15 David Bowie Albums Ranked From Worst to Best

Looking for some David Bowie albums ranked from worst to best?  Let's dive right into my countdown!

Virtually everyone loves David Bowie, but how would you personally go about having your favorite David Bowie albums ranked?  What album would be the best of the best?  What album would be the “worst” of the best?  Today, I’m going to reveal my personal ranking (and let me know in the comments section if you feel I hit the target or completely missed the mark).

David Bowie Albums Ranked

Here is a quick peek at my list of the best David Bowie albums ranked from the “worst” to the best:

  • Never Let Me Down
  • Black Tie White Noise
  • Tonight
  • David Bowie 
  • Hours
  • The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
  • Hunky Dory
  • Heroes
  • Pinups
  • Aladdin Sane
  • Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)
  • Lodger
  • The Man Who Sold the World
  • Young Americans
  • Let’s Dance

Never Let Me Down ranks as David Bowie’s worst album, which was a concept album that came after the success of the popular Ziggy Stardust character.  Meanwhile, Let’s Dance ranks as David Bowie’s best album, which features an outstanding title track full of wonderful saxophones and strong drumbeats.

With that said, let’s jump into the full, in-depth ranking!

15. Never Let Me Down (1987)

Although many Bowie fans point to his releases during the 1980s as Bowie’s heyday, Bowie himself referred to his work from that decade as his “Phil Collins years.” Never Let Me Down is a concept album modeled after his success in the 1970s with the Ziggy Stardust character. While Ziggy Stardust orbited the moon, this album focused on a glass spider.

The album also contained Bowie’s rendition of both John Lennon and Neil Young as well as a special appearance by actor Mickey Rourke, who laid down a rap within a Bowie song. Bowie himself was so disillusioned with the record that he removed the song “Too Dizzy” from any future CD reissues as well as digital releases. The record lacked the radio play of Let’s Dance as well as fan interest. 

My favorite song on this album is “Bang Bang.” Typically not a fan of covers, I do like both Bowie’s version and the original by Iggy Pop.

14. Black Tie White Noise (1993)

Black Tie White Noise was Bowie’s first solo record of the 1990s, and many saw it as a “comeback” record for the British star. Bowie’s innovation took an odd turn – even for Bowie – with this LP. He borrowed beats from C + C Music Factory, utilized lots of synthesizers, and trumpet solos also mark the features of the album.

While Bowie’s message on the single “Black Tie White Noise” was actually a commentary on the riots that had (at that time) recently plagued Los Angeles, the overall album didn’t fare well on the charts or with fans. It is one of Bowie’s more forgettable albums. 

My favorite song on this particular LP is “Black Tie White Noise” because of the R & B feel of the song. Also, Bowie invited singer Al B. Sure to make a cameo appearance on the track, so that scores extra points for me.

13. Tonight (1984)

Among David Bowie albums ranked from worst to best, one might be surprised to find that 1984’s follow-up to Let’s Dance received less-than-stellar reviews. In fact, Tonight lacked new content, with the exception of a collaboration with Iggy Pop. Otherwise, the album was mostly covers. There is one notable track on the record, however – “Blue Jean” was included on the LP. 

My favorite song from this album is “Blue Jean.” The song received a great deal of video play, and Bowie with his face painted in the video sticks out in my mind. The beat was ideal, and the song is about a girl that Bowie is enamored with – it’s the perfect 80s Bowie video (and song).

12. David Bowie (1967) 

Debut albums can make or break an artist, but David Bowie’s debut album didn’t keep the world from the iconic singer’s later releases. Titles such as “Love You til Tuesday” made little impression on listeners, even though the album was critically acclaimed.

Bowie’s record company at the time, Deram, failed to promote the LP, and it was a “commercial flop.” Bowie was a mere nineteen years old at the time of release; certainly, his best years were yet to come. 

My favorite song is also the most notable on the LP – “Love you til Tuesday.” These early tracks don’t seem as “Bowie” as his 80s and 90s hits, but it is fine work for a fledgling Bowie.

11. Hours (1999)

Bowie’s Hours is historical in the record was the first to be released by a major artist on the internet. Yet, for all the hubbub surrounding the record’s release, the music didn’t match the energy. Critics claim the record is basically “melancholy;” only two songs are notable. They include “Seven” and “Thursday’s Child.” Bowie also covered a Stooges’ tune, “The Pretty Things are Going to Hell.” The revamp is both unimpressive and tiring. 

My favorite song from this album is actually remixed with the help of another eccentric artist, Beck (“Loser”). The song is “Seven,” and it’s one of the few critically acclaimed of the album. 

10. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)

It might seem a little blasphemous to include the Ziggy Stardust concept album on the list of worst ranking David Bowie albums, but aside from Bowie hits such as “Suffragette City,” this album wasn’t Bowie’s best. “Starman” on its own is eight minutes in length but doesn’t have the rocking riffs of other lengthy songs (think “Stairway to Heaven” or “Freebird”).

Simply put, if a music lover isn’t into concept and/or rock opera-type albums, the Ziggy Stardust record just isn’t that interesting.  It would also eventually be overshadowed by Bowie’s work in the 1980s and early 1990s. 

My favorite song from this album is “Suffragette City.” The beat is strong and straightforward. While it’s included in the Ziggy rock opera, it isn’t too “Ziggy.” It’s simply a fun song with a catchy beat. 

