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Z100's Jingle Ball with Lady Gaga @ Madison Square Garden, 12.9.11

Singer Lady Gaga performs onstage during Z100's Jingle

Singer Lady Gaga performs onstage during Z100's Jingle Ball 2011, presented by Aeropostale at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan. (Dec. 9, 2011) Credit: Getty Images

For her performance at this year's Z100 Jingle Ball, the ever-changing Lady Gaga revealed a new persona – Laid-back Gaga.

Sure, she still looked larger-than-life in her silver-spangled, midriff-baring spacesuit, but Gaga actually seemed quite down-to-earth at Madison Square Garden last night.

Instead of her usual intense focus on creating a spectacle, she seemed like she just wanted to have some fun singing her songs. Maybe it was because the night held special meaning for her since the radio station's annual holiday show was the first concert young Gaga ever attended. That night, at the age of 11, she told her mother that she would be part of the extravaganza someday.

Fourteen years later, she's headlining.

“We are just as excited to be here tonight as you are,” she told the capacity crowd.

She seemed almost giddy as she delivered most of “The Edge of Glory” between some Christmas trees, before stepping out to do her Mama Monster dance in “Bad Romance.” There was no controversy – though “White Christmas” did get a bit raunchy at the end – and no provocation, just joy.

Gaga's sweet rocker “You and I” became an ode to Manhattan, matched nicely by the piano-only introduction to “Born This Way.” Before things got too sentimental, she exited with a massive version of her current single “Marry the Night” dressed in a hospital gown.

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The grace of her 50-minute set was a sharp contrast to much of the rest of the four-hour, tightly wound Jingle Ball, featuring Pitbull, David Guetta, LMFAO and Demi Lovato among others. (An edited version of the concert will air on Fuse on Dec. 18 at 7 p.m.)

Only Kelly Clarkson seemed to match Gaga's ease on stage, even unexpectedly delivering a gorgeous version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” with Lovato instead of cramming in another hit. “It is Jingle Ball after all,” Clarkson explained.

Maybe some of her trying-too-hard fellow artists could remember that too.

SETLIST: Hot Chelle Rae – Tonight Tonight // Foster the People – Don't Stop (Color on the Walls) / Pumped Up Kicks // Demi Lovato – All Night Long / Give Your Heart a Break / Skyscraper / Unbroken // Gym Class Heroes – Cupid's Chokehold / Ass Back Home / Billionaire // LMFAO – Sorry for Party Rocking / I'm in Miami Trick / Party Rock Anthem / Sexy and I Know It // Kelly Clarkson – Since U Been Gone / What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger) / Mr. Know It All / Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (w/Demi Lovato) / My Life Would Suck Without You // David Guetta – Where Them Girls At / Turn Me On / Little Bad Girl / Titanium / Without You // Pitbull – Hey Baby (Drop It to the Floor) / (Dance Break) / Shut It Down / Rain Over Me / International Love / I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho) / Medley: “On the Floor/I Like It/ DJ Got Us Falling in Love” / Give Me Everything // Karmin – Crash Your Party // The Script – For the First Time // Lady Gaga – Edge of Glory / Bad Romance / Medley: “Just Dance/Poker Face/Telephone” / Judas / White Christmas / You and I / Born This Way / Marry the Night

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