My Top Five Favorite David Bowie Songs

After reading "10 Things I Love About David Bowie" on Howard Who?, I began to think about what my favorite David Bowie songs are. To make it really difficult, I forced myself to narrow my list down to just five songs. (No connoisseur like a discerning connoisseur.) Yes, if my MP3 player only allotted for five Bowie tracks, these would be them (in chronological order):

"Five Years" from The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972). The opening track is an aching lament about an impending apocalypse. Bowie yelps about "all the fat-skinny people," "all the tall-short people," and "all the nobody people"—but he's not complaining about them, as we would expect. He finally admits: "I never thought I'd need so many people." Watch him perform the song with Arcade Fire (seriously!):

"Young Americans" from Young Americans (1975). It's a song about sex, and it's a freaking masterpiece. And, oh my god, did you know he once did a duet of "Young Americans" as part of a medley with Cher?! Watch:

"Sound and Vision" from Low (1977). Yup, it's got a good beat, and you can dance to it. Watch this funky live performance from the Sound+Vision Tour in 1990:

"Absolute Beginners" from Absolute Beginners: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1986). I never really liked the movie, but its theme song is a luscious pop ballad. Watch the music video:

"Underground" from Labyrinth: From The Original Soundtrack Of The Jim Henson Film (1986). Believe it or not, I didn't really start getting into Bowie and his back catalog until after I saw him (and his magical bulge) in Labyrinth, which still holds up today as one of my favorite movies of all time. Sure, I could've chosen the obvious crowd fav, "Magic Dance" ("You remind me of a babe"), but there's something about the gospel choir in "Underground" that lifts my spirits. Watch the original music video:

All right, folks! What are your David Bowie favorites? You can only have five! Not ten! Five! See? It's hard, isn't it, narrowing down the best of the best? I trust you will do a good job.


  1. I first got into Bowie through Labyrinth too! I agree with you about choosing "Underground" over "Magic Dance." My sister and I both love that movie and we even did a Labyrinth-themed airbands in high school. My (older) sister gave herself the role of Bowie and I got stuck being the leader of the fire gang. Still, it was fun. Thanks for posting the videos!

  2. Erica Lynn, what are "airbands?"

    And, by the way, seeing as Halloween is coming up, I'm surprised I don't see more Labyrinth-inspired costumes every year. Maybe I'll have to get my hands on a Hoggle suit.

  3. Airbands were really popular in my school district. Basically you take a song or a mashup of songs and you lipsynch and dance to them. We had annual competitions at all the high schools and the winners of those went onto regionals. My friends were a bunch of theatre geeks so we were always up for any opportunity to get dressed up and perform, so we participated every year. We even won a couple of cash prizes, which is always nice.

    Bowie is great for Halloween costumes even outside of Labyrinth. Last year my roommate dressed as Bowie from the "Life on Mars" music video with a light blue suit she got from a thrift shop. She looked pretty convincing.

  4. The best David Bowie song of all time was in fact not written by David Bowie at all...


  6. 1. The Belway Brothers
    2. Up The Hill Backwards
    3. Let's Dance
    4. Life On Mars
    5. TVC 15

  7. Howard, you're too hip for your own good.

    Aaron, great list. Some of those, I don't even know! What the F is "The Belway Brothers?!" I'm gonna go look it up....