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Five years ago, on the day of his 69th birthday and two days before his death, David Bowie released his 25th, and final studio album, Blackstar. The album’s release came as somewhat of a surprise to all but a select few and was his first for almost three years. 

David Bowie-Hammersmith Apollo 2002: Photo credit – Myung Jung Kim PA Images.

Long term collaborator and producer Tony Visconti once again worked with Bowie on what was to be his final album. As ever Bowie wanted to bring in new and different elements to his latest material and so enlisted the help of a bunch of local, very talented, Jazz musicians to bring something fresh to his constantly developing sound. Having heard them play at 55 Bar in Greenwich Village Bowie decided it would prescient that they play his music as Jazz musicians rather than his usual choice of band trying to play Jazz. 

Bowie’s almost continual desire to push things forward, challenge, explore and experiment were what made him one of, if not the, most influential artists in music. Bowie’s palette of reference was always in a state of flux; a fluid body of creativity that morphed ceaselessly as it embraced all manner of influences and ideas.

Bowie started to work on Blackstar immediately after he had completed his previous album, The Next Day. The new record was recorded from the start of 2015 in his home town and at the same studios; the Magic Shop and Human Worldwide Studios in New York City. The recording took place as Bowie’s health deteriorated due to liver cancer, but largely without the knowledge of the quintet he was working with. Visconti has said that Bowie intended the album to be his “parting gift”. 

Blackstar would eventually become a seven track album, that included two previously released, but then re-recorded tracks, Sue (Or in a Season of Crime) and Tis a Pity She Was a Whore. It was however the two singles that preceded the album that would come to define it as one of Bowie’s best. Firstly the epic, near ten minute title track that would be it’s opener, Blackstar itself. No one could have predicted anything like this song before it’s release, the scale and depth of the track is phenomenal. Blackstar is a song in two distinctly different but conjoined parts that marry up to deliver such a overwhelmingly pleasurable result. From the opening tentative bars, through to the mid-point break down where the song rises once again to give up an incredibly moving passage that Bowie sings so beautifully, Blackstar is a majestic creation that you can only marvel at. In this song you will forever find something new and amazing, it’s a brilliant piece of song writing expertly conceived and stunningly realised. 

The second single from the album was, in hindsight, possibly more poignant than the first. Lazarus, with it’s opening line, “Look up here, I’m in heaven, I’ve got scars that can’t be seen” is now so devastating because of what happened in the subsequent months following it’s initial realease that you can’t help but be moved by it. The relaxed beat, wondering bass, deliciously hypnotic and woozy sax coupled with Bowie’s slightly distressed vocals make this one of Bowie’s stand out compositions. (The song is said to have been inspired by a book by surrealist painter and writer Leonora Carrington called White Rabbits).

David Bowie’s final chapter was very well received by critics and fans alike, it was his only album to top the US Billboard 200 chart, won four Grammy’s, went to number one in a whole host of countries around the world and it also won a Brit award for Best Album. As a stand alone album it is an incredible piece of work. Bowie’s inspired use of Jazz musicians to give his songs an added dimension cannot be under estimated. The off-set rhythms on Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime), the strings and horns on Girl Loves Me and the absolutely sublime saxophone on Dollar Days all contribute to the album’s appeal. 

Blackstar once again reminds us just what a truly inspirational and creative artist David Bowie was. His legacy is truly beyond compare. 

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Hunter Schafer | Hunter Schafer loves seeing Euphoria fans recreating make-up looks from the show

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Hunter Schafer says it’s “really sweet” to see kids recreating make-up looks from ‘Euphoria’.

The 21-year-old actress – who made her acting debut portraying Jules in the hit HBO series in 2019 – had a hand in her alter ego’s whole look for the show and loves to see fans relating to the characters and expressing themselves through make-up.

She said: “It was my first time acting, like coming into Jules. So thankfully the team on ‘Euphoria’, from Sam [Levinson], the writer and creator of the show, to Donni [Davy], it’s been a massively collaborative experience. So I had a lot of hand in helping bring Jules to life. And, particularly with the make-up with Donni, we had so much fun just kind of brainstorming these abstract, colourful looks that reflect a certain scene or emotional energy. I think we try to be pretty mindful of how make-up can accentuate or contrast something that we’re trying to portray in a scene. So it’s a lot of fun to think about. We had a lot of fun just constantly trying to outdo ourselves with the design.”

