This article was originally published in 2016, days prior to David Bowie’s death. It has since been updated in celebration of what would have been his 76th birthday on January 8th, 2023.
Ever felt overwhelmed by an artist’s extensive back catalog? Been meaning to check out a band, but you just don’t know where to begin? In 10 Songs is here to help, offering a crash course and entry point into the daunting discographies of iconic artists of all genres. This is your first step toward fandom. Take it.
David Bowie is transformation incarnate. He’s been a starman, an alligator, thin white duke, goblin king, a lad insane, a piece of teenage wildlife, a broken man, and most recently a Blackstar. He can’t be held down, held back, and seldom pigeonholed. If he’s never struck a chord with you, then it’s likely you just haven’t heard the right Bowie.
Since his emergence in the late ’60s, across the scope of 27 studio albums and counting, he’s been a crucial figure in folk, glam, soul, new wave, experimental, pop, grunge, electronica, dance, and jazz to name a few. A case could be made for Bowie being the most sonically prolific artist since the dawn of rock ‘n’ roll.
All that in mind, it should be no surprise that whittling down the Bowie discography to 10 songs is nigh impossible. Fans will immediately notice shocking omissions and perhaps some unexpected choices. Our goal with this iteration of In 10 Songs is to take a fair crack at representing as many musical periods of Bowie’s work as space allows.
Idea being, for the uninitiated, if any one of these tracks does it for you, then there’s at least an album’s worth of material waiting to be discovered. Maybe you’ll love it all, rare bird that you are — but most likely, as with many Bowie fans, you’ll deeply love some of it, while the rest will remain a curiosity. There’s no wrong answer so long as there’s some Bowie in your life.
His 28th album, ★, arrives on January 8th, 2016 — and with it a new era of genre fusion and experimentation. If you’ve never taken the plunge, we know, the scope can be staggering. Let these 10 tracks begin your odyssey.
— Cap Blackard