Let's Talk About: David Bowie's Blackstar

The God of glam rock is at it again, and he is just as weird as ever. On Nov. 19, David Bowie released “Blackstar” (stylized as ★), a song which serves as a preview for his upcoming album of the same name, which will be released on Jan. 8, his 69th birthday.

Without a doubt, “Blackstar” is a perfect preview for the album, solely because the track, along with the ten minute video that accompanies it, leaves the viewer wondering what the hell is going on. Aliens with tails, worshipping the dead, scarecrows, and a blindfolded Bowie seemingly awaiting execution are all featured throughout the video. Somehow, Bowie still manages to make “weird” look good.

Screen-cap from the new video "Blackstar".

Screen-cap from the new video "Blackstar".

The most interesting aspect of the song is that it may signal the end of Major Tom. The 1969 song “Space Oddity” from Bowie’s self titled album describes a man, Major Tom, going to space. Halfway through the song, we hear “ground control” telling the astronaut “your circuits dead, there’s something wrong,” before ending with Major Tom telling the listeners “there’s nothing I can do.” In 1980, the song “Ashes to Ashes” shows Bowie revisiting Major Tom, saying “I’ve heard a rumour from ground control, oh no, don’t say it’s true.” Throughout the song, listeners get the idea that Major Tom is somewhere in space in distress.

Now, 35 years later, Bowie’s “Blackstar” shows a young alien woman lifting the helmet of an astronaut, revealing nothing more than a skeleton. The skull was then shown throughout the video as some sort of religious totem for the community of aliens on the planet the astronaut landed on. While it can’t be confirmed that the upcoming album will be a concept album, this eerie reference to a dead astronaut could very well be Bowie returning to, and ending, the story of Major Tom.

While the song and video are both very strange, they help to showcase the genius of David Bowie. For years, he has redefined the way people think about music. Combining abstract art with poetic lyrics, Bowie forces listeners to step out of their comfort zones to try and uncover the meaning behind his songs.

The buzz that surrounded the “Blackstar” single release will surely be replicated when the full album is released. There are many reasons for that, one being that Bowie has been somewhat of a hermit in recent years. However, this album may prove to be what gets him back in the public eye as fans search for more details as to what happened to the famous astronaut on “the day he died.”