After a long two-plus hours on the couch I walked into my kitchen to brew some of my favorite chamomile lavender tea. Lady Gaga was about to perform, but I knew I wouldn’t be that interested so it wasn’t a big deal if I missed some of it. She was probably going to do something outrageously weird — maybe come out in an egg shell — and I wouldn’t be into it. I was never into Lady Gaga and her weird style nor her songs that plagued the radio when I was in middle school.
“There’s a spider on her face! Come! I don’t want you to miss this!” my roommate eagerly exclaimed. I walked back into the room to watch the rest of the performance, a tribute to the legend, David Bowie. A 3-D hologram of Gaga’s face was projected onto the wall of the stage as she sung “Space Oddity.” Intricate graphic designs floated around her face, including one of a red lightning bolt referring to Bowie’s album cover for Aladdin Sane as well as a spider, after the endangered spider, Heteropoda davidbowie, that was named after him in Malaysia.
As Gaga’s face faded out and her real self walked onto the stage, the immense effort she put into embodying Bowie continued. From the red masculine hairstyle to the Ziggy Stardust outfit and even to the way that she sung, Gaga showed the world that she was a true shapeshifter, taking on the looks and persona of Bowie. She flowed — or more like ran — from “Changes,” to “Ziggy Stardust” and “ Suffragette City ,“ disappearing and reappearing on screens, using a backbending piano, and dancing like it was 1983. Some critics say that it was too busy, but I say that’s wrong. The packed performance and resulting chaotic element is a testament to Bowie’s vast contribution to the music industry. Gaga wanted us to feel that there was so much going on so as to show us how much Bowie accomplished — how no tribute, no 7 minutes on stage can ever cover the magnitude of this musical legend.
That’s when I thought, Bowie passed away maybe four weeks ago. How on earth did Gaga have the time to prepare a tribute of such extents with such little time? One cannot even fathom the amount of planning, preparation, rehearsing, and collaboration that went into this performance. That right there made me rethink my preconceived notion of this pop sensation. I guess I had never given her a chance — never separated her from the rest of popular radio artists.
My newfound reverence towards Gaga lies in her crazy work ethic and commitment to entertainment. After watching a few recent interviews, it seems as though Gaga has matured into a sound genuine person off-stage, while still maintaining her egg-shell image on stage. Today, “Lady Gaga” is more like a character that she, Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, fully embodies without distraction, whereas previously it seemed like the lines between stage and off-stage presence were blurred for her, as it is for most artists.
This separation of personal self and stage self really set Lady Gaga up to deliver this stunt of a tribute. When I think tribute, I tend to think more along the lines of the beautiful Lionel Richie one. It was emotional and passionate; the artists wore their hearts on their sleeves. To be honest the Lionel Richie tribute was my second favorite performance of the night after Kendrick Lamar’s. Gaga comes third on my list. But what Gaga did was unexpected. In an interview with Mashable, she explains how she wanted people to feel what it was like to be “a David Bowie superfan,” and that she did. Some may say that she didn’t put any emotion in it or didn’t get in tune with herself while on stage, and I felt the same way, but that wasn’t her goal. She wasn’t aiming to say, “David Bowie was incredible,” but rather, “This is why David Bowie was incredible.” And to do that so skillfully, she went the extra 200 miles. Her performance reflects her recent acting ambitions as well as she recently won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Miniseries for American Horror Story. Is there anything Gaga can’t do?
What Gaga pulled off last night was pretty incredible and I’m not sure anyone else could’ve done it as well. If there were an award for Most Accomplished in One Grammy Performance, it would go to her (that’s #7). Her performance introduced new on-stage technology, was part of an advertising campaign for Intel, and payed homage to David Bowie, all while being wildly entertaining and musically sound. She really did it all. She made music an entirely new experience for the audience and made me a Gaga-hater no more.