10 Bands That Owe David Bowie a Round
You might argue that it’s easier to list the artists not influenced by David Bowie than the ones who are, but that’s the indelible power the Thin White Duke wields. And considering the career he’s enjoyed over the last 40-plus years, it’s high praise — not a knock — to call out younger artists for following in his stack-heeled bootsteps. Our list of 10 Bands That Owe David Bowie a Round features just some of the acts that should pony up for Bowie’s booze at the next pub outing.
It’s pretty clear that Pulp picked up their glammed-up aesthetic while traveling a road initially paved by the Goblin King, but musically, their ‘This Is Hardcore’-era recordings directly recall ‘Low’-era Bowie. (See also: Bowie’s ‘Always Crashing in the Same Car.’)
Fabulously flashy frontman Jake Shears has enough star power and stage presence to make Bowie himself jealous. (And Shears has openly admitted to loving Bowie from the tender age of 8.) Scissor Sisters’ ability to, er, titillate audiences is great fun (as evidenced by ‘Tits on the Radio,’ below), though they’re not pioneers on that front. Bowie’s been doing it from the beginning.
Scottish rockers Franz Ferdinand draw on Bowie’s sly songwriting — and in particular his clever lyrics — in creating a rock hybrid that’s all their own. Still, if it weren’t for Bowie, there might not be a place for such craftiness in modern-day music.
Bowie has a rare talent for being buoyant while occasionally getting a little bleak — sometimes doing both moods at same time (‘Slow Burn,’ ‘Ashes to Ashes’). Such has always been the case with New Order, whose highly danceable songs (really, try not dancing to ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ the next time it’s played at a club’s ’80s night) also came with a dark side, as witnessed here with ‘Age of Consent.’
If David Bowie had ceased making music in the ’70s and done nothing else with his career, he’d be remembered for one major cultural contribution: kicking open the door for male artists wishing to wear eyeliner. While being unapologetically androgynous as all get-out, Bowie also retained his sense of camp. Adam Ant went along with this line of thought, guyliner and all. Witness Ant’s ‘Strip’ (though it should be noted that this unintentionally hilarious music video has lower production values than many of Bowie’s videos that were made a decade earlier).
Speaking of existing firmly in the realm of proud camp, the fabulous Semi-Precious Weapons are definite descendants of Bowie, but they’re also musically legit. Sure, they have the glam image down pat, but they’re not all shine without substance — they’ll also put on one of the best live shows you’ll ever see. Would Bowie approve? Hell yes.
If you think of Bowie’s ‘Rebel, Rebel’ as a wise-but-winking granddad, then Kaiser Chiefs’ ‘I Predict a Riot’ is its resulting progeny — a spunky grandchild, if you will.
Suede (or the London Suede, as we yanks call ’em) have enjoyed more success across the pond than in the States, but it’s not for lack of talent. But is Bowie their musical godfather? Pretty much. As evidenced in the clip below, ‘Beautiful Ones’ (and various others tunes off 1996’s ‘Coming Up’) harks back to ‘Aladdin Sane’-era Bowie … in the best possible way, of course.
Let’s just be honest: ‘Mr. Brightside’ isn’t even a subtle ripoff of ‘Queen Bitch.’ Enough said.
It’s been speculated that Jobriath actually influenced Bowie in his early days, in both image and sound, and if that’s true, the train of inspiration went both ways. Sadly, the murky annals of music history haven’t always given Jobriath his due, but he truly broke a lot of musical ground (in glam-rock circles, certainly, but also other genes), as evidenced by this 1974 clip of his performance of ‘Rock of Ages’ on ‘Midnight Special.’ Jobriath died in ’83, so technically, he can’t buy Ziggy a beer, but hey, maybe in the next life…