Following his death earlier this month, views of David Bowie's iconic catalog of music videos shot up and broke records across Vevo and YouTube. Watching the clips that accompanied his memorable singles are a perfect tribute to the rock star who effortlessly blended groundbreaking visuals with forward-thinking music. We asked our readers to vote for their favorite David Bowie videos. Here are the results.
Bowie ditched metaphor and favored the communal aspect of gospel-tinged single "Modern Love." The singer performs in an oversized yellow suit with a full band. The focus on an arena-level performance emphasizes the call-and-response aspect of the Little Richard-inspired single.
For "Thursday's Child," Bowie reflects on the past and thinks about what could have been. He stares in a bathroom mirror as he and his wife do mundane activities and appears to see his younger self reflected back at him along with a younger version of his wife.
Bowie went full goth for his mid-Nineties LP Outside, where he reunited with Brian Eno. For "The Hearts Filthy Lesson," the semi-industrial track was complemented by a dark, dystopian video that featured gory objects and mutilated body parts amid scenes of pagan rituals.
Even at his simplest, Bowie is transfixing. For the "Heroes" clip, he first appears as a an alien-esque silhouette against a spotlight. He remains locked to the same spot for the entirety of the video, swaying and stoically looking ahead as he sings the track.
The surreal video for "Blackstar" covers the entirety of the nearly 10-minute song and is an intoxicating mix of politics, religion and Bowie's own mythology. The beginning of the video has a woman with a tail discovering the body of a dead astronaut — who has been interpreted as Major Tom. Over the course of the clip, Bowie is seen playing three different characters, including a priest and "Button Eyes," who is later seen on his deathbed in "Lazarus."
With the video for hit single "Let's Dance," off the album of the same name, Bowie set out to tackle Western imperialism, racism and oppression with the visual clip co-directed by David Mallet. In his 1983 Rolling Stone cover story on the making of the album, he referred to the shared messages of the clips for "Let's Dance" and "China Girl" as "very simple, very direct." He continued by saying that since the videos are like short movies and seen everywhere, he wanted to use the "video format as a platform for some kind of social observation." In the clip, an aboriginal couple are seen struggling with imperialism in their everyday lives.
His final video was also his most darkly prophetic: In "Lazarus," Bowie is seen in a hospital room and performing from what could be interpreted to be a deathbed. In the same hospital room, a more maniacal version of Bowie is seen dancing and writing while wearing an outfit similar to the black-and-white striped top and pants from his Station to Station era, a time he later called one of his darkest. At the end of the clip, which was directed by Johan Renck, he retreats to a pitch-black closet. Following his death, producer Tony Visconti called Blackstar a "parting gift" for fans and described his death as a "work of art."
Bowie's fourth music video — then known as promotional videos — is a simple, gorgeous accompaniment to single "Life on Mars." Mick Rock directed the clip, which features Bowie with a bright orange mullet, ice blue suit and nearly neon make-up standing in front of a white background doing nothing more than dramatically singing his iconic song like the glam alien he was.
Bowie went cinematic with the 20-minute short film that accompanied single "Blue Jean." Directed by Julien Temple, who worked with the musician and actor two years later on the film Absolute Beginners, Bowie plays both Vic, an average man, and Screaming Lord Byron, a rock star. He meets a girl at a bar who's a huge fan of Byron, so Vic lies to her and says that he knows him. At Byron's show, Vic convinces him to meet with the girl and ends up stealing Vic's date in the end.
Bowie's "Ashes to Ashes" clip is not only a personal best but one of the Eighties' most iconic videos. At the time of its release at the beginning of the decade, "Ashes to Ashes" was the most expensive music video ever made. In the still fairly new medium of the time, Bowie showed off how ahead of the curb he was in all aspects with the futuristic clip that reflected on his own history and childhood loves, as seen in the gaudy Pierrot costume he wears throughout. He also takes advantage of advancements in special effects with scenes that cut between various coloring enhancements that create something truly stimulating.