Column by Abbey Maynard
Ten years since his last release and just one year after the 40th anniversary of “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars,” David Bowie released “The Next Day,” his 24th studio album.
David Bowie’s an icon. There’s no getting around that and there certainly aren’t any words I could write that would even come close to expressing how his music resonates with me, and not just me, generations. But as a fan — especially a relatively younger one — it’s certainly strange to have this unchanging image of Bowie ruptured by the first studio release in my memory. And I’m still not sure how to feel about it. How could anything ever stand up to his impressive discography? How could a new release even fit in?
Surprisingly, or maybe unsurprisingly, it does fit in. Bowie keeps his sound, his style his image. Like his unchanging facial expressions from plastic surgery, he stays distinctly Bowie — timeless. But there’s also this unsettling feeling of preservation that just doesn’t quite fit either. It seems to settle into the discography better than it should, given the amount of time since his last release.
At age 66, Bowie still manages to keep his youthful spirit. I found myself laughing out loud when I heard the track, “I’d Rather Be High” — imagining an even older version of David Bowie dropping LSD on a respirator or something in 2025. And it wouldn’t really be as shocking or uncouth as perhaps it should be.
On one hand, “The Next Day” feels like it’s stuck in earlier years. I stumbled upon “Where Are We Now?” from the new(ish) release without any knowledge that it was on that record, and I could have sworn he’d have released it twenty years ago.
But Bowie knows as well as the rest of us that it isn’t 1985 anymore, and sadly, so do his fans.
These sorts of moments on the record are equal parts wonderful and disturbing because we all damn well know that he’s aged quite a bit, but his music hasn’t. Because it’s not allowed to.
Bowie is uniquely Bowie, only allowed to make minimal change to aesthetics or sound. It’s important to remember — though it is difficult — that David Bowie is an artist and a real-life person. He likely is still searching for new levels of artistry but is also obligated to his fans to be timeless. And this timelessness translates to a ‘stuck in time’ sound that just doesn’t seem to fit.
Though I’m truly grateful and, generally speaking, pleased with Bowie’s new release, I feel sort of bad for being part of the fan base that likely coerced him into making this record.
By no means am I trying to say that Bowie made this because we made him. But on a search for The Fountain of Youth that he seems to be so desperately seeking, “The Next Day” feels like a necessary pit stop.
Maynard is a sophomore English major and study of culture and society minor and can be reached at email@example.com