All critical consensus aside, I still unabashedly really love Never Let Me Down. Most critics have dismissed it as the nadir of cheesy eighties-ness, a career low for David Bowie. That’s exactly what I love though. It’s David Bowie trying to be the commercial artist he always could’ve been, if he’d been able to tone down his natural weirdness. The weirdness is still barely contained, but buttered up with all the trendy 80’s production gimmicks. I’m not the only one who suspected that the problem was just lazy production taking the sheen off of some actually pretty strong songs, and now there’s been some remixing done (for a box set, of course.) Listen to the same song with and without dinky 80’s canned beats, and at least chalk it up as a near-miss.
Everybody loves David Bowie at his best. These days, a basic familiarity with his greatest hits is near-obligatory if you want to play with the cool kids. But are you fan enough to still peruse him at his most mediocre? Bowie has a singularly rewarding back catalog for anyone ready to leave the compilations behind, but even the deepest barrel has a bottom. So, here’s a fairly terrible David Bowie song to test your mettle. I say ‘fairly’ terrible because it’s still David Bowie and you could do a lot worse in the badness department. But it’s a pretty terrible song by anyone’s standards.