Lady Gaga's Bowie Tribute Rocks Grammys Amid Cancellations & Tech Issues

It was a weird night for the 2016 Grammy Awards, marked by a series of setbacks that, while not derailing the telecast, certainly kept people talking as much about the glitches as the musical performances. But the evening’s signature moment went off without a hitch as Lady Gaga delivered a tribute to rock legend David Bowie a month and a half after he lost his battle with cancer at 69. Watch the whole thing below.

The performance, a collaboration with Chic’s Nile Rodgers (who had worked with Bowie), was a multimedia extravaganza made in partnership with Intel that saw multiple costume changes set to a medley of songs from Bowie’s long career. Computer graphics, holograms, live video processing and the like factored large in the performance, which featured Gaga renditions of Bowie hits “Space Oddity,” “Changes,” “Ziggy Stardust,” “Suffragette City,” “Rebel Rebel,” “Let’s Dance” and “Heroes”.

Lady Gaga wasn’t the scene stealer though. That honor goes to Kendrick Lamar. The “To Pimp A Butterfly” artist delivered an intense performance of “The Blacker The Berry” and “Alright” that, with its chain-gang imagery, was one for the Grammy ages, again demonstrating he’s the best rapper of his generation and one of the all time greats.

Before the show began, Rihanna cancelled, citing medical problems. Slated to perform her single “Kiss It Better,” Rihanna even showed up to rehearse for the show but apparently could not kick the bronchitis she came down with last week. On her doctor’s orders, she cancelled to keep from “hemorrhaging her vocal cords,” according to a statement from her reps. She apologized to fans on Twitter.

Volatile hip hop legend Lauryn Hill had been announced as a “surprise” guest for the show, scheduled to perform alongside The Weeknd, but she also bailed at the last minute. Like Rihanna she was even photographed rehearsing the performance, but, it seems she either didn’t feel ready or the show was never guaranteed to begin with. In a statement released by her representatives after word dropped that she wouldn’t be performing, Hill said the Grammys made a mistake announcing her appearance at all.

The Grammy’s announced a performance by Ms. Lauryn Hill prematurely and without approval. Ms. Hill had concerts all weekend, leaving no time to prepare, and was uncertain she would even be able to make it to LA in time to rehearse for the event. Any performance that could have happened was never confirmed, and should not have been advertised as such. Ms. Hill was invited to do a collaboration with an artist she appreciates. The performance was intended to be a surprise and unfortunately due to its last minute nature, was unable to come to fruition.

Two more high-profile technical snafus also grabbed national attention. Online, the CBS All Access livestream reportedly became unavailable for many users. While CBS has not commented on it and the number of affected users is unknown at this time, it seems users from all over the country experienced problems watching the stream, and naturally they took to Twitter to complain. The problem seemed to fix itself later in the how, however.

Finally, onstage Adele experienced technical problems of her own. Performing her single “All I Ask,” the Skyfall songstress appeared to viewers at home to be significantly off key. That’s unusual of course, as she’s often noted for her very excellent pitch. Fans naturally took to Twitter to insist the problem had to be technical, and it’s possible they’re right, as word from inside the show itself is that she sounded great. Adele for her part blames bad placement of the mic cord.

Let us know if you watched, and what you thought of the show, and Gaga’s Bowie tribute or Kendrick’s set, in comments.

  1. While it was clearly technical for Adele’s performance she can sometimes be VERY pitchy. I wouldnt say shes known for her perfect pitch…

  2. The dullest Grammy Award show in recent memory, Not a big Gaga fan but she was the highlight of the show. Adele sounded off key for most of her song, in addition to the mic dropping out for a few seconds

  3. Here’s one problem when the crews egos become overinflated. Many of them are still patting themselves on their backs for ‘Grease Live’.

    Now this is the thing, all award shows have the best equipment. The best trucks in the industry, the best cameras, the best rental sound equipment (of which the mixer generally gets a piece of) and basically, an unlimited budget. The crews are massive, and unfortunately, the egos even larger.

    To those who might say – gee, shit happens. No it doesn’t. Not in live TV. Not when the technical side has been rehearsed for days and days and days. The crew? They’ve become old and complacent.

    This is musics biggest night. It was embarrassing. They need to clean house — from TOP to BOTTOM.

  4. Bowie was a master performer who owned his stage… What occurred on the Grammy stage was a disjointed and soulless charade… Can’t believe Nile Rodgers was involved… Epic fail.

    1. I totally agree. I got no sense of “Bowie” at all and his face didn’t appear on screen until the very end….and it was in shadows. It was all about Gaga and CGI.

