More than an all-round hottie, Harry Styles is on his way to becoming more David Bowie than David Bowie

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      Who the fuck—besides Davie Bowie­—died and made Tony Visconti God? And also, assuming that you’re not the kind of studio nerd who can list off the resumes of Thom Wilson, Jack Endino, and Doug King without firing up Wikipedia, who the fuck is Tony Visconti?

      Both questions are valid ones considering that Harry Styles has been making headlines this week for reasons that, for once, don’t involve being the unstoppably amazing pop-culture juggernaut, and all-round hottie, known as Harry Styles.

      Evidently you can call him a shape-shifting singer, insanely gifted songwriter, decent actor, amateur comedian, modern fashion icon, LGBTQ2S+ ally, and legitimately decent human being. But you can’t call him the new David Bowie without Visconti getting his knickers in a knot. More on that guy in a minute.

      First, as those who for some reason care about awards shows­—the Oscars, Tonys, Ammy, and AVNs (aka the one no parent wants their child cleaning up at)­—might be aware, Styles showed up at the 65th annual Grammys and then waltzed away with the Album of the Year Award. (Who was he up against? Really who gives a shit, not only about the album of the year category, but also the album he won for, not to mention the Grammys?)

      Because he’s a multiple threat that the world hasn’t seen the likes of since a certain David Robert Jones, that immediately led to a fresh round of comparisons to David Bowie. The key word being “fresh”.

      The comparisons aren’t new­—writing in England’s The Spectator last year, Julie Burchill asked the question Is Harry Styles really the new David Bowie?, and then didn’t really answer it. (Although she did get in some good lines about Ed Sheeran, and shared a valuable sex tip from the New York Dolls.). The comparison surfaced again at the Grammys, prompting Visconti to fire up his Facebook page and rage type, starting with, “What’s the difference between the Grammys and Las Vegas? Nothing!”

      A truly vicious burn!! Up next­—“The Golden Globes aren’t an awards show? They’re a way for sycophantic Italians to get free hotel rooms in room service in Los Angeles!!!” And “You know Vancouver should be most famous for? Rain!!!”

      Not done yelling at clouds, Visconti followed up his Grammy observations with the true source of his outrage. 

      “Someone just told me that Harry Styles is the new Bowie?” he types. “From what I saw tonight he’s not worthy of shining his shoes.”

      A couple of things here—what was he expecting to see on the Grammys? An androgynous space alien with cotton-swirl maroon hair and a fabulously retro lightning bolt on his face? Tin Machine II?

      Stepping back and looking at the larger picture, what becomes weird is that a Cole’s Notes summation of David Bowie might have looked a lot like this: shape-shifting singer, insanely gifted songwriter, decent actor, amateur comedian, modern fashion icon, LGBTQ2S+ ally, and legitimately decent human being.

      Which is to say that Bowie was maybe the future Harry Styles.

      As for being  inspired by a legacy that is pretty much bulletproof both commercially and artistically, who in the hell would Visconti want the kids of today worshipping? A new Bowie? Or a mega-pop star hellbent on being the second coming of Kid Rock, Gene Simmons, and Gary Glitter?

      Here’s the big question: would Bowie be honoured that Styles is being called the New Bowie?

      We know how Styles feels—while doing press for 2019’s Fine Line, the 29-year-old traced the origins of the song “Treat People With Kindness” back to an old interview: “I’d seen this clip of David Bowie talking saying that you usually end up doing your best work when you feel like you can’t quite touch the bottom, and realising that the fact that it made me feel a little uncomfortable didn’t mean it was a bad song.”

      As for Bowie, that true original left the building long before Styles’s ascension to the throne the Thin White Duke once sat upon. Ultimately, time will sort this one out, but all signs so far are that the former boy bander is curious enough as an artist that he might one day leave a body of work that swings wildly from “Ziggy Stardust” to “Ashes to Ashes” to, um, “Let’s Dance”. (Actually, let’s cross our fingers that last one never happens.)

      In the meantime we’ve got a 78-year-old former Bowie producer partner who is somehow deluded enough to think that one of the most original and inspirational voices in the history of pop music needs someone acting as a gatekeeper as to who is the new David Bowie and who isn’t.

      Who is Tony Visconti, in case you still don’t know? Let’s just say that in 2016 Adele took the bait after the one-time T. Rex producer suggested maybe she was a fan of Auto-Tune.

      “Some dickhead tried to say that my voice was not me on record,” Adele told a Paris concert crowd. “Dude, suck my dick.”

      Because she said it already, Styles doesn’t have to. But he should.