Marrick’s Music Review: David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

By Marrick Thurman

David Bowie’s fifth studio album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust is by far the late musician’s most famous album if not only for his character, Ziggy Stardust, an extraterrestrial being who comes to Earth and creates a band before an apocalypse. The album was released on June 6th, 1972.

The debut song on the album is entitled “Five Years”. The song begins the small story (the rise of Ziggy Stardust) that the album and Bowie’s character Ziggy is based on. The song is about how Earth is reportedly dying and everyone has just five years left to live. The song has very unique lyrics. Bowie’s voice is very genuine and has a lot of emotion in it. The piano and backing vocals make the ladder of the song feel much more suspenseful and emotional as the person in the song eventually realized that they indeed only have five years left to live. Bowie’s voice gets strained as he belts out the last lyrics as the music slowly abates, leaving the listener in awe.

The song “Starman” continues the story, but after a few other songs, as it is the fourth song on The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust. The song is most likely about Bowie’s character Ziggy Stardust coming into contact with Earth. However, others debate that the song is about Ziggy’s Earthly messenger.
The guitar and other string instruments in the song make for a very good rhythm, as does the clapping near the end of the song. Bowie’s upbeat vocals always compliment the song, especially when he puts emphasis on certain words or sings a certain line with a different tone that fits perfectly with the song. “Starman” was considered Bowie’s first successful song since his 1969 release of “Space Oddity”. John Peel called it: “A classic, a gem.”

By far the most well-known song on The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust is “Ziggy Stardust”. It’s the ninth song on the album and continues off of the story from “Five Years”, but talks about Ziggy’s rise to fame with his new band: Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. It talks of his self-centered, egotistical attitude, and eventual demise at the hands of his fans. The line “When the kids had killed the man, I had to break up the band.” Makes it clear that Ziggy was the man the song is talking about. The song, in 2016, reached number 17 on the Hot Rock Songs Billboard, proving that even though it’s not new, it’s still very popular. In 2010 the song ranked at 282 on the Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”. The song is also in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s “500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll”.

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust has to be one of-if not the best glam rock album of all time. Upon its release, it peaked at number 5 on UK’s music charts and number 75 on the US’s Billboard 200. However, after Bowie’s unfortunate passing earlier this year, it improved and ended up at number 21. This album isn’t just amazing; It’s almost indescribable. There is so much emotion in some of the songs, and Bowie had so much passion in his voice whenever he belted out lyrics in a certain song. This certainly was the album that truly started his grand career.

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