David Bowie means something different to everyone. Thanks to the perpetual reinventions that defined his career and ensured his longevity, every Bowie fan can find something special in specific albums that might not appeal so readily to another. With so many albums and distinct sounds to consume across the singer’s extensive discography, it’s only natural that one fan would prefer Bowie’s plastic soul sound to the bombastic glam rock of Aladdin Sane, or vice versa. Bowie not only redefined himself with almost every new release, he redefined what it meant to make popular music. He proved that he didn’t have to pigeonhole himself or sacrifice artistry for the sake of mainstream recognition.
In celebration of his life and impact, let’s rank the Thin White Duke’s incomparable discography, one that spans from piano pop to ambient experiments and from Mars to postwar Berlin. A few albums I’m omitting, for the sake of my sanity: Bowie’s self-titled folk-oriented debut (a curiosity at best), his 1973 album of covers Pin Ups, and the albums he recorded as part of Tin Machine.
Bowie reached his low point in the mid-to-late ’80s, and no album is lower than this nauseatingly slick but commercially successful effort. It’s a little like its far-superior predecessor Let’s Dance, but devoid of melody or interesting ideas.