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David Bowie is dead, at least in the traditional sense. It seems impossible, not just because he released a new album a few days before he died, but because he always carried with him an air of the otherworldly, even when he wasn’t dressed as a Goblin King. It’s probably a cliché to say so by this point, but it’s no less true: David Bowie seemed immortal, and because of that, and all of the great work he left behind, he actually is.
But the man himself is gone, and we’re still dealing with the surprising waves of grief. When he passed away early last week, it the founders of SportsAlcohol.com hard – and we soon found out from the outpouring of love and sadness on social media that we were far from alone. It should go without saying that Bowie amassed a great number of both devotees and casual fans during his time on this earth, but I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen such widespread appreciation of a musician who we were all so lucky to share a planet with, if only for a handful of decades.
If there’s a good thing about a beloved and galactically talented artist dying what seems like “before his time” (though Bowie’s 69 years surely counted for triple that in terms of accomplishments), it’s the feelings of both comfort and hurt that we can continue to take from his music. So: SportsAlcohol.com invited a bunch of Bowie fans to vote on the best of his many, many songs, with everyone submitting their votes via Top 20 lists. There was a surprising amount of consensus for a list like this. Maybe you can chalk that up to the hits – those inescapable, undeniable hits. But if many lists lacked a roster of fans-only deep cuts, maybe that’s because Bowie wrote and/or performed an unusual number of songs that are too universally beloved to be ignored. Consider also that many of these hits were not, as such, actual hits, at least not in the Hit Single sense. Many of their reputations grew with time, through their places on classic and endlessly replayable records; through transcendent moments in film; or just by being really fucking great.
Megan Burns is a Queens-based painter. One time her mom begged her to stop talking about David Bowie.
Vikram Murthi writes film and TV criticism for the A.V. Club and elsewhere.
Bryan Nies and President Obama both have mothers. Their mothers were born in the same hospital. Ahem, credentials.
Dennis Perkins is a freelance film and TV writer for the A.V. Club and elsewhere, and lives in Portland, Maine.
Jeff Prisco is a robotics engineer (non-evil variety). When not dad-ing, he enjoys watching bad sci-fi (evil robot variety).
Ashley Strosnider is a writer and editor who lives in Nebraska.
Commencing countdown, engines on:
Continue reading The Top 32 Best David Bowie Songs of All Time