Bowing down to a legend

David Bowie arriving at a benefit event in New York. Photo: AP Photo/Andy Kropa/PA Photos.
David Bowie arriving at a benefit event in New York. Photo: AP Photo/Andy Kropa/PA Photos.

Andy Welch looks back on the musical highs and lows that helped shape 2013.

When 2013 started, no one saw a new David Bowie album coming. He hadn’t released anything in 10 years, had barely been seen and had all but withdrawn from public life.

Nevertheless, and despite the fact it was two years in the making, the Thin White Duke’s first album in a decade arrived completely by surprise.

After the event, it was revealed the staggering lengths those involved had gone to – namely signing hefty non-disclosure agreements and using good old-fashioned discretion – to keep the cat in the bag. In an age where most artists document their every recording via Twitter and Instagram, it seems even more impressive that only a handful people knew it was coming before lead single Where Are We Now? popped up on iTunes. No wonder everyone from Radio 4’s Today programme to Heat magazine covered the event. Even more impressive still was the quality of the music, up there with the very best of his virtually untouchable back catalogue.

While Bowie and his band were working on The Next Day, French dance duo Daft Punk and a veritable raft of guest stars were also busy on their fourth album, Random Access Memories, which perhaps provided the song of the year in Get Lucky.

The biggest-selling artist of the year wasn’t an American superstar or an icon making a comeback, but a British singer whose debut was released the previous year.

For the second-year running, the biggest selling album in the UK was Emeli Sande’s Our Version Of Events, which sold around 640,000 copies, taking the total to just over two million since its release in February 2012.

It was a strong year for homegrown talent in general, the Top 10 featuring six British acts.