The Best of Bowie - Page 4


Bowie continued dominating the 90s with Earthling in '97. We consider this an Ok album, but not as good as 1. Outside. You like it more and more once you learn your way around, but its Industrial Noise Saturation approach is too impersonal. Overall, it lacks melody and is just hard to love.
However, we were living the good life at this time because David was producing studio albums regularly. As with most things, you don't fully appreciate The Bowie until you've gone a few years without him (as we're experiencing now with the excruciating Post-Reality BowieDrought) and you realize how utterly crap the music scene is when he's not contributing to it. In his absence, boy bands and teenage pop tarts run the place, life is barren of meaning, and music has no spirit.

Earthling delivered some good stuff like "Dead Man Walking" and "Little Wonder," but their videos were lackluster. With their frenetic movement and flashing scenery, they seem an appropriate if depressing byproduct intended for the Ritalin generation.
However, it needs be stated that...

Bowie looks incredible.

He looks very young, sharp and handsome and more desirable than ever (if that's possible). You don't really get to enjoy him in these videos because he's flashy and out of focus, but the snippets you get are wonderful. At one point he's even wearing a sexy eyepatch not unlike his Ziggy days. He even has it over the same, good eye. (We dunno why, since this further limits his already dimmed vision. Maybe there's a story there.)

Video Bowie may have lost the eyeball at some point in Little Wonder, because loose eyes are rolling rampant in this video. In a cacophony of jittering scenes, we see an eyeball in a cup of tea, another one peering and spasming on the floor, and some grotesque character on a subway with excessive, distorted eyeballs. Actually Little Wonder is full of people who can't keep track of their facial features, and it also has a mummified cat for when you need one of those.
More importantly, it has Bowie with a bit of Facial hair! This is a strange look, but you get used to it fast and he looks fine with it. It's small, a chin thing, so it's ok and you realize that he's so good-looking that he can pull off almost anything. The only exception seems to be a mustache, which is ghastly on him (no, we don't have a photo).

I'm Afraid of Americans

Earthling produced this hit, one of Bowie's greatest creations. From its addictive, chugging beat to its cool arrangement and merciless lyrics, this masterpiece got the royal treatment in every way - Including an awesome video that is our #2 of Best Bowie EVER. (It's just shy of China Girl Gold.)
They went respectable and cinematic on this video. Nevermind the strobe pacing and psychotic graphics. This is Bowie just the way we want him, as a regular guy finally in the spotlight and out in the world, dealing with real threat. Or is it imagined? He's just trying to go about his business, but the city is rife with persecutory fantasy; NIN's Trent Reznor has his number and won't let up.

Top Billing: Bowie at his Best.
Glowering Trent is Trouble, the streets are full of violent doom, and David makes video history on clean heels.

There's no B-Roll - who the hell needs it when the lads are this interesting and filmed with silver-screen elegance. It's professional all the way, and perfect harmony (however unlikely!) between these firebrand frontmen. They look terrific and give this video the rarest of qualities: Universal Appeal. A song that everyone loves, set to so much masculine glory that puts the ladies aflutter, and enough action to keep the guys entertained.
What a fun, sexy, paranoid adventure, and nice acting chops!


We come to 1999's "hours...", the final chapter in Best of Bowie. It's sad and happy times; this is a great, solid album that got two videos, but it's also one of the last forays that David made into the usual medium of video. We like Hours plenty (much better than Earthling), and the videos are pretty cool too. This was the first in a mini-marathon of greats, like Heathen in 2002 and Reality just a year later.

Fans are a bit divided on this one. Hours is calmer, reflective, and way different from Earthling. This may have been a bad direction to take when Bowie had just reinvented his name for the MTV generation, but then he's never been one to play to expectation.

(BTW, Hours has the Greatest Album Cover. Multiple Bowie personas in the same place at the same time?? This is so hot and groovy !! A Fan's ultimate fantasy ! Like if Jareth and Aladdin Sane somehow met eachother and decided to have a drinking contest, and then they both pass out on your bed??)