  5. I know I’ll be in the minority, but I didn’t love the Gaga segment. She’s a phenomenal performer and I admire her tremendously, but I was a huge Bowie fan, and like many who still mourn his passing and are still uncovering genius in the brilliant Blackstar, doing Suffragette City and Ziggy and Heroes was too obvious and more about Intel than the passing of an icon. I guess I just wanted something more personal… More quiet maybe. Or with Jagger, or Iggy or someone. Add to that the truly mediocre In Memoriam, and I felt like the music industry, on its biggest night, could have done so much more for one of its most important legends.

    1. I have to agree.
      Much to slick on obvious.
      Gaga is good (as she proved at this year’s Super Bowl & last years Oscar’s) – but this didn’t really feel much like Bowie and was not much of a tribute…

    2. She was off pitch most likely because either she couldn’t hear herself or the music coming in through her earphones/plugs sounded off pitch. She was still struggling to hit some high notes though. I think she might have been sick. There was definitely some tech issues though. At one point her voice wasn’t even coming through the mic.

    3. Yes, bro, you are in the minority. It was a performance that blew the roof off the center and whipped the audience, a tough crowd, into a frenzy.

    4. Grammys are about the biggest hits. It’s to Bowie’s credit he had the foresight to be in control of his own send-off, exit in a final artistic statement. Von Trier paid homage to the Lazarus blindfold in a Facebook video. That’s personal.

  6. She was the wrong person to do the tribute. Should’ve been Iggy Pop, Trent Reznor, Annie Lennox, Mike Garson, Mick Jagger, members of Queen, people that actually worked with him. That performance was awful.

  7. We love Adele but we’re waiting to see why she sounded like she was screaming over the music, as if she wanted people in the back to be sure to hear her. She can blame the mic for a lot of things but not her presentation and certainly not for singing off key. She would have been better served by excusing herself and then starting over rather than try to save the song when clearly she couldn’t. I just happened to be listening to the same song just two hours before her live performance and it was nothing like the cd quality. I was still glad to watch her though, she looked terrific. Carrie Underwood was a joy as usual and I enjoyed the tribute to Michael Jackson and Glen Frey. So basically there were four enjoyable moments for me and two of them were in honor on dead musical Herod from years past. Not a glowing recommendation. Turned it off after Adele and won’t be back. Sometimes people are so busy congratulating themselves they miss the big picture or any part of the picture at all in this case-YUK

  8. Sorry accidentally sent before proofing. It should have said tributes of dead musical heros from the past. See, excuse yourself with an apology and then correct the situation.

  9. I’ve never watched the Grammys and noticed so many audio problems. It started with Taylor Swift’s opening number and I kept thinking, ‘oh, they’ll figure this out.’ Maybe not. I guess it’s easy to criticize from my comfortable non-tech seat at home but still…

  10. Grammy tributes always have newer artists paying homage to either career artists or ones who have recently passed. They were never going to get Mick or Iggy to perform a Bowie tribute. Lady Gaga was tremendous and spot on: bravado, spectacle, off the wall..and what chops!
    There are those who had made their minds up well BEFORE the Grammy telecast even started about this performance. I cannot think of a harder Icon to pay tribute to — and she did it with aplomb. Stop being so old fart hateful and negative. Bowie liked Gaga…and I’m sure he watched last night and enjoyed the celebration.

  11. How many tributes to deceased performers were there outside of the memorial reel? The show was one long death march.

  12. Rf drop outs are common issues with so many artist using frequencies which are close to each other. Digital consoles tend to experience phase shift where the tv feed and arena feed are split digitally via same like consoles. Live shows tend to be solid but even the digital world we live in. there are always going to be nights like these. Chin up and look forward.. on to the next show.

  13. The entire Grammy show was weak, felt sorry for Adele’s tech issues, Lady Gaga sounded like a bad over the top parody of Bowie. Her performance was right out of a tacky high school musical with jazz hands choreography. Not a Taylor Swift fan but I enjoyed her trashing the monumentally talentless Kanye West in her acceptance speech. When are they going to see that the Emperor isn’t wearing any new clothes and send that off key auto tuned Kanye away for good?

  14. No mention of Hamilton or Kendrick Lamar. Which Grammys did you watch? Twelve-year-old Joey jazz pianist blew Herbie Hancock and evetyone else away. I agree the tributes were awful except for John Legend and Demi Lovato honoring Lionel Ritchie.

  15. That Gaga performance was like something you’d see in the show-room of a lower-rent cruise ship. During rough seas.

  16. Hamilton, Kendrick Lamar, Demi Lovato, Chris Stapleton all had great nights. And Swifty took the high road yet put that laughable Kanye in his place. What a killer moment.

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