The Real Reasons Lady Gaga And Madonna Can't Stand Each Other

Lady Gaga and Madonna seem like they've been at each other's throats forever, but it's easy to forget that Gaga's only been on the scene for about seven or eight years. The stars do share extremely dedicated fan bases, a love of a great pop songs and a tendency to push the envelope very far. So, why can't they get along?

There are a few factors: their pride; their rabid fan bases; the media; and the fact that they're just too alike. Here's how their feud started and where it currently stands—for now, anyway.

Lady Gaga compares herself to Madonna

In February 2009, Lady Gaga got the ball rolling by drawing references between herself and Madonna in an interview with the Times. "I think what Madonna and I share is that we are both fearless," she said (via British Vogue). "We both have a lot of nerve. We're both Italian-American women, we both started out in the New York underground scene—and we both became famous when we dyed our hair blonde."

Gaga's assistant chimed in to declare that Mother Monster is "the next Madonna." "The determination, that knowledge of who you are, who you want and what the people want. That's her," the assistant said.

Madonna plays nice

At the MTV Video Music Awards in August 2009, Madonna revealed that she was actually a fan of Lady Gaga—and so was her daughter, Lourdes Leon. "I just saw Lady Gaga! She looks like she's going to carnival in Venice, very beautiful," she said backstage. When asked if she was bothered by the Gaga comparisons, she said, "No, I'm very flattered."

Madonna and Gaga poke fun at their rivalry

Before their beef got really serious, the pair seemed to hash out and joke about their differences—and many similarities—on Saturday Night Live. The divas wore coordinating black outfits on a fake MTV4 show called Deep House Dish for the October 2009 episode, where they literally snatched each other's wigs before kissing and making up.

'Alejandro' raises eyebrows

When Gaga released "Alejandro" in April 2010, she received almost immediate comparisons to Madonna's "Who's That Girl" and "La Isla Bonita." The Madonna comparisons grew when she released the music video for the track, which featured dark Catholicism themes and religious symbolism similar to Madge's "Like A Prayer" and references to the movie Evita. Billboard even stated outright that the video "channels vintage Madonna," while CBS News called it a "visual love letter to Madonna." At the time, neither artist commented on the similarities.

Lady Gaga swears Madonna gave 'Born This Way' her blessing

When Gaga dropped "Born This Way" in February 2011, the comparisons to Madonna's "Express Yourself" were almost immediate. At first, she didn't necessarily deny the similarities between the songs. "The good news is that I got an email from her people and her, sending me their love and complete support on behalf of the single and if the queen says it shall be, then it shall be," Gaga told Jay Leno on The Tonight Show (via the Hollywood Reporter). "There is really no one that is a more adoring and loving Madonna fan than me. I am the hugest fan personally and professionally."

Except Madonna's reps told the Hollywood Reporter that no such email was ever sent to their knowledge nor to the Queen of Pop's. In which case, either Gaga lied or an imposter trolled her really badly.

Gaga denies copycat claims

In a February 2011 interview with NME, published shortly after "Born This Way" was released, Gaga denied any plagiarism claims and hinted that Madge's "Express Yourself" wasn't even that original in itself. "If you put the songs next to each other, side by side, the only similarities are the chord progression," she explained (via E! News). "It's the same one that's been in disco music for the last 50 years. Just because I'm the first f**k**g artist in 25 years to think of putting it on Top 40 radio, it doesn't mean I'm a plagiarist, it means that I'm f**king smart. Sorry."

The Britney Spears connection

Madonna infamously locked lips with Britney Spears at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2003. When Lady Gaga presented Spears with her own Moonman in 2011, she tried doing the same in character as the bizarre "Jo Calderone." In reality, her alter-ego should have been named "Jo Friendzone," because, well, her efforts fell flat. The whole thing was awkward, to say the least.

Madonna says 'Born This Way' is 'reductive'

During a sit-down with 20/20 in January 2012, Madonna finally addressed the "Born This Way" controversy herself. "[Lady Gaga is] a very talented artist. I certainly think she references me a lot in her work," she said. "Sometimes I think it's amusing and flattering and well done. [She makes] a statement about taking something that was in the zeitgeist, you know, 20 years ago and turning it inside out and reinterpreting it. There's a lot of ways to look at it. I can't really be annoyed by it because, obviously, I've influenced her."

