Lady Gaga delivered a stunning tribute to the late legendary David Bowie at the Grammy Awards. See the video and photos plus the full set-list of the career-spanning medley and find out what the critics have to say about the performance that has sparked so much attention.
Of course, it’s the ultimately not the tribute we want to see. Not an in memorium tribute to an artist who just weeks ago had released a critically acclaimed album, ‘Blackstar’ which, sadly has become his last. Just two days after his 69th birthday — also release date of the album — the world lost an icon who has been influential since the 1960s, not just in music but in film, fashion, visual arts and in pop culture as a whole. Those striking images of Bowie throughout his life dating back to the ‘Space Oddity’ and Ziggy Stardust’ days.
And so much better it would have been to see the man himself perform at the Grammy Awards, to surprise us with a rare appearance on stage. But it wasn’t to be. And we had instead Lady Gaga with the proverbial tall order; how to pay tribute to such an artist in a single performance.
Lady Gaga, in her own way, has been an icon over these past few years even as she’s been more than a bit of a chameleon. After all, she’s gone from her appearance at the Grammy Awards, wearing a dress made of actual meat — that drew the expected uproar and mockery — to subsequent appearances in all kinds of guises including an egg. She’s been praised and criticized as some have seen homage at best and mimicry at worse and a lack of true originality. Lately, she’s been seemingly “mainstream” having recorded a jazz album with the legendary Tony Bennett and venturing into acting, with her role in ‘American Horror Story: Hotel’ which won her a Golden Globe.
Now, she was tasked with the impossible, to pay tribute a pioneer whose influence is immeasurable. The legendary producer Nile Rogers, of Chic, a longtime collaborator of David Bowie directed the entire production, and a production it was. More than just musical performance — as any fitting tribute would have to be — it featured multiple costume changes and some astonishing visual effects courtesy of Intel.
Of the latter, Lady Gaga issued a written statement after the performance, saying, in part, “I like to do things that integrate technology and art with powerful experiences. I think that this collaboration with Intel has been very different than anything I have done before. They have really given me so much amazing technology to play with.”
Social media has been in a frenzy ever since. Was it a hit or a miss? Critics are weighing in. Here’s the full set list followed by a review roundup.
“….Perhaps some of Bowie’s menacing and darkness was missing in what was ultimately a passionate celebration. At times the homage more closely resembled a over-grinned American Idol finale performance than a serious Bowie tribute. (A little camp goes a long way.) But there was something endearing and special—and yes, perhaps even singular—to what Gaga managed to accomplish with her underrated talents and, more importantly, her love…..” The Daily Beast
“….Filled with special effects, costume changes and an appearance from Let’s Dance and Black Tie White Noise producer Nile Rodgers, Gaga gave a tribute to Bowie as eclectic as his career…..” –Rolling Stone
“….The result felt more like Las Vegas dinner theater revue than a solemn yet joyful shout-out to one of rock’s biggest icons. […] Much of the hype surrounded Gaga’s uncanny ability to pull off the superstar’s glam look and her total devotion to his talents. But if only there were time for the sound to catch up to that vision….”–L.A. Times
“…. It turns out that the rock-n-roll persona Bowie adopted for many of his biggest hits—the ones that get played in tribute medleys—was a bad match for Gaga’s strengths. (Only on “Fashion” did she truly nail it.) Gaga’s occasionally fun gender- and genre-bending doesn’t truly compare to Bowie’s truly transgressive and riotously creative decades of self-reinvention. Even the presence of Nile Rodgers tearing it up on guitar couldn’t save the performance from feeling like it was working way too hard to achieve a shadow of the impact Bowie so effortlessly made. ….” –Slate
“…. Gaga’s performance was a hybrid of her own trademark stagecraft – thrashing ‘Little Monster’ paw dance-moves and wide-eyed facial expressions – and that which Bowie made his own. Although she allowed the true strength of her vocals to shine on closing song Heroes, she spent the rest of her show imitating the late star’s arch British accent, which inflected his voice on Space Oddity, Suffragette City, Fashion and Rebel Rebel. ….” The Telegraph
It’s sure to become one of those iconic Grammy Awards moments that will be talked about, and witnessed in viral video perpetuity for years to come. You can see photos, the behind-the-scenes video and the full replay of the Lady Gaga David Bowie Grammys tribute video below!