David Bowie Songs | X96 Music Quorum’s Top Ten

David Bowie songs
Todd Nuke'em

X96 Music Quorum’s Top Ten David Bowie Songs

I’ve often made the claim that David Bowie unintentionally invented the alternative music format when he gained his first hit with “Space Oddity.” Yes, we had to make our way through glam rock, disco, and punk to arrive at the other crucial starting point in the late seventies when New Romantic bands found their way into the mix. But it was Bowie, without a doubt, that started it all. Any of your favorite alternative artists will likely source David Bowie as an influence. The below David Bowie songs are among the most influential Thin White Duke tracks.


This is the week when we remember his birthday (January 8, 1947) and, sadly, the anniversary of his passing (January 10, 2016.) Bowie made his career by pretty much setting aside all the norms and making his own rules. Those are very crucial standards in the world of alternative music: do it differently, break the rules, make it matter.


From time to time, we survey the X96 Music Quorum to see what the X96 listeners want to hear. Since we are in the part of January where we remember this influential artist, here are the top ten David Bowie songs based on the feedback we get from you. If you’re not a member of the X96 Music Quorum and would like to make your opinion known, follow this link.  Click any of the images below if you’re interested in expanding your David Bowie vinyl collection.

X96 Listeners’ Favorite David Bowie Songs

10. “Starman”

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, 1972

Yes, he was decked out in his Ziggy Stardust persona while playing this song in promotional performances on TV. Notable future artist influenced by this song is Ian McCulloch of Echo & the Bunnymen and Robert Smith of The Cure. I stand by my claim that Bowie is the godfather of alternative music.


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9. “Lazarus”

Black Star, 2015

Bowie’s final studio album, Black Star was released just before his death. The music video for this song is chilling and haunting. It’s as if he wrote his own eulogy. This song showcases his brilliance as a songwriter and performer, and the style of the track seems to wander back into some of his earlier work.


8. “Ziggy Stardust”

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust, 1972

Another from the 1972 album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Some of the musicians who cite this album as a massive influence include Adam Ant, Johnny Marr from The Smiths, Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode, Siouxsie Sioux of Siouxsie and the Banshees, Noel Gallagher of Oasis, and John Taylor and Nick Rhodes from Duran Duran.


7. “Heroes”

Heroes, 1977

Bowie states this song is about a story between lovers separated by the Berlin Wall.

6. “I’m Afraid of Americans”

Earthling, 1997

Always striving forward in his musical style, Bowie became a fan of and friends with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. A single version of this song was released as a collaboration between Bowie and Reznor. The lyrics and song title are classic Bowie all the way.

Earthling, 2021, LP, Remastered

Earthling, 2021, LP, Remastered

5. “China Girl”

Let’s Dance, 1983

This song was written by David Bowie and his friend Iggy Pop for Pop’s 1976 debut album. Bowie and producer Nile Rodgers reworked the song for the Let’s Dance album, and it made it to the Billboard Top Ten, surpassing the commercial success of Iggy Pop’s version. David Bowie’s version differs considerably from Iggy Pop’s version.

Related: Depeche Mode Songs | Todd’s Picks vs. Listener Favorites

4. “Fashion”

Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), 1980

One can certainly feel the new wave vibes emanating from Bowie on this song and album as he transitioned into the post-punk world. This set the stage for the number-one song on this list.

3. “Space Oddity” from his second studio album in

David Bowie, 1969

This song came at the same time when Apollo 11 made the first footprints of humans on the moon. It tells the tragic story of an astronaut lost in space. Bowie admits that much of the song’s inspiration is from his viewing of 2001: A Space Odyssey while stoned. Yeah…I can see that. The fictional astronaut mentioned in the song named Major Tom is revisited through the years in Bowie’s other songs and was the subject of the 1983 hit single from Peter Schilling’s classic song “Major Tom.”

2. “Modern Love”

Let’s Dance, 1983

This is one of Bowie’s most commercially successful tracks, loaded with new wave and soul influences by producer Nile Rodgers, making it to number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100.

1. “Let’s Dance”

Let’s Dance, 1983

This was a commercial comeback album and single from Bowie. I was thirteen when this came out, and I had no idea of Bowie’s legacy at that point in his career. To me, it was a new artist. What little I knew at the time. I must have shocked my mom by asking for this album as a reward for getting straight A’s on my Sandridge Junior High School report card. I grew up in a small town called Hooper, and let’s just say that most of my peers were into country bands instead of the famously androgynous and flamboyant David Bowie. This was my first introduction to new wave and alternative music, and it will always be among my favorite songs. It made this list at number one and was also a number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100. I still have the seven-inch single of this song and the vinyl copy of the album I got for my 7th-grade report card.

Bowie has a legacy of amazing songs, and this list could easily go well beyond a mere ten songs. I invite you to take a deep dive into his discography and find some songs that resonate with you.

Check out a list of Todd’s and Music Quorum’s favorite Depeche Mode songs.

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