The newly released video for the second song from David Bowie’s upcoming album addresses themes that might startle you coming from him … androgyny and fame. I, for one, am extremely shocked, not only because of David’s overt machismo and easy anonymity, but also the fact that he has never dared touched on them before. Except in virtually every one of his songs.
Titled “The Stars (Are Out Tonight),” the video offers extremely cool visuals for a fairly lackluster song.
Keeping with the bizarre, jumpy, nonsense plots of most music videos, the basic storyline is that David, a middle-aged dude in a sensible cardi, and his wife, played by the always amazing if strangely menacing Tilda Swinton, are a bored and boring couple whose lives are hijacked by two rocked-out celebrities with whom they eventually trade places … meaning that David and Tilda go all sexy and nuts while the two rockers settle down in their knitwear in front of the telly.
The action begins with David musing that the raunchy couple on the cover of a gossip mag “looks more exciting than anything we’ve got around here.” From that point on, Mr. and Mrs. Dullard are stalked by the magazine cover couple who lurk around, mocking their mannerisms and behavior.
Tilda appears to loose her mind, swapping her marvelous curly wig for short, Bowie-cool hair, putting on lots of red lipstick, and making out with a confused-looking David. In a American Beauty-ish dining room scene, whacked-out Tilda uses an electric knife to slice into a platter of raw chicken with radishes and pig’s feet, and then brandishes the knife at David. The next thing you know, the couples’ roles have reversed, with the celeb couple sitting sedately, wearing the clothes David and Tilda had on before, as slicked-up David and Tilda mock them … while the song’s lyrics explain that the ”The stars are out tonight.”
The video focuses heavily on androgyny, which has long been David’s game. The pair playing the celebrity couple, models Andrej Pejic and Saskia De Brauw, are incredibly andro, with a topless sex romp scene in which it’s difficult to tell if they are bird-chested men or women. Norwegian model Iselin Steiro does a dead-on perfect portrayal of a young David, and when Tilda goes through her transformation, she looks remarkably, even creepily, like David. (There is, in fact, a fantastic tumblr page called Tilda Stardust “dedicated to the belief that Tilda and Bowie are one person.” Check it out: http://tildastardust.tumblr.com/)
The song itself is a bit disappointing. It isn’t terrible and it does have that vintage Bowie feel to it with his characteristic backing vocals, but it comes across as a bit uninspired. (Definitely not as good as “Where Are We Now” the first song released from the album.) The video, on the other hand, is very cool, despite the heavy androgyny angle, which is a bit tired, in my opinion … I can appreciate the artsy-tartsiness of it and I don’t need big booty bitches gyrating around in thongs, but we get it already, Mr. Bowie. Come up with something new.