David Bowie. You must’ve heard his name somewhere. Maybe you’re a fan or you know of him through your parents. Maybe you’ve always been familiar with the famous name but not with the accomplishments. Or maybe you first heard of him when you heard of his passing two weeks ago. Like a lot of other artists, the media tends to shine a light of attention after an icon has passed away. David Bowie was not only a legend in his craft, but also a visionary legend that changed the way we perceive pop culture forever. Here are just a couple of many ways he changed the world!
1. He was The Pioneer
Before Prince, Madonna, Marilyn Manson, and Lady Gaga, there was Bowie. With his dramatic use of make up and daring outfits, he was the first to showcase the “inappropriate and unacceptable” according to society. The 70’s were a time of experimenting and going against all of society’s expectations and that is exactly what David Bowie did. Because of his crazy looks, he made it easier for other artists to experiment with their own appearances and music, no matter how outrageous it seemed.
He was so ahead of his time that even without being mainstream today, he is still a constant topic of conversation and will be for many years to come.
2. His Message
Bowie’s abstract and intellectual lyrics contain real meaning and make him one of a kind. He was singing about stuff that mattered and was relatable to everyone. Many times his lyrics were vague and difficult to interpret but that’s part of what made him so special. He was constantly challenging himself as well as those who listened to him.
3. His Music is the Soundtrack to Your Life (Whether You Realize it or Not)
Many movies we grew up watching have incorporated Bowie somewhere: 80’s hit movie The Breakfast Club (1985), A Knight’s Tale starring Heath Ledger (2001) and Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen starring Lindsay Lohan (2004).
But it was a more recent film that reminded us why we love Bowie so much: Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012).
You know the scene. The one in the tunnel where Emma Watson’s character, Sam, stands on the flat bed trunk of the truck while Logan Lerman’s character, Charlie, watches her, mesmerized as Bowie’s “Heroes” plays in the background. It’s a perfect song in the film that reminds us all what it’s like to be young and in love with your life in that moment. It makes us feel like we’re capable of anything, or like Charlie would say, it makes us feel “infinite.”
4. He Inspired Our Favorites
Without Bowie, a lot of our favorite music artists would be less than what they are. Artists such as Nirvana, Kanye West, Lady Gaga, and The 1975, were all inspired by the Starman.
For instance, any Nirvana fan knows that the 1993 MTV Unplugged special was an unforgettable event since it was one of the last performances Kurt Cobain gave before his passing. In that set, Nirvana covered Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World” to rave reviews.
Fast forward to 2001 and you have Jay Z incorporating bits of Bowie’s “Fame” as well as The Door’s “Five to One” in his diss track to rapper Nas, “Takeover.” The song was also produced by Kanye West, who is well known for his love of taking old songs and meshing them with his new sound.
Lady Gaga’s daring demeanor was one definitely inspired by Bowie’s. Everything from the music videos, to her outrageous makeup, and crazy outfits, contain hints of Bowie. Her music video for “Applause” is a perfect example of her love for Bowie’s looks.
Further proving Bowie’s lasting influence, we have the 1975. We recently saw the release of their “Love Me” music video that, upon viewing, one can see it contains blatant hints of Bowie as well. Lead singer, Matty Healy, dramatizes the video though his messy hair and makeup as well as his 80’s inspired dance movies, leaving him to channel his inner Bowie.
5. Judgment-Free Zone
In a world where people are constantly judging you and telling you what you should be, behave, and look like, it becomes a challenge to be happy. But Bowie seemed to have overcome that. Often criticized for his unusual appearance as well as judged for his sexuality, which remains a mystery to this day, he showed the world that he was who he was and he was not going to change for anyone. And that is one of the main reasons why he became such an icon as well as an inspiration to us all.
But for many, Bowie was not only and inspiration but a presence, a force we not only loved whole heartedly but one we took for granted at times as we (rather selfishly) thought of him as immortal. This is why his unexpected death resonated so deeply and frankly, hurt so damn much. To be hit in the face with the harsh truth that everyone dies, even ever present icons like Bowie, stings. While momentary grief is expected and necessary, celebration is the best form of healing. Twitter user Dean Podesta summed it up best when he said, “If you’re ever sad, just remember the world is 4.543 billion years old and you somehow managed to exist at the same time as David Bowie.” And how truly lucky we are.