Tilda Swinton and David Bowie might not seem like the likeliest candidates to play an aging suburban married couple, but seeing them is believing in the music video for Bowie’s new track “The Stars (Are Out Tonight),” as hosted by W magazine.
The cut is taken from “The Next Day,” Bowie’s first album in exactly a decade. The album was anounced to predictably high fanfare on Jan. 8, Bowie’s 66th birthday, as exemplified by Pitchfork. So it was perhaps intended as an irreverent nod to Bowie's own fading star(dom) that he chose to recruit Swinton to the project.
At 52, the remarkably well-preserved Swinton looks much like Bowie did in his “Ziggy Stardust” days. With her high cheekbones, porcelain skin, and combination of red hair and pale green eyes, Swinton’s uncanny resemblance to Bowie brought her attention even before their collaboration. According to Time, a Tumblr page “dedicated to the belief that Tilda and Bowie are one person,” entitled Tilda Stardust, sprang up on the Web almost a year ago.
And Swinton herself isn’t unaware of the comparison. Asked about her “unconventional” style in an August 2011 issue of W Magazine, she said she continuously looks to Bowie for inspiration, calling him one of her “aesthetic North Stars,” and explaining that they “share the same planetary DNA.”
So it isn’t really so unlikely after all that the iconic gender bender would call on Swinton to play his wife in the music video. The rest of the more than 5-minute-long "The Stars" is filled with a revolving door of eerie doppelgangers, and eventually ends with a scene in which Bowie and Swinton are dressed in identical suits, their short, light hair pomaded back exactly alike, in near-mirror images.
Describing the album, a representative of Bowie’s record label Columbia said, "Throwing shadows and avoiding the industry treadmill is very David Bowie despite his extraordinary track record that includes album sales in excess of 130m, not to mention his massive contributions in the area of art, fashion, style, sexual exploration, and social commentary."
Bowie himself described the music video in a post on Facebook as a portrayal of “a twenty first century moment in its convergence of age, gender and the normal/celebrity divide.” However, exactly what kind of a "social commentary" Bowie is making is left to our imaginations.