If The Last Day felt like Bowie’s final statement, then ‘Blackstar’ is Bowie using that spark of creativity that returned and exploring new territory once again. It’s a fusion of the jazz of ‘Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)’ and more modern subtle electronica. Not many artists continue to innovate forty years after their heyday and the way ‘Blackstar’ doesn’t sound utterly wrong despite using modern techniques. It puts Madonna-goes-EDM to shame with how easy Bowie cuts together orchestra, jazz and pop into an atmospheric formula that sounds much darker than The Last Day.
Flutes, clarinets and strings come and go, but throughout there’s a formulaic drum beat that lasts for the entirety of the ten lengthy minutes that the track goes on for. The track shifts from quick-paced pop at the start to Ziggy Stardust pomp in the middle section and then orchestral vastness on the last section. Bowie sings with vivid imagery about ‘solitary candle’ in the ‘Villa of Ormen’ whilst throwing away any labels (‘Popstar’, ‘filmstar’, ‘gangster’) and only referring to himself as a ‘Blackstar’. It’s a self-aware wink at everything he’s ever done. Bowie could have easily repeated The Next Day, but ‘Blackstar’ is more like Bowie has nowhere left to run but keeps on doing it anyway. He’s innovated enough, but let’s see him innovate some more.