This week, we were forced to reflect upon and ultimately celebrate a rare musical genius, David Bowie. The consummate artistic chameleon succumbed to an 18-month battle with an undisclosed form of cancer on Sunday. He left behind a vast legacy of stylistically varied songs, both culturally beloved hits and unremembered gems waiting to be rediscovered.
Of course, Bowie was well known for reinventing his musical personae, decades before Madonna or Lady Gaga. Beginning as a baby-faced ‘60s bubblegum pop singer-songwriter, Bowie moved through glam rock, soul, new wave, industrial and club styles, as well as characters such as Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane and the Thin White Duke, before settling into the later stages of his career as a mature, wise, yet still experimental finished version of David Bowie.
Many Bowie songs pierced the cultural consciousness. “Changes,” “Heroes,” “Space Oddity,” “Under Pressure” (with Queen), “Let’s Dance” and many others stand the test of time, but we’ll always remember Bowie as one who penned many pop hits while not necessarily looking for them. As a songwriter, he remained fearless, charismatic, enigmatic and exploratory all the way to his final album, Blackstar, released just two days before his death.
At Electronic Musician and sister publication Mix, we have long admired Bowie’s final products — not just the songwriting, but also the production, which helped shape styles and direct pop music’s momentum several times over. We’d like to honor the artist’s work by revisiting these analyses of some of Bowie’s greatest production collaborators:
1995: Tony Visconti on producing David Bowie
2004: Classic Tracks: David Bowie’s “Five Years”/“Soul Love”/“Moonage Daydream”
2012: Ken Scott on producing David Bowie
The following Spotify David Bowie retrospective playlist doesn’t include every great track—it can’t within a span of 50 songs—but it does include the biggest essential hits, as well as many other deserving highlights, including my personal favorite under-appreciated Bowie single, “Jump They Say.” However, Spotify may have rushed out its tracklisting without including anything from the new Blackstar album, which is too bad. The title track, “Blackstar,” proves that Bowie still had a lot to give and to try in his final days as one of the singular artists of our time.
David Bowie - "Blackstar"
Spotify - This Is: David Bowie