★ – David Bowie

David Bowie’s greatest album, ★, was released two days before his early death and needs to be heard. If you haven’t heard this album, drop everything and go listen to it. If you have heard this album, you know what I’m talking about. I mean, there’s a song in a made-up language on there, and that song is still better than most musicians’ entire catalogues. The title track is incredible, with a beautiful set of chromatic chords that fit perfect, PERFECT echo-y singing. Bowie’s saxophone works really well on that song, “‘Tis a Pity She Was a Whore”, and “Dollar Days”. The producers on this album have specifically said Bowie was influenced here by Kendrick Lamar and Death Grips, and you can hear it in the awesome electronic grooves and impeccable strange chords on each of these tracks; it’s impossible to understate the positive effect of the busy electronic percussion on this album. “Lazarus” is the entire reason the Am-F progression was invented, and it’s a perfect song with an amazing horn section, especially the perfect rising bridge, the minute-long sax solo, the lyrics that capture the mundaneness of life amidst the fact of death, the intro riff, and the rest of the song. (The original version of “Lazarus” for Bowie’s jukebox musical pales in comparison, as does my ukulele version.) Most of the content of this album is Bowie reckoning with his own imminent death, and wow is it good music; I will forever love “Something happened on the day he died/Spirit rose a metre then stepped aside/Somebody else took his place, and bravely cried,/’I’m a blackstar, I’m a star star, I’m a blackstar.'” “I Can’t give Everything Away” is also great, with its fun shifting major synths, simple lyrics, complex vocals, and full stop at the last verse. I can’t do this album justice with words. Go listen to it, and do it NOW.

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