9. Hunky Dory (1971)

Critics called this album Bowie’s “shoot for the moon” moment, and Hunky Dory seems to be in the vein of the Ziggy Stardust music Bowie would become so famous for. However, other than the hit “Changes,” Hunky Dory just falls flat. “Space Oddity” was a notable chart hit for Bowie with this LP.

The album was influenced by Bowie’s appreciation for Andy Warhol’s artistry as well as the musical influences of Bob Dylan and Lou Reed. “Changes” would notably be later revamped by Shawn Mullins for the Faculty movie soundtrack. 

My favorite song on the album is “Changes,” a song which I loved way before Shawn Mullins redid it. “Turn and face the strange . . . changes” – anyone who begins to grow older can appreciate the lyrics of this awesome song. Bowie speaks of the human condition – “I can’t change time.” 

8. Heroes (1977)

Bowie morphed from Ziggy Stardust to his “Berlin trilogy” with the Heroes LP. Aside from the title track, the album produced no other notable hits. The album is noted as a part of the “Berlin trilogy” as Bowie recorded this record in its entirety in the German capital. “Heroes” has recently been made famous in the Netflix hit “Stranger Things,” but the song also made an appearance on The Perks of Being a Wallflower soundtrack in 2012. 

My favorite song is “Heroes,” even though I first heard the version recorded by The Wallflowers. Wouldn’t we all be heroes  – for just one day – if we could? 

7. Pinups (1973)

Bowie released this album at the height of the Ziggy Stardust-era, and it’s full of cover songs. In particular, Bowie remade songs from the Kinks, the Who, and the Easybeats. The album did not offer the storyline of the Ziggy rock opera albums, and one of the songs – a cover of Pink Floyd’s “See Emily Play” has been compared to the parody antics of a Monty Python episode

My favorite song from the album is “Where Have all the Good Times Gone?” This song has been redone multiple times, and Bowie’s version is just as fun as any other version.

My favorite song from the album is “Where Have all the Good Times Gone?” This song has been redone multiple times, and Bowie’s version is just as fun as any other version. 

6. Aladdin Sane (1973)

The “Starman” of the Ziggy Stardust rock opera finds himself in America. Perhaps the greatest caveat of the album is the appearance of Mick Ronson on guitar. Notable tracks include “The Jean Genie,” “Panic in Detroit” and “Drive-in Saturday.” Bowie experimented with a multitude of sounds, including doo-wop and a Rolling Stones cover. 

My favorite song from this album is Bowie’s cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Let’s Spend the Night Together.” 

5. Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) (1980)

Perhaps the most notable of Bowie’s tracks on this post-Ziggy album is “Fashion,” which, on its face, is just as strange as the Starman tracks of Bowie’s rock opera. The single “Ashes to Ashes” was critically acclaimed as a mixture of Sam Cooke and Pink Floyd. The album literally begins with Bowie screaming in “It’s No Game.” Some critics said this album was the best of Bowie’s career. 

My favorite song from this album is Bowie’s “Fashion.” This is quite a strange song, and it’s not my usual favorite music. However, it’s a great reflection of Bowie’s innovative and individual style. 

4. Lodger (1979)

Lodger is another in the Berlin trilogy of albums, and it’s considered experimental by many critics. The album is a mixture of funk, rock, and R & B music. Notable songs include “Look Back in Anger” and “DJ.” Future albums would overshadow this Berlin LP, but Bowie’s talent for experimentation would be the overall impact of the album. 

My favorite song from this LP is “Look Back in Anger.” 

3. The Man Who Sold the World (1970)

Depending on your musical knowledge, you may recognize “The Man Who Sold the World” as an unplugged cover made by Nirvana or you may remember when Bowie released his third album of the same name. Bowie includes some very heartfelt music on this LP, including one track describing a brother suffering from mental illness. Still others will remember the cover of the album, which features Bowie in a dress (quite shocking for 1970). 

My favorite song is the title track. Perhaps it is the fact that I love the Nirvana version as well, but this song is so unique that it is classic Bowie. I love the sitar as well. 

2. Young Americans (1975)

In the midst of the Ziggy Stardust Bowie era, the innovative musician released a more R & B-ish Young Americans. Bowie himself said that the album was his nod to “the Sound of Philadelphia.”

The album was a complete departure from Bowie’s glam albums of the past – and certainly a complete about-face from the experimental music of his previous records. Aside of the title track, “Fame” is a popular single from the album. John Lennon actually assisted Bowie in the studio while recording Young Americans. 

I’m actually torn when choosing my favorite song from this album. I love both “Young Americans” and “Fame.” However, if I’m pressed, I’d probably chose “Fame” as my favorite song. 

1.  Let’s Dance (1983)

Those of us who grew up in the 1980s likely remember Bowie chiefly for his big comeback and 1983’s Let’s Dance.  Bowie was the epitome of the time. His title song was a highly popular video on MTV, even though Bowie’s two follow-up albums to this record are considered two of his worst releases. 

Speaking of the title track, a combination of boisterous saxophones, strong drumbeats, and a few guitar riffs by blues great Stevie Ray Vaughn make “Let’s Dance” the most memorable track on the LP. Yet, that’s only one song that makes Let’s Dance David Bowie’s best album. “Modern Love” is a peppy dance number that will move listeners to the dance floor. 

Finally, “China Girl” was another song that received both radio and MTV playtime. Bowie’s vocals were also at their height with the Let’s Dance album. While Bowie’s career spanned multiple decades, Let’s Dance is Bowie’s most enjoyable work. 

My favorite song, hands down, from this album is its title track, “Let’s Dance.” For me, this is Bowie’s finest work.

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