Arguably the most powerful and poignant music release this year, Blackstar is the 25th and final album of the late, great David Bowie, and the record that has come out on top in this year’s Edge list. Largely recorded in secret between The Magic Shop and Human Worldwide Studios in New York City, the album was released on January 8th, marking the music legend’s 69th birthday. In what has become one of this year’s most tragic moments of fate, Bowie died just two days later after a closely guarded battle with liver cancer.
Described by co-producer Tony Visconti as Bowie’s “parting gift” to the world, Blackstar was received with an eerie sense of awe and knowing as grief-stricken fans picked up on the record’s many subtle lyrical references to Bowie’s gradual decline. The track ‘Lazarus’ resonated with a particular poignancy, especially when paired with the haunting music video that was released the day before the album was released. The song opens with a long, despondent jazz number before the late singer croons the melancholy lyrics, “Look up here, I’m in heaven / I’ve got scars that can’t be seen.”
The video, in which Bowie appears in a hospital bed with bandages covering his eyes, is similarly bleak, but then the song reaches its powerful climax, with the singer declaring that he’ll “be free, just like that bluebird.” A really powerful track, hitting on a man’s brave contemplation of mortality, ‘Lazarus’ is the paragon of Bowie’s swansong record. Other songs, like the eponymous ‘Blackstar’ and ‘I Can’t Give Everything Away,’ also touch upon the album’s theme of contemplation, whilst also displaying the strength of Bowie’s musical prowess.
Ultimately, Blackstar is a shining testament to Bowie’s incredible legacy, proving his aptitude for being ahead of the curve in every way, as well as his talent for crafting beautiful, thought-provoking music. They don’t make ’em like him anymore.
Blackstar was released on January 8th via ISO and Columbia Records