Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga, shown here in 2013, will headline a Doritos-sponsored performance lineup next week at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. (Kevin Winter, Getty Images)

An ultra-meta, avant-garde piece of corporate branding performance art? Or the final death knell of SXSW as a proving ground for unknown young bands - and Lady Gaga's career?

Whatever the stakes, Lady Gaga is headlining a Doritos-sponsored bill at this year's SXSW festival, one of the week's biggest sets and marketing gambits. 

The pop singer, whose relevance and commercial performance has been on a years-long slip since her smash debut album "The Fame," was initially denied a permit to perform on the actual Doritos Stage, the widely mocked inflatable venue meant to resemble a giant spicy-corn-snack vending machine (and/or metaphor for the contemporary music business). 

PHOTOS: Unexpected musical collaborations

So the company moved her showcase inside Stubb's BBQ on March 13. It will be her first set at the annual music, film and interactive festival and glad-handing event. To get tickets, fans will have to go through a whole social-media rigmarole of uploading free advertising content in which they express their Doritos-driven goals for "bold action" to get to the "#boldstage" (or something).

Gaga is far from the first pop star to perform at SXSW, though. In recent years, Justin Timberlake and Prince have played corporate-sponsored showcases to generally positive reviews.

This year's festival will sport major sets from other mainstream contemporary artists, including Coldplay, Imagine Dragons, Kendrick Lamar, Soundgarden and more, along with hundreds of rising and legacy acts across the city. 

But Gaga's particularly Stockholm-syndrome-y quotes about this Doritos event, like "I believe being an individual and speaking your mind is one of the boldest things you can do," are leaving us praying this is some incredibly high-concept prank where she'll bathe, Elizabeth Bathory-style, in a vat of Tapatio and Cool Ranch flavoring onstage.

ALSO:

Review: Pharrell Williams' 'G I R L'

Oscars 2014: 'Frozen' out by a Disney princess in song category

OSCARS 2014: Full coverage | Complete list | Top nominees and winners