Today we have new Bowie music. Today is a good day.
Only two weeks to go until the full album is available. For now, we have to be content with these two, highly addictive singles.
The first 1:40 of the video for The Stars (Are Out Tonight) go right to my gut. I adored it immediately. I only hope that extraordinary riff is on the album version. It’s beautifully aggressive, earthy and strong.
The video is like candy for the veteran Bowie fan. (I hesitate to use the word “true” here — no judgment of Bowie fans. In my mind, even if you had a brief flirtation with Bowie in 1972 or in 1983, you’re still a fan. You don’t need to have Heathen playing in a loop — like I often do — to be a “real” fan.) The direct reference to who I term “Scary Bowie,” in the guise of the celebrity-obsessed musician, old-man Bowie’s next-door neighbour, is — sad? Distressing? A cautionary tale of stardom? Bowie was, after all, the ultimate example of the excesses of stardom. He also, reportedly, entered the 80s broke and maybe not completely emotionally stable. Truly, there is no better cautionary tale.
Referencing himself here may also balance off the lyrics a bit, which reference the first names of tabloid celebrities — names which, although they seem carefully chosen so as to be able to be talking about any one of a number of stars, imply specific people. Demonstrating his own past celebrity trappings here — he’s in effect saying, “I get it. I was there too.” The words in the song imply the stars are miserable. And somehow, the public eats it all up.
At the end of the day, it may simply be posing the question — note the dialogue in the early part of the film — what does indeed make a good life.
The video for The Stars (Are Out Tonight) is directed by Florio Sigismondi, who also directed “Dead Man Walking” and this video, “Little Wonder.” It’s interesting to note here that Tony Oursler, who directed Where Are We Now? said Bowie insisted on having the dolls that were a part of his 50th birthday celebration appear prominently in that video. These dolls, in a slightly different manifestation, are also a part of the video for Little Wonder. So I have to ask — what is this reference to 96/97? The Berlin references are obvious (I think). But this I don’t quite get, except that I think it was the last time Bowie had a distinct image. Sure, you can look at clips of Bowie after this period and know from the clothing and haircut approximately when it took place. But generally, after 96/97, Bowie started looking like a normal person. Maybe this is the point of the back reference. Maybe it isn’t. Maybe I’m rambling… time for yet another video from the phenomenal Earthling…