When: Fri., Jan. 8, 7:30 p.m., Sat., Jan. 9, 7:30 p.m. and Sun., Jan. 10, 7:30 p.m. 2010
Finally, a pop icon who's willing to take on the culture she's part of. Lady Gaga seems motivated equally by a drive to master pop form and by a desire to subvert it. Her rhetoric is as strong as her songwriting, and if you've only heard her hits on the radio or seen pictures of her kooky costumes, you're missing the real fun. "When I say to you, there is nobody like me, and there never was," she says in a December Los Angeles Times profile, "that is a statement I want every woman to feel and make about themselves." She's open about her feminism in interviews, and her video for "Bad Romance" makes it pretty plain too. Its final shots reference The Burning Bed, the infamous made-for-TV movie based on a real-life battered wife's revenge, and the charred skeleton Gaga lies down beside—formerly a man who appeared to be buying her as a sex slave—does double duty as a stand-in for the music industry, with its addiction to woman-as-commodity. Gaga may spend many of the video's early scenes as a doe-eyed coquette, but she isn't nearly as harmless as she seems. Her latest album, this fall's The Fame Monster (Interscope), is not only stronger than her 2008 IPO, The Fame—originally intended to be bonus material in a reissue of The Fame, it became a stand-alone release, with deluxe editions that relegate the debut to bonus-disc status—but also the most interesting prospect pop has had since the 80s. —Jessica Hopper
Price: Sold out.