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Music / Young Americans

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"Ain't there one damn song that can make me break down and cry?"

Young Americans is the ninth studio album by David Bowie, mostly recorded in Philadelphia in late 1974, with some tracks recorded in New York City in early 1975, and released in March 1975. A major departure in style from his previous albums, it is largely a soul album— or as Bowie liked to call it, "Plastic Soul".

Since release, the album has been looked at generally favourably. Hits and fan favourites include the Title Track and "Fame".



Songs written by David Bowie except where otherwise noted.

Side One

  1. "Young Americans" (5:10)
  2. "Win" (4:44)
  3. "Fascination" (5:43) (Bowie, Luther Vandross)
  4. "Right" (4:13)

Side Two

  1. "Somebody Up There Likes Me" (6:30)
  2. "Across The Universe" (4:30) (John Lennon and Paul McCartney)
  3. "Can You Hear Me?" (5:04)
  4. "Fame" (4:12) (Bowie, Lennon, Carlos Alamar)

Bonus Tracks (1991 Reissue):

  1. "Who Can I Be Now?" (4:36)
  2. "It's Gonna Be Me" (6:27)
  3. "John, I'm Only Dancing (Again)" (6:57)


Ain't there one damn trope that can make me... break down and cryyyyyyyyyyyy?

  • American Title: Of the ironic variety with this album and the title track, a rather cynical portrait of ennui and disappointment in America in The '70s.
  • Audience Participation Song: "Young Americans" to a mild extent; on the album, there's a slight pause after "ain't there one damn song that can make me—" and the following phrase, "—break down and cry?" In live performances, Bowie would take an even longer pause after the first phrase, before letting the audience finish the line in his place.
  • Call-Back: The border surrounding then-present day Bowie in the video for "Fame '90" consists of a bunch of little screens. Several of them are showing looped montages of stills of Bowie over the years (both his music and acting careers) or clips from previous videos and TV appearances. In fact, one screen simply runs Bowie's 1975 performance of "Fame" on Cher's variety show!
  • Celebrity Is Overrated: The point of "Fame".
    Fame, puts you there where things are hollow
  • Cover Version: The Beatles' "Across The Universe".
  • Don't Look Back: "Right"
    Never no turning back
    Never, never, never
  • Epic Rocking: The 6 and a half minute "Somebody Up There Likes Me", plus, on the Rykodisc version of the album, "It's Gonna Be Me" and "John, I'm Only Dancing (Again)".
  • Face on the Cover: Bowie's face in close-up, as photographed by George Hurrell (a glamour photographer from The Golden Age of Hollywood).
  • Four More Measures: "Somebody Up There Likes Me"
  • God-Is-Love Songs: "Somebody Up There Likes Me" about someone who claims God protects him every step of the way.
    He says: "Don't hurry, baby, somebody up there (somebody) likes me
  • Gratuitous German: "Fame"
    Fame, "Nein! It's mine!" is just his line
  • Intercourse with You:
    • "Can You Hear Me?"
    Can you hear me?
    Can you feel me inside?
    Show your love, love
    Take it in right (take it in right)
    Take it in right (take it in right)
    • "Fascination"
    Oh, better sex is fun
    I think I like fascination
  • Lyrical Dissonance: The title track.
  • New Sound Album: The first of several major instances in Bowie's career. While each previous album had built off of the one before it, Young Americans does a 180 and throws everything people knew about Bowie's music out the window in favor of blue-eyed soul and funk.
  • Obsession Song: "Fascination"
    Fascination takes a part of me
    I can't help it
    I've got to use her
    Fascination comes around
  • One-Word Title: "Fame", "Win", "Right".
  • Pep-Talk Song: "Win"
    Now your smile is wearing thin
    Seems you're trying not to lose
    Since I'm not supposed to win
    All you've got to do is win
  • Product Placement: "Young Americans" makes mention of a Barbie doll, a Caddie and a Chrysler.
  • Questioning Title?: "Can You Hear Me?"
  • Shout-Out:
    • To "A Day In The Life" in the title track, with the line "I heard the news today, oh boy!". Also, the song references both Barbie and "your President Nixon", who resigned while the album was being recorded.
    • "Somebody Up There Likes Me" name-drops Rudolph Valentino.
    Can they walk and hold you as well as a smile like Valentino.
  • Smoking Is Cool and Smoking Is Glamorous: Bowie on the album cover.
  • Special Guest: John Lennon on "Across The Universe" and "Fame", both of which he also co-wrote.
  • Uncommon Time: "Win" contains some passages of 5/4, while "Who Can I Be Now?" throws occasional 3/4 measures into otherwise 4/4 passages.
  • Young Future Famous People: A Real Life example. Luther Vandross received his big break as one of the backing vocalists and arranger of the backing vocals and co-writer of "Fascination".


Example of: