We’ve been constantly spoiled by all things David Bowie-related this year — a new album, a bunch of new singles, a deluxe version of the album… and now, in the last month, not one but two new videos for James Murphy’s remix of “Love Is Lost.” The second of these premiered yesterday, and it’s a spectacular piece of CGI work from director Barnaby Roper, apparently constructing the startlingly realistic animations of two people from scratch and then getting them to, well, get it on. It’s the latest fascinating video for which Bowie has been responsible — he was one of the first to pioneer the video as an art form, way back in the late 1960s, and he’s appeared in many weird and wonderful clips throughout his career. Here are ten of our favorites.
“Ashes to Ashes”
I roused the anger of our comments section a while back for suggesting that this video hasn’t aged particularly well. (OK, the headline was probably overly provocative.) But for all that the JCB and visual effects do look somewhat dated, no one’s arguing that this is anything less than a fantastic piece of filmmaking. And at the time, it looked like it had come from another world.
“Love Is Lost”
For all that the big-budget CGI extravaganza that was premiered yesterday was impressive, it’s a whole lot less atmospheric and interesting than the home-produced video Bowie made himself over the course of a weekend. I wrote about the video’s fascinating imagery here.
Still iconic after all these years, and all the more so for the fact that it was made long before the music video was an established art form. To be making videos at all was impressive — to be making ones this good is remarkable.
“I! I WILL BE KING! AND YOU! YOU WILL BE QUEEN!”
Our hero plays two parts, mainly because this is an excerpt from a 21-minute film by Julien Temple, in which Bowie plays both a straight-laced dude trying to impress his girl by pretending to know an exotic rock star and the exotic rock star in question. And, as we pointed out recently, that’s Richard Fairbrass of Right Said Fred playing bass!
“Be My Wife”
In which Bowie tries to look just like a regular guy with his red guitar… and, of course, ends up looking weirder than ever.
“I’m Afraid of Americans”
Trent Reznor stalks a paranoid and terrified Bowie through the streets of New York. Look, you’d be terrified too if you were being followed by a debauched (and apparently psychokinetic) industrial legend who looks like a vampire who hasn’t fed for days.
Nearly a decade before The Next Day, this video found Bowie confronting advancing years and pondering his lost youth. The video’s reflective, melancholy mood befits the song (which is great, by the way — it’s one of Bowie’s most underrated latter-day singles).
“The Stars (Are Out Tonight)”
Sure, it’s a great video, but this will go down in history as being chiefly notable for the fact that it featured both Bowie and Tilda Swinton in the same frame, thus finally resolving one of the great unanswered questions of our time: are Bowie and Swinton actually the same person?
“Life On Mars?”
The best of them all, in your correspondent’s opinion. The image of Bowie in this video is one of the most iconic of a man who’s built his career on iconic images — the harsh white lighting, extravagant makeup, and power blue suit all make him look like he’s just descended from a planet full of beings way, way more elegant than you or me.