Can an artist’s death enhance a piece of media?
Upon my first few listening sessions of David Bowie’s ‘Blackstar’,I wasn’t a fan. I believed the album was repetitive, boring and not one song seemed to stand out from each other, leaving the album to sound like one joint song, a long, drawn-out, boring song.
It wouldn’t be until after Bowie’s untimely death that I would revisit Blackstar. On this listen, I further analysed the lyrics of the album. Bowie’s death was required to occur to add depth to the album, something lacking upon first listen.
I know something is very wrong
The pulse returns the prodigal sons- I Can’t Give Everything Away
Most songs and their coinciding music videos demonstrate heavy images of death and the sacredness of death itself through references to ancient religions and ideologies. The album is enhanced post-mortem, with the album gaining an image and layers to an album. The album is Bowie’s most experimental through sound and theme, with the album being a manifestation for Bowie’s impending death (due to terminal cancer). Songs constantly alludes to Bowie’s death this being through subjective sounds or lyrics. The entire process adds more reason and meaning to each of the songs on the album, demonstrating a genius execution of an art piece,managing to remaining timeless after Bowie’s death.
But is it right to change opinions upon artists and their works after death or events? It depends on the reason in which you outlook has been altered. Many artists can garner attention and opinions after death due to hype and remembrance, demonstrated through the support of Michael Jackson and his discography after his death in 2009 (despite constant allegations and public stigma developing upon Jackson in regards to Pedophilia). Some may view it as a hype train, but Bowie’s album is a different case.
The fact that the album managed to evolve and build upon itself post-release is what makes Blackstar so important, it may be one of the only albums in music history to achieve such an innovative feat. What album manages to add to it’s appeal post-release and post-death?
Post-Mortem albums have been around for decades (Tupac’s Remember me, Michael Jackson’s This is It) Yet no album has made an experience like Blackstar. The fact that the album managed to rejuvenate and remain relevant encapsulates the genius of Bowie. As seen in Bowie’s discography, he has managed to remain relevant in a constantly evolving genre through an adaption in the music world and re-invigoration of sound and the establishment of new character types. Blackstar is Bowie’s magnum opus, he excels in tying in all of his characters of his wide discography while making an epitaph-like album. Blackstar is a living, evolving album, something new to be introduced to the music scene, albeit through Bowie’s death.