Skip to main content

Fans Roast Willow Smith, Zendaya And Kiernan Shipka’s David Bowie Tribute Video, Even Comparing It To Gal Gadot’s ‘Imagine’

That Labyrinth role, the decades of music, and a million other reasons besides made David Bowie into an irrefutable icon (and Doctor Who inspiration). He unfortunately passed away in 2016 but was spared the sight of our current pandemic era. One thing he also won't see are up-and-comers like Willow Smith, Zendaya and Kiernan Shipka do a tribute video for him on what would have been his 75th birthday. And perhaps it's for the best – because fans are absolutely roasting the three twenty-somethings’ efforts, even going so far as to compare it to the Gal Gadot “Imagine” snafu.

To be fair, W Magazine has been doing this sort of thing on its “Casting Call” series for some time. Willem Dafoe deadpanning Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” and Adam Driver’s chaotic impression of Cher in Clueless for the series still send me over a cliff. All of which is to say that Willow Smith, Zendaya and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’s Kiernan Shipka probably didn't expect to get such a backlash for doing a half-read, half-sing interpretation of David Bowie’s (again) iconic song “Changes” for the outlet. See their rendition here:

The comparisons to Gal Gadot’s attempt to bring us together during the beginning of the pandemic are all over the above-mentioned David Bowie homage. Gadot had recruited several of her fellow celebs in 2020 to sing-along to John Lennon's “Imagine,” and they were met with harsh reactions about how they essentially messed up the song and misread the room. Likewise, the young actresses' performance here was met with a lot of jokes. One Instagram user even remarked:

It’s like Imagine never happened.

The roast continued to pile on the singers/actresses, with commentators writing that the tribute video was “blasphemous.” One fan even leveled at jab at Willow Smith/Zendaya/Kiernan Shipka’s collective age group by saying that it was “The Gen Z version of ‘Imagine’ … but make it fashion.” (A different fan put it as, “If Bowie shopped at Forever21.”) Another wrote:

Oh man. This is like that Imagine video. They couldn't pick the same key?

Beyond the allusions to the failed attempt, fans took issue with the actresses’ level of commitment to his profound legacy. It was deemed by many as insulting “on his birthday of all days,” as well as “painful” and “demented.” One person even insinuated that Will Smith’s daughter, the Disney Channel alum and Netflix star were not true fans, saying:

Why on earth would you give them a Bowie song when, obviously from watching this, they have no concept of what a Bowie song is??

The rest of the tribute video commentary ricocheted a lot between confusion and glee. Fans questioned, “Why are they reading these iconic lyrics off a page!!???” and “What on earth is this?” Some said it was too “cringe” to watch, whereas another hilariously wrote:

What a car crash I love it

Clearly, you can't please everyone where icons are concerned. Future tributes to David Bowie, though, might want to be handled with white gloves in the future.

Lauren Vanderveen

Freelance writer. Favs: film history, reality TV, astronomy, French fries.