The model and LGBTQ+ activist added that the make-up team for ‘Euphoria’ – which stars Zendaya as troubled teenager Rue – didn’t abide by any rules when creating the looks and wanted to inspire the young viewers to “have fun” and “do whatever they want”.

She told Vogue: “I still can’t believe it’s reached as far as it has. I mean, it’s really sweet to see kids seeing themselves in these characters and being able to try that on. I also just think, as a whole, ‘Euphoria’ approaches make-up with a creativity that I hope is encouraging of its audience to just do whatever they want, because that’s kind of all we did for the show. We were like, ‘Let’s do whatever, let’s have fun with it!'”

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Olivia Rodrigo | Drivers License hitmaker Olivia Rodrigo has made friends with Niall Horan

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Olivia Rodrigo is glad she’s made friends with fellow pop star Niall Horan, after her “crazy” success with her record-breaking debut single, ‘Drivers License’.

The 17-year-old US sensation currently has the hottest single in the world, which has topped the charts in the US and UK, and smashed multiple records, including gaining 10.9 million streams in a single week on Spotify.

The former Disney star has been endorsed by her idols, including Taylor Swift, Halsey and Lorde, while the One Direction star has reached out to offer his advice should she ever need it.

Olivia – who recently revealed she used to write One Direction fan fiction – said: “I’ve been talking to Niall Horan from One Direction, who’s such an icon, and he said really loved the song. He was like, ‘This is crazy, if you ever need any advice just let me know’. So yeah I’ve been chatting with him, but it’s been such a crazy rollercoaster ride and I’m definitely excited to have artist friends that know the ins and outs of the music industry.”

The ‘High School Musical: The Musical: The Series’ star admitted it’s “absolutely surreal” to have the artists she grew up listening to pay her compliments.

She added to “I mean, that is just everything. All the recognition the song has got is beyond my wildest dreams. Taylor Swift – is my songwriting idol and I wouldn’t be half of the woman and a songwriter I am today without her – reached out and was so supportive of the song. I just found out the other day that Lorde likes it, Halsey likes it, all of these people that I have grown up listening to are saying they’re liking the song. It’s absolutely surreal to me – as I put little bits and pieces of their songwriting into the songs I’ve written.”

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Alana Haim | Alana Haim always steals her sister’s vintage Levi’s

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Alana Haim steals her sister’s vintage Levi jeans.

The 29-year-old singer has confessed she always sneaks into bandmate and sibling Danielle Haim’s wardrobe to swipe her best fashion finds, as she’s the “Queen” of finding vintage Levi’s.

Speaking in a joint video interview with her sisters, Danielle, 31, and Este, 34 – who make up the band Haim – for Vogue, Alana confessed: “I have to be honest with you, these are Danielle’s jeans that I stole and she asked me earlier. She was like, ‘Oh, where are those jeans from?’ I was like, ‘They’re yours!’ These are vintage Levi’s. Danielle is the Queen of finding vintage Levi’s. She really is the Queen.”

Their older sister, Este, also admitted she takes Danielle’s clothes after she finds great bargains in stores.

She added: “There’s gonna be a lot of that in this video. Danielle gets the things and we steal the things.”

As well as having an eye for finding Levi’s, Danielle has an “obsession” with Prada Sport and spends most of her time on the internet trying to track down clothing from the brand.

She explained: “I have an unhealthy obsession with Prada Sport. I’m always on the internet searching, finding.”

Meanwhile, Alana previously shared how she refused to dress in an overtly sexy way after she was asked to dress in a schoolgirl outfit by an unnamed music executive in the early days of her career.

She said: “When we were first starting out, someone said I should dress like a schoolgirl.

“And I was like: ‘That’s not going to happen.’ We’ve always had a very strong sense of self.”

The ‘Forever’ group creatively direct all of their own shows, including the tours, the set lists, songs and lighting, and are proud to take control of everything they do.

She added: “We’re the CEOs of our own company … And it bothers me to even have to say that because so many people think that’s not the case.”

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