Top 10 David Bowie Songs

Script written by Craig Butler. He helped put the “glam” in glam rock, but this rock ‘n’ roll chameleon is a lot more than just outrageous make-up and glittery clothes. And his songs prove it. For this list, we’ve chosen our entries based on a combination of the artist’s fan favorites and their most commercially successful songs. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 David Bowie songs. Special thanks to our users Marie Scraeyen, estronal, superwolf234, Sara Anne, Marie Scraeyen, David NM and Paeanoa Kingi for submitting the idea on our Suggest Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Craig Butler.

He helped put the “glam” in glam rock, but this rock ‘n’ roll chameleon is a lot more than just outrageous make-up and glittery clothes. And his songs prove it. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 David Bowie songs.

For this list, we’ve chosen our entries based on a combination of the artist’s fan favorites and their most commercially successful songs.

#10: “Golden Years”
“Golden Years” single (1975)

“Golden Years” was Bowie’s second single to crack the Top 10 in the United States and continued the “plastic soul” sound he had initiated with his previous single, the massive hit “Fame.” Bowie claims he wrote the song for Elvis Presley; and while it’s intriguing to think what “The King” might have done with it, its unique funk sound is 100% Bowie.

#9: “Suffragette City”
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)

Bowie’s 1972 album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars was a watershed for him – and many consider it his finest record. It’s filled with incredible songs, including the propulsively catchy “Suffragette City.” One of Bowie’s most rocking songs, it moves like a bat out of hell from first note to last and manages to pay tribute to Little Richard along the way.

#8: “Young Americans”
Young Americans (1975)

“Young Americans” was the first Bowie cut that really showcased his ability to take classic Philly soul sounds and meld them into one that was utterly his own. With a big assist from David Sanborn’s tasty sax, backing vocal arrangements by Luther Vandross and a semi-samba beat, the song’s musical groove provides a tasty counterbalance to the lyrics’ cynical references to America in the 1970s.

#7: “Heroes”
Heroes (1977)

Heroes was the second Bowie album created in collaboration with minimalist Brian Eno, and the title track is one of the singer’s masterpieces. It didn’t achieve massive commercial success, peaking at #24 in the U.K. and not even charting on the Hot 100 in the States; but it’s a true critic’s darling. There are notable moments throughout, including some awesome Robert Fripp guitar work, but it’s the cohesiveness of all the elements that really impresses.

#6: “Life on Mars?”
Hunky Dory (1971)

Although the lyrics suggest some sort of surreal dreamscape, Bowie’s “Life on Mars?” is an acidic yet oddly sensitive take on youthful confusion, circa 1971. Confronted with overwhelming images from a world they must inhabit but didn’t make, who wouldn’t wonder about alternatives to this reality? Add in a pounding piano, an otherworldly string section and a nakedly yearning vocal performance and the result is irresistible – and a top 3 hit in the UK.

#5: “Changes”
Hunky Dory (1971)

“Changes” is an especially apt song for Bowie, considered one of rock’s most chameleonic artists for his ability to change both personas and musical styles with ease. Although the song earned only moderate chart success, it has become one of Bowie’s most identifiable tracks – and why not? That stuttering chorus, simple yet surprising bridge and catchy bass and sax figures, combined with Bowie’s playful vocal, make this a song one is always welcome to stumble across.

#4: “Fame”
Young Americans (1975)

“Fame” was something of an afterthought, making it onto the Young Americans album at the last minute. It became Bowie’s first #1 single in the United States and went gold to boot. Created with John Lennon and featuring a memorable guitar riff from Carlos Alomar, it’s a nasty, bitter diatribe about – what else? – fame. But the funky rhythm and echoing wail of the music make the message totally palatable – and dance-able.

#3: “Rebel Rebel”
Diamond Dogs (1974)

One of Bowie’s finest glam rock outings, “Rebel Rebel” has a guitar riff to die for and an attitude that’s more Rolling Stones than the Stones themselves. Yet it somehow comes across as playful, even with lyrics like “Hot tramp, I love you so.” Bowie moved beyond glam rock after this cut, but it’s a fitting tribute to the genre – and a demonstration of its power in the right hands.

#2: “Ziggy Stardust”
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)

Guitarist Mick Ronson shines on “Ziggy Stardust,” but Bowie’s vocal matches him. Snarling one minute, winning the next, Bowie sails through this story of an extraordinary rock figure and the dangers of stardom. It’s an oft-told tale, but Bowie gives it strange details and wild musical passages that make it seem fresh. As with most great performers, it’s not what Bowie says really; it’s the way that he says it.

Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “Modern Love”
Let’s Dance (1983)
- “Let’s Dance”
Let’s Dance (1983)
- “The Jean Genie”
Aladdin Sane (1973)
- “I’m Afraid of Americans”
Earthling (1997)
- “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)”
The Next Day (2013)

#1: “Space Oddity”
“Space Oddity” single (1969)

Bowie’s first hit was a mindblower: “Space Oddity,” the tale of Major Tom, a make-believe astronaut stuck in space. When released in 1969, it was timely: both “2001: A Space Odyssey” and the Apollo 11 moon landing were big news. But “Space Oddity” has lived on, always a favorite because of its beautifully crafted structure, captivating yet odd story and strangely appealing musical themes - and Bowie’s vocal is one of his most compelling – which is saying something.

Do you agree with our choices? What other outstanding David Bowie songs is your favorite? For more enthralling top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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