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"
Released21 February 1975 (1975-02-21)
RecordedSigma Sound Studios, Philadelphia, August 1974
Length5:10 (album version)
3:11 (single version)
Songwriter(s)David Bowie
Producer(s)Tony Visconti
David Bowie singles chronology
"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 breakthrough in the United States, where the glam rock of Bowie's earlier career had limited popularity outside the major cities. The song reached No. 28 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it his second biggest success on that chart 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 for the artist in the United States (where the single was released in an edited 3:11 version). The sound, later described by Bowie as "plastic soul", was matched by a cynical lyric, making references to McCarthyism, black repression via Rosa Parks, Richard Nixon (who resigned the U.S. Presidency two days before the recording session), and 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 wrote that 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 cowriting credit.) The backing vocal arrangement was suggested by Luther Vandross.

"America," noted production team The Matrix, "is a bit like a teenager: brimming with energy and imagination, occasionally overstepping the mark, but always with a great sense of possibility. Bowie captured a big piece of that in 'Young Americans'."[4]

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
Ireland (IRMA)[5] 13
New Zealand Singles Chart 7
UK Singles Chart 18
US Billboard Hot 100 28
US Cash Box[6] 20
US Billboard Rock Songs 25


("Young Americans" only except Bowie)

Additional personnel[edit]

Live versions[edit]

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[7] 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.[8]

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 (5 June 2014). "Flashback: David Bowie and Cher Duet on 'Young Americans'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
  2. ^ Vogelman, Nee (18 January 2016). "The 20 Greatest David Bowie Singles". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
  3. ^ Pitchfork Staff (22 August 2016). "The 200 Best Songs of the 1970s". Pitchfork.
  4. ^ Collis, Clark; et al. (October 2003). "The 1001 greatest songs to download right now!". Blender #20. p. 98.
  5. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Young Americans". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ Heath, Chris (11 January 2015). "7 David Bowie Songs to Play Over and Over Today". GQ. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
  8. ^ "Sixteen Candles (1984) : Soundtracks". Retrieved 10 October 2016.

External links[edit]