An estimated 92% of us experience earworms. Despite the annoying times that we can’t get a chorus or a hook of an overplayed pop song out of our heads, getting a really good earworm stuck can be one of the best things ever.
We here at Nerdist are dead set on bringing you those types of songs, if only for the weekend. We’ll be scouring the internet for the best earworms we can shove into your grey matter!
So. This week it’s about David Bowie. It had to be because it’d be impossible not to write about such a great artist. Your news feeds on social media are likely inundated with articles, videos, pictures and other reminders of the impact the the man had on the world. To connect with so many people in so many ways is truly a beautiful thing and Bowie’s departure has left the planet substantially less cool. He was a pioneer of music not only as entertainment but as an art form, and – I mean this in no uncertain terms – the staying power of his countless contributions to the world will surely outlive anyone reading this.
What catches me off-guard with the tributes I’ve seen is how sullen some happen to be when talking about one of the most unique, creative, and free-spirited human beings to ever walk the Earth. Mourning truly is for the living and we all process things differently, but I think Bowie would want us to celebrate his life instead of mourning his loss. So that’s what we’ll do today.
There are so many songs I’d like to share for so many different reasons but I don’t want to make this just another list of favorite songs telling you how one-of-a-kind the man was. Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, I see no better way to honor a man who reinvented himself countless times and lived a dozen lifetimes in the span of one, than to celebrate the creative things people have done with his very own music. He can be remembered through every play of an original but he lives on in what’s re-imagined.
Seu Jorge – “Changes”
Having supplied the soundtrack to The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou would be enough to love Brazilian singer/songwriter Seu Jorge until the day that I die. That soundtrack being comprised entirely of Portuguese versions of David Bowie songs ensures that I’ll somehow make it an obligation that my children’s children’s children love him just as much. Bowie was a fan as well, writing “Had Seu Jorge not recorded my songs acoustically in Portuguese, I would never have heard this new level of beauty which he has imbued them with.” in the liner notes of the album.
Chris Hadfield – “Space Oddity”
There is so much to love about Commander Chris Hadfield’s rendition of “Space Oddity“. It’s fitting that this is the first music video ever to be shot in space and probably the perfect song choice for it other than Elton John’s “Rocketman.” It’ll be in history books alongside things like MTV playing “Video Killed The Radio Star” for the first time. It’s absolutely perfect to have someone in the ISS singing “And I’m floating in a most peculiar way/And the stars look very different today/For here am I sitting in a tin can/Far above the world” while literally doing those very things. This would be my very favorite tribute to Bowie if not for our next song.
Beck – “Sound and Vision”
Granted this was from a few years ago and was made for an automobile ad campaign, but in my opinion there isn’t a better representation of the spirit of David Bowie’s music than this re-imagining of 1977’s “Sound and Vision.” A song often left by the wayside for the many other hits by Bowie, the original’s simple lyrics and upbeat sound can feel right at home in anyone’s music collection without seeming out of place but what Beck did with it is astonishing.
The nearly ten minute long video walks the line between cover song and performance art thanks to the accompaniment of 160+ musicians surrounding the audience and Beck standing quite literally center stage. Choruses, choirs, a symphony and conventional “rock concert” musicians all have their parts to play in what coalesces into one gorgeous piece of music. There’s even theremin and saw players, a yodeler and someone playing a goddamned Alphorn! This is one of the more musically diverse groups I’ve ever seen.
If seeing people from all walks of life working together with their varied talents to produce a wonderful cover song isn’t representative of a musician who continually innovated music, art and himself then I don’t know what is. In my mind, this version of “Sound and Vision” is an embodiment of how we should remember David Bowie. If we surround ourselves with creativity, strive to keep changing and try new things — somewhere along the way we’ll make something beautiful.
What are your favorite tributes or covers of Bowie songs? Let me know in the comments below!
Blake Rodgers writes for Nerdist from Chicago IL where he lives happily with his Guinness World Record for High Fives. You can be his pal by following him on Twitter (@TheBlakeRodgers)