When asked specifically about the song, she responded with a touch of shade. "When I heard it on the radio, I said that sounds very familiar. It feels reductive," she said. Asked what she meant by "reductive," Madge sipped her tea and smiled, before saying the now instantly quotable line, "Look it up."

Madonna performs an 'Express Yourself'/'Born This Way' mashup

In what was either a demonstration of solidarity or shade, Madonna performed a mashup of "Express Yourself" and "Born This Way" during a concert in May 2012. The performance also featured elements of Madonna's 2008 song "She's Not Me"—which likely wasn't a coincidence—and led many to believe the entire thing was, in fact, the Queen of Pop throwing shade at Mother Monster after all.

Lady Gaga fires back without naming names

After Madge's mashup performance, Lady Gaga addressed the controversy in a roundabout way during a performance June 2012 of her song "Hair" in New Zealand. "I don't even want to fight back because it's more important to me to keep writing music," she said. "When I look into your eyes every night, I don't see a fanbase that wants me to fight or bite or be shady and c***y the way that we all used to be. It's OK. It's fun, right? But at the end of the day we're in a new place in society now."

She then dealt what could be interpreted as a subtle blow to Madonna's age with her next remark. "Things are really different now than they were 25 years ago, and that's what makes 'Born This Way' so relevant for me, is that I really want you all to notice this tremendous place that we're in right now," Gaga said. "We're just socially in a completely different place and it's OK, we don't all have to slice and hate each other anymore ... It sometimes makes people feel better about themselves to put other people down or make fun of them or maybe make mockery of their work."

Lady Gaga is close with one of Madonna's enemies

Lady Gaga is extremely close with Elton John and his husband, David Furnish; she's even the godmother to their two sons. Incidentally, John and Furnish are also infamous enemies of Madonna. Their long-standing feud came to a head in August 2012, when John called the Material Girl a "nightmare" (among other much more foul things) and declared her career "over." He also made a point to say that Madge "has been so horrible to Gaga."

Gaga's alliance with the outspoken John may have earned her Madonna's ire, whether intentional or not, although Madonna and John have since reconciled.

Gaga feigns flattery

Lady Gaga showed off a PhD in passive aggressiveness when she was asked about her beef with Madonna, specifically Madonna's "Born This Way" cover, while promoting her new album, ARTPOP, in 2013. "I have to be really honest, I was completely kind of floored that Madonna was singing my song on her stage every night," Gaga told Attitude magazine's November 2013 issue (via Digital Spy). "I'm certainly not thinking about anybody but me and my fans when I'm on stage. The fact that I was on her mind at all. I mean, Madonna's ... she's Madonna. I looked up to her for a long time. I'm not quite sure what her intention was—to do that in the show—but I don't really care."

"I think playing into the gossip of the tabloids and, I guess the fodder of the competition, that's just not what I'm about," she continued. "She chooses to use her voice the way she chooses to use hers and I choose to use mine the way I use mine. All it meant to me was that Madonna Ciccone was singing my song on her stage and I'm 27! And as a punk-rocker from New York, I've basically been hoping that I would become so good that one day I would piss off Madonna!"

She added that she believes the feud was ignited by hardcore fans of both artists. "I truthfully believe that there was nothing about those records sounding alike, and everything about this gay icon versus gay icon nonsense," she said " I don't need to take anybody's torch. I have no interest in taking anybody's torch. I am over here and they are over there and if you feel connected to it, the door is open for you to come in and enjoy this with us. But this need for competition was everything that 'Born This Way' isn't about!"

Gaga shades Madonna again

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Gaga didn't stop there. In November 2013, she told Howard Stern (via the Huffington Post) that she thinks Madonna is "aggravated that I'm not upset that she doesn't like me." "I don't care that she doesn't like me ...," Gaga said. "There's always this p**sing match: 'She's taking her torch, is she the new her, is she going to outlast her or not?'"