Anyway. Hours has awesome stuff on it like Thursday's Child, Survive, Seven, Dreaming my Life, Pretty Things, etc. It's an A-Range album for us, and the videos are thought-provoking. They went minimalist on these, but they're way more effective than offerings like Little Wonder and especially Dead Man Walking. More often with videos, Less is More. But these do take a somber or weird angle on art intercepting life. They both start in a mundane situation and then distort into something that unsettles Video Bowie.

Survive shows a new aspect of our guy - lonely and pensive. This may be the Same Video Bowie in both videos. He's kinda dressed the same and his hair is the same, though this one sits alone in his drab kitchen and waits for an egg to cook. He may be an Earlier or Later Version of Video Bowie, like what this guy was doing before he met the girl in "Thursday's Child," or what happened after they broke up.

But it's The Egg that starts all the trouble, as you know if you were living in the States and watching TV in the 1990's. Because this was the decade when Eggs decided that they weren't going to take it anymore. It was enough already with the scrambling and poaching and myriad demands made on this embryonic breakfast staple. In America, Eggs became dangerous, unhealthy and unruly, and the public declared war on them. Eggs were slandered and maligned for their involvement in everything from salmonella poisoning to high cholesterol. And here, for being eggcessories to Bowie-related, airborne accidents.

In "Survive," Bowie's voice is earnest and resplendent as he roams the past, lamenting a failed relationship that seems to have left him unhappily single. He's lost in thought, totally caught unawares when the furniture in the room starts floating, and he ends up spinning around and trying to hold on in Zero-G. This song is about regrets and stuff happening in life that you can't always control, but also about taking your lumps and persevering. It may even be a surreal comment on the potential of errant thoughts to manifest in our lives as disorienting, non-dairy hallucinations. At any rate, Video Bowie learns an important lesson: Shit happens, but freaking out doesn't help; just chill and do your best. Like most crises encountered in music videos, this one only lasts about four minutes. You'll manage.

Thursday's Child

This is a comment on aging where Video Bowie and his girl are standing in front of a mirror. They're both very hot of course (especially David with the long hair - a cool new persona for this album) but there's overhead lighting that makes them look withdrawn, unhappy, and older. Video Bowie seems dissatisfied with how he looks, and then he imagines a transformation to a younger self. They actually managed to find a guy who sorta looks like younger Bowie, but... Come on... Nobody has ever been (or ever will be) as visually-striking as Bowie, so it's really a put-on. You just have to play along.

But this video is Crazy Good because it has a kiss in it. It was kinda difficult to get sugar from Video Bowie even in the 80s; it's been damn near impossible since his marriage. It really makes the video, Bowie delivers a great one (almost goes back for more!), and that girl got the thrill of a lifetime.

Funny thing about this video, though - it seems to be Bowie self-deprecating about his age (?) or something, but female fans see this and tend to rave about his older self in the mirror and how good he looks. He was only like 52, which it turns out is all rugged and nicely seasoned, so you just wanna pounce on him and have dinner; you're not in the mood to empathize with his hangups about aging. He does look older (maybe he had some work done after this, cuz he looked even better for Heathen and Reality), but we think Bowie wasn't old enough to pull off this "I Feel Older and I'm Questioning my Appearance and Re-Evaluating my Life Decisions" concept, or he's just too appealing in general.

Even nowadays, he seems to want to bury himself well before it's time. We dunno why. Millions of people find him smokin hot - both physically and on his "I'm Bowie" merits - he'd be in for many a wild night if they only got the chance; such is the fate and interminable echo of the World's Greatest Rock Star.

After hours...?

This concludes the Best of Bowie DVDs.

Will there ever be more Bowie videos? Most importantly, will there be another album someday? Since the onset of health problems during the Reality tour, Bowie has been more secretive than usual and totally mum about future music plans. He's on some kind of hiatus, and no one knows if he's permanently retired or just taking time off. Some fans have given up hope on a new album.
But even with health issues, Bowie is too young to give up on music. We wouldn't put it past him to make a comeback, because this guy can handle it. David knows how to deal and has the passion for life and living. Who else could come from nothing (worse than nothing, tbh) and achieve what he has? This guy is unstoppable. Not time, tragedy, drug addiction, abusive upbringing, crazy ex wife, or an ever-changing musical landscape that trounces most comers, but that he weathers like the champ he is.

So... Stay tuned, little hot dogs.

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