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Best and Worst Song From Every Bowie Album (Part 2: 1975-1980)

Young Americans (1975). My least favorite Bowie album from the 70s, this one still has some great songs. I’m going to say “Fame” is on top here. It was Bowie’s first #1, at least in the U.S., and its a song he continued to perform late into his career. I’m not so partial to the so-called plastic soul songs. This is the first album since Bowie’s debut that has multiple songs competing for the distinction of being worst, at least in my mind. I’m going to go with “Can You Hear Me?” To me, it, along with “Win,” “Right,” and “Somebody Up There Likes Me” all blend together and I might pick one of those others on another day.

Station to Station (1976). Bowie followed one of my least favorites with one of my absolute favorites and once again he’s in the no-bad-song territory. Although the challenge of picking a best song is made a little easier because there are only six songs on the album to choose among. So, that said, I’m going to go with “Stay,” which has slowly crept up in my personal rankings over the years…”This week dragged past me slowly, the days fell on their knees.” Some of my favorite lyrics. As for the worst, again there are no bad songs on this album. So it’s with trepidation that I’ll choose “Golden Years.” Not a bad song at all, but my one criticism is that it seems a little out of place on this album. It might have done more service shoring up the last one.

Low (1977). The first of the Berlin trilogy, Low is often considered one of Bowie’s most innovative albums. I surely like it but think the songs with words are far superior to those without. All the songs with words are great, and though it’s tempting to select “Sound and Vision,” instead I’m going to say “Breaking Glass” is the best here. Why? Hard to say, but it’s also hard to choose one. I’ll turn to the instrumentals for the worst, and again these are not bad pieces, but I’m going to go with “Warszawa”— it’s slow and depressing.

Heroes’ (1977). Most people would choose the title track but “Beauty and the Beast” is my very favorite song, so that’s my #1. I kind of like the instrumentals on this album better than the last, but I’m nonetheless going with “Neukoln” for the worst. Not truly bad, but it makes “Warszawa” seem peppy by comparison.

Lodger (1979). Bowie’s most underrated album from the 70s. Here he decided to go back to all songs with words, and I think that was an improvement for the overall album. Many great songs and no true stinkers, but “D.J.” is one of my favorite Bowie songs, so that’s what I’m going to say is the best. I’ll reluctantly say “Repetition” is the worst for a reason that I’ve cited before- the song isn’t bad but it seems out of place here. Also, while it’s admirably against domestic violence, it’s a little obvious for Bowie.

Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) (1980) My very favorite overall Bowie album. For me, this is the hardest to choose among all excellent songs for both a standout and one I can designate as not as good as the others. Throw a dart for either. Oh well, I guess I’ll go with the most obvious option for best, “Ashes to Ashes.” I think it’s had the longest legs of the songs from this album, and it’s surely one of his greats. As for the worst? I really like every last song here, but I’ll say “Its No Game (No. 2),” which paradoxically is a great and devastating way to end the album while, at the same time not a song that can stand up totally by itself.

And with that, stay turned for Bowie’s 80s pop albums next…

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