This Is David Bowie's Most Underrated Song

Gather a handful of people together, ask them who their favorite artist in history is, and chances are that at least one of them will name-drop David Bowie. He's a pretty sure bet, after all, because his lengthy career offered something for everyone. If you didn't like the man's later years, or his famed Berlin Trilogy, there are always his early endeavors under the guise of Ziggy Stardust, or his stint as the Thin White Duke. Heck, if you want to be really hipster about it, there's even his two-album noise rock influenced supergroup, Tin Machine. 

Bowie's back catalog is absolutely stuffed with legendary tunes, from old favorites like "Space Oddity," "Life on Mars?" and "Starman" to modern classics like "Lazarus." Still, there's a flip side to a career that's absolutely filled to the brim with quality music. In Bowie's case, it's that some of his songs haven't been able to shine in the same way they might have in another, less prolific artist's catalog. In fact, let's take a look at what is arguably David Bowie's most underrated song.

'Let's Dance' was in the wrong place, at the wrong time

No one's saying that "Let's Dance" wasn't a successful song. It's one of the best-known songs David Bowie made in the 1980s, and as Alexis Petridis of the Guardian notes, it was certainly a hit. However, Petridis goes on to say that it was part of Bowie's 1980s output, a.k.a. his "making money" years. Andy Gill of the Independent tells us that even Bowie himself scoffed at the period that came after "Let's Dance" and its namesake album, going as far as calling it his "Phil Collins years," in reference to the Genesis drummer/frontman who steered the progressive band toward a more approachable style, and later embarked on a rather mainstream solo career. It's not necessarily an unfair comparison, seeing as Bowie was just coming off his artistically esteemed Berlin years and transitioning into a far more crowd-pleasing role. 

The thing about "Let's Dance," though, is that while it came out at an extremely inopportune time in the Thin White Duke's artistic history, it's a genuinely great song that Bowie clearly put an effort into, unlike some of the stuff that came later in the decade. As Petridis points out,"Let's Dance" remains "a superb song, nervier and stranger than its global smash status might suggest." It's not exactly a hidden gem, but the fact that it's a gem in the first place can be easy to miss.