leave your inhibitions at the door
When David Bowie died last month, I was on the fence about whether to pay tribute to him here. On one hand, his music meant a great deal to me during high school and college, those formative years when many try to figure out their identity. I would drive people crazy with how much I listened to him. I used to pick up the needle on my turntable and put it back at the beginning of the record over and over again– aka “The Old School Repeat Button”.
On the other hand, I wasn’t sure any post I would’ve written would do his legacy any justice. Especially in light of all of the amazing tributes I saw on other blogs, Facebook, and Twitter. I didn’t see any good ones on Google Plus, though. Mainly because I’m not one of the four people still using Google Plus.
In the end, there was another reason why I did NOT do a David Bowie tribute. Laziness.
But something happened earlier this week that changed my mind. I felt compelled to balance out that huge, monstrous, steaming pile of shit that was Lady Gaga’s tribute to him on the Grammy’s.
In case you stopped playing the video a few seconds into it (and I wouldn’t blame you), she performs a six-minute medley of a dozen or so of his songs.
In general, I think she’s immensely talented and I’m a fan of her music. But this was bad. Really bad. I couldn’t get over how awful she sounded. When she wasn’t putting on this weird voice affectation that didn’t sound like her or Bowie, she was yelling lyrics off-key.
She was in full-on Bowie mode with her makeup, costume, and wig as she took turns prowling stage, playing keyboards, prancing, and dancing. It wasn’t so much a retrospective of his career, but more of a giant self-indulgent “Hey look at me, I’m Lady Gaga and I can do THIS and now watch me do THIS” moment.
Bowie’s career was notable for his willingness and ability to transcend music. Not just changing his musical style, but also taking on different personas along the way. It was like musical theater. To be kind, I suppose she was trying to showcase all those different facets of his career. But to me his music was strong enough to stand on its own without all the theatrics. Someone could’ve just sang one of his songs while sitting on a wooden stool in jeans and a t-shirt and still moved people. But again, that’s not very Gaga, it it?
She wasn’t alone in milking Bowie’s image and legacy for self-promotion. The beginning of the video featured special effects that digitally put make-up on her that changed as an homage to various Bowie personas.
The effects were courtesy of the magic of Intel, which Intel has not hesitated to mention over and over again.
Bowie’s son didn’t like the performance, either. He used the definition of the term “gaga” itself – irrational, mentally confused. I guess that happens when you try to fit a dozen songs into six minutes. It also meant a whole 10 seconds devoted to “Changes,” a song that better sums up his career than the Lady Gaga self-indulgent spectacle.
Since Lady Gaga couldn’t whittle her list of favorite Bowie songs to a manageable few, I will. Enjoy!
and my favorite – Starman
Yes, I know those are some of the most popular ones and possibly very overplayed. And there are a ton of others that are worth mentioning.
Did you catch her performance on Monday? What was your favorite Bowie song?