David Bowie released his first song in 10 years last month with the pre-release single "Where Are We Now?" The first single to be taken from Bowie's upcoming 24th studio album The Next Day. One month later and he raised the stakes once again with the second track, "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)". It's just a shame this 'new' Bowie track fails to match the Berlin trilogy-esque "Where Are We Now?" At the tender age of 66, Bowie isn't quite ready to quit. He could have quit while he was ahead in the late 80s, but thankfully (unfortunately to some) he's still releasing music, and even after a 10 year break his age bears no means on his output.
"The Stars (Are Out Tonight)" will be released alongside "Where Are We Now?" as a double A-side for this year’s Record Store Day. This once entirely independent unique day has been somewhat manufactured, with Jack White the next in line from a string of 'ambassadors' that have included Iggy Pop, Ozzy Osborne and Josh Homme. Some artists, more importantly record labels now see this day as an opportunity to sell records, advertise and promote with PR, rather than focus on what the day is actually about.. As Jack White said in his Record Store Day manifesto: "Let's wake each other up."
"The Stars (Are Out Tonight)" isn't quite the follow-up single I was expecting from Bowie. You may have gathered from my negative inclination above, this isn't what I want to hear. Let's start with the subject matter. Bowie's lyrics have always been an oddity, metaphorical but sometimes literal, like what we have here. Celebrities are at large in the western world, and Bowie is one of the biggest music related celebrities in British history. He knows what it's like to be famous, because he is famous. This is about the outsider’s perception of celebrities, or as Bowie calls them: "Stars." I think he has his realism mixed up, for instance he rightfully sings: "Stars are never sleeping; the dead ones are the living." A correct lyric, however I personally wouldn't use 'the' in this lyric, it takes the mystery out of the lyrics. He goes on to sing: "They are the stars, they're dying for you, but I hope they live forever." I'm sure he's referencing celebrities that have died from pressure, drug use, anything to do with fame and attention. The first part is wrong in my eyes, the stars are not dying for their onlookers, they’re dying because of their own self monetary gain, unless they gathered their fame from mummy or daddy. The second part to this lyric is Bowie wanting those that are famous (more directly musicians) that have died, to live forever, which they will, as Liam Gallagher once profoundly put it.
I'm a fan of Bowie, I really am, but this is the simplicity you find in every chant at football matches up and down the country. From the raw basic lyrics to the dull rock instrumentation, "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)" just makes me want to forget it has Bowie's name attatched to it. Sometimes critics / fans can't turn against their favourites, but they should do. "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)" doesn’t show any signs of improvement in Bowie's sound. "Where Are We Now?" was and will be the Bowie single that could of regenerated his music career, that's what I thought one month ago. Bowie has shot himself in the foot with this one. Strip away the strings and the studio enhanced equipment and you have a generic back album track for Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds. Fans of Bowie, critics, friends... Let's wake each other up.