Lady Gaga Goes Full-On Heavy Metal with Metallica at the Grammys

Lady Gaga Goes Full-On Heavy Metal with Metallica at the Grammys

The singer subverted expectations once again, making sure that the performance was Metallica featuring Lady Gaga and not the other way around.

The singer subverted expectations once again, making sure that the performance was Metallica featuring Lady Gaga and not the other way around.

Text: Ian David Monroe

Last night, Lady Gaga took the Grammys stage to perform with Metallica. As the most recent solo performer at the Super Bowl Halftime Show and with world tour tickets to sell, she had every reason to hog the spotlight—except she didn’t. Instead of performing any of her own songs, she took a humbler approach and kept the focus on the legendary heavy metal band

When presenting the acts, Laverne Cox completely forgot to mention Metallica, a mistake she caught some flack for on Twitter. During the performance, Metallica’s lead singer, James Hetfield, didn’t even have a working microphone for the first minute. It was a production flub that, given Cox’s intro, was comically well timed. The cosmos clearly wanted all eyes (and ears) on Gaga, but the singer had other plans.

While the band performed “Moth Into Flame,” the Joanne singer danced around on stage in leather shorts, knee-high patent-leather stilettos, and a ripped up Metallica tee. She was every part a metal-loving groupie as she was a guest vocalist. While most were surprised to not get a rendition of “Perfect Illusion” or “Heavy Metal Lover”—hell, even “Edge of Glory,” they shouldn’t have been. Lady Gaga has a commendable history of diving fully into the aesthetic of other artists instead of forcing them into hers.

As a self-described theater kid and Golden Globe-winning actress, the singer dives full on into character of whatever genre she’s joining. Just revisit her jazz album, Cheek to Cheek, with Tony Bennett. For that, the singer shared the spotlight with a legend instead of putting him second string, and performed only jazz standards.

While the Metallica performance was not the stand out of the evening (that accolade goes to Beyoncé), it was a refreshing reminder of Lady Gaga’s commitment to the visions of other artists, and her ability to enter a genre without co-opting it.

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