There's a reason Lady Gaga kept her VMA performance such a secret: if she'd told you what she was planning, you wouldn't have believed it anyway.
As promised, the dance diva with a jones for complicated headgear provided an early highlight with a jaw-dropping performance that lived up to the hype. As the sound of a crashing chandelier interrupted her introduction, the camera cut to Gaga, lying on the floor, her face hidden behind a beaded mask with feather horns, getting helped to her feet by her male dancers.
Wearing white knee-high boots and a white belly-bearing unitard with a single feathered shoulder pad, she sang a few lines of "Poker Face" before busting into "Paparazzi" on a set that looked like an ornate mansion. Staggering around the stage with a cane at one point, Gaga pirouetted behind a dancer in a lily-white wheelchair and made her way over to a white grand piano, banging on the keyboard while hoisting one foot up on the keyboard, her voice growing more urgent with every frenzied note.
And then, in a wrinkle no one saw coming, Gaga staggered across the stage as blood began to drip from her ribcage and she wailed the lyrics to the song about media vultures. On the verge of tears, she dabbed at the blood, wiped it on her face and collapsed into a heap while a dancer wailed in agony and gently laid her down center stage.
Hanging listlessly by one hand, Gaga rose above her dancers and, blood smeared on her face and caked on one of her eyes, stared lifelessly at the stunned crowd while the sound of camera shutters filled the air and a golden halo was projected on the big screen behind her.
See? You wouldn't have believed it if we'd told you ...
The 2009 MTV Video Music Awards are live now! Stay tuned for the night's big winners, red-carpet coverage, behind-the-scenes updates and more.