Everything That Lady Gaga Has Had To Apologize For

Please note: This article contains references to sexual assault, addiction, and suicide.

There are two things that you should know about Lady Gaga when it comes to her apologies. The first is that she has a love — and a talent for — stirring up a big, bubbling pot of pop culture controversy. The second is that she absolutely adores her fans, so when the Oscar-winning singer-songwriter lands herself in hot water, she doesn't want her Little Monsters to get scorched. 

Which is completely understandable. If you happen to know a fair bit about the multi-talented performer, then you might know that Gaga is all too happy to fess up when she's wrong about something or has made a mistake, but the apology or acknowledgement in question can sometimes take a little while to arrive — if it ever does. 

What's left is a set of apologies which showcase the sort of artist that Gaga is. She's provocative, yes — but she's generally also thoughtful and doesn't appear to enjoy being responsible for causing even the slightest bit of harm or disappointment to an observer or audience. She also isn't beneath acknowledging her own flaws, particularly to promote more open conversations regarding a myriad of issues. With that in mind, prepare for Mother Monster to be giving you a million reasons, cause this is everything that Gaga has had to apologize for.

The mistake of working with R. Kelly

In 2014, Page Six reported that Lady Gaga had shelved the music video for her lyrically dubious R. Kelly duet, "Do What U Want (With My Body)" due to a variety of rumored factors. The video's narrative reportedly depicted a scenario in which Kelly — playing a doctor — concluded that he was going to get Gaga — his patient — pregnant while unconscious, which a source described as reading like "an ad for r*pe." On her website, Gaga claimed the video had been "delayed" due to time constraints (via The Guardian). But was that the truth?

Adding to the song and video's controversy were accusations of sexual misconduct against director Terry Richardson, which he shrugged off as being a "witch hunt" (per Page Six). Making matters worse were the "dozens of girls ... with harrowing lawsuits" against R. Kelly regarding his history of sexual violence, which music critic Jim DeRogatis first reported in 2000 (via The Village Voice).  In 2021, Kelly was found guilty of crimes associated with these initial allegations, reported BuzzFeed News

Gaga circled back to the controversy on Twitter in 2019, when the documentary "Surviving R. Kelly" was airing. Describing the song as happening during "a dark time in my life" when she was struggling to process the "trauma" of her own sexual assault, the star apologized for her "poor judgment when [she] was young" and shared her intent to remove the song from streaming platforms. 

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

ARTPOP's many initial failures

Lady Gaga eventually dealt with the overall mishandling of her album "ARTPOP." Per Pitchfork, the album sold less than a fourth of the copies "Born this Way" sold in its first week. An Interscope Records spokesperson responded to rumors that Gaga's promotional campaign could amount to a $25 million loss for the company, along with potential layoffs — both claims were "ridiculous and untrue," they told TheWrap.

Still, something was rotten enough in the Haus of Gaga for the star to issue an apology. Following the delayed release of her initial two music videos from the album — "Applause" and "Do What U Want" — Mother Monster posted a statement of remorse to fans on her website which appeared to blame people who had "betrayed her" for having "gravely mismanaged [her] time and health." She added that she "was too sick, too tired and too sad to control the damage" whilst recovering from hip surgery (via The Guardian). 

But not everyone bought it. While Uproxx suggested Gaga was "right to apologize to her fans," they remembered her words, that she'd been "given the time to really be creative" on the album whilst in recovery (she told WWD). With that, Uproxx introduced a simpler reason for ARTPOP's failure: "Maybe it's the music and the fact that the album just isn't good enough." Ouch.

The song that said sorry for Lady Gaga's former drug habit

Whatever was going on with Lady Gaga while she was making ARTPOP, she was at least able to self-reflect. With the song "Dope," she addressed how her marijuana addiction had been ruinous for her personal life and well-being. The superstar opened up about her drug dependency issue while discussing the album on "Elvis Duran and The Z100 Morning Show." She shared that when she was overdoing the kush vibe, she would smoke "up to 15-20 marijuana cigarettes a day with no tobacco" in a bid to numb her body. The singer said her addiction was "ultimately related to anxiety coping" and was "a form of self-medication." 

