Crass Warfare: Madonna vs. Gaga
In the battle for pop supremacy, two divas are in the lead: industry vet Madonna, 53, whose songs are in their fourth decade of Top 40 relevance, and Lady Gaga, 26, whose flamboyant persona has helped her climb to the top of the charts. But on their current tours, the girls -- now labelmates on Interscope Records -- aren't playing nice. Rather, it seems the protege (by age only, Gaga might contend) is looking to out-raunch the pioneer on world stages. THR breaks down their curiously similar moves.
Disrespect the Country in Which You're Playing
► Madonna: In Israel on May 31, the opening night of her MDNA tour, she pointed a machine gun at the 33,000-strong audience and projected blood splatters and swastikas on a giant video screen. She later pleaded with those gathered to be good to one another. "No conflict can ever be resolved by causing pain," she said.
► Gaga: In Thailand on May 25, the rabble-rouser appropriated the nation's flag as an impromptu motorcycle ornament before 50,000 fans. A month later, the government denounced her racy theatrics for "hurting the feelings of the Thai people."
Show Some Skin, Sex It Up
► Madonna: It seems conservative culture does not compute in the mind of the Material Girl. How else could she justify baring a full breast onstage June 7 in Istanbul, Turkey, a nation that is 99 percent Islamic? By positioning the flash as a statement on behalf of women's rights, that's how. Mooning an audience in Italy, on the other hand -- that's just called Wednesday.
► Gaga: During a June 13 show in Brisbane, Australia, she made her grand entrance by crawling out of a chicken's nether regions and simulating oral sex. Strangely, no one protested.
Wage a War of Words
► Madonna: She fired the first shot Jan. 13 when she called Gaga's "Express Yourself"-esque single "Born This Way" "reductive." To drive the point home, she mashed the songs together in early shows of her MDNA tour, bookending the number with the chant, "She's not me."
► Gaga: She might have had the last word when she told a New Zealand crowd June 7 that "things are really different than 25 years ago. … I don't see a fan base that wants me to fight or bite or be shady and c-nty the way that we all used to be." Your move, Madge!