This article originally ran in 2017 and has been updated.
Top Songs is a feature in which we definitively handpick the very best songs in an artist or band’s catalog. Sounds simple, right? Oh, if only.
It’s no exaggeration to say that 2016 rose and set with David Bowie. The year began, in a sense, with both a birth and a death — the jubilation of welcoming a new album soon blanketed by a sense of profound cosmic loss. The year expired in another heap of accolades and reflections with a burgeoning constellation of blackstars ready to shoulder the galaxy. In between, the gifts he left us helped us negotiate a year that for all it gave seemed to take a lot more.
With ★ on the turntable, we sought out meanings and narratives far more numinous and transcendent than #2016Sucks. We examined the relationships between art, artist, and mortality not in terms of ashes to ashes, dust to dust but “Ashes to Ashes,” Stardust to stardust.
As it turned out, 2017 was also a year in which Bowie’s name remained on the tip of our tongues… and 2018, and 2019, and so on. That’s how you know someone’s an icon — we still celebrate their birthdays after they’ve stopped having them. And to that party, along with some smiles and tears, we’re bringing our list of the 70 Bowie songs from across his entire catalog that best remind us that some stars shine a bit brighter than others and never show any signs of burning out.
Happy Birthday to our eternal Starman, who would have turned 75 years old on January 8th, 2022.
— Matt Melis