It’s hard to fathom that David Bowie is putting out what will be his twenty-eighth album, Blackstar (stylized as ★), on January 8, 2016–his 69th birthday. To prepare us, the incomparable musician/performance artist (for all intents and purposes) has released a ten minute visual accompaniment to help us get used to the idea of just how celestial his forthcoming work is going to be. And it seems as though it’s going to be very celestial indeed, based on the Lynchian tone of the “Blackstar” video.
After working with Arcade Fire on their single 2013 single “Reflecktor,” it seems as though Bowie has adopted a sound in keeping with the nature of this Canadian band with an unclassifiable sound. The concept behind the song and video is based on the findings regarding KIC 8462852, a flickering star in the Cygnus constellation, over 1,000 lightyears from earth. If the initial sci-fi vibes of this notion for a video don’t weird you out already, then surely Bowie’s interpretation of life on the star will.
The Emerald City shape of the structure on Blackstar plays host to Bowie in a burlap sack blindfold with two scarecrow eyes on it, a woman with a tail and a unibrow carrying around a skull and some extremely manic male dancers. Directed by Johan Renck (who has also worked with that other unstoppable icon, Madonna), the sinister modulations of Bowie’s voice are enhanced by the director’s emphasis on darkness–with the occasional flicker of a “solitary candle” in the villa of Ormen (this is, incidentally, a place in Norway, perhaps a reference to how this particular locale echoes the look and feel of a black star).
Feminist overtones seem to take hold toward the end of the video as a circle of women delight in celebrating the death of a man in a space suit–presumably an allusion to Major Tom or a symbol for the black star itself–as Bowie croons, “On the day of execution, only women kneel and smile.”And yet, in spite of one black star’s death, “somebody else took his place,” a lyric that delineates Bowie’s statement on how there will always be a ruler to spring up when one falls (whether we’re talking stars or people). As the video intensifies, Bowie, perhaps semi in character and semi referring to himself, declares, “You’re a flash in the pan, I’m the great I am.” The content of “Blackstar” assuredly continues to prove this of the Thin White Duke, who remains more unafraid than ever to challenge the norm.