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Song IconDavid Bowie "Afraid"

About "Afraid"

"I'm Afraid of Americans" is a song by English musician David Bowie, released as a single from his album Earthling on 14 October 1997 through Virgin Records. The song was co-written by Bowie and Brian Eno and originally recorded during the sessions for Bowie's 1995 album Outside; this version was released on the soundtrack of the 1995 film Showgirls. The song was then remade during the sessions for Earthling with his then-current band, guitarist Reeves Gabrels, pianist Mike Garson, bassist Gail Ann Dorsey and drummer Zack Alford. The remake was recorded between August and October 1996 at Looking Glass Studios in New York City and featured rewritten lyrics, overdubs and transposed verses. An industrial and techno track, it presents a critique of America through the eyes of a stereotypical "Johnny" and is characterised by drum patterns, synthesisers, various loops and vocal distortions.

Following its release on the album, Virgin Records issued the song as a maxi-single in North America only with six different remixes. The remixes were mostly created by Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor, continuing his and Bowie's association following the Outside Tour; the V3 mix featured Ice Cube while the V5 mix was created by Photek. Reznor subsequently appeared in the music video, which reflected the song's theme of a frightened European in an American city. A top 20 hit in Canada, the single peaked at number 66 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent 16 weeks on the chart. It was the final Bowie single to chart on the Hot 100 until 2015. Reznor's V1 mix has since appeared on several compilation albums.

The song has received positive responses from critics and biographers. Rolling Stone named it one of the 30 most essential songs of Bowie's catalogue in 2016. Some American commentators later acknowledged the significance of the lyrics in the late 2010s. Bowie performed "I'm Afraid of Americans" frequently on his concert tours, from the 1997 Earthling to 2003 A Reality tours. Live performances have been released on numerous live albums. Reznor has performed the song live with Nine Inch Nails as well.

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