Performer of the Week: Lady Gaga

A weekly feature in which we spotlight shining stars

THE PERFORMER | Lady Gaga

THE SHOW 87th Academy Awards

THE AIRDATE | February 22, 2015

THE PERFORMANCE | Any moment that ends in a warm, extended hug of gratitude from Julie Andrews doesn’t really require additional accolades.

Nevertheless, we can’t help but heap more praise on Lady Gaga’s Sound of Music tribute at the 2015 Oscars.

The typically outré performer eschewed her standard operating outrageousness — no meat dress, no bird’s nest headpiece, no eye-popping set pieces — opting instead for a fluffy white gown and a forest of birch trees.

And then, she delivered a medley from the beloved movie musical (celebrating its 50th anniversary this year) — the epic title track, plus “My Favorite Things,” “Edelweiss” and “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” — proving to the uninitiated that, yes, there are indeed modern pop stars who can stun us using nothing but their voices (no Auto-Tune included).

Gaga took a straightforward approach to the classic tunes — infusing them with a beaming optimism rather than unnecessary runs or melodic twists — her only embellishments being the swish of her skirt or an extension of her (tattooed) arm. In doing so, she took perhaps the biggest risk of all: Inviting direct comparisons to Andrews’ beloved renditions.

Not to worry, though, the pop icon climbed ev’ry mountain of the Rodgers and Hammerstein score. The standing ovation inside L.A.’s Dolby theater — along with Andrews’ sincere “Dear Lady Gaga” response — put the finishing touch on an Oscar moment that now ranks among our favorite things.

POTWHONORABLE MENTION | Over the course of Marvel’s Agent Carter‘s eight-episode run, we saw Hayley Atwell do it all. Derring-do. Sass. Earnestness. Heart-tugging emotions. But in the season finale, all that and more was on impressive display. Whether rolling her eyes hard at Howard’s rakish antics (or desperately talking him down from a hypnotic stupor), getting as good as she gives versus Dottie, letting slip a sweet smile when Sousa’s not looking or, in her final moment, bidding a(nother) emotional goodbye to her “darling,” Steve Rogers, Atwell was every bit as super as Peggy’s stars-and-stripes sporting sweetheart. A very special agent, indeed.

HONORABLE MENTION | ThroughoutPOTW-HM_EmpireEmpire‘s freshman season, Trai Byers‘ college-educated, corporate-minded Andre has been the forgotten son — to his music-minded mother and father, and in terms of the show’s critical buzz. Wednesday’s episode — which found the bipolar Andre ignoring his medication regimen and feeling heartbroken as his brothers took to the studio with his parents to record a legacy record — changed all that. After his cruel father Lucious gave a humiliating “no” vote to Andre’s plan to be backup CEO — and then questioned his place in the family because he’d married a white woman — the eldest Lyon son retreated to a recording studio for a game of Russian roulette. As The Platters’ “The Great Pretender” blasted behind him — and Andre survived another pull of the trigger — Byers’ anguished scream provided one of the most rivetingly dramatic moments in the short history of Fox’s smash-hit drama.

Which TV performances rocked your world this week? Sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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65 Comments
  1. Ded says:

    Agree with GaGa. She has an amazing voice.

  2. Kinda diminishes whatever prestige this supposedly has by giving an actor’s award to a singer. I mean, she was good and all, great performer, tons of talent most people couldn’t hope to have. But at the time, it felt kind of pointless showcasing a modern talent in order to honor a past one’s performance in one movie in an already overly long and tired awards show.

    • danyelle says:

      I’m pretty sure they’ve given this to awards hosts or singers before. Maybe even an Idol singer once? There are many different ways of “performing.”

      • Sure, but I never claimed otherwise. Mixing mediums for an award has always been troubling. This site has reported plenty on dramas competing in the comedy category, supporting actors getting lumped together. With this, it just feels like a multi-paragraph fanboy boner wants to give Lady Gaga the best actress Oscar.

    • Dude says:

      Candice Glover got “performer of the week” when she was on Idol. It’s a performers award.

      • Dropping a name I’m probably never going to hear in my life again isn’t exactly going to convince me that the two weeks or so of 16 hour days Hayley Atwell spent on that Agent Carter finale is somehow a lesser accomplishment than riding someone else’s 50 year old coattails.

