China Girl (song)

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"China Girl"
Single by Iggy Pop
from the album The Idiot
B-side "Baby"
Released May 1977
Recorded July 1976 (1976-07) – February 1977 (1977-02); Château d'Hérouville, Hérouville, France;
Musicland Studios, Munich;
Hansa by the Wall, Berlin
Length 5:08
Label RCA
Writer(s) David Bowie, Iggy Pop
Producer(s) David Bowie
Iggy Pop singles chronology
"Sister Midnight"
"China Girl"
"Success/The Passenger"
"China Girl"
Single by David Bowie
from the album Let's Dance
B-side "Shake It"
Released May 1983
Format 7"/12" single
Recorded Power Station, New York, December 1982
Genre Pop[1]
Length 5:32 (album version)
4:14 (single edit)
Label EMI America Records
Writer(s) David Bowie, Iggy Pop
Producer(s) Nile Rodgers
David Bowie singles chronology
"Let's Dance"
"China Girl"
"Modern Love"
Let's Dance track listing
"Modern Love"
"China Girl"
"Let's Dance"
Music video
"China Girl" on YouTube

"China Girl" is a song co-written by David Bowie and Iggy Pop during their years in Berlin, first appearing on Pop's album The Idiot (1977). The song became more widely known when it was rerecorded by Bowie and released on his album Let's Dance (1983) and as a single.

Paul Trynka, the author of David Bowie's biography, Starman, claims the song was inspired by Iggy Pop's infatuation with Kuelan Nguyen, a beautiful Vietnamese woman.[2]

The UK single release of Bowie's remake reached No. 2 for one week on 14 June 1983, behind "Every Breath You Take" by The Police, while the US release reached No. 10.

Track listing[edit]

David Bowie version[edit]

7": EMI America / EA 157 (UK)[edit]

  1. "China Girl [Edit]" (Bowie, Pop) – 4:14
  2. "Shake It" (Bowie) – 3:49

12": EMI America 75038 / 12EA 157 (UK)[edit]

  1. "China Girl" (Bowie, Pop) – 5:32
  2. "Shake It [Re-Mix]" (Bowie) – 5:21
  • On the US 12", "Shake It" is called the "Long Version," although it's identical to the UK's "Re-Mix"
  • The UK 12" single's cover was slightly different from the US cover (they're mirrors of each other), and the flip side of the UK 12" includes dates for the 1983 Serious Moonlight Tour in the UK (specifically the London, Birmingham, Edinburgh, and Milton Keynes shows).

Music video[edit]

David Bowie version[edit]

The music video, featuring New Zealand model Geeling Ng, was directed by David Mallet and shot mainly in the Chinatown district of Sydney, Australia. Along with his previous single's video for "Let's Dance", Bowie described the video as a "very simple, very direct" statement against racism.[3] The video consciously parodies Asian female stereotypes. The original video release includes the two lying naked in the surf (a visual reference to the film From Here to Eternity),[4][5] though versions of the video included on subsequent video and DVD compilations are slightly censored to remove the nudity. The original video went on to win an MTV video award for Best Male Video.[6]

Live performances[edit]

The song was a regular for Bowie's live shows for the rest of the 1980s (appearing on concert videos in 1983 and 1988 -- Serious Moonlight and Glass Spider, respectively). It was rehearsed for his appearance at the 1985 London Live Aid concert but along with the songs "Fascination" and "Five Years" was eventually dropped due to time constraints. Additional live versions of the song appear on 2009's release of a 1999 performance for VH1 Storytellers and on a 2010 release, entitled A Reality Tour, recorded at Bowie's November 2003 concerts in Dublin, Ireland.

Chart performance[edit]

David Bowie version[edit]

Chart (1983–2016) Peak
Australian Singles Chart 15
Austrian Singles Chart 2
Canadian Singles Chart 2
Dutch Singles Chart 5
Irish Singles Chart 2
German Singles Chart 6
New Zealand Top 40 3
Norwegian Singles Chart 7
Swedish Singles Chart 5
Swiss Singles Chart 1
UK Singles Chart 2
US Billboard Hot 100 10
US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play
(charted together with "Shake It")
US Billboard Rock Songs 20

Production credits[edit]

Iggy Pop version[edit]


David Bowie version[edit]



Other releases[edit]

Cover versions[edit]


  1. ^ Erlewine,Stephen Thomas. "David Bowie - Let's Dance review". Allmusic. Retrieved February 2, 2016. 
  2. ^ China Girl by David Bowie, retrieved 2015-10-24 , Album: Let's Dance, U.S.A Charted=10, U.K. Charted=2
  3. ^ Loder, Kurt (12 May 1983), "Straight Time", Rolling Stone magazine, no. 395, pp. 22–28, 81 
  4. ^ Jenkins, Mark (31 December 1993). "Bowie's Changes In Single Fashion". Washington Post. Retrieved 10 May 2009. 
  5. ^ Caroline Stanley (30 March 2010). "The Evolution of Nudity in Music Videos (NSFW) – Flavorwire". Retrieved 15 March 2014. a rather tame (and brief!) glimpse at Bowie’s butt during a beach makeout session 
  6. ^ China Girl: David Bowie: VMA Playlist: All-Time Best Male Videos, MTV, retrieved 30 November 2010 
  7. ^ Bill Cummings (18 March 2013). "Ashes To Ashes: A Compilation of David Bowie Covers by Various Artists | God Is In The TV". Retrieved 15 March 2014. 
  • Pegg, Nicholas, The Complete David Bowie, Reynolds & Hearn Ltd, 2000, ISBN 1-903111-14-5

External links[edit]