My Top 1000 Songs #276: Starman
Interestingly, some 275 songs into this endeavor, I find that some of my all-time favorite albums (such as Quadrophenia and Dark Side of the Moon) remain unrepresented. And in those cases, I think it's because the records (loosely defined as "concept albums," in 70s parlance) are best heard as unified works rather than collections of songs; even their greatest songs (and Quad in particular has many of The Who's finest moments) are best appreciated in the context of the original album.
Ditto Bowie's Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust. It's less of a narrative than the others, and has plenty of songs that have life outside the album (most notably "Suffragette City" and "Ziggy Stardust," probably owing to their presence on that ChangesOneBowie compilation that was my childhood introduction to his work). Still, most the songs sound best in their original context.
All that said, "Starman" is a fantastic piece of music and a definitive Bowie track. Yes, it's tied in with the album's theme, but stands up on its own, primarily due to a particularly melodic hook--the chorus is just monumentally wonderful. By the time you're singing along with "let all the children boogie," it's impossible not to feel like a Bowie acolyte who would follow him to the ends of the earth (and beyond).Top of the Pops 1972:Live in 2000: