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The Duke at his thinnest and whitest
OPEN LETTER TO KEN EHRLICH AND TEAM: GET YOUR BOWIE ON

It seems a foregone conclusion that Ken Ehrlich will orchestrate a huge tribute to the late, great David Bowie for the Grammy telecast. Who might perform in that segment, and which songs? Here are a few ideas—well, actually, more than a few.

  • The Rolling Stones: Bowie covered their “Let’s Spend the Night Together.” They should return the favor with “The Jean Genie.”
  • Elton John: The Rocket Man would certainly knock “Space Oddity” out of the park, though we’d love to hear him sing “Changes.”
  • U2: The Irish superstars owe a huge debt to Bowie, particularly in their ’90s pivot to spectacle, and even sought out Eno as producer due to the Thin White Duke’s influence. “Panic in Detroit” is perfect for Bono.
  • Bruce Springsteen: The Boss should do “Rebel Rebel.” You’re welcome. [Editor's note: A few days after this story was posted, The Boss obliged.]
  • Adele: She’s got the soul chops to blow the roof off on “Young Americans.”
  • Beyoncé: Her vocal dexterity is ideal for the mesmerizing funk of “Golden Years.”
  • Iggy Pop: “China Girl” was his song to begin with, and he could reclaim it in a cool duet.
  • Madonna: The Material Girl’s mercurial career owes much to Bowie’s own chameleonic path. Let’s see her do a song she competed against on the charts, “Let’s Dance.”
  • Prince: The Purple One’s versatility means he could take on material from virtually any stage of Bowie’s career, but we’d love to see what he did with “Fame.”
  • Rihanna: She’d kill on the damaged dance-rock of “DJ.”
  • Beck: We can see him ripping up the street-level surrealism of “Diamond Dogs.”
  • Foo Fighters: One pictures an incendiary “Suffragette City,” with guest vocalists.
  • Lady Gaga: Her love of glam and artifice bears the imprint of heavy-duty Bowie damage. Set her loose on “Life on Mars.”
  • Pentatonix: The a cappella quintet has the harmonizing chops to make vocal magic with the bouncy pop of “Modern Love.”
  • Florence + the Machine: Florence’s arty finesse and vaulting emotion would be ideal for “Heroes.”
  • Sia: We’re itching to see what this wildly passionate singer/songwriter would do with “Ziggy Stardust.”
  • Alabama Shakes: Brittany and company would find the soul-revival uplift in “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide.”
  • Lorde: Her spacious, electronic minimalism recalls Bowie’s Berlin period. An excellent candidate for “Ashes to Ashes.”
  • Daft Punk: The disco-loving robots would put an intriguing spin on the Giorgio Moroder-driven “Cat People.”
  • Annie Lennox: A student of Bowie’s textured sounds and audacious style, she now has the gravitas to find new depth in his twilight ballad “Lazarus.”

Other possibilities: OutKast, Muse, Arcade Fire, Miguel, BØRNS...

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