It’s been more than 20 years since David Bowie last recorded original music for a television program. But the snippet of Bowie’s new theme for the upcoming The Last Panthers shows the rock icon hasn’t lost his touch. The track, titled “Blackstar,” was praised by Rolling Stone as “ghostly, atmospheric,” and noted for Bowie’s “haunting, skewed” vocals.
The assessment closely mirrors that of director Johan Renck, who said in a statement posted on Bowie’s Facebook page that the song conveyed the emotional mood of the upcoming series.
“The piece of music he laid before us embodied every aspect of our characters and the series itself – dark, brooding, beautiful and sentimental (in the best possible incarnation of this word).”
The Guardian also noted the gloomy mood and lyrics.
“[The song] doesn’t opt for a banging piece of populism. Instead, over an atmospheric backing, Bowie intones, in the style of a priest chanting in church: ‘On the day of execution / Only women kneel and smile.’ He doesn’t follow that by breaking into a version of Agadoo.”
The Last Panthers is a six-episode series set to air in November 2015. According to Deadline, it’s based on the story of the Balkan jewel thieves known as The Pink Panthers, who have been suspected of numerous jewel heists, including a $136 million theft in July 2013. Starring Samantha Morton, John Hurt and Tahar Rahim, it’s been produced as a collaboration between Sky Atlantic and Canal and will air in the U.K., France and Germany.
Bowie’s last foray into television music was the soundtrack for The Buddha of Suburbia in 1993. In 2007, upon its re-release, The Guardian called it “Bowie’s great lost album,” since it received so little critical or commercial attention.
Bowie’s last studio album of original work was 2013’s The Next Day, which marked the end of a 10-year absence from studio work for the singer. During the long gap he took part in a number of obscure projects, including singing backup on Scarlett Johansson’s album and voicing the character of Lord Royal Highness of Atlantis in a 2007 SpongeBob Squarepants movie.
In August, it was announced Bowie would provide original music to an upcoming SpongeBob Broadway musical, along with The Flaming Lips, Cyndi Lauper, John Legend, and They Might Be Giants.
Tickets for Bowie’s Broadway collaboration Lazarus went on sale Wednesday, and according to Bowie’s Twitter account, were sold out within hours. Lazarus, which stars Michael C. Hall, is based on the novel The Man Who Fell to Earth. Bowie himself starred in a movie version of the novel that eventually became a cult classic, at least for diehard Bowie fans. Bowie composed new songs for Lazarus and rearranged some previously released work for the production.