It's no secret that Lady Gaga was second choice for Coachella organizers when it came to booking a headliner for this year's festival. Beyoncé was top pick, but dropped out under doctor's orders after her pregnancy was announced, and Gaga stepped in to fill the spot.
But that's not to say that she left the crowd feeling disappointed, or that she wasn't willing to address the elephant in the room. If anything, she did it in stride and with grace.
Early in her 20-song set on Sunday (April 16), Gaga told the crowd, "People kept asking me, aren't you nervous about playing 11:30?" Answering her own question, she accepted the challenge, "No way man, because that means I'm playing for the heavyweights."
Then, in between Artpop cut "Sexxx Dreams" and The Fame Monster's "Alejandro," Gaga gave nod to Beyoncé by performing their 2010 collaboration "Telephone" and included Bey's verses.
But a more headline-stealing moment came shortly after. Following "Alejandro," Gaga performed "Teeth" and then used the stage to debut an entirely new track: "The Cure."
The song marks a noted detour for the stripped-down vibes of Joanne and a return to pop, but still a less-bold and brash pop than the kind Gaga introduced herself with years ago.
On "The Cure," finger snaps back her nearly-whispered declarations of loyalty, a pitch-shifted squawk and some dreamy guitar plucking carry her airy pre-chorus, and finally, synths support her powerful hook.
"If I can't find the cure, I'll / I'll fix you with my love / No matter what you know, I'll / I'll fix you with my love / And if you say you're okay / I'm gonna heal you anyway / Promise I'll always be there / Promise I'll be the cure."