Do you ever know one of those people who are just well-respected? The type of person where, maybe some people may not necessarily like them yet still respect them and their talent. John Lennon, Amy Winehouse, Kurt Cobain to name a few. Icons who have, let’s say broken past the “social norm” and pushed boundaries, and for me, no one pushed boundaries like the legendary David Bowie.
I must have been about 6 when I first heard “Space Oddity” on the radio I was confused and fascinated in equal measure by what I was hearing. Growing up in the 90’s with only a mother figure in my life I heard a lot of Cliff Richard, Shania Twain, Spice Girls and Take That. All of them good pop acts so I accepted that pop songs could only be about romance or partying. By the end of the song, I had to ask my mum who it was – in a time before the internet accessing music was a lot difficult – once she told me I was hooked. Never had I experienced a song that actually told a story beyond the usual love/heartbreak or party anthems that were constantly being churned out throughout the 90’s.
That week, my mum had brought me in the “Let’s Dance” album and I remember being gutted due to the only song I knew not being on the album. However, an album containing “Let’s Dance”, “China Girl” and “Modern Love” soon had me bashing the repeat button on my chunky CD player. The rest, as they say, is history…
Bowie was nothing short of a genius born ahead of his time. As I glance through Twitter to see all these people from all different backgrounds, cultures and groups they have still been affected by Bowie in some way:
Pop – Justin Timberlake, One Direction, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Elton John, Mariah Carey, Lady Gaga.
Rock – Paul McCartney, Guns & Roses, Fall Out Boy, The Rolling Stones, The Ramones, Oasis, U2
EDM – Diplo, Skrillex, David Guetta
Hip Hop – Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Eminem
All the artists mentioned have all stated at some point that Bowie has influenced them at some point or another. Other subgenres that also follow under those genres have also been shaped due to David Bowie’s decades of originality and talent. No other artist apart from Michael Jackson, possibly Madonna and very few others have been so widely accepted that their level of acceptance goes beyond music into various other areas of popular culture such as art and fashion.
David Bowie was more than just a musical icon, he was an icon for popular culture icon as well by breaking down stereotypes and social barriers. He came out as bisexual when homophobia was very much alive, he wore female clothing and makeup and pushed musical boundaries with his songwriting.
Next time, you see Lady Gaga in a fancy costume, Madonna reinventing herself again or Matt Healy pulling off his usual on-stage theatrics then just remember one simple thing – These artists would not be here without the existence of this one man.
For although you are gone your characters, music and your overall affect on pop culture shall live on. And, you shall go down in history as one of the most influential pop figures of all time.
David Bowie – “I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.”
1947 – 2016