Check out this countdown of Gaga's 10 best non-hits, inspired by the pop superstar's 28th birthday.
"Paparazzi." "Born This Way." "Alejandro." "Applause." "Poker Face." "Telephone." The list of Lady Gaga's hit singles has grown rapidly ever since "Just Dance" became her breakthrough in 2008, from edges of glory to bad romances, from love ballads like "You and I" to sexual jams like "Do What U Want." Those smash singles and others will be featured on Gaga's upcoming tour in support of her "ARTPOP" album, but Gaga is also far more than just the radio hits -- she treats her albums as singular artistic statements, with each song helping to round out her vision while finding its own adoring audience. Along with her Hot 100 hits, Gaga has released a wealth of strong music that didn't find (or, at least, hasn't yet found) its way onto radio stations, and don't come immediately to mind to casual fans. It's time for a deep dive into the Gaga catalogue to give some of these songs their proper shine.
In honor of Lady Gaga's 28th birthday on Friday (Mar. 28), Billboard.com's Pop Shop dug deep and came up with a countdown of her 10 best deep cuts, non-remixes that never became hits but are worth repeated listens.
10. "Beautiful, Dirty, Rich" (From The Fame)
A crucial gateway to understanding the person behind "The Fame," the promotional single "Beautiful, Dirty, Rich" revels in its sneering materialism while also presenting a plethora of intriguing musical ideas. As the programmed beats sizzle underneath her voice, Gaga struts like a pro and establishes herself as more than just the dance maven of her "Fame" singles.
9. "Stuck on F---in' You" (Unreleased Track)
A Christmas gift to fans following the whirlwind release of "Born This Way," "Stuck on F---in' You" strips away the opulent production of that album and showcases Gaga's playful side over acoustic chugs. "We got no champagne, but we got drugs," she shrugs in between giggles on the track, which was recorded live on a tour bus and ends with 90 seconds of inspired improvisation.
8. "Jewels N' Drugs" feat. T.I., Too $hort & Twista (From ARTPOP)
"ARTPOP's" penchant for risk-taking has been underlined by Gaga many times over, but "Jewels N' Drugs" backs up the pop star's braggadocio by diving head-first into bruising hip-hop. The song is deeply erratic, with Too $hort's filthy final bars butting up against Gaga's starry-eyed pop comedown, but it's also captivating enough to beg for dissection.
7. "Monster" (From The Fame Monster)
Maybe "The Fame Monster" simply contained too many sterling blasts of icy electro-pop, but if "Bad Romance," "Telephone," "Alejandro" can all find millions of fans, surely "Monster" should have as well. Once again, Gaga's commitment to lyrics that could be ridiculously campy in the wrong hands -- "We french-kissed on the subway train/He tore my clothes right off, he ate my heart and then ate my brain" -- sees this one through.
6. "Highway Unicorn (Road To Love)" (From Born This Way)
"Follow that unicorn/On the road to love!" Gaga declares on this unapologetically bizarre sing-along, a non-single that captures the singer's ever-morphing mythology during the "Born This Way" era.
5. "Summerboy" (From The Fame)
Gaga was still carving out her niche in the pop universe on "The Fame," and when she returned with "The Fame Monster," it was clear that she was going to follow a more offbeat path than produce more sunny pop-rock tracks like "Summerboy." And yet the final song on her debut album -- which floats up and down like a stray feather enduring a light breeze, and could be mistaken for an unreleased Gwen Stefani demo -- still invites with its shimmering guitar line and sighing vocals, the breathtaking entrance to a path not taken.
4. "Teeth" (From The Fame Monster)
For "The Fame Monster" coda, Gaga combined a swinging beat, some free-ranging gospel influences and S&M lyrics like "Tell me something that'll change me/I'm gonna love you with my hands tied"… and somehow, this sexy, propulsive mess completely works.
3. "Hair" (From Born This Way)
Technically a promotional single released before "Born This Way," "Hair" deferred its power-ballad swagger to "The Edge of Glory," which became a radio hit from the album. "Hair" doesn't have as good of a sax solo as "Glory," but the Springsteen-biting ode to individuality swivels between rock bombast and strobing electronica, and has one of Gaga's most impassioned bridges to date.
2. "MANiCURE" (From ARTPOP)
Lady Gaga is by no means finished releasing singles from last year's "ARTPOP" album, and here's to hoping that the deliriously catchy "MANiCURE" makes it to radio sometime soon. With its handclaps, double-time chorus and Gaga's brassy vocal take, "MANiCURE" remains one of the most undemanding, and enjoyable, listens on "ARTPOP."
1. "Speechless" (From The Fame Monster)
The marriage of Gaga's razor-sharp songwriting and tear-stroked vocal delivery on "Speechless" is impeccable, but credit is also due to Ron Fair, who co-produced the "Fame Monster" non-single and helped concoct the classic rock nest that Gaga settled into comfortably years before "Born This Way." "Speechless" may not make Gaga's inevitable greatest hits compilation, but may it haunt karaoke bars until the end of time.
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In this week's episode, we break down "Frozen's" latest chart achievement, Lady Gaga's "G.U.Y." video and Lana Del Rey's impending superstardom. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes HERE.