“Space Oddity” was not David Bowie’s first single. Bowie had been around for a few years at that point, releasing music under different names. He’d already dropped his self-titled debut album and made the top 10 in the UK with the bugged-out 1967 single “The Laughing Gnome.” But “Space Oddity” was still a sort of beginning for Bowie. It was his first true pop masterpiece, and it was also the first real glimpse of a confounding and ever-evolving pop persona. It’s the first David Bowie song that everybody knows. And it retains a certain mass fascination; just last year, when Elon Musk sent a Tesla to Mars, he made sure to point out that the song would play “Space Oddity” on a loop. Today, “Space Oddity” celebrates its 50th anniversary. And now, to celebrate that, Bowie is getting the most appropriate tribute possible: A Ziggy Stardust Barbie doll.
The new Bowie Barbie, announced today, seems to be aimed at what I imagine to be a small Venn-diagram overlap. (Something tells me that the Barbie-collector demographic might’ve been more into a doll that looked like Bowie in his Labyrinth Goblin King character.) The newest Barbie is a $50 doll that’s dressed like Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie — a look and character that he debuted a few years after “Space Oddity.” The character’s hair, boots, metallic bodysuit, and fingernails are all patterned after Bowie himself. But there’s something cool, I suppose, about how this isn’t a Ken doll. Even Mattel knows that Bowie is post-gender. You can find out all about the doll here.
In other Bowie news, there’s a new vinyl box set that’s also celebrating the 50th anniversary of “Space Oddity.” It includes 7″ singles of both “Space Oddity” and “Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud,” as well as a double-sided poster. You can order it here.