Lady Gaga took her longstanding relationship with the Muppets one step further last night in a 90-minute ABC show dubbed Lady Gaga & the Muppets' Holiday Spectacular. The singer bonded with the puppet ensemble while performing songs from her recent Artpop album with special guests Elton John, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, RuPaul and Kristen Bell. While Gaga didn't wear any muppets this time around, she still dressed the part, stepping out in scads of furs and feathers.
The collaboration came at an opportune time for Gaga. Although Artpop debuted at Number One on the Billboard 200 albums chart its first week, the album took an 82 percent sales nosedive in its second. If the high-brow artiness of her album pushed away some fans, Gaga's Muppets special had the potential to draw them back in. The singer was at her most accessible during the show, sharing the difficulties of life on the road and her love of the holidays – specifically, how she grew up watching the Muppets and has had a long love for Kermit. (Recall he was her date to the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards.) The whole affair was relatively conservative for Gaga and weirdly progressive for the Muppets. Here are the most memorable moments.
Gaga's risqué opener
Emerging with her hair teased sky-high and in a nude negligee with an attached seashell bra and rhinestone underwear, Gaga delivered"Venus" and what's probably the most non-PC mentioning of "Uranus" in Muppet history. She also unveiled her new septum piercing. Meanwhile, her dancers suggestively rolled around large balls.
That time Elton John called Gaga his "Angel"
It's no surprise that Lady Gaga and Elton John have a penchant for Broadway flair. They brought their splashiest outfits to their duet with John donning a rhinestone-dusted suit and glasses and Gaga wearing a soda can top glasses, a white floral corset with fur-trimmed winged sleeves and a garter. What was surprising, however, was when the pair performed their rendition of one of John's signature songs which he renamed "Gaga and the Jets." Facing each other on their red and black pianos, respectively, John and Gaga shared a repartee leading up to their performance. "How have you been my angel?" John asked Gaga. She replied, "I've been good and working hard but it's always nice when I get to spend time with you because you help me to stay inspired and put life into perspective."
Gaga and Kermit's downer duet
By contrast, Gaga and Kermit shared a melancholy exchange before her performance of "Gypsy." According to Gaga, the song is about how lonely she feels on the road away from her family and friends, especially during holidays. It was one of the singer's more relatable moments of the evening.
Gaga's gender roleplay with Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Cozied up on a chaise longue with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gaga channeled classic Hollywood in a floor-length red gown and a Grace Kelly-style blonde bob for a cover of "Baby, It's Cold Outside." Even though she was dressed the part, the pair put their own twist on the favorite, swapping the female and male's parts, along with Gordon-Levitt's jacket throughout a performance heavy on dry-ice smoke. It was one way to differentiate their version from another recent rendition Gordon-Levitt's (500) Days of Summer co-star Zooey Deschanel performed with M. Ward for their She and Him Christmas album.
RuPaul's feathery cameo
For Gaga's last duet, RuPaul evoked Cookie Monster when she joined Gaga in a floor-length feathery gown for, of course,"Fashion." Gaga upped her sartorial ante for the song as well, bopping around on stage in a chestnut-colored sequined dress with leopard tights, and, the pièce de résistance, a crown with a sheer fur-trimmed veil. It was a surprisingly tame performance but, visually, a spectacle that ended with this Statler and Waldorf exchange: "Now I've seen everything," once began, and the other finished with, "Good, then we can leave."