Although that album’s title track had been the lead single and an international hit, Bowie’s first choice had been ‘China Girl’.
The truth is, I told Nile, ‘Why on earth you think that’s a single, I have no idea.’ I had serious doubts – I wanted ‘China Girl’ to be the first single. But he said to me, ‘No, you’re wrong. ‘Let’s Dance’ is the one.’ And he was absolutely right.
Blender, August 2002
The ‘China Girl’ single was issued on 31 May 1983, with another Let’s Dance track, ‘Shake It’, on the b-side.
In the UK the single peaked at number two for one week from 14 June, held off the top spot by the Police’s ‘Every Breath You Take’.
In the US it reached number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, one of Bowie’s better single performances.
‘China Girl’ also reached the top ten in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Finland, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland.
The song has since become a regular inclusion on Bowie compilations, starting with 1990’s ChangesBowie. The most common inclusion is the single edit, which reduced the length from 5:34 to 4:18.
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