attention to late pop icons like Princess Diana and Judy Garland. It’s just one of many instances in which Gaga pays homage to those who came before her.

13. “Telephone” feat. Beyoncé from The Fame Monster

It’s hard not to get chills when you hear those entrancing opening harp chords. This duet is so epic that it’s almost unfathomable now. The fact that we not only got Lady Gaga and Beyoncé on the same track (twice!), but we also got a 9-minute mini movie of a music video where they serve looks, lean into the camp and choreo for days? An absolute fever dream, honestly. We got a “to be continued…” at the end of the music video, and we’re still waiting for the follow-up, TBH. In the meantime, tonight I won’t be taking calls — because I’ll be dancing.

12. “Judas” from Born This Way

To say that “Judas” got various religious groups’ panties in a bunch would be putting it mildly, which only adds to the many reasons why we love this absolute bop of a record. And, while they took the song and accompanying music video as offenses to religious imagery, Gaga actually viewed it as an homage. It’s all a matter of interpretation with our Stefani Germanotta. “Judas” is yet another Gaga-RedOne masterpiece, and it made all of us who have ever felt like they couldn’t quit a fuckboy or someone that didn’t treat them like the queen that they are feel seen. We’re just holy fools!

11. “Poker Face” from The Fame

In some ways, “Just Dance” walked so “Poker Face” could run. While both songs made it to the top of the charts, Gaga’s second single felt weirder, more boundary-pushing and a bit more opaque — it’s not immediately obvious that the song is about bisexuality, let’s be clear! — which makes it quintessentially her. It was an early taste of what she was truly capable of, and it felt exciting. It still does. 

10. “Hair” from Born This Way

With Born This Way, Gaga signaled that she was going to be making pop with meaning, music that stood for something — and “Hair” showed that she could so do without being cheesy or cliché or overly earnest. “Hair” is an absolute anthem of a song, and it’s one that you can’t help but wish she’d made a single just so we could’ve gotten a music video. The ‘80s-inspired rock sound is an excellent backing for her vocals, making “Hair” an angsty, blissful, uplifting track you can’t help but let your hair down and bang your head to. 

9. “Alejandro” from The Fame Monster

The lore around “Alejandro” is that it became the third single off of The Fame Monster (instead of “Dance in The Dark”) because Gaga pushed for it. It’s hard to imagine a world in which this latin-inspired RedOne production didn’t become a single. It’s an ode to her many lovers (okay, relatable…) who she ultimately says goodbye to, and the music video is an ode to her gay friends. We’re obsessed. It felt like “Alejandro” was another fairly early example that teased yet another sonic direction that Gaga could go in and contributed to the excitement around those early years of her career.

8. “You And I” from Born This Way

This is, without a doubt, Lady Gaga’s best ballad. Written entirely on her own, it’s a rousing, country-tinged, rock anthem that one of the first big examples of Gaga being able to jump between genres better than almost anyone else in the game. It builds and builds until her voice absolutely combusts into another stratosphere that makes you want to scream-sing it at the top of your lungs in a stadium full of fellow Little Monsters. And while we all love Pop Star Gaga, you get the sense that the version of her that sings this song is almost as close as we could get to who Gaga truly is. 

7. “Rain on Me” feat. Ariana Grande from Chromatica

Talk about a collaboration that delivered on its promise! Ariana and Gaga are two modern pop stars who have been uniquely outspoken about mental health, and “Rain On Me” embodies their seemingly shared ethos of embracing positivity, leaning towards healing and celebrating one’s true self. It’s a true anthem of the pandemic era that will prove to be timeless. Rain on me, tsunami, indeed!

6. “Paparazzi” from The Fame

“Paparazzi” is easily one of Gaga’s most cinematic tracks, and it showed early on that she could make a statement just as much as she could make a banger. She has always understood celebrity, and with “Paparazzi” she captured the dangerous allure of fame. Grouped with the song’s epic, 7-minute music video and her instantly iconic performance at the VMAs which she ended hanging from a rope covered in blood, “Paparazzi” felt like a mini era unto itself and it was an essential building block in the creation of Gaga the pop icon.

5. “Born This Way” from Born This Way

There have been and continue to be endless opinions on “Born This Way,” whether it ripped off Madonna or veers too much into cheesy, cliche territory. But part of what made “Born This Way” so impactful upon its release in 2010 is the fact that it was so in your face. Its message was undeniable, unmistakable, unmissable, and at a time before the legalization of gay marriage, when Gaga was emerging as the most prominent champion of queer youth in popular culture, this was not only essential — it was radical. It was a rallying cry, a sign of allyship, a demand for gay rights. Maybe you had to be there, but this feels like the moment that Lady Gaga became Mother Monster.

4. “The Edge of Glory” from Born This Way

“The Edge of Glory” is the biggest anthem of Gaga’s career, and it’s absolutely timeless. It’s an ‘80s-inspired ode to one’s last days, which makes it fitting that it was the closing track on Born This Way. Only Gaga could make a song about death sound so damn euphoric. I mean, that chorus? Come on! It also features Clarence Clemons of Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band on saxophone, which provides the song with even more gravitas and meaning. 

3. “Gypsy” from ARTPOP

If there was a poster child for songs that pop stars should’ve released as singles, “Gypsy” would be it. It is, simply put, a perfect Lady Gaga pop song. When it comes on, it makes you feel like life is full of endless possibilities, like you want to push back against the limitations of society, like you want to travel the world and embrace all that life has to offer. It has a rousing, EDM-y chorus, theatrical vocals, a very Gaga “Wizard of Oz” reference and it ends with a random listing of countries and nationalities that, really, only Gaga could pull off. In other words, it’s a bop of epic proportions — and it feels like it’s for us (meaning, of course, the gays). 

2. “Shallow” feat. Bradley Cooper from A Star Is Born Soundtrack

“A Star Is Born” was Lady Gaga’s first big foray into the movie business, and the music-filled romance needed an epic song as its centerpiece that “Shallow” proved to be more than perfect for. I mean, what a moment! *That* note alone to earn it a place on this list, TBH. From the moment the song was first teased in the film’s trailers to its culmination at the Oscars where Gaga and Bradley Cooper iconically sang it together and had us on the edge of our seats wondering if they’d end the performance with a kiss before the song ultimately won an Oscar, “Shallow” created a genuine cultural moment that you just had to be there for. There could be 100 songs in a room, but all it takes is just one — and “Shallow” was always the one. 

  1. “Bad Romance” from The Fame Monster

I mean, duh. “Bad Romance” is Lady Gaga’s most Gaga song ever, and it’s stood the test of time in the decade and a half since its world-dominating release. While The Fame introduced Lady Gaga to the world, it was The Fame Monster that cemented her status as the biggest visionary not just in pop music but in pop culture at large — and “Bad Romance” is its centerpiece. It’s weird, it’s anthemic, it’s game-changing. it’s irresistible. There’s the booming chorus that pulsates through your entire body, there’s the building bridge of her proclaiming “I don’t want to be friends!” over and over again, there’s the exclamation of “Walk, walk, fashion, baby! I’m a free bitch, baby!” “Bad Romance” is one of those songs that you can’t believe hasn’t just existed forever. It’s hard to remember a time when you didn’t hear it at least once during every night out at a gay bar; it feels essential in a way that’s difficult to put into words — which is exactly how I would describe Lady Gaga herself. What a gift.

More from So.Gay:

The 20 best Taylor Swift songs ever, ranked

11 RuPaul’s Drag Race stars who have quit drag

10+ LGBTQ+ country stars who are out and proud

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