        • Jog says:

          So anyway you can whine and complain about anything that you want and that’s fine but it’s preformer of the week stop trying to fight everyone on it. Don’t like it, don’t agree with it, fine. But PERFORMED applies to singers, hosts, actors…

          • I’m not fighting anyone, but people keep responding with an argument that it’s my prerogative to further discuss whether it’s in agreement or not. That’s why there’s a reply button, so we can have a free exchange of thoughts. I feel that TVLine’s Performer of the Week should be dedicated solely to great acting performances. That’s what most of these go to and there’s also no way to quantify the quality of acting and musical performances on the same scale. What makes TVLine great is the news and interviews, mostly with actors, writers and producers. It is the craft of scripted television that makes up the vast majority of material. That is undeniable, whether you agree with me or not.

        • Vivi says:

          You absolutely make no sense.

          • Matthew says:

            Right? This site is called “TVLine” and the Oscars were the main TV draw this past week. Music also happens to be a significant aspect of television, has been since inception. So to argue that Gaga doesn’t deserve “Performer of the Week,” a completely subjective award that holds no actual weight, is outrageous. She was the most talked about part of the show outside a couple of the winners, performed a beautiful homage to an iconic film and person (Andrews), and will be talked about for months to come. This person just comes across ridiculously bitter.

          • No bitterness here, Matthew. I have as much right to believe actors should be exclusively chosen for this as you believe they shouldn’t. But everything you’re saying here is kind of delusional. From what I’ve seen, what people talked about most were the winners, the speeches, John Travolta and NPH. I talked about the Gaga performance very briefly while it was happening. Feel free to prove me wrong and contact me in, say, April, to share the kinds of conversations you’re still having about this apparently life-changing experience you’ve had. It must be great to be on a high lasting that long.

        • Rawley says:

          It’s flat out hilarious how much you care about this. I’m dying, thank you.

    • Lizo says:

      It’s not an actors award. The “performer of the week” is for anyone on television who does an amazing job in any field.
      .
      As for the modern talent to honour the past being pointless, what a weird complaint. It’s about recognizing history, legacy and paying homage to icons. Gaga was a perfect choice for this because her career and life have been directly influenced by Sound of Music and Julie Andrews. It’s her way (and modern generations) way of saying ‘thank you, we appreciate your work’.

      • I don’t think it’s weird, is it really weird? Let’s say that the Academy is going to honor Sigourney Weaver next year (and they probably should eventually). And how do they do that? They get Jennifer Lawrence to do a monologue consisting of a hodgepodge of lines from Alien, Ghostbusters, Gorillas in the Mist, just a line here, a line there from her collective works. No matter how good Lawrence’s performance is, wouldn’t it just be weird? They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but it’s not really something that applies to reality. Oscar Wilde once said, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.” I don’t think Lady Gaga is mediocre, but how is it supposed to be honoring when it seemed to be less about Julie Andrews? I remember something like 20 years ago when Quentin Tarantino gave an impassioned speech before showing an extensive series of clips set to music for Jackie Chan’s lifetime achievement at the MTV Movie Awards and that was more of a memorable direct tribute to the honoree.

    • Madison M. says:

      She’s an actor too.

      Also, you’re ridiculous.

    • jj says:

      prestige?? There are no rules, no committees, etc. It’s not an award. It’s just a fun weekly feature. And they have never claimed it was solely for actors. they left it vague as “performer” to give themselves flexibility.

    • lrdslvrhnd says:

      It’s about TV performances. She performed. On TV. If it was good (and every account I’ve heard about it involves jaws dropping) it deserves to be recognized. It’s not an “actor’s award”, it’s a “performer’s award”. Right there in the name: “PERFORMER of the Week”.

    • Jase says:

      I enjoy TV Line but…PRESTIGE? This isn’t the Kennedy Center Honors dude.

    • Sara says:

      But this isn’t “Actor of the week” it is “Performer of the Week.”

  3. bj says:

    I loved Hayley’s performance this week. But then, like you said, she can do it all. And she’s always great.

  4. Kim says:

    No Geena Davis!! Come on.

  5. Rachel says:

    What about aja Naomi king for how to get away with murder she was fantastic this week I love gaga btw

  6. DM says:

    Agent Carter has been a great addition to the Marvel family and Hayley Atwell is just fantastic. Peggy saying goodbye to her darling again breaks your heart especially knowing what the future holds. I hope ABC renews Agent Carter. We need to see more of her journey.

