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20 Insanely Great David Bowie Songs Only Hardcore Fans Know

A deep dive into the Thin White Duke’s catalog, beyond “Space Oddity” and “Heroes”

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A full length portrait of David Bowie performing on the Dutch TV show TopPop playing the song 'Rebel Rebel' and wearing an eye patch on 7th February 1974 in Hilversum, Netherlands. (Photo by Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns)

David Bowie fans haven't had the easiest decade. It began with our hero suffering a massive heart attack, canceling the remaining dates of his tour and turning completely away from the spotlight. Then, just when it seemed he was gone forever, the Thin White Duke unleashed a surprise album last year. But he didn't promote it with a single live performance or interview and he's since gone quiet yet again. Thankfully, he left behind one of the most impressive catalogs in rock history. Bowie has so many amazing hits that his other songs tend to get overlooked. Here's a look at 20 hidden gems from his catalog.

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“New Killer Star”

David Bowie had been working solidly for so many consecutive years when Reality came out in September 2003 that most people were taking him for granted. It was his second record in a little over a year and few people were even paying attention. It was their loss. Reality is a killer album that kicks off with this bombastic track that touches upon New York in the aftermath of 9/11. Bowie lived very near Ground Zero and the tragedy touched him deeply. "See the great white scar," he wrote. "Over Battery Park/Then a flare glides over/But I won't look at that scar."

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“Bring Me the Disco King”

"Bring Me the Disco King" had one of the longest gestation periods of any song in Bowie's catalog. He started work on the haunting, reflective track during sessions for 1993's Black Tie White Noise, but he couldn't quite pull it together. He tried again four years later for Earthling, but again it wasn't working. The song finally gelled during the sessions for 2003's Reality when he slowed the whole thing down. It wraps up the entire album and stretches to nearly eight minutes. It was the last new Bowie song anyone heard for ten years, and lines like "stab me in the dark, let me disappear" made it seem like a goodbye.

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“Hallo Spaceboy” (Pet Shop Boys remix)

In many ways, the 1990s were David Bowie's lost years. After decades of creating trends, he suddenly seemed behind the times — right as people he inspired, like Trent Reznor, completely took over the airwaves. It also seemed like the harder he tried, the worse he failed, especially when he reunited with former producers Nile Rodgers and Brian Eno. One very notable exception was "Hallo Spaceboy" from 1995's largely dreary Outside. The original has a strong Nine Inch Nails vibe, and the song got even better when the Pet Shop Boys got their hands on it. They made it danceable, and even sprinkled in a bit of "Space Oddity." Not many people were paying attention and the song didn't do very well, but there's a reason it was one of the few 1990s songs he kept in his set list after the turn of the millennium.

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