The Best of Bowie - Page 2

Let's Dance

The 1980's were the time for far out videos, and Let's Dance delivers, but it's much easier to understand than Ashes. It's a note on cultural contamination, a theme that would swiftly be revisited for China Girl. We begin in the strangest place, a one-horse town (literally. There's a horse!) somewhere in the Southwest, where Video Bowie is playing a diner (and unless you're Elvis, this is the worst gig ever). He's much too sophisticated for these hokey townfolk doing the chicken dance; they need instruction in coolness, and who better to provide it?

The backwoods people get a taste of Metropolis.
Because of Bowie's influence, a bunch of these guys decide to move to the big city, but they find out that reality bites. They start living it up, exchanging their simple traditions for the high life - fancy dinners and doing commercials for American Express. But part of city life is working, and they all have to get jobs, including working in a factory for another Bowie. Not Musician Bowie or Real Bowie, but Industrial Complex Bowie who looks just like him. This is the real world where you have to work hard scrubbing pavement and hauling heavy machinery down the street in midday traffic. (Dude, we all have to do that every day. Minimum Wage is a way of life.) Naturally, the backwoodies decide it's not worth it, and in the end they reject the Red Shoes and go back to their simple little lives.
Pretty straightforward message for a Bowie video!

China Girl!

China Girl is the greatest Bowie Romp of them all. It combines an awesome song with so much cool imagery. It's probably the sexiest song in the Bowie canon, combined with a super-hot video where Bowie gets all kinds of action. This is a big deal, cuz Bowie isn't the Video Lothario that one would expect.
For a guy with such a reputation, so good-looking, and such the quintessential rock icon, Bowie is actually shy in some videos. This dude banged a million miles of real-life groupie tail with no problem, but when you put a camera on him, he sometimes tenses up and has problems getting into the oodmay. He rarely even gets to kiss girls in videos, so China Girl is totally amazing for all the sexy fun it offers. (Keeping in mind there's nothing more fun than watching The Bowie get it on.)

This one also has the deeper theme of Cultural Corruption, which is implied in some of the later scenes. These are interpretive, cuz it seems like Video Bowie doesn't mean to change China Girl. It just kinda happens, and then she's pissed off about it at the end, which is a weird moment.

David is a busy boy.
Video Bowie is a career man who rushes home to see China Girl. She's thrilled to see him and have hot, sandy sex from here to eternity.

China Girl has cute bedroom antics and totally hot kissing and making out on the beach. Supposedly the two of them are naked there, but you can't see anything in the edited version. Best of all, Bowie actually seems into it and somewhat relaxed and natural. This cannot be said of some of the kissing in, say, The Linguini Incident. (No complaints, mind. Just saying.)

The Stuff that dreams are made of.
Bowie is crazy about her and even enchants her room and comes to life in the picture on her nightstand. Then he comes back in real life and totally jumps on her. We all fantasize about these things, but China Girl actually gets to live them for four minutes.

Of course, every girl in the world was/is very jealous of China Girl in China Girl. There's no better gig than being China Girl, and we dunno how China Girl was able to get on with her life in 1984. I mean after you've made out with semi-naked White Duke in the Mood on the beach, what the hell else is there in life? You might as well leave on the high note and blow your brains out afterward. Rather than get married or whatever and spend every makeout session thereafter wishing that you could marry Bowie, and closing your eyes and pretending that your Non-Bowie husband is him.

Loving the Alien

This is one of our favorite videos, and we love The Alien. We assume that Bowie himself is The Alien. (He is, right?) We don't know if they mean 'Alien' like Extraterrestrial, or 'Alien' like 'Dude from another country,' but since Bowie is both, maybe it doesn't matter. When you hear this song enough, you kinda stop thinking about it and just enjoy its mystery.
Bowie looks fabulous here, though this is an 80s-style video. Around '85 to '88 he took a break from trend-setting and dabbled in conformity as art. Like nouveau-conformity, so this one has some typical 80s wardrobe and design elements that seem to be found in other videos. Like you can't remember exactly where you've seen these things before, but it feels familiar somehow?

Many videos help explain their songs better, but "Loving the Alien" is fun madness that only raises more questions. We don't know what any of it means, and that's why we consider this one of his better videos. It defines the decade as only a video can: Insane shit happening and no one understands why. (As soon as any part of your 80s video makes sense, it lacks a certain purity.) We start with musicians in silvery paint and sombreros, like mariachis. But one of them is blinded with metal thingies, and the other one is standing on spikes. Then Bowie gets painted dark blue and looks like Nightcrawler. Or Mystique. Or Lobo. There's funky religious theming with nuns, weird knights show up to joust, and Bowie zooms around on a pond of water.

Abstract Craziness, Starring David Bowie
Even Ashes to Ashes makes *some* sense for its connection to a previous song.
Loving the Alien is just random images of Video Bowie doing cool, unusual stuff.

He appears in the cutest suit and top hat imaginable and marries an Indian girl (Real India Indian Alien, not American Indian Indian Non-Alien), but they're in a junkyard. Then he turns into a daring knight (!) with a flaming shield and lance. But he has no armor, and the nun-lady is watching over him. Again, this thing is trying to say something of a medieval, spiritual nature, but what??

Even Bowie seems to lose his mind trying to figure it out. At the end, he's shown in some kind of prison or psychiatric confinement, and he's in negative print. With a sly, fourth wall grin at the camera, he's happy to see the girl who visits him. But, true to Bowie, he's a TEASE! He doesn't kiss her. He comes SO close!
C'mon, Bowie! Have pity on us! (Maybe China Girl wore him out.)

In Conclusion, Your Results May Vary.

Dancing in the Street

Obviously we have things to say about this one, but probably not what you're expecting. We like this song and enjoy the video. David and Mick are legends and it's a trip to see them together. We're not even Stones fans (actually we hate Mick's singing voice), but it's still cool to watch them having such fun in this strange setting. This is one of the weirder videos to come out of the decade because it doesn't fit the song at all.
Per its instructions, "Everybody Around the World" is supposed to be Dancing in the Street, but it's just two guys in an empty warehouse. Then they go outside and there's still no one around, but there are distant headlights lined up down the road, just waiting. This is eerie, like a Christine parody.

Some people consider this the Worst Video Ever for its combination of Bad Song and cheap setup. It is cheap, but the only thing we find horrible about it is Mick's wardrobe, which is wrong on every level. David looks awesome and plays this just right for laughs. There are some great moments like 2:27, when David is being upstaged and gives Mick a hilarious, slighted look. And 1:40, when David takes over for singing and Mick goes on break with some Diet Coke (!). It's all in fun, David dances divinely, and who could ever complain when he looks so damn good? "Dancing in the Street" is a classic.

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