A Good Week for ‘The Next Day’

A Good Week for ‘The Next Day’

David Bowie (?)

That David Bowie can celebrate his first #1 album in the UK in 20 years (the last was 1993’s Black Tie White Noise) is pretty cool. And from where I sit, seeing a fairly weird, uncommercial, and stealthily released LP have impact is a good way to start the week, especially after having endured the non-stop hypestorm that is SXSW.

I listened to The Next Day for the first proper time on the flight back from Austin yesterday, having picked up the disc at Waterloo. I had streamed the LP on iTunes the week before and thought it showed promise but one can’t really tell until it’s blaring in the old headphones and you can really dig in and embrace the sound. The record is consistently good, at times surprising, and features at least a couple excellent songs. It’s more dynamic than Bowie’s last couple albums and is most certainly better than BTWN, an album (a cassette, even!) I tried so hard to like back in ’93. Further listening seems likely to reveal more goodness.

That a legacy artist can top the charts is not in itself so terribly exciting. There’s just something weirdly novel about how the whole thing went down. Bowie kept the creation of the album under wraps; an incredible feat on its own. He used a mix of media (video, streaming, etc.) to introduce the record, and yet relied on traditional models to sell it. And it worked. That’s the part that I find interesting. And, yeah, I do like that something that I think it good can top the charts. Even if it’s running neck-and-neck with Bon Jovi’s latest. (In the US, at least. In the UK, Bowie outsold BJ two-to-one.) I will be very interested to see 2nd-week sales results.