Jimmy Fallon and Chris Martin casually, beautifully pay tribute to David Bowie

Jimmy Fallon and Chris Martin play David Bowie
(Image credit: The Tonight Show)

All the musical tributes to the late, great David Bowie seem to feature his song "Life on Mars?" And Jimmy Fallon's tribute does, too. But whereas Lady Gaga had an orchestra and top-notch special effects at the Grammys, and Lorde had a full band at the BRIT awards (even Sinead O'Connor's tribute was backed by a Chicago supergroup), Fallon just had a piano player, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, on the Tonight Show, plus a brief, hilariously casual guitar solo by Roots guitarist "Captain" Kirk Douglas.

The premise is that Fallon happens to walk in as Martin is practicing the Bowie song, and Fallon just sits down and does a near-pitch-perfect Bowie impersonation. Of course that's staged — a mixture of the Tonight Show greenroom concerts and Fallon's occasional full-on in-character musical homages — but as a hybrid, it works. It doesn't matter that this is well-covered material as, oddly, the go-to Bowie tribute song, or that it was almost certainly rehearsed. Fallon knew Bowie, at least casually, and in many ways the casual setting and sparse instrumentation seems a better tribute to a lost idol and friend than all the glamor in the world. You're never going to top Bowie in that department anyway. Peter Weber

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Peter Weber, The Week US

Peter has worked as a news and culture writer and editor at The Week since the site's launch in 2008. He covers politics, world affairs, religion and cultural currents. His journalism career began as a copy editor at a financial newswire and has included editorial positions at The New York Times Magazine, Facts on File, and Oregon State University.