LOS ANGELES — Lady Gaga serenaded Bill Clinton with a personalized version of her hit “Bad Romance” on Saturday at a star-studded tribute to the former US president and his decade-old foundation.
Dressed in a blond wig for a “Marilyn Monroe moment” with Clinton, the pop superstar wished him a belated “Happy Birthday” before launching into a rip-roaring “Bill Romance” at the packed Hollywood Bowl.
At one point she came down to perform one-on-one for the former president, who was seated in the front row flanked by his wife US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and their daughter Chelsea.
“How cool is it to be 65 and you get Lady Gaga, come on?” Clinton asked the crowd in a short speech in the middle of the show, which also included performances by Stevie Wonder, Bono and the Edge, and Usher.
But, he added: “And then I wondered, ..she said she was going to have a Marilyn Moment, I thought, by God I get Lady Gaga and I will have a heart attack celebrating my 65th birthday.”
The show — to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the William J. Clinton Foundation — began with Motown legend Wonder setting the tone with pitch-perfect renditions of “For Once in My Life” and “Superstition.”
After country star Kenny Chesney came Somalian artist K’Naan — helped by Bono on his 2010 World Cup anthem “Wavin’ Flag” — who paid tribute to Clinton’s work in trying to bring peace to his native land.
Usher surprised with a soulful Joe-Cocker-at-Woodstock-like rendition of the Beatles’ “With a Little Help with my Friends,” followed by some sharp choreography to the thumping dance anthems “Yeah” and “OMG.”
Then came Lady Gaga, who did her usual trick of stealing the show by sheer exuberance — including with at least one expletive which may have tested the producers of the live streamed version of the concert going out on Yahoo.
Explaining her “Marilyn Moment,” she joked in typical style: “I always wanted to have one, and I was hoping that it didn’t involve pills and a strand of pearls.”
A video skit by a group of Hollywood stars including Ben Stiller, Sean Penn, Jack Black, Matt Damon and Kevin Spacey — and Clinton himself — provided a bit of comic relief, as did turns from Ellen DeGeneres and Barbra Streisand.
Bono returned with U2 sidekick The Edge — “a pair of Irish buskers,” as he called them — to help close the show, paying tribute along the way to Clinton’s role in clinching a peace deal for Northern Ireland.
The Irish rocker-turned-campaigner also highlighted Clinton’s role in fighting HIV and poverty in Africa, as well as climate change, both in and out of office.
In closing Clinton paid tribute to his wife, recalling how they met 40 years ago, and how their lives have changed since he left the White House in 2001.
“For 30 years I was in politics and she did that and about 10 years ago we switched places. I like it fine, I like it when she’s in public office and I’m doing… this kinda stuff,” he said.
And, he boasted: “I am the only person in history who got to be president, who then had a post-presidential birthday party attended by both Lady Gaga and the secretary of state.”
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