So why is David Bowie’s Hunky Dory on this best 1,000 albums ever thing?
Hunky Dory is upper tier David Bowie, a surprisingly eclectic album that gets better and better the more time you spend with it. And “Life on Mars?” – along with “Space Oddity,” off of David Bowie from 1969 – is a space-ish related masterpiece.
It’s its own mini-rock opera that runs just under four minutes in playing time. The piano, the strings, and Bowie’s emotive vocals are singer-songwriter-meets-rock star perfection.
I’ve gone back and forth with “Changes” over the years, mainly because it feels like a snippet of the chorus is thrown into every nostalgic pop culture or otherwise retrospective on the 1970s or whatever that one could think of. But in listening to it with fresh and attentive ears, it’s fantastic and well deserving as one of Bowie’s best known and beloved songs.
The songwriting and construction is meticulous, inventive, fun and emotional in turns.
It’s masterful stuff. I’m always down for Bowie to go full glam rock and/or proto punk, and “Queen Bitch” accomplishes both feats.
And “Oh! You Pretty Things” shows off how great Bowie can be when he decides to simply feature his vocals backed by a piano. Of course, things zoom from there to a boisterous and gorgeous number with a little bit of a Beatles or Harry Nilsson flair.
Pop culture stuff that has something to do with David Bowie’s Hunky Dory
In 2008, a TV show called Life On Mars ran for one season in the U.S. (I mention this bit as it’s based on a UK show of the same name that aired a few years earlier).
The premise was very high concept*: a police detective in “modern” New York City gets in a car accident and then “somehow” wakes up and he’s actually a police detective in the NYC of 1973.
* In this era, many shows went super high concept in trying to chase the lightning in a bottle fan frenzy that Lost set off. Just don’t get me started on the Lost series finale…
Life on Mars the show was kind of weird and uneven at times, but it had a lot of fun showing off early 1970s New York City and anachronistic technology and cop culture. Most importantly of all, the cast is off-the-charts amazing: Harvey Keitel, Michael Imperioli, Gretchen Mol, and Jason O’Mara.
For that last bit alone, I was disappointed that Life on Mars was cancelled after a truly bizarre series finale sought to wrap up the core mystery and mythology of the show.
Even more pop culture stuff that has something to do with David Bowie’s Hunky Dory
The more I listen to “Oh! You Pretty Things,” it also started to make me realize how much Beck’s incredible “Dear Life,” off of Colors, owes to it.
Some stats & info about David Bowie – Hunky Dory
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rock Music, Glam Rock, Album Rock, Singer Songwriter
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – #88
- All Music’s rating – 5 out of 5 stars
- When was Hunky Dory released? 1971
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #386 out of 1,000
David Bowie’s Hunky Dory on Spotify
A lyrical snippet from David Bowie’s Hunky Dory that’s evocative of the album in some way, maybe
Oh man, wonder if he’ll ever know he’s in the best selling show. Is there life on Mars?
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.