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.