INDIO, CALIFORNIA: Lady Gaga debuted a R&B-tinged love song as she headlined the Coachella festival, where the pop diva cast herself as sensual rather than sensational.
The first woman in a decade to top the lineup at the premier music event, Lady Gaga unleashed an action-packed spectacle of acrobatic choreography that culminated in confetti, fireballs and fireworks on her dance anthem “Bad Romance.”
Gaga seized upon the spotlight to introduce a new song, “The Cure,” that is built off an unadorned R&B rhythm before rising into a pop chorus with the lines, “If I can’t find the cure, I’ll fix you with my love.”
She released the song commercially as she left Coachella in the California desert, marking her first new music since her latest album Joanne came out in October.
Coachella offered a preview of the global tour the pop superstar will launch in August for Joanne, an album that brought a more classic pop and even country sound to the 31-year-old artist long associated with synthpop.
Gaga made clear at Coachella that her old spirit remained undiminished. On “John Wayne,” one of her most country-driven songs in which she admits an attraction to rugged masculinity, Gaga paradoxically sang astride a human pyramid of her sweaty, topless and ethnically diverse crew of male dancers.
Sensuality oozed throughout Gaga’s set. She beckoned one dancer by grabbing his jeans in the waist, as both male and female dancers rubbed her leotard-clad body seductively.
“Have you all found someone you want to sleep with yet?” she teasingly asked the 100,000-strong crowd, most of them young and many of them clad only in the bare minimum of clothing after a long day in the sun.
Yet for a singer once talked about as much for her outrageous outfits as her songs, she stepped back and put the emphasis on her music – giving herself space to show off her glowing, rich voice on tracks such as “The Edge of Glory.”
Her biggest fashion message may have come as she played piano. She struggled to take off her sweater mid-song, in an endearing display of authenticity.
Lady Gaga played her first Coachella after original headliner Beyonce canceled on doctors’ orders as she expects twins.