Remembering David Bowie: His top ten records

Following the death of music legend David Bowie this week, the world has been mourning the loss of a true star. His influence was undeniable, with his domination of the charts lasting six decades. The trailblazer of music and fashion taught generations that they could be whatever they wanted, and his inspiration to countless individuals will never die. In commemoration of his incredible musical success, let’s take a look at some of his best songs.

Goodnight, Starman.

‘Life On Mars?’ (1973)

From: Hunky Dory

“Oh man wonder if he’ll ever know/ He’s in the best selling show.”

The David Bowie song with arguably the weirdest lyrics, it was produced by two names who would become synonymous with the glam rock star’s career – Ken Scott and Tony Visconti. The melody is stirring, the imagery poetic; “Life On Mars?” is one song that manages to fill the listener with intense emotion time and time again.


‘Fame’ (1975)

From: Young Americans

“Could it be the best, could it be?”

The single was born out of David’s dissatisfaction with his then-management, Mainman. He later admitted that the song had been written “with a degree of malice”.

Having recently befriended him, Bowie enlisted John Lennon to sing backing vocals and play guitar on this funk-infused number.


‘Ziggy Stardust’ (1972)

From: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

“Became the special man/ Then we were Ziggy’s band.”

Bowie’s alter ego, the lightning bolt-emblazoned Ziggy Stardust, was a messenger for extra-terrestrial beings. The album was known for its theme of sexual exploration and social commentary on politics and drug use.


‘Modern Love’ (1983)

From: Let’s Dance

“It’s not really love/ It’s just the power to charm.”

Forever jumping between genres, Bowie offers a new wave sound with single “Modern Love” from his ‘80s comeback album Let’s Dance. Tentative lyrics about scepticism and loneliness are combined with cheerfully buoyant music to ease the worries and doubt that the words create.


‘Starman’ (1972)

From: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

“Let all the children boogie.”

Incredibly, ‘Starman’ was almost not included on the Ziggy Stardust… album. RCA’s Dennis Katz heard a demo and believed it would make a great single, insisting on its inclusion.

Bowie told Rolling Stone magazine in 1973, “Ziggy is advised in a dream by the infinities to write the coming of a Starman. So he writes ‘Starman’, which is the first news of hope that the people have heard. So they latch onto it immediately.” 


‘Young Americans’ (1975)

From: Young Americans

“Ain’t there one song that can make me/ Break down and cry?”

The hit that saw Bowie break America was a result of his mid-1970s obsession with soul music.

The title track of the album offers a cultural education as it comments on American issues such as McCarthyism, black oppression and Richard Nixon. The single showcases David’s British charm as he includes a near-direct lift from UK exports The Beatles’ ‘A Day in the Life’ with the line “I heard the news today, oh boy”.


‘Oh! You Pretty Things’ (1971)

From: Hunky Dory

“Written in pain, written in awe/By a puzzled man who questioned/What we were here for.”

‘Oh! You Pretty Things’ was originally written by Bowie then released by Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits in mid-1971 before Bowie put it out as a single himself in December of that year.

Penned just before David’s first child was born, the song relates his anxieties about impending fatherhood by telling the tale of aliens taking over Earth.


‘The Prettiest Star’ (1970)

From: Aladdin Sane

“One day… / You and I will rise up all the way.”

The glam rock single from Bowie’s sixth album featured T. Rex’s Marc Bolan on guitar and is a beautiful rock-melancholy ode to his former wife Angela Barnett. After its release in 1970, the single reportedly sold fewer than 800 copies. Despite not achieving commercial success, for me it is one of his best records.


‘The Man Who Sold The World’ (1971)

From: The Man Who Sold The World

“For years and years I roamed/ I gazed a gazeless stare.”

The title track of his third album, ‘The Man Who Sold the World’ is classic Bowie storytelling. A number of the tracks on the album, including this one, incorporate themes that have been compared to the horror-fantasy works of H.P. Lovecraft. The song sees the main character engage in a chance encounter with an unknown being.


‘Heroes’ (1977)

From: Heroes

“I will be king, and you, you will be queen.”

‘Heroes’ remains one of David Bowie’s greatest songs, with calls for it to become the new national anthem following his death this week. After almost forty years, ‘Heroes’ has never lost its impact – and for many, the image of him performing at the German Reichstag in West Berlin in 1987 is one that will never die. ‘Heroes’ was said to have been inspired by two lovers sitting by the Berlin Wall. Although their future was uncertain, they could be heroes, “just for one day”.

One thing that is certain, though, is that David Bowie will remain a hero – now and forever.


What’s your favourite Bowie song? Let us know in the comments below!