AOTY 2018
David Bowie - Blackstar
Critic Score
Based on 36 reviews
2016 Ratings: #12 / 758
Year End Rank: #1
User Score
2016 Ratings: #4
January 8, 2016 / Release Date
LP / Format
Columbia, RCA / Label
David Bowie, Tony Visconti / Producer
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CRITIC REVIEWS

100
Sputnikmusic
In coming to see David Bowie the man finally portrayed by David Bowie the artist, he not only affirms our natural human hopes and fears, but realizes his own in his final hours. The artist lowers his mask and takes a bow. And the audience applauds.
100
The Telegraph

How fantastic to have an album as rich and strange as Blackstar that refuses to yield in a few listens.

93
Paste

True to the tone of the record, Bowie is almost a spectre throughout ★. His vocals are often doubled in tight harmonies, or given an alien-like echo that might as well be broadcasts from the beyond. He never sounds less than marvelous, through.

91
A.V. Club

For all its jazz accents and solos, Blackstar ends up becoming a stage for the things that first made Bowie a pop star: his incessantly catchy melodies and elastic voice. With its simple (though oblique) lyrics and endlessly repeated choruses, it’s a secret pop record submerged in the dark places of studio improvisation.

91
Entertainment Weekly
It’s the kind of album that works beautifully as a physical experience – an all-senses headphone surrender to the sound of an artist who is older and almost definitely wiser but still fantastically, singularly himself.
90
PopMatters

Blackstar has no reference point—it’s destined to be one itself. It’s trippy and majestic head-music spun from moonage daydreams and made for gliding in and out of life.

90
musicOMH
It’s an album that sums up Bowie as an artist – restless, audacious, constantly looking forward to the next new idea. January may only be a week old, but that ‘Best Of 2016’ list already has a slot filled.
90
The Line of Best Fit
Bowie has always maintained an expert balance between heady intellectualism and histrionic nonsense, both on stage and in the studio, and this record is a fitful combination of the two.
90
Crack Magazine
Through his multifarious onstage personas, Bowie had always portrayed a sense of invincibility, so listening to him welcome an infinite dark- ness and silence is overwhelming.
90
The Needle Drop
Entertainment icon David Bowie turns his death into an awe-inspiring concept album.
90
Spectrum Culture

Blackstar will go down as one of the great Bowie albums, not simply for emerging on his deathbed but for the strength of its focus, the scale of its ambition and the clarity with which he incorporates swooning, sinister jazz with contemporary production and emerges with a quintessential statement.

85
Pitchfork
He’s making the most of his latest reawakening, adding to the myth while the myth is his to hold.
83
Northern Transmissions

It goes without saying that Blackstar isn’t the kind of epoch­defining masterpiece that Bowie built his career upon a few years ago. That being said, it does return the songwriter to the unpredictable excitement of that earlier time.

83
Pretty Much Amazing

No, Blackstar’s components don’t add up to a perfect whole. Still, it’s as exciting as Bob Dylan’s latter-day masterpieces without the need to look backward for inspiration.

83
Consequence of Sound

Blackstar is a battle cry against boredom, a wide-eyed drama set in a world just beyond our scopes. It doesn’t get more Bowie than that.

80
Rolling Stone

This album represents Bowie's most fulfilling spin away from glam-legend pop charm since 1977's Low. Blackstar is that strange, and that good.

80
NME
Warped showtunes, skronking industrial rock, soulful balladeering, airy folk-pop, even hip-hop – it all has a place on this busy, bewildering and occasionally beautiful record.
80
DIY
‘Blackstar’ seems to be him giving everything, allowing all of his creative impulses to flourish. If that’s what selfish means, then let’s hope Bowie gives us lots more of it.
80
The Guardian
It’s a rich, deep and strange album that feels like Bowie moving restlessly forward, his eyes fixed ahead: the position in which he’s always made his greatest music.
80
Exclaim!
It’s a defining statement from someone who isn’t interested in living in the past, but rather, for the first time in a while, waiting for everyone else to catch up.
80
Billboard

Bowieologists already are likening the album to his great Berlin experiments Low or "Heroes." It's to Bowie's credit that the comparisons don't quite fit. Blackstar is its own strange, perverse thing, the ­latest move in a boundlessly ­unpredictable career.

