Loving the Alien

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"Loving the Alien"
Bowie LovingTheAlien.jpg
Single by David Bowie
from the album Tonight
B-side"Don't Look Down"
ReleasedMay 1985
RecordedLe Studio, Morin-Heights, Quebec, Canada, May 1984
Length7:11 (album version)
4:43 (single remix)
LabelEMI AmericaEA195
Songwriter(s)David Bowie
David Bowie singles chronology
"This Is Not America"
"Loving the Alien"
"Dancing in the Street"
Music video
"Loving the Alien" on YouTube

"Loving the Alien" is a song written and recorded by David Bowie. It was the opening track to his sixteenth studio album Tonight. One of two tracks on the album written solely by Bowie, an edited version of the song was released as a single in May 1985, nine months after the release of lead single "Blue Jean" and eight months after the release of the album. "Loving the Alien" peaked at No. 19 in the UK Singles Chart. The song explored Bowie's "intense dislike" of organized religion. "Loving the Alien" inspired the title of Christopher Sandford's 1997 biography of Bowie and the 2018 Bowie box set release, Loving The Alien (1983-1988).


One of two tracks on the album written solely by Bowie, as a demo the song was simply called "1". The singer said the track "...came about because of my feeling that so much history is wrong - as is being rediscovered all the time - and that we base so much on the wrong knowledge that we've gleaned."[1] He recorded a demo of the song in Montreux, Switzerland prior to recording the song for the album.[2] Bowie later said that the production on the song undid the power of the lyric, saying he preferred the demo version,[3] and in a separate interview lamented "You should hear 'Loving the Alien' on demo. It's wonderful on demo. I promise you! (laughs). But on the album, it's ... not as wonderful."[4]


A music video was co-directed by Bowie with David Mallet. The original video included a short shot of Bowie with a nosebleed; this original version was only released on the 1987 video single "Day-In Day-Out".[5] All subsequent releases of the video have the nosebleed scene edited out. An edited version of the song was released as a single in May 1985, nine months after the release of lead single "Blue Jean" and eight months after the release of the album.

Critical reception[edit]

Bowie's biographer David Buckley called it "the only track on the album with the gravitas of much of his earlier work".[6] Yo Zushi of the New Statesman described the song as a "seven-minute masterpiece".[7] While critical of much of Bowie's 1980s output in his appraisal of Best of Bowie in 2002, BBC reviewer Chris Jones stated: "Loving the Alien does have a strange distant beauty to it. Like watching a ballet through a telescope."[8]

Track listing[edit]

7": EMI America / EA 195 / EAP 195 (UK)[edit]

  1. "Loving the Alien" (Re-mixed version) (David Bowie) – 4:43
  2. "Don't Look Down" (Re-mixed version) (Iggy Pop, James Williamson) – 4:04

12": EMI America SEAV-7860 / 12EA 195 / 12EAP 195 (UK)[edit]

  1. "Loving the Alien" (Extended Dance Mix) (Bowie) – 7:27
  2. "Don't Look Down" (Extended Dance Mix) (Pop, Williamson) – 4:50
  3. "Loving the Alien" (Extended Dub Mix) (Bowie) – 7:14

Download: EMI / iEA 195 (UK)[edit]

  1. "Loving the Alien" (Re-mixed version) (Bowie) – 4:43
  2. "Don't Look Down" (Re-mixed version) (Pop, Williamson) – 4:04
  3. "Loving the Alien" (Extended Dance Mix) (Bowie) – 7:27
  4. "Loving the Alien" (Extended Dub Mix) (Bowie) – 7:14
  5. "Don't Look Down" (Extended Dance Mix) (Pop, Williamson) – 4:50
  • Released in 2007

Live performances[edit]

Bowie performed the song on his 1987 Glass Spider Tour[3] (released on Glass Spider (1988)). On the Reality Tour in 2003 and 2004, he again performed this song, but this time a stripped-down version with only Bowie on vocals and Gerry Leonard on guitar. Bowie said that the latter arrangement was perhaps "the way it should have always been done."[9]

Other releases[edit]

The song "Loving the Alien" appears on several Bowie compilation albums, including Bowie: The Singles 1969-1993 (1993), some versions of Best of Bowie (2002), Sound + Vision (2003 and 2014 reissues), The Platinum Collection (2005), The Best of David Bowie 1980/1987 (2007), iSelect (2008), and Nothing Has Changed (3-CD version) (2014). The original album version, most of its remixes and b-sides all appear on the 2018 box set Loving the Alien (1983-1988).

The original uncensored video for "Loving the Alien" appears on the "Day-In Day-Out" video EP (1987), and the censored version appears on DVD releases of Bowie – The Video Collection (1993), Best of Bowie (2002) and The Best of David Bowie 1980/1987 (2007).

In 2002, Dutch-American producer the Scumfrog made a club mix of the song and released it as a single together with the original video of the song.


Production team

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1985) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[10] 65
Belgium (Ultratop 50)[11] 14
Ireland (IRMA)[12] 9
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[13] 25
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[14] 35
UK Singles Chart 19
West Germany (Official German Charts)[15] 27

Cover versions[edit]

"Loving the Alien" has been covered by several other artists. These include:


  1. ^ Murray, Charles Shaar (25 October 1984), "Let's Talk, A Conversation with David Bowie", Rolling Stone magazine (433): 14, 18, 74
  2. ^ Fricke, David (December 1984), "David Bowie Interview", Musician magazine (74): 46–56
  3. ^ a b Bromberg, Craig (June 1990), "David Bowie (Interview)", Smart: 50–57
  4. ^ "Boys Keep Swinging", Q magazine, June 1989
  5. ^ Pegg, Nicholas (October 2016). The Complete David Bowie New Edition: Expanded and Updated. Titan Books.
  6. ^ Buckley, David (2015). David Bowie: The Music and The Changes. Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-1780389882. Retrieved 30 August 2016.
  7. ^ Zushi, Yo (18 January 2016). "In defence of "bad" Bowie: why his least acclaimed album is my favourite". New Statesman. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  8. ^ Jones, Chris. "David Bowie Best Of Review". BBC. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  9. ^ As recorded in both the official film and album from that tour.
  10. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  11. ^ "ultratop.be". Hung Medien (in Dutch). Ultratop. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  12. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Loving the Alien". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  13. ^ "dutchcharts.nl". Hung Medien. MegaCharts. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  14. ^ "charts.nz". Hung Medien. Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  15. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – David Bowie – Loving the Alien". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  • A Reality Tour, 2004
  • Pegg, Nicholas, The Complete David Bowie, Reynolds & Hearn Ltd, 2000, ISBN 1-903111-14-5

External links[edit]