1. 10) “Criminal World” (1983)
Produced by Nile Rodgers, this cover of an obscure tune by new wave act Metro was featured on Bowie’s most commercial album Let’s Dance. Like the rest of the album, it’s got a killer hook!
3. 9) “Absolute Beginners” (1986)
This was the theme to the film of the same name. The director, Julien Temple, also directed Bowie’s video for “Blue Jean” and cast the singer as advertising exec Vendice Partners in the film. The single reached #2 in the UK charts and #53 in the States.
5. 8) “Quicksand” (1971)
Written by Bowie in 1971 for the album, Hunky Dory, the ballad features a beautiful acoustic guitar arrangement. Bowie brought it out for his last tour. Bonus: A reference to the magical society, the Golden Dawn.
7. 7) “Slip Away” (2002)
The track to end all “He hasn’t done anything great since the ’80s” arguments. Originally recorded for his never released album, Toy, the song instead emerged on Bowie’s 25th(!) studio album, Heathen.
8. 6) “Loving the Alien” (1984)
Originally heard on Tonight, his 16th album, Bowie said: “Alien came about because of my feeling that so much history is wrong - as is being rediscovered all the time - and that we base so much on the wrong knowledge that we’ve gleaned.” The video is an amazing pastiche of art as well.
5) “Breaking Glass” (1977)
The lines “Don’t look at the carpet; I drew something awful on it” are said to refer to Bowie’s drawing the Tree of Life on the floor during his Thin White Duke period, as he was interested in Aleister Crowley and Kabbalah at the time.
11. 4) “Time Will Crawl” (1987)
Off one of his most maligned albums, Never Let Me Down, this little gem is tucked away. The lyrics are said to reflect the pollution and destruction of the planet by rapid industrialization. The dance moves in the video are nothing short of amazing.
13. 3) “Dead Man Walking” (1997)
IS THAT DRUM & BASS WE HEAR…? Yes. Yes it is. But don’t write this off as a trend-jumping move - note at around 5:00 how the instruments slowly shift from electronic to acoustic as the song progresses. Neat trick. The guitar riff is supposedly based on a pattern Jimmy Page had played for Bowie back in the ’60s.
15. 2) Valentine’s Day (2013)
The genius never ends. Age is no factor for the Thin White Duke, as this track from this year’s The Next Day tells the tale of a disaffected student who plans on shooting up his school.
18. 1) Sorrow (1973)
It just so happens that we’re coming up on the 40th anniversary of this release, Bowie’s take on The Merseybeats’ version of the song (originally released by The McCoys). On October 22nd, Parlophone Records releases a limited-edition 40th anniversary 7” picture disc to celebrate. Lovely. Take deep breaths and pre-order here.
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