80
Drowned in Sound
It sounds like a recipe for total fucking disaster, but in fact it’s wonderful: rock’n’roll has largely been purged, and the resultant musical canvases are melancholic, atmospheric, crepuscular affairs that set Bowie free from the banalities that creep into his pop and unleashes his inner dramatist for the first time in an age.
80
AllMusic

This comfort with the now is the most striking thing about Blackstar: it is the sound of a restless artist feeling utterly at ease not only within his own skin but within his own time.

80
Under The Radar
On ★, Bowie has his back to the void, and he's riding it like a wave. He is the cosmic horror, an embodiment of death anxiety that is eternal and crushing. What else can explain his unparalleled quality well into his sixth decade as a pop star?
80
No Ripcord
It’d be quite the impenetrable send off were this the end of his career, but as he’s proven time and time again, it always feels like he’s got something else to prove regardless of the time it takes him to get there.
80
Slant Magazine

Blackstar is defiantly a thing of its own, allowing Bowie to revisit his career-spanning, paradoxical fears—either that his life is ending imminently, or that it never will—with fascinating new sounds.

80
Tiny Mix Tapes
Which pop stars have lived or even remained relevant long enough to commemorate their own deaths in song? And who has done it so cannily, with as much shimmer, spunk, and rude humor, with as much life as Bowie did here? The album may or may not be a masterpiece, but it’s a heartbreaker, a miracle.
80
The Skinny

Bowie has always been an artist who reframes his own past – the liberal use here of his beloved saxophone a case in point – and whilst the lyrical trails are necessarily opaque, the arrangements don’t rely on vogue to foster the narrative (as perhaps was the case with much of his 1990s output).

80
Mojo
David Bowie’s genius here has been in jettisoning his regular cohorts, whose safe pairs of hands might have taken these songs to a less visceral, more orthodox place, instead of this new frontier from which to contemplate innerspace.
80
NOW Magazine
Although there's cosmic energy in the music's upward trajectory, it comes from a decidedly earthbound live-off-the-floor approach rather than meticulously sculpted production.
80
God Is in the TV
If this time it did turn out to be his final studio album, it would be a perfectly acceptable way to end his career, in a way that seems unmistakably Bowie.
80
The Independent
It's a finale that suggests a Bowie desperate to break with the past, but acknowledging it'll always be with him – however hard he tries here.
80
The Observer

Although Blackstar is a Bowie album through and through, suffused with his distinct melodic voice and Bowie’s preferred instrument of the 80s – the saxophone – there’s a scorched earth feel to its seven, often lengthy, tracks.

80
FLOOD Magazine

Bowie’s latest doesn’t need to haunt in order to dig deep, but these seven tracks have enough power and depth to be unpacked for years.

70
Spin

★ finds Bowie and longtime producer Tony Visconti as hungry as they ever were, and with no modern context into which the artist can insert himself (including rock) he’s free to do what he likes.

70
American Songwriter
Lyrically, Bowie it at his best here when he dives fully into off-kilter impressionism and ponders the uncertain present and apocalyptic future.
thisisabtlgrnd
92
We really couldn't have asked for a better final album from him. Beautiful stuff. It's weird to think he wrote these songs knowing what was coming:

Something happened on the day he died /
Spirit rose a metre then stepped aside /
Somebody else took his place, and bravely cried /
I’m a blackstar, I’m a star's star, I’m a blackstar

RIP

Favorite Tracks: Blackstar, I Can't Give Everything Away, Girl Loves Me, Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)
snarekickblues
90
A friend texted to inform me about about his death while I was listening to this album. Lazarus had just begun, and Bowie had just finished singing the first verse when my phone vibrated.

Strange
Z.Younk
100
Bowie's Best since the 80's. His artistry is amazing on Blackstar. His beats are complex but not unmatched by his beautifully weird & poignant lyrics. He even at times speaks in language Anthony Burgess created for A Clockwork Orange and in existential riddles. Amazingly Weird, Bowie.
JoaoSantos
99
This is great but with Bowie's death it reaches another level. It's just an emotional packed album and it's Bowie's best in my opinion. The vocals are powerful, the jazz parts are amazing, everything sounds great. RIP legend
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Track List

  1. Blackstar
  2. 'Tis a Pity She Was a Whore
  3. Lazarus
  4. Sue (Or In a Season of Crime)
  5. Girl Loves Me
  6. Dollar Days
  7. I Can't Give Everything Away
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Added on: October 25, 2015