Young Americans (song)

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"Young Americans"
Bowie YoungAmericansSingle.jpg
Single by David Bowie
from the album Young Americans
B-side "Suffragette City"
Released 21 February 1975 (1975-02-21)
Format 7"
Recorded Sigma Sound Studios, Philadelphia, August 1974
Length 5:10 (album version)
3:11 (single version)
Label RCA
Songwriter(s) David Bowie
Producer(s) Tony Visconti
David Bowie singles chronology
"Rock 'n' Roll with Me"
"Young Americans"
"Rock 'n' Roll with Me"
"Young Americans"

"Young Americans" is a single by English singer and songwriter David Bowie, released in 1975. It is included in the album of the same name. The song was a massive breakthrough in the United States, where glam rock had never really become very popular outside the major cities. The song reached No. 28 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it his second biggest success there up until that point.

In 2010, the song ranked at #486 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In 2016, it ranked at #44 on Pitchfork's list of the 200 best songs of the 1970s.[3]


The first studio result of Bowie’s mid-1970s obsession with soul music, "Young Americans" was a breakthrough hit for the artist in the United States (where the single was released in an edited 3:11 version). The sound, often later reflected on by Bowie as "plastic soul", was matched by a cynical lyric, making references to McCarthyism, black repression via Rosa Parks, Richard Nixon (who had resigned the U.S. Presidency two days before the recording session), as well as a near-direct lift from The Beatles’ "A Day in the Life" with the line "I heard the news today oh boy!" (John Lennon, who originally authored the line, appeared twice on the Young Americans album, providing guitar and backing vocals on his own "Across the Universe" and "Fame", for which he also received a co-writing credit.) The backing vocal arrangement came at the suggestion of Luther Vandross.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by David Bowie except as noted.

UK release[edit]

  1. "Young Americans" – 5:10
  2. "Suffragette City" (Live) – 3:45

U.S. release[edit]

  1. "Young Americans" (single version) – 3:16
  2. "Knock on Wood" (Live) (Eddie Floyd, Steve Cropper) – 3:03


Chart (1975–2016) Peak
Australian Singles Chart 27
Canadian Singles Chart 33
Irish Singles Chart 13
New Zealand Singles Chart 7
UK Singles Chart 18
US Billboard Hot 100 28
US Cash Box [4] 20
US Billboard Rock Songs 25


("Young Americans" only except Bowie)

Additional personnel[edit]

Live versions[edit]

  • A live in-studio performance of "Young Americans", taped on 2 November 1974, is included on the DVD sets The Dick Cavett Show: Rock Icons and Best of Bowie.
  • A live performance filmed on 12 September 1983 is included on the concert DVD Serious Moonlight.

Other releases[edit]

Cover versions[edit]

  • The Braids – Here We Come (1998)
  • The CureAn XFM Compilation Album (1992)
  • EverythingDrop Dead Gorgeous Soundtrack (1999)
  • Lily of the ValleyLive Recording: Webster Hall, NYC
  • Luther Vandross and Ava CherryLuther Vandross Live at Wembley, London
  • Danny MichelLoving the Alien: Danny Michel Sings the Songs of David Bowie
  • Replica Schmeplica – Hero: The Main Man Records Tribute to David Bowie (2007)
  • Electric Six - You're Welcome! (2017)

In other media[edit]

The song has accompanied the end credits of Dogville[5] and Manderlay, the first two films of Lars Von Trier's trilogy USA - Land of Opportunities. "Young Americans" was also featured on the soundtrack of John Hughes' film Sixteen Candles.[6]

The song was used briefly in the Nicolas Cage film Lord of War. It was also played at the beginning of the film Down to You, starring Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Julia Stiles.

It was used in the trailer to the Ben Stiller-directed film Reality Bites to show how Generation X had been affected by earlier American history. It was used in the 2012 thriller Jack Reacher starring Tom Cruise.

The 2015 British drama series The Enfield Haunting featured the song during the finale and end credits of the final episode.


  • Pegg, Nicholas. The Complete David Bowie, Reynolds & Hearn Ltd, 2000, ISBN 1-903111-73-0


  1. ^ Edwards, Gavin (June 5, 2014). "Flashback: David Bowie and Cher Duet on 'Young Americans'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 30, 2016. 
  2. ^ Vogelman, Nee (18 January 2016). "The 20 Greatest David Bowie Singles". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 7 February 2016. 
  3. ^ Pitchfork Staff (August 22, 2016). "The 200 Best Songs of the 1970s". Pitchfork. 
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ Heath, Chris (11 January 2015). "7 David Bowie Songs to Play Over and Over Today". GQ. Retrieved 12 January 2015. 
  6. ^ "Sixteen Candles (1984) : Soundtracks". Retrieved 2016-10-10. 

External links[edit]