A video (which has recently been deleted) that featured Madonna mashing up her hit “Express Yourself” with Lady Gaga’s clone hit “Born This Way” went viral. To make things more complicated, Madonna added in bars from 2008’s “She’s Not Me” at the end. Some view this as desperate, while others view it as a brilliant way to promote Madonna’s tour, which is set to be one of the biggest grossing concert tours of all time.
Let’s backtrack a minute. In 2009, Madonna and Lady Gaga were great friends. Madonna attended Lady Gaga’s show at Terminal 5 in New York City. The two appeared on Saturday Night Live together in October of that year. Then, things started to change up a little bit in 2010.
During the spring, Lady Gaga released the single and video for Alejandro, which some considered more of a rip-off than inspirational. The media started calling Lady Gaga the “new” Madonna, and threw it in Madonna’s face. Still, there was no visible animosity between the two. That all changed in 2011.
On February 11, 2011, Lady Gaga released her gay anthem “Born This Way,” but was harshly criticized for ripping off Madonna’s “Express Yourself” note for note. To make things worse, Lady Gaga performed the song at the Grammy Awards wearing Madonna’s Blonde Ambition outfit and ponytail. While picking up an unrelated reward, Lady Gaga thanked Whitney Houston for being the inspiration behind “Born This Way.” Critics laughed, but Madonna remained silent.
Lady Gaga soon went on Jay Leno’s show and told the audience that Madonna’s people sent her an email of support. This was harshly denied by Madonna’s publicist, Liz Rosenberg. “Born This Way” went to number one for six weeks, but disappeared soon after. It did not become the classic Lady Gaga envisioned and many Lady Gaga supporters believe that the Madonna controversy hurt its chances.