She explained the result in an "ARTPOP" track-by-track commentary with SiriusXM, perhaps separately from her "Morning Show" appearance. Unfortunately, the original interview has been lost, but multiple sources (including BroadwayWorld) have cited the interview and have quoted Gaga. The singer said was that she wound up in "a withdrawn state all the time" which made it hard for her to articulate herself to the people she cared about. "So, I wrote this song as an, 'I'm sorry,' to all the people in my life that I really love," she said, adding, "sorry to my fans, to my boyfriend, to my parents, and I sing at the end, 'that I need you more than dope' — and that's the truth." So roll yourselves up in a blanket-blunt Little Monsters, 'cause we're officially all worth more than a hot toke.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

The chronic disease that ended her Joanne tour

Sometimes, Lady Gaga's apologies are wholeheartedly earned. But one occasion in which she arguably didn't need to say sorry to anyone was when she had to cancel the European leg of her "Joanne" tour due to experiencing chronic pain. On Twitter, the "Bad Romance" musician had revealed that she suffers from the chronic illness Fibromyglagia, which can cause a variety of health challenges, and expressed her "wish to help raise awareness" about the condition. 

Gaga initially postponed the 18 European performances in 2017 (per NPR) and addressed her heartbreak at having to do so in an open letter to fans on her Instagram. "I am looking forward to touring again soon," she wrote, "but I have to be with my doctors right now so I can be strong and perform for you all for the next 60 years or more." The star resumed the tour a few months later, but was then forced to cancel the remaining performances in 2018 on the advice of her doctors due to the "severe pain" she was continuing to experience (via The Guardian). 

In a statement shared on behalf of Gaga on Twitter, the star was described as being "extremely sorry" for the decision. She signed off on the statement by sharing how "devastated" she was and that she'd be back on tour soon enough. "But for now," she wrote, "I need to put myself and my well-being first." 

The Flintstones-esque meat slab she wore as a frock

Let's have some fun, this meat is sick. That's the tune that Lady Gaga's dress was warbling when she rocked up to the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards looking like Leatherface's hipster sister in a dress made of raw beef. Animal welfare organization PETA shared their disgust at the "offensive" dress which they reminded fans was made of "the decomposing flesh of a tormented animal who didn't want to die." Talk about a guilt trip. Gaga's meat dress had caused a bit of a stink — literally so, as it may or may not have also legitimately "rotted under the lights" of the event (via MTV).

In the finest sorrynotsorry non-apology of her career, Gaga kind of said sorry for the beefy ensemble while on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" by explaining she meant "no disrespect" to vegans with the outfit, and that it was intended as an art piece of "many interpretations." All of which sounded vague, including this line: "...if we don't fight for our rights, pretty soon we're going to have as much rights as the meat on our bones." Alrighty.  

Gaga alluded to the meat dress in "The Prime Rib of America" speech she made on the issue of the United States military discriminating against LGBTQIA+ people. "Equality is the prime rib of America. Equality is the prime rib of what we stand for as a nation. And I don't get to enjoy the greatest cut of meat that my country has to offer." A deep cut, for sure. 

Reminiscing about her ex...in front of her new fella

If you're in a monogamous relationship, then you're likely well-versed in the sanctity of one golden rule: Don't go on about your ex. For whatever reason, Lady Gaga decided to take a sledgehammer to that rule by publicly reflecting on her love for ex-partner Taylor Kinney while her current boyfriend, Michael Polansky, was in the audience watching her. 

The "LoveGame" hitmaker made the public declaration while speaking at a Joe Biden rally in Pennsylvania. Cosmopolitan reported that Gaga reflected on her past relationship with Pennsylvanian native Taylor Kinney. "I was engaged to a man from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I know, it didn't work out. I loved him so much," she told the crowd, "It just did not work out. But I still love my Pennsylvania guy. I love Joe!" Potentially, her brain had a chance to catch up with her mouth as she was soon apologizing for the statement: "To my boyfriend here tonight, I'm sorry I had to do this whole 'Pennsylvania, I dated a guy here' thing. I love you so much, but it's true." 

