Lady Gaga is promising a technologically ambitious, “multisensory” David Bowie tribute at the Grammy Awards she hopes will befit the famously experimental rock legend.
The music industry’s biggest night takes place Monday barely a month after the shocking death of Bowie, who over his half-century career became one of the most influential figures in pop culture.
Lady Gaga, known for her brash outfits and sexual openness, is among the contemporary artists who is most obviously inspired by Bowie, the pioneer of glam rock.
Grammy producers have raised expectations for Lady Gaga’s tribute, saying it will be groundbreaking.
“I don’t know that we’ve ever done anything quite as elaborate as this,” said Eric Cook, the supervising producer of the Grammys.
“This is obviously an ambitious performance and we’re all really excited about it,” he said in a video preview.
Chip-maker Intel said it developed effects for the performance at the Grammys, which will be broadcast live from Los Angeles.
“We’ve used technology to almost be an extension of Gaga. As she moves, the environment around her is responding to her, and that’s because of the real-time technologies that we’ve incorporated into it,” said Paul Tapp, Intel’s director of technology.
The Recording Academy, which stages the awards, said in a statement that Lady Gaga would offer “a multisensory testament to the icon’s incredible artistry and limitless creativity.”
She will team up with Nile Rodgers of Chic fame, a friend of Bowie who worked with the British singer on his disco-tinged 1983 “Let’s Dance” album.
– New image for Gaga –
A headline-grabbing performance would mark a return to form for the singer born as Stefani Germanotta, who since her rise to stardom nearly a decade ago has delighted in provocative gestures and outfits, most notoriously a dress made of meat she wore to the MTV Video Music Awards in 2010.
Much like the chameleonic Bowie, Gaga has reinvented herself. In the past two years she has refashioned herself as a classic crooner, teaming up with the 89-year-old Tony Bennett for an album and concert tour of pop standards.
The Grammys come one week after Lady Gaga, who turns 30 next month, won wide praise for an emotionally intense delivery of the national anthem at the Super Bowl, the most watched US television broadcast of the year.
Lady Gaga, who plans a new album this year but has released few details about it, has said that she “fell in love” with Bowie’s music when she was a struggling artist on New York’s bustling Lower East Side.
“I always felt that his glamour was something he was using to express a message to people that was very healing for their souls,” she told The Hollywood Reporter days before Bowie died.
Bowie died on January 10 from a publicly undisclosed battle with cancer, two days after he released his final album, “Blackstar,” on his 69th birthday.
Despite the all-out effort behind the tribute, Bowie in his life won only one Grammy besides a lifetime achievement award.
He lived in New York for the final two decades of his life but always enjoyed greater mainstream success in Britain and several other European countries, with “Blackstar” his first, albeit posthumous, US number one album.
– Many tributes –
Bowie’s death has triggered a flurry of tributes with fresh cover albums already coming out.
Amanda Palmer, the outspoken neo-punk artist, recently released an EP of Bowie covers, “Strung Out in Heaven,” that features acclaimed English singer Anna Calvi performing “Blackstar.”
A British tabloid reported that prolific rapper Kanye West was planning his own Bowie tribute, leading fans to start a petition against the prospect.
Bowie is one of a number of prominent musicians to have died recently.
The Grammys also plans a performance by the surviving Eagles to honor late guitarist Glenn Frey and a tribute to late “King of the Blues” B.B. King.
Living members of funk legends Earth, Wind & Fire, whose founder Maurice White died last week, will present the Grammy for Record of the Year.