By Sterling Wong
Thanksgiving is a time for traditions – turkey, pecan pie and, this year, some Lady Gaga. Yes, last night, after their big Thanksgiving meals, many Little Monsters undoubtedly crowded around the TV with their families to take in Gaga’s ABC special, “A Very Gaga Thanksgiving Special.”
Right from the start of the 90 minute special, you could tell that this would not be the MTV Video Music Awards meat dress-wearing Lady Gaga. Instead, Gaga appeared in a classy black, off-shoulder dress, blond hair and blood red lips. She opened the show performing “The Lady is a Tramp” with the legendary Tony Bennett, who showered Gaga with high praise, saying that she had “a touch of theatrical genius” and that “she might become America’s Picasso.”
The show was also very much a homecoming for the pop star, as much of the special was hosted in Gaga’s elementary school, New York City’s Sacred Heart. We saw Gaga hanging out with some third- and fourth-graders from Sacred Heart, where, according to Gaga, “we made turkey arts and craft and talked about what the meaning of Thanksgiving is.”
You could tell how Gaga grew up to become such an intelligent, articulate woman. The pop star mentioned Jackson Pollock when talking to the kids, and to her surprise, many of them actually knew who the artist was (Jackson Pollock also trended on Twitter after her mention. Such is the power of Mother Monster.) Gaga then led the kids in a singalong of “Born This Way” … which led into a full-blown performance of the song by Gaga, wearing another elegant black gown and backed by dancers in black tuxedos and dresses.
The star then slowed it down with two ballads, “You and I” and “The Edge of Glory,” which were performed on a long piano, which ingeniously also served as a table for Gaga’s dinner guests. “Put your drinks up for America,” Gaga demanded in the middle of “You and I.”
Before beginning “The Edge of Glory,” Gaga explained that the song was about her beloved grandfather and that this was the second Thanksgiving without him around. “So Grandma, if you’re watching at home, this one’s for you,” Gaga said in the middle of the song. Yes, the star was in an especially chatty mood in her self-directed special, frequently stopping mid-song to say something.
Of course, Thanksgiving is very much about food, and Gaga got celebrity chef Art Smith to appear on her special. She explained that Smith had once cooked her a fried chicken and waffles dish that sent her to food heaven, so they made fried turkey and waffles for Thanksgiving. Before she got her hands dirty cracking eggs, the singer was sure to take off her yellow coat (“Valentino couture,” she noted).
Next, Gaga moved on to Christmas, as she performed a traditional standards version of “White Christmas.” Dissatisfied that the song was so short, Gaga decided to extend the song and added her own lyrics. (Sample: “I’m dreaming of a white snow man with a carrot nose and charcoal eyes.”) She then did a rendition of “Orange Colored Sky,” a song she used to sing with her buddies at New York’s Oak Room.
After another piano-led interpretation of “Hair” (“from my album, Born This Way.” Get that plug in, Gaga!), she finally brought the energy back with a climactic, high-octane performance of “Bad Romance” with the original paws-up choreography. (Is she allowed to sing “I’m a free bitch, baby” on network TV?)
Finally, Gaga opened up in an intimate chat (well as intimate as you can get with probably 40,392 cameramen, stylists and assistants on set) with Katie Couric in a hall in Sacred Heart. Gaga explained that it’s a misconception that she was provocative all the time. “I just like fashion, and some of it is provocative,” she explained.
When told by Couric that Tony Bennett had compared her to Picasso, Gaga quipped, “I don’t know if I’m the new Picasso, but I’m certainly twisted like many of his paintings.”
Speaking of Bennett, we also learned that Gaga went nude for an Annie Leibowitz shoot for the January 2012 issue of Vanity Fair, and Bennett was on hand to sketch the star in her birthday suit.
While Gaga may have been ready to reveal her body, she wasn’t willing to discuss her love life. Questioned by Couric about it, Gaga explained that she would never talk about her love life, and that she did not know how other celebrities did it.
“The day I get married, no matter how many helicopters they have flying outside, they’re not getting one picture,” she asserted. Conveniently, her former teacher, Sister Bayo, wandered onto the set and sidetracked the discussion on her love life, as Gaga rushed up to hug her. We see what you did there, Gaga. Very smart!
The final performance of the night was, of course, new single “Marry The Night.” After a short live opening to the song, the performance segues into the “Marry The Night” video preview, where we saw a “Fame”-inspired Gaga, dressed in a tube top and shredded leggings, work her tush dancing to the song in a studio.
And that was it – a tasteful, controversy-free Gaga for all in the family to enjoy on Thanksgiving. We’ll gladly give a toast to that!