After a tragic heart-attack on the “Reality” tour, the world wasn’t really sure if Bowie would ever return. There had been no news for a decade, and as far as anyone knew, Bowie’s days of music-making were long gone.
Luckily for them, and the world at large, Bowie made a hugely unexpected return in 2013 with “The Next Day”, a much needed album that boasted some fresh new sounds from the Thin White Duke. How would I rank the songs on this album?
You can check out some of my other Bowie lists below:
14 – You Feel So Lonely You Could Die
An unbelievably dreary title to any song, and the song is similarly downbeat and dull. Skiiiiiiip.
13 – Boss Of Me
On the whole, I feel that “The Next Day” is more visceral and aggressive than most of Bowie’s other works, but it’s a style that I think suits him perfectly.
There’s some rough guitar tones and vocals on this one, but there isn’t enough here to keep me engaged from start to finish.
12 – Love Is Lost
Not the most interesting song on here, but there are some nice melodies that bump it up a couple of places in my ranking.
James Murphy (of LCD Soundsystem fame) made a cool remix of this one, so you should definitely check that one out.
11 – If You Can See Me
Packing an infectious energy and gnarly guitar riffs, its a shame the actual song itself isn’t anything to shout about. There’s some frantic drum work here that foreshadows “Blackstar”, so that’s something I guess.
10 – Dancing Out In Space
Quite a silly song, but this kind of nonsense is just Bowie through and through.
The choruses are much better than the verses, and it’s catchy enough to put it in the “Good” tier.
9 – (You Will) Set The World On Fire
The opening guitar riff lets you know what’s up, and the chorus is catchy to boot. I guess my only gripe is that it doesn’t exactly set my imagination on fire (hehe), and I’ll have to be picky from now on if I’m going to separate these tracks.
8 – Dirty Boys
I love how unique this one compared to the others, with the saxophone riffs and guitar stabs setting this apart from every other track on the album.
It still amazes me how creative Bowie was, even in his final years. Most artists lose their creative spark over time, but Bowie seemed to know exactly what he needed to do to create some rock bangers.
7 – The Next Day
The title track is a really solid one this time around. It’s nowhere near the top songs on the album, but it does a good job in its own right.
I like how strange and artsy the music video to this one is, and there’s even a prominent role for Gary Oldman – one of Bowie’s good friends, and one of the most talented actors of his generation (him and Bowie made quite a pair, huh?).
6 – Valentine’s Day
“Valentine’s Day” tends to be quite high up on most people’s rankings, and while I do really like it and consider it “Great”, I don’t think it quite compares to some of the others on the album.
The guitar work in particular is the stand-out this time around, and the chorus is definitely one of the most memorable.
5 – Heat
I can almost guarantee that most people would rank this near the bottom of their lists – heck, even I wasn’t a fan up until a month ago.
These kind of slow burner tracks are almost never engaging enough to keep me interested, but the sombre lyrics and Bowie’s superb vocal performance are what sell it for me. Absolutely one of Bowie’s most underrated tracks, and a fantastic closer.
4 – How Does The Grass Grow?
A decent number of tracks on “The Next Day” are criminally underrated, and “How Does The Grass Grow?” is no exception.
Boasting easily one of if not the catchiest chorus of the bunch, I love how melodic yet forceful the riffs are.
3 – I’d Rather Be High
At first glance, this seems like an uncharacteristic glorification of drugs from Bowie, but this is far from it. It’s actually about a young soldier dreading going to war, spending his time on the front lines wishing he was high to escape his hellish reality.
There’s an ethereal quality to this track, and the lyrics are one of the best on the album.
2 – Where Are We Now?
I think most people would agree on the top two tracks in my rankings, but possibly not on the order I’ve chosen.
“Where Are We Now?” is a great, mellow track that everyone remembers after listening to this album, and it gave Bowie his last ever UK Top 10 hit (there’s a little fun fact for you).
1 – The Stars (Are Out Tonight)
As soon as I listened to this album, I knew “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” would be my favourite. It’s easily the most memorable and catchy of the lot, and the guitar and bass work is flawless.
Out of all the songs on this album, this feels the most authentically Bowie – like this is him just going all out, letting his immense creativity and songwriting ability guide the song to where it needs to be. Definitely my favourite, and a sign of some good things to come.
Aaand that’s my list. There’s only one Bowie album left, which is both relieving and heart-breaking at the same time. Thanks for coming with me on this ride, and while you wait for the final Bowie ranking, you should check out some of my latest blog posts:
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