If you had a few minutes on a global stage with the whole world’s eyes on you, what would you say?
That’s the question Lady Gaga asked herself before taking the stage at the 2015 European Games Opening Ceremony in Baku, Azerbaijan. And she bravely took the opportunity to echo John Lennon’s poignant words, “Imagine all the people, living life in peace.”
With a single spotlight on her, Mother Monster descended a short staircase and strode barefoot to a floral-coated piano, where she launched into the familiar introduction of Lennon’s plea-for-peace anthem “Imagine.”
Gaga brought the massive, twinkling Olympic Stadium to a reverent silence with her rendition, reminding us all that underneath her typically shocking and oddball antics, she’s also a remarkable artist with a killer voice. Her performance reached especially chill-inducing heights on the third verse, when her voice became bigger and stunningly operatic.
Honestly, “Imagine” is such an oft-covered song that it seems like a fool’s errand to try to breathe fresh life into it (for a second time, no less). But as Gaga just proved, she’s more than capable of making any song her own. Just look at these six other times she slayed a cover song:
Sting’s 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You'
Covering a living legend’s classic WHILE said living legend is watching you (alongside the Obamas, not to mention)? If that’s not pressure, I don’t know what is. But Gaga made Sting proud with this gospel-y take on his Grammy Award-winning 1993 song.
Yoko Ono’s Plastic Ono Band’s 'The Sun Is Down'
Gaga joined Lennon’s widow onstage for a rendition of this electro-disco number. Rocking a glittered bodysuit, Gaga’s wild eyes and erratic movements were weird but suitably perfect for the performance.
'Sound of Music' medley at the 2015 Oscars
Gaga honored the film’s 50th anniversary with a gorgeous medley of four songs, wowing the Hollywood crowd with her theatric belting and poise.
4 Non Blonde’s 'What’s Up'
OK, yes, this rendition of the angsty ‘93 jam is pretty scream-y. And the way Gaga throws down that stuffed animal at 2:31 is downright violent. But it’s also tailor-made for showing off Gaga’s insane rocker voice.
Rolling Stone’s 'Gimme Shelter'
It takes a special kind of performer to steal the spotlight away from Mick Jagger, but that’s exactly what Gaga managed to do when she joined the Stones onstage for a rousing rendition of “Gimme Shelter,” taking over Merry Clayton’s booming original contributions to the track.
Coldplay’s 'Viva La Vida'
Gaga gave this Coldplay mega-hit a jazzy spin, putting her own scatty vocal flourishes on it and forgoing any string accompaniment in favor of her own rollicking piano.