If the word “unique” was quantifiable there would be no question as to who was the most unique rockstar of all time. David Bowie flitted from genre to genre, persona to persona and hit to hit. No one can quite tell a tale within a song quite like Bowie and now that he’s gone up to meet Major Tom himself we can only say thank you Mr. Bowie and may you rest in peace and absurdity. In tribute to Ziggy Stardust, The Thin White Duke, Aladdin Sane, The Goblin King or which ever alter-ego you choose to remember him by, we have compiled a list of the best David Bowie references throughout popular culture.
Life On Mars/Ashes To Ashes
We’re starting off with the biggest reference you can get. Naming not one, but two shows after some of Bowie’s principal hits. Life On Mars is not as the title suggests set on Mars but tells the story of Detective Sam Tyler a modern day police officer that wakes up in 1970s Manchester. The show is full of Bowie classics and brought one of the greatest television characters to our screens in DCI Gene Hunt. While Life On Mars is probably the better show, Ashes To Ashes still packs a punch and brings DCI Gene Hunt along for a ride in the 1980s. Set in London this time, Alex Drake is the one to travel back in time and is haunted by a very scary, yet familiar looking clown.
After almost 30 years, The Simpsons is filled with references and the music of our former homo superior. It makes it a very hard task to choose a favourite but the availability of a Youtube clip helps us with this one. “The Musk That Fell To Earth” is a cool title and contains Starman but is quite a bad episode so the winner has to be Homer’s version of Changes. P.S. Sorry there is no Bauhaus in this article, they just have a great album artwork that suit this article.
Someone on the Friends writing staff was clearly Bowieligious and throughout the show’s ten year run they managed to sneak in three Bowielicious scenes. While the first is just plain annoying as Ross can be at times, the other two are much more enjoyable. Chandler’s take on Space Oddity is hilarious and just a tincy bit cute while Joey’s acapella version sung for Phoebe is beautiful in a very dorky way.
Flight Of The Conchords
No other musical comedy has ever maintianed such a high standard as Flight Of The Conchords did. It’s no surprise that the world’s greatest musical comedy duo and New Zealand’s fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo were influenced by that man who sold the world. Much like their other songs, Bowie’s In Space is funny, quirky, catchy and we have to say that Jemaine Clement kind of nails that impression.
What’s better than someone mentioning David Bowie in a sitcom? David Bowie actually appearing in AND singing in a sitcom. While “Chubby Little Loser” may not be as iconic as Heroes, it surely is a hilarious song and a true highlight of the entire series of Extras. Not only that but there is an interview with Bowie on the DVD that is a wonderful little treat for any Bowie or comedy fans alike.
Adam And Joe on BBC 6 Music was firstly a fun comedy show presented by two lifelong friends and secondly a tribute to the Jean Genie. With conversations, jingles and songs revolving and inspired by Bowie, Adam And Joe was a gateway drug to Bowie fandom. Listen to this show and you will never be able to do a Bowie impression again without starting with a “wuzza”. When the Big British Castle threatened to shut down 6 Music in 2010, Adam Buxton could not idly stand by and created this cover of Changes in support of the station. We’re glad to say, BBC 6 Music is still going strong today.
It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
If there was a battle between the Nightman and the Dayman, our money would be on the Starman. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia is a ridiculous show and this song that spawned a musical is no exception. It could be debated whether this is a spoof of anything Bowie has produced but there is no denying that the costumes Charlie and Dennis are wearing could be pulled straight from Mr. Bowie’s closet.
It could be said that sometimes Family Guy struggles for jokes and to make up for time they will stretch out their current jokes. Chicken fight, sore leg and this time playing the entire video for Dancing In The Street. The writers of Family Guy may have a point in this videos homoeroticism but hey we’ll take some Bowie and Jagger love jammed into an animated sitcom any day and it only goes to show what great sense of humors those two have in allowing the show the rights to the video.
Metal Gear Solid
If there is ever a video game series that mentions the Starman more often than Metal Gear Solid than we don’t know where it can be found. Major Zero’s codename is “Major Tom”, Para-Medic talks of a film called “My Mother Was A Teenage Spider Queen From Mars” and there is a military group in The Phantom Pain called Diamond Dogs. Look a bit deeper and you are sure to find more but the biggest nod has to be Midge Ure’s cover of The Man That Sold The World that plays during the prolouge.
In Actual Space
Ok that was a lie before when we said naming a couple of TV shows after some of his songs was the biggest in the list. Surely singing Space Oddity in space is the biggest. Chris Hadfield boosted his name to third most famous astronaut of all time (sorry Michael Collins) after he sang Space Oddity in the same empty, dark, endless void as Major Tom. Just the idea is cool in itself but his cover is pretty impressive and well worth another watch because surely you’ve seen it already.