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Song IconDavid Bowie "Life On Mars"

About "Life On Mars"

"Life on Mars?" is a song by the English singer-songwriter David Bowie, from his 1971 album Hunky Dory. Written as a parody of Frank Sinatra's "My Way", it was recorded on 6 August 1971 at Trident Studios in London. Co-produced by Bowie and Ken Scott, the backing band consisted of guitarist and string arranger Mick Ronson, bassist Trevor Bolder and drummer Mick Woodmansey; Strawbs member Rick Wakeman played piano. Primarily a glam rock ballad, with elements of cabaret and art rock, the song has a complex structure, containing different chord changes throughout. Lyrically, it describes a girl who goes to the cinema to escape reality, using surreal images, thematically reflecting optimism and the effects of Hollywood.

At the height of Bowie's fame as Ziggy Stardust, RCA Records issued "Life on Mars?" as a single on 22 June 1973 in the United Kingdom, where it peaked at number three. The single was promoted by a video shot by photographer Mick Rock, featuring a made-up Bowie in a turquoise suit singing the song against a white backdrop. Frequently performed by Bowie during his concerts, the song has appeared on numerous compilation albums and was remixed by Scott in 2003 and 2016, the latter being a 'stripped down' mix.

"Life on Mars?" is considered by commentators as one of Bowie's greatest songs, and of all time. Praise is given to Bowie's vocal performance and growth as a songwriter. The song was the namesake of the British television series Life on Mars and has featured in other films and television shows. Artists who have covered the song include Barbra Streisand and Nine Inch Nails members Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. The song charted worldwide following Bowie's death in 2016 and became a frequent tribute song for the artist.

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