Follow TV Tropes


Music / Reality

Go To
"Let's face the music and dance."

Reality, released in 2003, is the twenty-fourth studio album by David Bowie and the second album produced since the reunion of Bowie with longtime collaborator Tony Visconti. The album began production unusually quickly, with Bowie first writing the songs for it while the sessions for Heathen were wrapping up. This overlap enabled Reality to be the fastest-released studio album of Bowie's (by distance between its own release and the release of the preceding studio album) since The Buddha of Suburbia in 1993note .

More straightforward Alternative Rock compared to its predecessor, it was followed by A Reality Tour. It was the highest grossing tour of 2004, gaining more than 700,000 attendees and a DVD release in 2010. However, Bowie suffered an eye injury from a lollipop being thrown at a concert in Oslo, only to be followed a week later by a heart attack while performing at a festival in Germany. It would be his last major concert. The events led to a long break, during which time Bowie would become more involved with raising his young daughter, save for the occasional guest vocals, acting role or assistance with music production. For nearly ten years Reality was considered his last album, with fans and press accepting that Bowie had comfortably retired, until an unexpected comeback in 2013 occurred with The Next Day.


The album peaked at No. 3 on the UK Albums chart and topped both the Danish Albums chart and the Billboard European Albums chart (on the broader Billboard 200 though it ranked at a more modest No. 29), in addition to being certified gold in the United Kingdom, France, and New Zealand.

The singles released from the album were "New Killer Star" and "Never Get Old", the latter of which was later mashed up with a re-recording of "Rebel Rebel" and released as the non-album single "Rebel Never Gets Old" in 2004.



  1. "New Killer Star" (4:40)
  2. "Pablo Picasso"note  (4:06)
  3. "Never Get Old" (4:25)
  4. "The Loneliest Guy" (4:11)
  5. "Looking for Water" (3:28)
  6. "She'll Drive the Big Car" (4:35)
  7. "Days" (3:19)
  8. "Fall Dog Bombs the Moon" (4:04)
  9. "Try Some, Buy Some"note  (4:24)
  10. "Reality" (4:23)
  11. "Bring Me the Disco King" (7:45)

"Trope me in the dark, let me disappear"

  • Alliterative Title: "Pablo Picasso".
  • Animated Music Video: The video for "New Killer Star" uses a mix of live-action photography and CGI effects to depict its story (about a group of people watching an astronaut who just barely avoids a fatal crash-landing) as a series of lenticular prints.
  • Animesque: The anime-influenced cover art of the album was created by Rex Ray, an American graphic designer.
  • Artistic License – Biology: "Pablo Picasso" with the line "the girls would turn the colour of a juicy avocado".
  • Awful Wedded Life: Implied by both "She'll Drive the Big Car" and the Gender Flipped B-Side "Fly".
  • Call-Back: "New Killer Star" opens with a stuttering synth riff in the same vein as "Sunday" off of the previous album, Heathen; both "New Killer Star" and "Sunday" are the opening tracks to their respective albums.
  • Chick Magnet: "Pablo Picasso" plays off of the titular artist's well-documented history of womanizing, depicting him as a charismatically irresistible playboy.
  • Cover Version: "Pablo Picasso" by The Modern Lovers and "Try Some, Buy Some" by George Harrison (originally written for and performed by Ronnie Spector); the latter was originally slated for inclusion on the never-released, never-produced Pin Ups sequel Bowie-ing Out. During this period he also released "Love Missile F1-11" (originally by Sigue Sigue Sputnik) as a B-side for "New Killer Star". These songs would be the final examples of this trope in Bowie's studio backlog, with all later published songs (barring archival releases) being original compositions.
  • Epic Rocking: "Bring Me the Disco King" clocks in at just a quarter under eight minutes.
  • Face on the Cover: The cover art features an animesque portrait of Bowie.
  • Fading into the Next Song: The end of "Never Get Old" segues into the start of "The Loneliest Guy".
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to the dour, ambient-influenced, and introspective art rock of Heathen, this album is definitely a step in a more upbeat direction. Much of the lyrical content is fairly sardonic and/or moody and the music definitely has a rough edge to it, but the moodier elements act more as a trimming on this record than the main feature. Songs such as "Pablo Picasso", "Never Get Old", "Try Some, Buy Some", and the Title Track also have considerably lighter lyrical content compared to Heathen as well.
  • Limited Lyrics Song: "The Loneliest Guy"
  • Longest Song Goes Last: At 7:45, the closing track "Bring Me the Disco King" outpaces every preceding track on the album.
  • One-Word Title: Reality, "Days", "Reality".
  • Performance Video: The music video for "Never Get Old" consists mainly of Bowie performing the song on a glitzy sound stage.
  • Pun-Based Title: "New Killer Star" is a play on the words "nuclear star".
  • Rearrange the Song:
    • "Never Get Old" was mashed up with a re-recording of "Rebel Rebel" from Diamond Dogs and released as a single as "Rebel Never Gets Old".
    • "Bring Me the Disco King" was intended to be released on Black Tie White Noise but ended up being reworked twice, first unsuccessfully for Earthling and then successfully for this album.
    • Although ultimately still a Cover Version, Bowie's version of "Pablo Picasso" added two Spanish guitar solos and a refrain ("Swinging on the back porch...")
  • Record Producer: David Bowie and Tony Visconti.
  • Rhyming Title: "Try Some, Buy Some".
  • Series Fauxnale: Following Bowie's heart attack in 2004, he withdrew from the public eye over the course of the next two years; by the time "Where Are We Now?" dropped in 2013, everyone had accepted the idea that Bowie had retired, with Reality (and especially "Bring Me the Disco King", with such conclusive lyrics as "stab me in the dark, let me disappear") being his accidental Grand Finale. Of course, that surprise release of "Where Are We Now?" acted as a sudden statement that the story wasn't over just yet for Bowie.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Bowie in the pose that inspired the cover for the album (included alongside the Title Track's lyrics as the CD release's tray art).
  • Shout-Out: Three guesses as to what the song "Pablo Picasso" is about.
  • Stealth Pun: What better way to promote an album titled Reality than with a cartoon drawing of your likeness?
  • Take That!: To the Bush/Cheney Administration through the songs "New Killer Star" and "Fall Dog Bombs the Moon".
  • Title Track: "Reality", the tenth track on the album.
  • White Void Room: Bowie stands in one in the photograph included under the disc tray.
  • Word Salad Title: "Fall Dog Bombs the Moon".