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David Bowie is dead; after an 18-month battle with cancer, the life of one of the most prodigious talents of the 20th century has come to an end. Four decades of music, 26 studio albums, multiple film appearances - the legend of the man will only grow with time. Limiting his accomplishments to a simple top 10 is impossible, but we hope that this list will give newcomers to his work a framework from which they can appreciate a man who will surely be remembered as one of the greatest performers in history, or for longtime fans, will highlight his talent. Long live Bowie.
His first big commercial hit - and arguably one of Bowie’s most famous songs - Space Oddity was so popular that when Bowie’s second self-titled album came out, it became known as “Space Oddity” for its reissue in ’72.
The Man Who Sold The World
The Man Who Sold The World - 1970
Leaving the folky sound of his previous record for a more Hard Rock or even Proto-Heavy Metal, this song features one of the most memorable guitar licks. This record is also pinpointed as the origin for Glam Rock.
Hunky Dory - 1971
Just as soon as he left it behind, Bowie returns to the folky pop stylings. This song starts in safe territory but, by the end, it becomes a nightmare-inducing mess of weirdness.
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars - 1972
The debut of Bowie’s bisexual alien character, Ziggy, pretty much blew everyone’s minds and continues to do so until this day. While the album consists almost entirely of hits, this track seems the most poignant given Ziggy’s return to the unknown.
Young Americans - 1975
Bowie’s “plastic soul” years were a funky, soulful manifestation of his love for American soul music. Powerful and distinctly Bowie, this track - even if you didn’t know it was Bowie - is a quintessential part of the decade.
Heroes - 1977
The second part of his Berlin trilogy of albums and featuring the contributions of the illustrious guitarist Robert Fripp, this track and its eponymous album came to be a defining piece of culture from the Cold War.
Ashes To Ashes
Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) - 1980
A return to the character of Major Tom from his breakout Space Oddity, Ashes To Ashes informs us that he is a “junkie” at “an all time low.” This is probably the saddest song we’ve heard with a slap bass on it, and the video is weird as hell.
Under Pressure (W/ Queen)
Queen’s Hot Space - 1982
Falling under the category of “coolest things to ever happen,” Bowie’s collaboration with Queen is like the Batman and Superman of musical icons coming together. Totally awesome.
Where Are We Now?
The Next Day - 2013
Amid rumours about his health and a full decade since his last album, Bowie surprised everyone and posted this music video online without any announcement or press beforehand.
Blackstar - 2016
Released just days ago, Blackstar is simultaneously completely different and unequivocally Bowie. Somber and just plain weird, David Bowie proves that, right up until the absolute very end, he’s a musical force to be reckoned with.