Gaga and Kinney broke up in 2016 after almost five years. In the singer's documentary "Gaga: Five Foot Two," the star alluded to problems in the relationship when she fessed up to "fighting" with him. She confessed to the camera, "My threshold for bullsh*t with men is just ... I don't have one anymore. In relationships, you have to move together" (via HuffPost).

Using a slur when frustrated over her Madonna feud

By this point, you (hopefully) don't need the full, apparently endless, rundown of Lady Gaga's feud with Madonna. At the heart of the beef were criticisms that Gaga's LGBTQIA+ anthem "Born This Way" bore an uncanny resemblance to Madonna songs, including "Vogue" and "Express Yourself" (via The Hollywood Reporter). 

The comparisons clearly didn't sit well with Gaga, a self-proclaimed "Madonna fan" who even suggested to Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show" that "the queen" of pop herself had emailed her "love and support" for the song, on behalf of "her people" (via E! News). A "fact" strongly disputed by Madonna herself, whose "people" denied the existence of said email (per The Hollywood Reporter). A few months later, Gaga wasn't best pleased when she was questioned by NME about the similarities between the two songs. She expressed her disdain by using the r-word. "Why would I try to put out a song and think I'm getting one over on everybody?" she responded, "That's r*tarded" (via Daily News).

A day later, Gaga promptly issued an apology for the word in a statement published by Perez Hilton. Calling the slur "an honest mistake" and any hurt caused "furiously unintentional," she commented, "I consider it part of my life's work and music to push the boundaries of love and acceptance. My apologies for not speaking thoughtfully" (per Daily News). 

Speaking too soon about a friend's cause of death

Proudly boasting a full-body sleeve of ink, it made total sense that the singular look of model Rick Genest — also known as Zombie Boy — would attract the eye of Lady Gaga. The star featured the radical-looking cool boy in the music video for "Born This Way," a song which celebrates being "other." Sadly, Genest died in 2018 after falling three floors from his balcony. A year later, the coroner's report verified that his death was accidental (via Page Six). 

In a since-deleted tweet, Gaga shared her sadness about the death of her late "friend," but also spoke about it in reference to his "suicide." She urged her fans to focus on mental health and wrote, "If you are suffering, call a friend or family today. We must save each other" (via ET). While that sentiment is always worth reminding people about, it also wasn't accurate, as the model's cause of death hadn't been confirmed yet. Luckily, Gaga wasn't too proud to acknowledge her mistake and to rectify it right away. 

"I apologize if I spoke too soon as there was no witnesses or evidence to support any conclusion for the cause of his death. I in no way meant to draw an unjust conclusion," the star tweeted

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

That time Lady Gaga told Jimmy Fallon not to phone her

If you think back on the neverending virtual-meeting hellscape of 2020 and shudder, then take comfort from the fact that you (probably) never had to endure such a meeting being broadcast on television. Such was the micro-nightmare Lady Gaga found herself in when Jimmy Fallon attempted to FaceTime her during an episode and she pulled a Sorry, I cannot hear you, I'm k-kinda busy moment. All it needed was some soda can hair rollers and a guest spot from Beyoncé.

In the clip from "The Tonight Show," Fallon was shown excitedly attempting to call the singer, who appeared caught off-guard. "I can't talk right now," she's shown as saying to the host, "I'm really sorry, it's just like, a really weird time." When Fallon attempted to hold the screen up to the camera capturing the moment, poor Gaga was further frazzled and asked, "I can't see you. Am I on TV?" She may as well have started singing, "You're not gonna reach my telephone!"

Luckily for everyone, the two were able to laugh the whole awkward mishap off afterwards when Gaga returned to "The Tonight Show" — successfully this time! — to say that she was "so sorry" for the missed connection and to discuss an announcement. "We weren't quite ready yet," she said, "and I really appreciate you being so nice about it." We'd say she should have left her phone at home 'cause that was a disaster — but then, that was probably part of the initial problem.