Following David Bowie’s sudden passing on 10th January, two of the music industry’s biggest awards ceremonies have offered their own tributes to his iconic legacy. The first tribute occurred last week at the Grammy’s, with Lady Gaga at the centre of a colourful, technically extravagant medley of Bowie classics. The second tribute, which aired last night during the Brits, was a more solemn affair and saw Lorde perform a movingly understated rendition of ‘Life on Mars’ alongside Bowie’s live band. Comparisons between the two performances are inevitable… but what do our writers think?
“They certainly were… different. But I think that played to their strengths. One was all about showmanship and excitement. The Brits’ tribute, on the other hand, felt a lot less like the tacky costumes and weird covers that you can see in any town pub on the third Thursday of the month. It felt a lot more like a tribute – like a solemn acknowledgement of a great man and his contributions. You can prefer one over the other, but I think you could almost argue they were two entirely different things. Gaga did a tribute act. Lorde did a tribute, a celebration and a eulogy.” – Millie Cassidy, Features Editor.
“I think they each appealed to the sensibilities of the countries they were addressing. Americans like flash and pizazz, we prefer something a bit more understated and solemn. Personally, I prefer Lorde, simply because Bowie’s band were there, and Gaga’s tribute being overtly fucking sponsored by Dell was a big no no for me.” – Scott Williams, writer.
“I found Lorde’s performance to be far more powerful and sincere than Gaga’s. The Brits’ tribute pulled at my heartstrings and appealed to my own sense of mourning for Bowie. The Grammy’s performance didn’t. Gaga did a decent job, and the technical, colourful aspects of her tribute were dazzling, but they didn’t affect me as strongly as Lorde’s.” – Anneka Honeyball, News Editor.
“I strongly disagree with pitting two tributes to a great man against each other. Whilst the tributes were very different, each captured a different element of Bowie that I think is important. Bowie is renowned for his visuality, excitement and energy, which I feel Lady Gaga’s performance captured. Lorde provided a more understated and quieter tribute to the music of Bowie, which I think is both reflective of her character and the element of Bowie she was trying to encapsulate. What is most important is that they both had the same goal: to pay tribute to an artist they are both inspired by. That is what needs to be remembered.” – Amy Wootten, Records Editor.
“Both performances were showcasing different elements of Bowie’s lasting impact on the music industry. To compare them is to discredit the artistry and purpose behind both performances and the true spirit of a tribute. Nothing about either performance was self-centred, but rather showing pure admiration for a legend.” – Lewis Taplin, Deputy Editor.
“I like simplicity, I love Lorde. She didn’t try to be Bowie, she was Lorde and behaved as such. Bowie even said she was the sound of the future, which is great for people into minimalist electro-pop. She performed a tribute, not a tribute act. But while I preferred her performance, I completely disagree with pitting two performers against one another. Gaga brought magic and glamour – and I really believe a young Bowie would’ve loved to watch that.” – Annabelle Asker, Head of Events.
The Verdict: Though we each prefer one tribute over the other, there’s at least one thing we can all agree on: David Bowie will be sorely missed.
Lady Gaga’s Bowie tribute can be found here. Meanwhile, you can watch Lorde’s performance below.