From a Starman to a Darkstar

Bowie’s back with the single ‘Blackstar’ and it has polarised listeners to say the least. I’m not completely sure of how to describe the new sound let alone the video, because it’s just very…strange. To be fair, Bowie is known for his eccentricity and surreal music but it’s a struggle to foreshadow where he’s going with the new album. It appears that modern day Ziggy is a blindfolded man trapped in an attic with two men and a woman who are all uncontrollably shaking. The generous 10 minute teaser reminds me of a song that could be used in the weird and wonderful show ‘The Mighty Boosh’, and I’m yet to decide if that’s a good thing or not. Critics have claimed that this is a goodbye to Major Tom, which is actually quite saddening. But whilst everyone’s raving about the spectacular lyrics, I’m left somewhat unsatisfied: ‘I’m a blackstar, I’m not a pornstar…Ah-ah, ahah’ doesn’t scream out lyrical genius to me.

Bowie’s 66 years old now and, as the terribly cliché saying goes, ‘if it ‘ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. Is it the music or the money that he misses more?

To be fair, after the mediocre The Next Day released in 2013, I suppose I can understand the buzz surrounding ‘Blackstar’ at the moment. It’s exciting, it’s experimental and it’s eerie; which is what we’ve all been craving from him. But, if Bowie’s name wasn’t plastered over the song I wonder if it would still be just as popular? It’s possible that we’re just making a fuss over the track purely because of who created it. Quite frankly, the influence and legacy left by David Bowie cannot be ignored. He’s been an incredibly prominent figure in the music industry since the 60s – the musical equivalent of a chameleon, swooping from funk, to pop, to electronica and so on. During his career, Bowie has smothered rock and pop with art and glam to make for uniquely enthralling music. As a result, it would be presumptuous to claim that ‘Blackstar’ is an immediate let down for Bowie fans; it must have been greeted with such a positive reception for a valid reason. I always wonder why artists decide to make a come-back long after their prime time. Bowie’s 66 years old now and, as the terribly cliché saying goes, ‘if it ‘ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. Is it the music or the money that he misses more? Is ‘Blackstar’ utter genius or just a haphazard resort to get back into the limelight again? With inspiration drawing from the likes of Kendrick Lamar, this haunting track takes the listener on a gripping journey through cacophonies and euphonies and into a world of ominous tones and funky beats.

Critics have claimed that this is a goodbye to Major Tom, which is actually quite saddening. But whilst everyone’s raving about the spectacular lyrics, I’m left somewhat unsatisfied: ‘I’m a blackstar, I’m not a pornstar…Ah-ah, ahah’ doesn’t scream out lyrical genius to me

I’ll be honest, when I first heard the song I was definitely not sold. Irrespective of my initial impressions, I think it’s certainly a grower. The music jumps around a lot which is particularly unnerving. It’s also a bit of a commitment to listen to at an intimidating length of 10 minutes making it almost seem like a chore. However, threads of pop, jazz and drum and bass are evident throughout which demonstrates an intriguing development by Bowie that builds upon his existing sound. This single seems to have left listeners perplexed as to whether or not they should like it. Perhaps ‘Blackstar’ will make more sense when it’s embedded between other engrossing songs in the full album which is set to be released in January. Only time will tell.

Serena Bhardwaj

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