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Top 10 Bowie Songs that Could Have Been About Trump (But Weren’t)

An odd coincidence (at least to me, it’s an odd coincidence), Bowie’s career more or less tracks that of Donald Trump, who is actually a year older than Bowie. That said, as far as I can tell, Bowie never did anything with Trump or about Trump (Bowie’s son, Duncan Jones, objected to Trump using Bowie music at his rallies). That said, Bowie, the prescient songwriter, has plenty of songs that might as well have been about the former president:

1. “Somebody Up there Likes Me” (1975). Literally a song about a megalomaniacal politician (the video is of a cover band performing this song). Not unlike Bowie’s better-known song, “Fashion,” here he conflates demagoguery with rock-and-roll stardom.
2. “Saviour Machine” (1970). Another, if less subtle song about dictatorship. Somewhat ironically, the fictional president of this dystopian vision is named, “Joe,” but the description is Trumpian.
3. “Big Brother” (1974). The least subtle-of-all Bowie song about a the leader of cult of personality and totalitarian government. Obviously based on the 1984 character, but could easily be about the 45th president.
4. “This is Not America” (1985). Written for the spy movie, The Falcon and the Snowman, Bowie is singing about traitor-spies— and not in a good way. Evocative of the documents case.
5. “I’m Afraid of Americans” (1997). The type of American Bowie seems to be describing as being worthy of fearing sounds like MAGA to me.
6. “Under the God” (1989). Tin Machine’s song about neo-fascism. No further explanation needed. Except to be clear, they’re against.
7. “Scream Like a Baby” (1980). The entire Scary Monsters album is largely about being worn down and broken by society. This song is explicitly about a government-backed society that comes down hard on the gays (Bowie uses a more impactful word that I won’t reproduce here), and cracks down on those who don’t succumb to consumerism and “mix with other colors.” Sounds like Trump’s vision for America.
8. “I’ll Take You There” (2013). A more obscure song both in terms of its general popularity as well as its exact meaning, I take it to be about refugees fleeing to America for a new identity. The protagonists are terrified of something, and though “the USA” is their destination, they don’t exactly seem comforted by the idea of arriving there and changing their names. Less about Trump than one of the themes of the Trump era.
9. “Sweet Thing/Candidate” (1974). “I’m having so much fun with the poisonous people, spreading rumors and lies and stories they made up…” There’s a lot going on in this three-in-one song off the dystopian Diamond Dogs album, but at its heart is a “candidate” who will “make you a deal.”
10. “The Voyeur of Utter Destruction (As Beauty)” (1995). I’m mostly including this because of how Trump uses the word, “beautiful,” which often sounds unintentionally ironic or very deliberately hectoring (think, “beautiful wall”). It’s also possible that he’s so deranged (evocative of another song from 1. Outside, “I’m Deranged”) that he looks out over the carnage he’s wrought and actually sees it as beauty. Most of the other lyrics of the song don’t really apply to Trump, but there is a line about staring into the sun until “my eyes burn” which reminds me of what Trump did during an eclipse when warned not to stare into the sun (he did).

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