Music lovers from far and wide are mourning the loss of one of the most influential artists in modern music, David Bowie.
It goes without saying that David Bowie had one of the most influential rolls in the history of music. His sound constantly challenged itself from the baroque pop tunes of his debut record in 1967 to his most well known art rock years of the 70’s to his innovative synth-pop album ‘Let’s Dance’ in 1983 and all the way until his last jazz-fusion release ‘Blackstar’ that was released last week. His impressive 27 record discography tells the tale of a man who has absorbed the styles of modern music, transcending it into a world of pure fantasy.
The mainstream success of his life work is only a brush of the amount of depth each of his records carry. He has maintained a powerful cult following with music lovers on a global scale but aside from that he is also one of the biggest influencers of modern musicians today. One of my favorite mentions of Bowie came from Arcade Fire headman Win Butler, who once described how his early impression of Bowie seemed surreal, he could not believe that this was a man from Earth but rather some kind of being from outer space. Another stand-out mention came from hip-hop artist Danny Brown where he claimed to have been inspired by David Bowie’s live performance and mentality [watch here].
No matter the avenue of music, Bowie has had a hand in shaping artistry throughout time and we have no doubt that his music will continue to inspire future generations. In honor of his life and achievements we decided to put together a short list of tracks and moments that we particularly enjoyed about the late legend.
1. Little Bombardier 1967
When I first decided to dive into David Bowie’s massive collection of music I thought it would be best to digest each record in chronological order. His 1967 debut self-titled album was my starting point. This one is full of genuine folk inspired tracks with baroque arrangement that hint at a unique mysticism which he would explore further in his career.
2. The Life Aquatic’s Ode To Bowie
Wes Anderson‘s critically acclaimed comedy The Life Aquatic featured a soundtrack of David Bowie covers from Brazilian artist Seu Jorge. The songs are sung in Portugese and they add a nice touch to the transitions of the film as shown in the video. Listen to the full sessions here.
3. The Man Who Sold The World 1970
I first discovered this track through Nirvana’s MTV unplugged cover, which was constantly rinsed through the cycle of Kroq music while I was growing up. It wasn’t until I began bingeing Bowie’s discography that I rediscovered this gem and album of the same title. Although this song was recorded in 1970, its voodoo-like energy somehow fit perfectly into the grunge and rock era of the 90’s proving how ahead of his time his music really was.
4. David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust 1973
Bowie’s seminal record ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars‘ was a story about his alter-ego Ziggy Stardust, a sex-fueled character who symbolized the glam-rock era. Along with this record came a world tour for Bowie where he performed as Ziggy. His final performance was in London, 1973, where David eventually killed his alter ego, making it his final performance. Here is one of our favorites from the set.
5. Sound and Vision 1977
Bowie 1977 record ‘Low’ is a must for anyone looking for some funky progressive art rock. The avant-garde attitude reveals a more experimental side of Bowie whereas it remains raw and energetic as he is often known for. This track in particular stands out to me because it resembles a lot of indie rock from the 2000’s, but in particular The Strokes. The relationship between the playful bassline and high guitar riffs carry an attitude that directly resembles music of The Strokes, who in turn made an overwhelming impact on modern indie rock.
6. David Sponge Bowie Bob
Remember that time David Bowie played the voice of Lord Royal Highness in Spongebob? Pepperidge farm remembers…
7. Boys Keep Swinging Saturday Night Live 1979
Sometimes I ask myself “how would David Bowie do it?,” and in the case of creating a strange experience on America’s most beloved comedy improv shows, SNL, Bowie decided to change things up by performing as a puppet. Bowie eventually pulled out an erect penis for the puppet which somehow still aired on television. Take that America.
8. Let’s Dance 1983
So here you are. It is the 80’s. You’ve got your red shoes on. You wanna dance with that girl from Chemistry class that looks like Paula Abdul. What song do you throw on the jukebox? It’s an obvious choice..
At this point David Bowie was 15 records deep into his musical career and even with that he was able to top the U.S. Billboard Chart at #1 with ‘Let’s Dance’. The disco driven guitar chords and funk layered horn parts create something classy yet modernized with David’s ambitious vocal melodies. The track is a dance masterpiece and we salute its massive impact on the dance and club music of the 80’s.
9. Labyrinth film 1986
Jim Henson‘s Labyrinth film is deemed as a cult classic of the 80’s. Its ability to put the audience in a dream-like-magic-creature world created a blockbuster sensation for movie lovers of the time. What made this film even more memorable was David Bowie’s role as the Goblin King. The world already recognized Bowie as a mystical space man, therefore this film only strengthened the lust for David’s strange creativity. Bowie’s soundtrack to the film as well as the few music video like moments acts as the cherry on top to this truly stunning piece of art.
10. Under Pressure with Annie Lennox 1992
The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for Aids Awareness was a massive event hosted at London’s Wembley Stadium by the remaining members of Queen. One of the more memorable sets came from David Bowie and Annie Lennox, of the Eurythmics, joining Queen on stage to perform their classic hit Under Pressure.
11. Bowie & Arcade Fire – Wake Up 2005
As if Wake Up isn’t already a powerful song, just add one cup of David Bowie to the mix and you’ve got one of the most powerful blends of rock music old and new. We’re quite surprised that Win Butler kept his cool on stage, I would have been losing my shit, possibly drooling on that guitar.
12. Flight of the Concords Bowie Parody 2007
In an effort to end this list on a light note we had to include our favorite New Zealand comedian duo, Flight of the Conchords, and their spot on parody of David Bowie. The full episode entitled ‘Bowie’ portrays different Bowie characters appearing in Bret’s dreams. It is a hilarious watch for any Bowie fan and it ends with this amazing music video that acts as a basic crash course in the musical career of Bowie. It’s as if they blended several decades of his music in chronological order. Bravo mates.