The Impact of David Bowie on Pop Culture
David Bowie was not just a musician, but a visionary artist whose creativity extended to all aspects of his work. From his musical qualities to his avant-garde fashion sense and his boundary-pushing music videos, he was an iconoclast who gave birth to an entirely new identity in popular music in the 1970s. His death in January 2016 marked the end of an era, but his legacy continues to inspire new generations of fans and artists around the world.
“Ashes to Ashes” – From the Critic’s Eye
Bowie’s music video for “Ashes to Ashes” is often cited as one of his most remarkable works. It was groundbreaking for its time, using state-of-the-art special effects and a surreal storyline that challenged the conventions of music videos at the time. Today, it still holds up as a critique on capitalism, the music industry, and the excesses of the 1980s.
The video, directed by renowned filmmaker David Mallet, is saturated with vivid colors and symbols that create a dream-like atmosphere. One notable moment shows Bowie walking through a deserted beach in a Pierrot clown outfit, flanked by a group of eerie clown dancers. The beach symbolizes the end of an era, with the clown outfit representing Bowie’s persona as a performer.
The video also features a recurring motif of a black cube, representing technology and modernity, which follows Bowie around as he sings the lyrics “we know Major Tom’s a junkie.” This line is a reference to his earlier hit “Space Oddity,” where the character Major Tom’s drug addiction is mentioned. In “Ashes to Ashes,” it brings a new dimension to the narrative as it could be interpreted as a critique on the rise of technology addiction.
The Making of “Ashes to Ashes”
The making of “Ashes to Ashes” was a process that took Bowie’s creativity to the next level. The video was shot in a quarry in Buckinghamshire, England, over the course of three days in May 1980. It relied heavily on special effects, including the early use of green screen technology. The black and white set was filmed separately from the technicolor scenes, which were added in post-production.
Bowie also brought in avant-garde fashion designer Natasha Korniloff to create the outfits for the video. The Pierrot clown outfit worn by Bowie became an iconic image in popular culture, and the video itself became a benchmark for music videos in terms of art direction and costume design.
The Legacy of “Ashes to Ashes”
“Ashes to Ashes” paved the way for other visually stunning music videos, such as Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and Madonna’s “Vogue.” It proved that music videos could be more than just a promotional tool, and could in fact be works of art in their own right.
Its themes of societal critique and cultural commentary are as relevant today as they were in 1980. With the rise of modern technology, social media, and the increasing isolation of modern society, Bowie’s warning against losing human connections and giving in to our baser instincts is more important than ever.
In conclusion, “Ashes to Ashes” is a true masterpiece in Bowie’s career, both as a musician and artist. It shows how he was able to push boundaries and challenge norms not just in music, but in every aspect of creative expression. Its influence on culture and pop music continues to reverberate decades after its release, and its message remains as powerful as ever in today’s world.