Hunky Dory was David Bowie’s fourth studio album and truly put him on the map as a popular artist. Up until that point Bowie’s audience were somewhat niche. He had a gender bending style which didn’t exactly appeal to the average masses during the 70s.This album was his first to gain commercial popularity. It allowed Bowie to truly establish himself as an artist and hone his image and craft. People started to notice him and he had new fans from a wide range of audiences that had never been to his shows before.The story behind the production of this album is kind of funny. Bowie began recording the album at Trident studios in London in June of 1971 but was not signed with them. After hearing the tapes from theses recordings, RCA Records in New York snatched Bowie from them and offered him a three album deal. Hunky Dory was released by RCA in December of that year supported by the single “Changes.” Which would end up being one of Bowie’s most famous songs.
Unlike his previous album, The Man Who Sold the World, that had a harder rock energy to it, Hunky Dory had more of an easy listening vibe to it. The album begins with two extremely upbeat pop hits. Another song on the album, “Kooks” was dedicated to Bowie’s young son Duncan (Zowie). The famous track, “Life on Mars” was also on this album. It was eventually released again by RCA in 1973 as a single. At that time it hit number three on the UK charts.
Although melodically this album seems more mainstream than something Bowie would usually have put out, he makes up for it through his lyrics. For example, his song “Oh You Pretty Things” is inspired by Nietzsche. He makes reference to making way for the “Homo Superior” to replace the typical hetero-male and is apparently a precursor to Bowie’s song “Starman” which would appear on his next album.(Also my favorite Bowie song) Even Bowie himself expressed in interviews that Hunky Dory laid the foundation for the rest of his career.