The specifics of the performance were kept under tight wraps until she actually took the stage. The only clue of just how much of a literal homage it would be was given when Gaga herself hit the red carpet, dressed in a custom gown by Marc Jacobs that played with the intergalactic theme of some of Bowie's best-known work and sporting a shock of red hair and makeup straight from the cover of Aladdin Sane.
But still, the big question was: What would she do?! So when she finally did perform during the second half of the three-plus-hours-long broadcast...it was a moment we'd all been waiting for.
Sadly, the 58th Annual Grammy Awards had a number of recent deaths of major members of the musical family to take note of this year, and proceeding the long-awaited Bowie moment were more "traditional" tributes to The Eagles' Glenn Frey and Earth Wind and Fire's Maurice White (and later there would be a more "traditional" tribute to B.B. King and Hollywood Vampires' all-star tribute to Motörhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister).
All special and moving in their own way—in fact, if not for the tributes, Kendrick Lamar and Hamilton would have been very lonely up at the top—and not at all indicative of how Lady Gaga would remember David Bowie.
We admit, we expected a more "straight-forward" moment—even though it was Gaga, so there goes our reasoning, right there.
But even the audience at large may not have been prepared for the immediate onslaught of Bowie-rama, Gaga opening with a haunting (is there any other kind?) rendition of "Space Oddity" and then launching full-throttle into a medley of eight more Bowie favorites (including the brief lick of "Under Pressure" you heard), all of her quick-change artistry (and the prowess of CBS' special effects crew) on full display until she settled on a white spangled jumpsuit that also would have been equally appropriate for an Elvis Presley or Liberace homage.
Ultimately, in addition to "Space Oddity," Gaga made it through pieces of "Changes," "Ziggy Stardust," "Suffragette City," "Rebel Rebel," "Fashion," "Under Pressure," "Let's Dance" and—fittingly, for the capper—"Heroes."
Once she was into "Heroes," that's when we about lost it on our end.
It was almost over too soon, nine songs highlighting a four-plus-decade career in six minutes, and the frenetic pace proved too jarring for some—including, it seems, David Bowie's son.
"'overexcited or irrational, typically as a result of infatuation or excessive enthusiasm; mentally confused.' Damn it! What IS that word!?" Duncan Jones tweeted last night, the timing coinciding with Gaga's tribute to his father's artistry—and the word he referred to being gaga.
He hasn't expounded further on his reaction, though his tweet meshes with some of the other not-sure-what-they-just-witnessed reactions on the Internet last night.
However, after having had more time to drink it all in and not just label it a "hit" or a "miss," the general critical reception the morning after has been that Gaga nailed it for more nuanced reasons.
Just because the tribute wasn't weepy or an all-star extravaganza doesn't mean her one-woman show didn't work. (And, in retrospect, it wasn't a one-woman show due to the presence of Grammys musical director and Let's Dance producer Nile Rodgers on guitar.)
As Lady Gaga made poignantly clear last night, David Bowie was the opposite of a one-note artist. His divergent body of work meant so many different things to so many people, depending on (but not limited to) a variety of factors, ranging from when you were born and what type of music you may have liked in general to what stage of Bowie's career you first stumbled upon and how deep you dug into his archive.
Ultimately, no matter who was on that stage last night, there was no way to make a one-size-fits-all Bowie tribute. It was an impossibility. It's a lot easier to sing "Take It Easy," give everyone the feels, and call it a night.
So Gaga, as a true-blue fan, did her best to evince as many incarnations of the Starman himself as possible, from Ziggy Stardust to New Wave icon and always brilliant singer-songwriter and epitome of sexually fluid, androgynous appeal. There probably just wasn't time to get to time-and-space-transcending "Lazarus."
"He is a true, true artist, and I don't know if I ever went, 'Oh, I'm going to be that way like this,' or if I arrived upon it slowly, realizing it was my calling and that's what drew me to him," Gaga said in January, just days before Bowie's death, on The Hollywood Reporter's "Awards Chatter" podcast. "I don't know. I just know that you can use the theater of your imagination to entertain people beyond their wildest dreams, and then you can put something inside of that that changes the world. And that to me is when you make something truly great as an artist."
Just over a month later, Lady Gaga was on stage paying tribute to her late idol. At times she impersonated, at others she channeled, but all of it was done out of love and admiration; moreover, it was obvious that Gaga understood the gravity of the task she had undertaken.
Read More: Lady Gaga Talks David Bowie's Influence Days Before His Death | http://popcrush.com/lady-gaga-talks-david-bowies-influence-days-before-his-death/?trackback=tsmclip
And that's the absolute best kind of Grammys tribute you can hope for.