Marrick’s Music Review: David Bowie’s Blackstar

By Marrick Thurman 

Blackstar is David Bowie’s 25th and final studio album. It was released the beginning of 2016 on January 8th, coinciding with his birthday. The album was perceived as a parting gift for all of his fans before he passed away on January 10th. The album is not like his early 70’s glam rock; the entire album has a melancholy tone to it, and the lyrics are filled with hidden and various meanings.

The first song on the album goes by the same name of the album, “Blackstar”. This song was accompanied by an eerie music video and was posted to Bowie’s VEVO on November 19th. The song is phenomenal with its varied instruments. The music video makes references and connections with some of Bowie’s earliest personas. The video at one point shows a skeleton in an astronaut suit, plausibly a nod at his first character, Major Tom. There’s also a skeleton seen at one part floating in space, referencing to either his alien persona Ziggy Stardust, or the Star Man from his 5th studio album.

The third song on the album is “Lazarus”, which like “Blackstar”, was also accompanied by a music video. The song is about Bowie’s death, and how he knows that he’s going to be gone soon; it’s sort of meant to be a self-epitaph. The song has a slight feel of acceptance and sadness to it. Some lyrics secretly refer to his strenuous battle with cancer. One lyric in particular being: “I’ve got scars that can’t be seen”. The lyrics make for a possible nod at his previous years in writing music. Some fans have also speculated that, aside from the more obvious references, that Bowie coming out of and climbing back into a closet in the music video, is referring to his sexuality, as Bowie was open about his bisexuality, but later played coy with it. The song was Bowie’s first top 40 hit single on the Billboard Hot 100 in more than 28 years.

The 7th and final track on Blackstar is entitled “I Can’t Give Everything Away”. The background tempo sounds more upbeat and incorporates different instruments than the other songs. But despite the upbeat tempo, it’s possibly the most emotional song on the album. It’s meant to be the sort of pop of color in comparison to the rather bleak and saddening songs on the rest of the album. It was supposed to be about a human’s natural positivity and ability to look on the bright side.
The song is completely original, but it does contain a sample from “A New Career in a New Town”, an instrumental from his 1977 album Low. “I Can’t Give Everything Away” was 45th on the Swiss Hitparade chart; 141st on the UK Singles Chart; and 142nd on the French Singles Chart.

Blackstar is nearly indescribable. It’s very emotional, and a fantastic final album. The fact that Bowie was working on the album as he was dying just adds to how amazing it was that he intended this as a parting gift. The album was met with critical acclaim and success. When Bowie died two days after the release of Blackstar, it shot up on multiple countries musical charts to Number 1. The album became the late musician’s first and only album to reach number one on the Billboard 200 album chart in the US. The album remained at the number one position in the UK charts for three consecutive weeks. This album surely proved that Bowie is amazing at creating music, no matter what.

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