Lady Gaga took the Grammys stage at the 2016 ceremony to perform a tribute to singer David Bowie.
Gaga’s performance included the songs “Space Oddity,” “Changes,” and “Heroes.” In addition, technology was used that allowed Gaga to imitate the makeup worn by Bowie on the cover of the album “Aladdin Sane” and project images such as an astronaut behind her, among other feats.
The singer has received mostly positive reviews for her tribute to the “Ziggy Stardust” singer.
Rolling Stone writer Brittany Spanos called the performance “astonishing,” while Boston Globe writer Ty Burr wrote that the segment was “gimmicky but heartfelt… it reminded viewers/listeners of why Bowie’s music will continue to resonate for a long time to come.” Time writer Nolan Feeney wrote, “There was perhaps no better modern pop star to pay tribute to David Bowie than Lady Gaga, as her performance at the 2016 Grammys proved.”
However, not everyone enjoyed the segment, with Jessica Gelt of the Los Angeles Times calling it “heartfelt but rushed… The result felt more like Las Vegas dinner theater revue than a solemn yet joyful shout-out to one of rock's biggest icons.”
Many writers have discussed Bowie’s continuing influence on the music industry, including Burr, who wrote, “The pop star who made a career plan out of the ongoing shedding of his celebrity skin has many, many heirs… The singer born David Jones took his cues from various sources – Warhol and Dylan, mostly – and gave them a series of fresh twists... One of those twists was conscious theatricality… Another strand, less talked about but just as influential, was Bowie’s ambition… There’s a third aspect of Bowie’s legacy, too: vulnerability.”
Artists at the Grammys ceremony honored other musicians as well, including the recently deceased Glenn Frey of the Eagles, Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire, and B.B. King. Lionel Richie was also present for a segment honoring his music.
Guardian writer Angus Batey wrote of the effect White's group Earth, Wind & Fire had on music, "[They were] the biggest funk band of all time... While the singles stressed their pop side, the albums revealed a band of superlative jazz players, capable of switching from folk to doo-wop to Latin, and who couched everything in the argot of funk. It's little wonder they influenced other musicians: there can't have been many bands who ever truly enjoyed EWF's level of creative freedom."