Last night, that opulent and gossip-driving celebrity hangout the Met Gala happened once more. And, accordingly, there was a small flurry of news. Nicki Minaj officially announced that her new album Queen is out next month; 2 Chainz proposed (for the second time) to his partner Kesha Ward on the red carpet. By far the most batshit, “what timeline are we living in?” surprise was the revelation that Elon Musk and Grimes are dating, and now the notion of a man shooting a car into space while having its sound system blast “Oblivion” on infinite loop is somehow a little more plausible. But there was still another big surprise to come later in the night.
The theme of this year’s Gala was “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion And The Catholic Imagination.” As a result, there were all the characteristically outlandish and sometimes beautiful outfits that usually dominate the Met Gala; Rihanna, for example, went for the Young Pope look. But given the concept behind this year’s iteration, it only made sense that one of the night’s bigger surprises was the unannounced performance of none other than Madonna, a pop singer legendary for her hits but also legendary for the ways in which she played with and manipulated Catholic imagery and themes in her music and videos.
One of those videos, of course, was the iconic “Like A Prayer,” which is naturally the first song she sang. Surrounded by men dressed as monks teasing the song in Gregorian chant form, Madonna suddenly threw back her hood and performed amidst their background vocals. That wasn’t her only selection though: She also offered up a rendition of Leonard Cohen’s standard “Hallelujah.” And as much as we may be very used to other artists delivering their takes on the immortal song, it’s still something else to hear one of the biggest pop stars ever sing it in this context as a bit of thematic synergy with her own track and the night’s concept in general.
Below, watch some unofficial clips of the performances as well as a more official but impressionistic collection of snapshots Madonna shared on her Instagram.