I'm Afraid of Americans
|"I'm Afraid of Americans"|
|Single by David Bowie|
|from the album Earthling|
|A-side||Versions 1–4 (12")|
|B-side||Versions 5–6 (12")|
|Released||14 October 1997|
|David Bowie singles chronology|
"I'm Afraid of Americans" is a single by David Bowie from the 1997 album Earthling. The song, co-written by Bowie and Brian Eno, was originally written during Bowie's studio sessions for the 1995 album Outside but was not released until a rough mix appeared on the soundtrack to the film Showgirls, and was subsequently remade for Earthling. A top 20 hit in Canada, the rework also peaked at number 66 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent 16 weeks on that chart. This was the final Bowie single which charted on the Hot 100 until "Blackstar" and "Lazarus" following his death.
Bowie describes the feelings behind the song:
It's not as truly hostile about Americans as say "Born in the U.S.A.": it's merely sardonic. I was traveling in Java when [its] first McDonald's went up: it was like, "for fuck's sake." The invasion by any homogenized culture is so depressing, the erection of another Disney World in, say, Umbria, Italy, more so. It strangles the indigenous culture and narrows expression of life.
"I'm Afraid of Americans" originally appeared as a rough mix on the soundtrack to the film Showgirls (in which the chorus is "I'm afraid of the animals" instead of the later "I'm afraid of Americans") and was subsequently remade for Earthling. This version, Nine Inch Nails remix V1 and Original Edit were released on the bonus disc of the Digibook Expanded Edition of Earthling in 2004.
A CD single for "I'm Afraid of Americans" was released in the United States and Canada. The single did not include the album version of the song; instead, it featured remixes of the track performed by Bowie's former tourmates, Nine Inch Nails, and drum and bass artist Photek. The (V1) mix became more popular than the original version, in large part because of the accompanying video, leading to its appearance on some editions of the retrospectives Best of Bowie (2002), Nothing Has Changed (2014), and Bowie Legacy (2016).
The song also appears on the Complete Soundtrack for the TV series Person of Interest.
The song also appears in the 2014 comedy film The Interview.
The song also appears at the end credits of the 2016 action horror film The Purge: Election Year.
The song also appears in the opening credits of the 2016 Epix series Berlin Station.
|US Billboard Hot 100||66|
|Canadian Singles Chart||14|
|US Billboard Alternative Songs||27|
|Lithuanian Singles Chart||5|
Versions and remixes
|Title||Mix and additional production||Duration||Additional credits|
|Showgirls Version||Dave Richards||5:12||Produced by David Bowie and Brian Eno.|
|Album Version||Mark Plati||4:59||Produced by David Bowie. Co-produced by Reeves Gabrels and Mark Plati.|
|Original Edit||Mark Plati||4:14||Produced by David Bowie. Co-produced by Reeves Gabrels and Mark Plati.|
|V1||Nine Inch Nails||5:31||Production and additional performances by Nine Inch Nails. Mixed by Dave "Rave" Ogilvie. Engineered by Brian Pollack at Nothing Studios.|
|V1 Edit||Nine Inch Nails||4:30||Production and additional performances by Nine Inch Nails. Mixed by Dave "Rave" Ogilvie. Engineered by Brian Pollack at Nothing Studios.|
|V1 Clean Edit||Nine Inch Nails||4:30||Production and additional performances by Nine Inch Nails. Mixed by Dave "Rave" Ogilvie. Engineered by Brian Pollack at Nothing Studios.|
|V2||Nine Inch Nails||5:51|
|V3||Nine Inch Nails||6:06||Production and additional performances by Nine Inch Nails. Mixed by Dave "Rave" Ogilvie. Engineered by Brian Pollack at Nothing Studios. Special guest: Ice Cube.|
|V4||Nine Inch Nails||5:25|
|V6||Nine Inch Nails||11:18|
Nine Inch Nails: Trent Reznor, Charlie Clouser, Keith Hillebrandt, Dave "Rave" Ogilvie, Danny Lohner
- CD and 12"
- Virgin / 8 38618 2 (US)
- "I'm Afraid of Americans" (V1) – 5:31
- "I'm Afraid of Americans" (V2) – 5:51
- "I'm Afraid of Americans" (V3) – 6:18
- "I'm Afraid of Americans" (V4) – 5:25
- "I'm Afraid of Americans" (V5) – 5:38
- "I'm Afraid of Americans" (V6) – 11:18
- CD promo
- Virgin / DPRO-12749 (US)
- "I'm Afraid of Americans" (V1 Edit) – 4:30
- "I'm Afraid of Americans" (Original Edit) – 4:12
- "I'm Afraid of Americans" (V3) – 6:06
- "I'm Afraid of Americans" (V1 Clean Edit) – 4:30
- David Bowie – vocals
- Brian Eno – synthesizers
- Trent Reznor – guitar, bass guitar, drums, background vocals
- Lyrics by David Bowie, music by Bowie and Brian Eno
- All tracks – re-produced by Nine Inch Nails (Trent Reznor, Charlie Clouser, Keith Hillebrandt, Dave "Rave" Ogilvie, Danny Lohner)
- Except V5 – remix by Photek
Sonic Youth performed the song together with Bowie at his fiftieth birthday bash in New York City in January 1997.
David Bowie performed the song at the Howard Stern forty-fourth birthday bash in 1998.
A version recorded at GQ Awards, New York City on 15 October 1997, was released on LiveAndWell.com in 2000.
Another live version by Bowie, recorded at the BBC Radio Theatre, London on 27 June 2000, was released on the bonus disc accompanying the first releases of Bowie at the Beeb in 2000.
The American techno band Q covered the song for the 2003 compilation Spiders from Venus: Indie Women Artists and Female-Fronted Bands Cover David Bowie, a version which also featured on Hero: The Main Man Records Tribute to David Bowie (2007). The American metal band Fashion Bomb likewise covered it for the 2006 album .2 Contamination: A Tribute to David Bowie.
Swiss band MIZAN covered "I'm Afraid of Americans" on their second album, AVRASYA.
The track was also recorded in Vienna in 2008 by industrial hip hop group Tackhead for inclusion on their "ShareHead" album, which was scheduled for internet-only release in 2012. It was later placed on their album For the Love of Money, released on 10 January 2014.
Follow No One, an International Rock Act recorded a Hard Rock version of the song in 2018, released on June 07, 2018.
In August 2018, The UK band BONES released a new cover version of the song.
Hard rock vocalist Ann Wilson covered the song on her 2018 album Immortal.
- "David Bowie: The FI Interview" by J.D. Considine, Fi magazine, October 1997, pp 36-41
- "''Earthling'' press release". Teenagewildlife.com. 25 June 1999. Retrieved 10 May 2009.
- "David Bowie - Awards - Canadian Digital Song Sales".
- "Sharehead is in the Area!". Tackhead.com. Retrieved 26 August 2011.
- "Discography: For the Love of Money". tackhead.com. 2004. Archived from the original on 19 September 2014. Retrieved 1 October 2014.