David Bowie has celebrated his 66th birthday by releasing a new single, Where Are We Now?, ahead of his first new album in 10 years.
The track was put on sale in the iTunes store in 119 countries on Tuesday morning and a video preview posted on his website, which has been relaunched for the occasion. His 30th studio recording, The Next Day, would be released in March, said the Iso/Columbia record company.
A self-described big Bowie fan puts the last 10 years of silence into perspective in our current Social Media Age:
Things have been pretty quiet on the Bowie front for a long time now. After he last toured with his album Reality in 2003, he walked away from performing and recording. He had suffered a few health setbacks but also seemed, quite rightly, to be enjoying life on his own terms, as a husband and father to a young child. It seemed to most of us that he had done with being a rock star.
Certainly, when he made it clear he would not be appearing at the V&A retrospective highlighting his style and influence in fashion, and then declined to appear at the Olympic opening ceremony last year, I had slowly tried to accept and make peace with the idea that he had really called it a day.
I suspect the long hiatus and the surprise of the new single were deliberate, that's the genius of David B. In an age when we can follow our musical heroes' every thought or whim on any number of social networks, when we can see a picture of Rihanna's breakfast and check out what Lady Gaga thinks of Die Antwoord in 140 characters, to maintain complete radio silence for 10 years immediately puts you ahead of and above the pack, as well as creating a hunger, a desire, a need for information that we can barely tolerate.
So to burst back with a single, a video, the promise of an album, all on the morning of your 66th birthday that's old school showbiz. That's something Colonel Tom Parker would have been proud of. That puts you right back at the centre of the whole shebang.
I really loved Reality - it was a fabulous album, produced by Visconti with a great band including Earl Slick, Gail Ann Dorsey and Mike Garson.
Great live show that tour as well.
I look forward to this new album.
Leave it to David Bowie to re-emerge with such style:
More from The Guardian:
Where Are We Now? wouldn't have sounded out of place on 2002's Heathen or 2003's Reality. Indeed, if it had been the lead single off Bowie's new album in 2004, it would have passed virtually without comment. The reason it's created such a fuss is partly because most people thought Bowie's retirement looked pretty final. He never said as much, but it felt right: while his peers pragmatically chose to work the public's thirst for nostalgia, playing the big hits on high-grossing tours and tacitly acknowledging that their best work was behind them, Bowie – an artist who'd never evinced much interest in looking back – slipped into a dignified silence. Like the guy singing Heroes on Top of the Pops, it seems remarkable that he turned up at all.
Of course, the main reason it's created such a fuss is simply because no one knew. It's incredible that, in an era of gossip websites and messageboard rumours, one of the biggest stars in the world, presumed retired, can spend two years making a new album without the merest whisper of it reaching the public. But somehow he did it. The first speculation that something was afoot came literally hours before the single appeared: no blurry cameraphone shots of him leaving a recording studio, no MP3s of demos leaked on to filesharing sites, no slip-up by someone involved in its making on Twitter. It's the opposite of how you're expected to do things: at the very least, a major artist releasing a new album is supposed to drop hints, create an online buzz of expectation, stoke the rumour mill, ensure the biggest audience possible is primed and waiting. Bowie has done none of that: whatever The Next Day sounds like, he's turned it into the biggest release of 2013 by the simple expedient of doing absolutely nothing other than make an album. Furthermore, he's managed to maintain the myth and mystique that was always central to his stardom and his art in a world where rock and pop music has almost no myth or mystique left, an age of 360-degree connectivity, where pop stars are supposed to be perpetually available to their fans via social networking. But as we've already established, David Bowie has always shown a brilliant understanding of how to promote records.
There hasn't been much to be excited about lately, but I am excited about this.
And I really do appreciate how he kept the whole thing so quiet and unassuming and just released it.
No buzz, no muss, no fuss.
That sure does stand out more than anything else.