  7. Willthebeast says:

    Not even an honorable mention for anyone from parks and rec? Ben Schwartz’s absurd yet heartbreaking declaration of love for Leslie was more than enough to get him at least an honorable mention.

    • Tim says:

      Yeah, Uma’s great! And as long as everyone is discussing “performer” of the week, I think Leeza Gibbons should have been nominated for Celebrity Apprentice. I could listen to her read a phone book!

  8. Drew says:

    I agree with Hayley Atwell. I am not a huge fan of the Marvel film universe. I think AoS should be tossed in the nearest trash can. But Agent Carter was fun. I could have lived with them toning down the “I’m just a poor woman who gets no respect” angle (lots of great movies from that era had strong women who didn’t whine or put up with BS and they never had to make a speech about it) but overall it was a good series. Atwell was likable, but strong in the role.
    As for Gaga… I can’t believe that this tribute was fifty years in the making and they gave it to a clown to perform. No matter how good the act was, Gaga was the wrong choice for it. She is nothing but a sideshow act, created to hide her insecurities and waste whatever talent she may have once had. I feel bad for her in a lot of ways, but I have no respect for her.

    • Harsh. I’m no fan of Gaga’s, but I can at least acknowledge her talent as well as the complete lack of costume gimmickry for that performance. The way you talk about her makes me suspect you think she’s Britney during her bottoming period, when she’s kind of coasting on great success with little to be ashamed about. Unless there’s something I’m missing.

      • Drew says:

        Gaga is probably very talented. She trained for years. But I am not a fan of those who throw talent aside in favor of gimmicks and shallow fame. What she has put out there for years is a clown show, pretending to represent strength and confidence when it all seems more like a cheap way of covering up her own insecurities.
        I am not a fan. She has gone out of her way to be ugly, and she succeeded. So yeah, she might have looked normal and performed well for one night. That just shows us what a phony she is to begin with.

        • Gimmicks are gimmicks and there are varying degrees of gimmickry and talent, from the matching outfits and shallow subject matter of early Beach Boys to Kiss’ costumes and face point to whatever the hell Michael Jackson was doing at his peak. What it all boils down to is if they’re pleasing to the ear. Some people can forgive child abuse allegations and some can forgive a meat dress. You’re kind of fixating on a fairly unimportant aspect. At least she’s not Kanye. Now there’s a clown.

          • Drew says:

            The Beach Boys never claimed to represent anything or anyone important. Gaga has pushed messages and agendas as part of her act. She urges people to be true to who they are while putting on this act.
            I wasn’t a fan of Michael Jackson either. Pop music isn’t really my thing because it all so fake and shallow.

        • murley says:

          For what it is worth I had a very close friend who died of leukemia and as part of a dream foundation (it is like make a wish for adults) honor she went to a lady gaga concert and then met her. Gaga was amazing. She consistently brushed off all the people around her telling her time was up to continue talking with my friend and connecting with her. At one point she ran to her dressing room to get a pair of her shoes for my friend to wear to chemo to make her feel powerful. She brought strength and hope to her during part of her darkest struggles and, being a good judge of character, I can tell you it was genuine. She didn’t have to do any of that. Her obligation was to just meet her and say hello. Gaga chose to push back her schedule by at least an hour to just be present. She has my genuine respect. I don’t know her personally but I know her that little bit more than you do so maybe hold back on passing so much judgement on people you don’t know. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to give a person the benefit of the doubt.

          • Isobel says:

            Agree her costumes were her expressing her artistry not being shallow

          • Drew says:

            As I’ve said, the thing I don’t like about her is how she covers up her true self and her true abilities. I don’t like the act that she puts on, partly because I know that she is better than that.
            Look at Gwen Stefani. She used to put out really good music that said something about her. Now she puts on fluffy pop-tart acts. Maybe people like the fun pop music. I don’t.
            Madonna is supposedly really square in real life. Yet in public, she is a clown.
            I guess what I’m saying is that when I listen to music, I want to hear the artist, not the artist’s interpretation of what the label wants them to put out. I don’t want fluff. I don’t want auto-tune. I don’t want the bulk of their singing career to revolve around what they wear and how they dance, because I can’t actually see them when I listen to their music.
            Gaga… Maybe she is fine for a sideshow act. Maybe that is what people like from her. But I don’t think it is a good choice to have her paying tribute to genuine talent and I don’t think that she should pretend that the character she plays is somehow a champion for social causes. That is just as much a part of the act as the stupid costumes.
            She is good. She has talent. She threw it aside and decided to be less than what she is.

