CSPC: David Bowie Popularity Analysis


Physical Singles Sales

Cult songs doesn’t mean huge selling physical single. Heroes has featured the Top 100 best songs ever rankings of all relevant music magazines at the turn of the millennium. Still, when first released the single only made it to #24 in the UK while completely missing the Top 100 in the US.

The road displayed below has been difficult for David Bowie with various stand-alone singles issued from 1964 to 1968, all of them failing to chart, even in the UK. Then his 10th single came out in 1969, Space Oddity, at last starting his career as a popular singer. Incredibly enough, the artist remained a one-hit wonder until Starman shot him to fame in the summer of 1972.

Various of his pre-1973 hits have been reissue countless of times, some of them very successfully. This is how in the UK 1969 single Space Oddity peaked at #1 in 1975 after originally making it to #5. 1967 song Laughing Gnome went #6 in 1973. Rock & Roll Suicide from the already successful Ziggy Stardust album made it to #22 in 1974 after 3 subsequent David Bowie albums got released. The list goes on and on. Thus, without really crushing the Singles chart, the artist total physical singles for his material up to Aladdin Sane album stands at more than 7 million units sold.

As a reminder, the weighting is done with a 10 to 3 ratio between one album and one physical single.

David Bowie (1967) – 135,000 equivalent albums

The Laughing Gnome – 350,000
Remaining Singles – 100,000

David Bowie (1969) – 675,000 equivalent albums

Space Oddity – 2,200,000
Remaining Singles – 50,000

The Man Who Sold the World (1970) – 15,000 equivalent albums

All Singles – 50,000

Hunky Dory (1971) – 435,000 equivalent albums

Changes – 600,000
Life On Mars? – 850,000

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972) – 405,000 equivalent albums

John, I’m Only Dancing – 300,000
Starman – 650,000
Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide – 200,000
Remaining Singles – 200,000

Aladdin Sane (1973) – 472,500 equivalent albums

Drive-In Saturday – 350,000
Let’s Spend The Night Together – 175,000
The Jean Genie – 950,000
Remaining Singles – 100,000

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El Jolito

The Greatest solo artist in history.


That will be Michael Jackson


Best selling solo artist of all time, but not most important or most influential solo artist of all time.


That’s just your opinion, mine is he is very overrated and his sales are poor considering he is supposed to be that good. Half a dozen very good songs doesn’t make you the greatest.


Yes, Jacksons sales and popularity are amazing and his influence immense but Bowie was way, way more diverse than Jackson.


It’s so irritating when people can’t wrap their heads around the fact that sales aren’t everything. Sales are great but they don’t indicate how inventive, creative, influential, etc. an artist was/is.


Who cares. Musical diversity and critical acclaim is so overrated.


Lots of people care, lots of people don’t want to listen to an artist who just releases the same sounding stuff over and over again.

As for critical acclaim, I couldn’t give a toss about it either.

Last edited 4 months ago by Martin

“That’s just your opinion”

It’s all about opinions, except if you believe that talent should be measured by success, which would be very dumb.

Speed of Life

Also the version of All The Young Dudes with Ian Hunter and Bowie on vocals on the Mott The Hoople page doesn’t show up on his features.

Speed of Life

Just noticed that a number of Bowie songs have recently been been greyed out on spotify and their totals no longer show on the spotify tool report.They’re all on the albums Platinum Collection and Sound + Vision.
Also for some reason the songs credited to Bowie and the Spider on the Bowie at the Beeb album have a separate artist id??