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David Bowie: The 10 Greatest Songs

January 10, 2019

By Scott T. Sterling

This type of list doesnt need an introduction. David Bowie was one of the best ever. With that being said, curating a list for the The 10 Greatest David Bowie Songs is both enjoyable and distressing. The truth is, Bowie will never really die. Let's get into it. 

10. Suffragette City (1972)

Another raunchy rocker from mid-’70s Bowie. Featuring the legend Mick Ronson on guitar, the penultimate track on Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars was inspired by one of Bowie’s heroes, Little Richard. Packed with glam-rock attitude and energy, it’s Bowie turning up and rocking out.

9. Rebel Rebel (1974)

Bowie the rock and roll rebel. Taken from the conceptual opus DIamond Dogs, the track captured the singer at his glam-rock peak. It was Bowie himself who played the swaggering guitar riff, dropping gender-bending lyrics along the way.

8. Heroes (1977)

Another classic among a sea of classics. Co-written by the legend Brian Eno, this epic tune chronicles two lovers trapped on opposite sides of the Berlin Wall. It was inspired by the singer seeing producer Tony Visconti kissing a background singer by the Wall—even though he was married at the time. “I thought, of all the places to meet in Berlin, why pick a bench underneath a guard turret on the Wall?,” Bowie would muse years later (via Rolling Stone).

7. Fame (1975)

When Bowie was in the middle of his Plastic Soul phase, working with the likes of a then-unknown Luther Vandross while making the iconic Young Americans album. The song was created from a Carlos Alomar guitar riff and features none less than Beatles legend John Lennon on background vocals. Even funkier than his later work with Nile Rodgers. And that’s saying a lot.

6. China Girl (1983)

It’s a borderline crime that Bowie and Nile Rodgers only made one album together. Yet another instant classic from the fertile Let’s Dance full-length. A cover version of a song bowie co-wrote with Iggy Pop for Pop’s album The Idiot, the updated take smoothed the song out into a dreamy ride through Stevie Ray Vaughan guitar licks and warm synthesizers.

5. Changes (1971)

When Bowie got thoughtful, he got really thoughtful. This early ‘70s single found the artist standing up for youth and future generations (as well as providing a kille sax solo). “I guess it was me being sort of arrogant. It’s sort of baiting an audience, isn’t it?,” Bowie explained to Nicholas Pegg for the book, The Complete David Bowie. “It’s saying, ‘Look, I’m going to be so fast you’re not going to be able to keep up with me.’ It’s that kind of perky arrogance of youth. You think you can get away with anything when you’re young.”

4. Modern Love (1983)

Another track from the fruitful collaboration with Nile Rodgers, the opening tune from the Let’s Dance album turned the funk up to 10, resulting in this celebratory that packs dance floors from the opening guitar notes.

3. Space Oddity (1969)

The birth of Major Tom. Inspired by the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, one of Bowie’s most indelible classics has been covered and referenced in pop culture for decades, with no signs of it slowing down. For many it’s Bowie’s signature song, and for very good reason. Genius in action.

2. Let’s Dance (1983)

When the man who sold the world reinvented himself as the man who bought it all back in cash. Bowie teamed up with the timeless hitmaker Nile Rodgers of CHIC, and together they crafted one of the finest and most accessible moments in Bowie’s career. And you can dance to it! Like really dance to it. Funky Stardust!

1. Under Pressure (1981)

The summit of the gods. Two of the greatest singers in the history of rock and roll came together and made literal magic in the studio. From the legendary bassline to the remarkable vocal performances from Bowie and Freddie Mercury, the song is a crowning achievement for everyone involved.