“New Killer Star” by David Bowie was the first Single released off of his 2003 Album, Reality. It has been a long time since I listened to this Track, and this Album, so when I heard it this morning on this week’s Spotify Discover Weekly Mix I immediately hit replay, and then started spinning the entire Reality Album.
Though there’s been speculation that the Song is in reference to life in post-9/11 New York City, there’s something about the Track that’s always reminded me of a continuation of the “Major Tom” narrative started with Bowie’s “Space Oddity”, in 1969.
“New Killer Star” by David Bowie
from the Album, Reality (2003)
“Oh, my nuclear baby.
Oh, my idiot trance.
All my idiot questions –
let’s face the music and dance.”
The Songs Title, “New Killer Star” is also said to be a play on President George W. Bush’s mispronunciation of “nuclear”, that often came out sounding like “new killer”.
Bowie has said a few things about the Song, in 2003, and about fears of the apocalypse in a post-9/11 world:
“It occurs to me that we have been living under a lot of stress in the last few years. The halcyon days are well and truly over. It’s just cyclic, isn’t it, the anxiety. That’s why I keep trying to be positive. The last time, there was the Bay of Pigs [a prelude to the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962]. I remember how scared my Mum and Dad were, they really thought that was it, we’re gonna go up in a nuclear holocaust. Every now and then you get one of those and you think, ‘Well, we pulled back last time,’ and I’ve got a 3-year-old daughter now and we are definitely going to pull back this time because she is going to have a great life, dammit. When I keep coming back to that I can’t afford to be negative anymore. It doesn’t behoove me to be the nihilist anymore, even for creative reasons. I have to be positive. Hopefully, there is a sense of that on the album. It’s not ‘woe is me.’ It’s not a ‘Diamond Dogs’. I want the ultimate feeling after hearing it to be a good feeling. That there is something to be said for our future and it will be a good future.”
The B-Side to “New Killer Star” is a cover of “Love Missile F1-11”, originally by Sigue Sigue Sputnik.
Bowie also said, of the Song’s political nature:
“I’m not a political commentator, but I think there are times when I’m stretched to at least implicate what’s happening politically in the songs that I’m writing. And there was some nod, in a very abstract way, toward the wrongs that are being made at the moment with the Middle Eastern situation. I think that song is a pretty good manifesto for the whole record.”