    • Ines says:

      I don’t like Lady Gaga and know she was only invited for the ratings, but I have to give her applause on working for two months with a voice couch that produced very good results. No one thought she could pull it off yet she managed to remind us how beloved the movie and its songs are. That is why I think all her hard work deserves to be recognized.

      • christopher bee says:

        Two Months with a voice coach? Are U kidding me. Miss Germanotta was great long before her Gaga stage act success. This woman does it all.

        • HAP says:

          Spot on. Any of the naysayers ought to search around for some of her work ten years ago when she was still at NYU. She always had the vocal chops. And, what I find interesting is that she is a natural brunette, and in my opinion looks more attractive with her natural color.

        • Ines says:

          I’m afraid you misinterpreted me. I didn’t say she couldn’t sing, she can BUT her voice does not reach Julie Andrews or Audra McDonald depths.
          A voice coach doesn’t diminish her as a singer, it improves her and I applaud her in getting assistance in order to make her the highlight of the Oscars.
          Anyway, I was complimenting her, not being a naysayer.

    • Temperance says:

      Actually, she was a perfect choice for it, as evidenced by the fact she utterly killed the performance to global acclaim. Personally, I usually reserve a ‘clown’ moniker for rocks that post nonsense on the internet.

      • Drew says:

        At least when I say something, you know it is really me and not the thing that I am pretending to be at the moment.
        Even the Oscar performance was phony. She had a British accent… The girl is from New York. This was just another version of what she normally does. She is completely incapable of giving an honest, genuine performance.

  9. Grace331 says:

    Kudos for recognizing Byers! Amazing work! He left me crying.

    • Scott says:

      I couldn’t even watch the part in the sound booth live. Once I knew the outcome, I rewatched it on Hulu. Outstanding work.

  10. Letti says:

    Go GaGa! She’s the best.

  11. Alichat says:

    Matthew Rys…..from this week’s episode of The Americans. When he is telling Elizabeth about how he was trained…….just heartbreaking. It at least deserved an Honorable Mention.

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  13. Rebecca says:

    I just come here for he comments on this! They are hilarouris!!!

  14. Jackie says:

    Andre is my least favorite character on Empire, they need to get rid of him ASAP. Even Porsha is more entertaining than him.

  15. Georgia Ryan says:

    Lady Gaga is so pretty and is lukey to marry Taylor Kinny

  16. kirads09 says:

    No wild makeup, wig or costume. No shocking gimmick this time. Just her singing beautifully and wowing with her real talent. I was impressed.

  17. suzybel58 says:

    She looked great and she sounded even better. Sent chills up and down my spine and caused my jaw to drop. Well done Lady Gaga.

  18. Matt C. says:

    Nicole Beharie on the Sleepy Hollow finale was amazing. She’s always amazing, but she really shined in that episode.

    But totally agree about Trai Byers, he was fantastic.

    • Crane FTW says:

      Huh. I’d have given it to Tom Mison this week. Nicole is always great, yeah, but Mison had the daunting task of playing practically a different character. Ichabod Crane in 1781 was completely different than modern day Crane yet . . . bubbling under the surface was all of the traits we see today. It wasn’t and easy thing to pull off, but he did it quite brilliantly. And then, in those final 5 minutes, Crane had ALL the heavy lifting, and that performance, while being incredibly quiet and rather stoic, ripped my heart out and stomped on it. It was a bravura performance from him all around.

  19. liame says:

    I would have voted for Travolta. He was completely believable with his loving affections for Idina Menzel. :/. People of the free World you do know that these Performers of the Week and Polls about who’s the best at whatever doesn’t really mean a damn thing! I know everyone needs a little down time and escape from home life and the tragedies that are on going in this Country and abroad, but let’s not get caught up in the game of media hype, they’re getting paid to stir the pot, let them finish the nasty meal they started. Just sit back, sip your cocktail and don’t touch it. Seeing others disagree with you only makes you more hungry. Opinions are like azzholes, everybody has one.