What in the World (2:20)

Cover of Portrait of a Star

From Portrait of a Star and 3 other releases

“What in the World” is a song by David Bowie released on his 1977 album Low, later making appearances as repertoire in the 1978 world tour as well as other major tours.

“What in the World” showcases some of Bowie’s Berlin-era songwriting and production techniques. The song, like other songs on the Low album, is disjointed, with seemingly random sentences and free-associative phrases appearing throughout the lyrics.

The song makes heavy use of synthesizer and recording studio techniques, heavily influenced by the work of Brian Eno, who collaborated with the album. A “blip”-like sound comparable to the sounds later made by Pac-man and the Nintendo Entertainment System pulses throughout the song, which, coupled with extremely rhythmic guitar solos, creates a frantic pace. The song also makes use of the Harmonizer which Tony Visconti brought to the studio through the sound of Dennis Davis’ drumming.

The song also features Iggy Pop on backing vocals.

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