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In Remembrance: Every David Bowie Song You Should Listen to Today

This morning many of us woke up to the sad news that Ziggy Stardust, aka David Bowie, has died at age 69.

With a catalogue deep enough to rival any musical legend of the twentieth century, and a wardrobe that makes Lady Gaga look like an introverted wallflower, David Bowie has left a legacy that won’t be forgotten in a hurry.

And while it’s always a shock when an icon passes away, something about the ethereal quality of the UK glam rocker just made us believe that Bowie would live forever.

In disbelief, as we turn to the music behind the man to try to make sense of it all, we ask ourselves the inevitable question – what are the David Bowie  songs he’ll best be remembered for?

So whether you’re the definitive fan looking to pay tribute to the icon, or a novice getting to know the king of reinvention, here’s every song you should listen to today.

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Ziggy Stardust
The concept album’s eponymous alien, and David Bowie’s beloved alter-ego, Ziggy Stardust is a messenger for extraterrestrial beings…and one of our favourite songs. The bisexual alien rock superstar is Bowie’s most seminal creation, and the album of the same name explores themes of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.

Suffragette City
This was originally from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spider from Mars in 1972 but ended up being released as a single in 1972. Despite being packed full of pop culture references like A Clockwork Orange and a piano riff inspired by Little Richard, it failed to chart but has since become a fan favourite.

Five Years
The track that opens Bowie’s fifth studio album, Ziggy Stardust, Five Years tells us about an Earth doomed to be destroyed in as many years. Arguably one of the greatest opening tracks, it’s been covered many times. But the rendition Bowie sang at a Fashion Rocks concert with Arcade Fire back in 2005 has to be one of the most memorable.

Let’s Dance
From the album of the same name, this was the first single released in 1983. Despite its international success, Bowie was surprised by its popularity and later stated that it caused a creative low point in his career. However, the divergence into this new and hybrid sound for its time perfectly illustrates his ever-changing musical style.

Space Oddity
“This is ground control to Major Tom” are surely some of the most famous song lyrics ever, and certainly of Bowie’s illustrious career. The song concerned the fictional astronaut, who would later feature in many of his other songs. In 2013 Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield, renewed its popularity when he covered it while aboard the International Space Station, making it the first music video to be shot in space.  

Young Americans
A breakthrough hit for the singer in the United States, this experimented with Bowie’s love of soul music, which he referred to as “plastic soul.” Released in 1975, the song made reference to Rosa Parks, McCarthyism, and Richard Nixon and lifts the lyric from The Beatles’ ‘A Day in the Life’: “I heard the news today oh boy.”

Ashes to Ashes
Released in 1980, Bowie laid the 1970s to rest with this first song from Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), which he described as a nursery rhyme. The song references Major Tom from his first hit, Space Oddity, traversed the singer’s moral journey, and at the time was the most expensive music video ever made.

The Man Who Sold the World
Nirvana may have introduced it to a whole new audience of fans at MTV Unplugged, but The Man Who Sold the World was first released by David Bowie in 1970. The song grapples with multiple identities and has a similar title to science fiction novella The Man Who Sold the Moon, once again indicating Bowie’s fascination with the extra-terrestrial.

The Jean Genie
The song was written for the amusement of actress, model, and one of the Warhol set, Cyrinda Foxe. Released in 1972, Jean Genie was inspired by Bowie’s friend Iggy Pop, and its R&B style has been compared to the Velvet Underground.

Starman
Despite its place in the canon of great songs of the twentieth century, Starman was a late addition to the Ziggy Stardust album, and replaced a Chuck Berry cover that was originally on the album. The chorus was loosely based on “Over the Rainbow” and the song offers salvation to Earth via the radio, by alien, Starman.

Changes
Released on the album Hunky Dory, nothing could sum up the chameleon-like personality of David Bowie better than Changes. It’s somewhat poignant that this was the last song Bowie played on stage before his retirement from live performance in 2006. “Time may change me, but I can’t trace time.”

Life on Mars
David Bowie asked “Is there life on Mars?” back in 1971 when the single was released. It features guest piano work from keyboardist Rick Wakeman and talks of a young girl’s disillusionment with reality. And forever includes the gem of a line “It’s on America’s tortured brow, that Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow.”

Under Pressure
Recorded with Queen in 1981, the song brought together two of the era’s most important musicians, with Freddie Mercury and David Bowie on vocals. The popular song was played live at every Queen concert until they finished touring in 1986.

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