Have you ever wondered what the world would be like if you were never born? I'm sure there's some kind of butterfly effect voodoo going on there and it would matter in some convoluted way if you never popped from your mama's womb (maybe you were the grain of sand responsible for the avalanche of pride that begat the selfie stick?). Sure, I'm sure we all matter somehow.
There's one man out there, however, who would have greatly changed the tides of music history if he hadn't fell to Earth -- two different-colored eyes and all -- 68 years ago today. That man's name? That would be David Bowie -- a.k.a. David Robert Jones, a.k.a. The Thin White Duke, a.k.a. so many alias the FBI themselves would have trouble tracking him down.
Bowie's influence on music is undeniable -- and his legacy is as impressive as that pants bulge in "The Labyrinth." When I imagine a Bowie-less world, it's like some kind of horrible dystopian existence totally unbefitting of a racy YA adaptation: The landscape is replete with gray-scales. Skyscrapers puncture the sky, teeming with pencil-pushing drones. Everyone is wearing suits. Everyone's just aching -- somewhere in that throbbing part of their soul that still feels -- for someone to scream "Let's Dance! Put on your red shoes and dance the blues!"
Sure, the preceding paragraph was obvious hyperbole, but there are legions of musicians whose careers and personas would be fundamentally changed if Bowie had never been born. You can check out a full list (courtesy of Spotify's fancy tech) below, but for the time being let's apply the Bowiefly Effect (coining it now) to Lady Gaga.
Here's a scary thought for all you Little Monsters out there: Without David Bowie, there would be no Gaga as we know her now. Let that sink for a second. No Lady Gaga. No Lady Gaga. NO LADY GAGA.
(Or, you know, she would have just hit her jazz phase much sooner.)
Don't believe me? Let's break it down: Gaga was inspired by Bowie, and also (pretty obviously) Madonna... who was also inspired by ol' Davey Jones. So a Bowie-less world is a real one-two punch in this case.
Let's start with Madonna. As Madge said at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction for the "Fame" singer, before she laid eyes on Aladdin Same she was "just your normal, dysfunctional, rebellious teenager from the Midwest, and he has truly changed my life." To reiterate: He changed her life.
So, sans Bowie, maybe Madonna remains Madonna Louise Ciccone -- rebellious-teen-come-backup-dancer. Maybe she never gets rid of the rest of her name. Maybe she never learns to Vogue. Maybe she never pulls on those fingerless gloves. Maybe she never gets out the leather and chains for "Sex." Maybe she doesn't make an indelible mark on music history, herself. Maybe, maybe, maybe.
Fast-forward a couple of decades to when Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta was just another little lady with a very long name. Gaga once said that Bowie "runs my universe," so you can imagine the calamity that would have ensued if he hadn't been around to keep her out-there orbit spinning. Without The Man Who Fell To Earth and, consequently, Madonna to help her navigate the cosmos, would Gaga have ever donned a meat dress? Would she have emerged from that egg? Would she have become a beacon of acceptance and "Born This Way" pride to legions of lost fans?
I'm just going to go ahead and say no. A world without Bowie would have meant a world without Gaga. A world without Madonna. And world without... a lot of people.
Luckily, a Bowie-less world is only a nightmare -- as the icon has been alive and kicking (in giant-ass shoes) for almost 70 years now, and he shows no sign of slowing down. Yup, new music is on the way, and with it -- likely -- a whole new generation of musicians whose stars will be steered by the man who not only made a hit out of the word "Changes," but also changed the world.
Happy Birthday, Bowie! Now here are some tunes...
A Massive List Of Musicians Influenced By Bowie
The Smashing Pumpkins
Pet Shop Boys
The Human League
The Psychedelic Furs
Stone Temple Pilots
TV On The Radio
The Fiery Furnaces
...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead
The Dresden Dolls
Stiff Little Fingers
Kirin J Callinan
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
The Sea and Cake
New York Dolls
Antony & The Johnsons
Siouxsie And The Banshees
Echo And The Bunnymen
The Postal Service
Third Eye Blind
The Flaming Lips
Guns N Roses
Tears For Fears
Nine Inch Nails