She also hinted that Madonna may lack humility and feels threatened by her success. "There's this thing with some people that I'm a threat to the throne," she said. "I don't want your f**king throne, no thanks, I have my own. I actually don't want a throne at all, because I don't view myself as a queen, I view myself as one of my fans."

Madonna may have called Gaga out in a leaked demo

In August 2014, a handful of demos performed by Madonna leaked online, launching a whole bunch of gossip on the Internet. One song in particular was rumored to be about Gaga, due in great part to its, uh, curious lyrics. "You're a copycat, where is my royalty?" Madonna sang. "You're a pretty girl, I'll give you that / But stealing my recipe, it's an ugly look / Did you study me hard enough? You're never gonna be, you're just a wannabe me / Like a sister all messed up, who's gonna help you out / In your fantasy, you can try it all / But you can't be me / You can walk the walk, even talk the talk / But you'll always be two steps behind me."

A source later told the Sun that the lyrics were indeed "very harsh" but added that Madonna "really wants to express herself again" and that "Gaga's going to be mortified."

However, Madonna's longtime manager, Guy Oseary, told fans in a Twitter Q&A that the song was "not about Gaga or anyone in particular." "The song is an unfinished demo she had no intention of finishing or releasing along with many others," Oseary said. "She has NO ill will towards Gaga. It s [sic] nonsense. She was listening to [Gaga's] Tony Bennett duet album last week and appreciating it."

Gaga implies that Madonna is soulless

When asked in October 2014 who her musical influences are, Gaga used the opportunity to throw another batch of shade at Madonna. "I would like to say Madonna, but let me tell you something," she told People Greece (via the Daily Mail). "If I was an established artist, I would love to help younger artists." When the mag asked if she meant that Madonna has no soul, she replied: "You said it, not me!"

Madonna tries to shut down the feud

In February 2015, Madonna did her best to squash her feud with Gaga once and for all in an interview with Rolling Stone. "I don't think she wants my crown ... The only time I ever criticized Lady Gaga was when I felt like she blatantly ripped off one of my songs," Madonna said. "It's got nothing to do with 'she's taking my crown' or 'she's in some space of mine.' She has her thing. I do think she is a very talented singer songwriter. It was just that one issue. And everybody's obviously run with it and turned it into a huge feud, which I think is really boring ... I don't care anymore."

'Perfect Illusion' is compared to 'Papa Don't Preach'

More than five years after "Born This Way" was compared to "Express Yourself," fans of Lady Gaga and Madonna went to war again amid allegations that Gaga's 2016 single "Perfect Illusion" was a rip-off of Madonna's "Papa Don't Preach." To the casual listener, the similarities aren't as immediately audible as the commonalities between "Born This Way" and "Express Yourself"; but if you want to hear them, well, you probably will.

Gaga hints that she's a better musician than Madonna

When Beats 1 DJ Zane Lowe asked Lady Gaga in October 2016 if she sees parallels between her career and Madonna's, Mother Monster got testy. "Madonna and I are very different ... I wouldn't make that comparison at all. I don't mean to disrespect Madonna ... she's a nice lady. And she's had a fantastic, huge career. She's the biggest pop star of all time," Gaga said (via Billboard). "But I play a lot of instruments. I write all my own music. I spend hours and hours a day in the studio. I'm a producer. I'm a writer."

"What I do is different," she continued. "I'm not just rehearsing over and over again to put on a show. There is a spontaneity to my work. I allow myself to fail. I allow myself to break. I'm not afraid of my flaws ... I just will not be compared to anyone anymore, I am who the f**k I am and this is me. My life story is my life story, just like yours is."

Meanwhile, a behind-the-scenes music insider dished to Page Six, claiming that Gaga "can give two s**ts about Madonna." "Madonna has never been nice to her," the insider said. "I don't think they've ever had a good relationship ever since Madonna brought her daughter Lourdes to [Gaga's] show at Terminal 5 and sat with her arms crossed the whole time."

Whew. Something tells us the feud between Lady Gaga and Madonna probably won't end anytime soon.