David Bowie’s “Major Tom” Trilogy

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From the 1995 album Outside, the song “Hallo Spaceboy” is a collaboration of David Bowie, Brian Eno, and the Pet Shop Boys on guest vocals. Bowie originally wrote the song in mostly-improvised sessions with his band in 1995, and intentionally wrote it with a Nine Inch Nails-like vibe. In an interview, Bowie is quoted as saying that “Hallo Spaceboy” was “like Jim Morrison meets industrial. When I heard it back, I thought, ‘Fuck me. It’s like metal Doors.’ It’s an extraordinary sound.

Bowie Spaceboy

If only fleeting, the song make reference to Major Tom who originally appeared in the 1969 Bowie song “Space Oddity” and then later resurfaced in 1980 for the song “Ashes to Ashes.” The ongoing theme of space and science fiction potentially makes “Hallo Spaceboy” the third song in the Major Tom trilogy.

The music video features Bowie and the Pet Shop Boys singing a large open space that looks like a dusty and rusted warehouse, but it is the constant blast of film footage mostly from the 1950’s and 60’s that make the video. Images from the “Atomic Age” and vintage images of the future explore a juxtaposition between certain faith in science versus the uncertainly and alienated angst of the singer. Classic B-movie horror clips of the 50’s and 60’s border on comical as they illustrate an almost innocent and naive notion of fear.

The song was realeased as a single in 1996 and was popular in France, where it managed to reach number one in their charts. The song, however, got a lukewarm reception in other countries, peaking at number 12 in the UK charts, and barely making a blip on American radio stations despite being a great song of the 90’s.

Listen to more Outer Space Music HERE and see what happens when you get stuck between rock and a dork place.


 

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