The 2010 Grammys were dominated by women. Beyoncé was the main event, winning six awards out of a whopping ten nominations. Then there was country princess Taylor Swift, who became the youngest artist to win Album of the Year. But it was then-newcomer Lady Gaga who was the evening’s wildest performer and winningest rookie, attending the show for the first time and initiating a decade-long Grammy streak that continues into 2020.
At the time, Gaga had just begun establishing herself as an attention-grabbing awards show presence — in September 2009, for example, she shocked the VMAs with a bloody “Paparazzi” performance. So when she arrived at the Grammys a few months later, on January 31, 2010, she did so in characteristically eccentric style. Gaga — who was nominated for four awards that night — was tasked with opening the show, and her performance was one of the most ambitious that’s ever graced the Grammy stage.
In a meta statement about the celebrity machine, the spectacle opened with a monologue by Elijah Kelly, who touted Lady Gaga as the perfect pop star: “The real Gaga comes complete with five No. 1 singles… and she has no soul!” Gaga — wearing a green sequined leotard with exaggerated rounded shoulders, pink triangles painted around her eyes — then appeared out of the “Fame Factory” and began singing a cabaret version of “Poker Face.” In one breathless jump, she then leapt to the stage and finished the song surrounded by a fleet of male dancers.
But she wasn’t done yet. After being branded a “monster” and dropped into a “rejected” pit of fire, Gaga reemerged for a surprise duet with Elton John. Both covered in soot and surrounded by severed mannequin arms, they sat at a double-sided piano and performed a medley of her “Speechless” and his “Your Song.” Elton even changed his lyric to sing, “How wonderful life is with Gaga in the world.” It was a match made in glitter-pop heaven, and John would later reminisce, “It was really spine-chilling and I knew it was a big success.”
Never a sartorial bore, Gaga’s green leotard was just one of three daring Armani looks she wore that night. For the red carpet, she arrived in a cosmic lavender creation accessorized with cylindrical orbiting rings, beaded tights, golden hair, and a spiky star ornament. Following her performance, she pulled off another costume change that involved a sharp, sculptural headpiece that probably made everyone around her duck for cover.
Gaga’s shiniest accessories, however, were her pair of golden trophies: her first two Grammys ever, for Best Dance Recording (“Poker Face”) and Best Dance/Electronic Album (The Fame). Unfortunately for Little Monsters watching at home and hoping to see a speech from their idol, both of Gaga’s awards were announced during a pre-telecast ceremony. Later that night, she revealed in a TV Guide interview, “We found out we won two Grammys right before I went onstage. And I cried and ruined all my makeup, so my makeup artist was screaming at me. And it was very memorable and I’ll never forget it.” (It must also be noted that, in the same interview, she answered the question, “Where do you get your inspiration?” with the now-iconic answer, “God and the gays.”)
After an exhilarating evening, Lady Gaga celebrated her win by tweeting, “We won big tonight little monsters, I am so proud to make music 4 you. I hope I continue to inspire u the way u inspire me. You’re everything.” Her wish came true — that 2010 debut was just the first chapter in a long and storied history with the Grammys. The following year, she would one-up herself by taking home three awards, arriving at the show encased in a giant egg. Over the next decade, she only missed two of the annual ceremonies, which meant plenty more eye-catching Grammy moments from Gaga — like that David Bowie tribute look in 2016, her performance with Metallica in 2017, and last year’s “Shallow” showstopper. Plus, she’s racked up a total of nine wins from 27 nominations. That includes the three awards she’s up for this year, like Song of the Year for her A Star Is Born ballad “Always Remember Us This Way.” We can’t wait to see how Gaga continues to command the Grammys in the new decade.