We Built This City (4:54)

Cover of Knee Deep in the Hoopla

From Knee Deep in the Hoopla and 268 other releases

“We Built This City” is a song written by Bernie Taupin, Martin Page, Dennis Lambert, and Peter Wolf, and originally recorded by the group Starship and released as its debut single on November 10, 1985. The lyrics were written by Bernie Taupin, best known for his longtime collaboration with Elton John. The song features Mickey Thomas and Grace Slick on lead vocals, and the single version reached number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 on November 16, 1985, and also number twelve in the United Kingdom. The song was engineered by Grammy-winning producer Bill Bottrell and arranged by Bottrell and Jasun Martz.

The city that the band is singing about in the album version of this song has been generally thought to be San Francisco, California, (the traffic report in the bridge references the Golden Gate Bridge and “The City by the Bay”). However, it also mentions that it is “the city that never sleeps”, which is a nickname more commonly associated with New York City. In Japan it has been sold with Japanese title “Sisuko wa Rokku Sitii” (“‘Cisco, Rock City”). But according to Slick, it was actually written about early-1970s Los Angeles.

Production

MTV executive and former D.J. Les Garland provided the D.J. voice-over during the song’s bridge.[2]

The song was also released without the traffic report and D.J. interaction during the song’s bridge (the B-side of the promotional 45-rpm record). Local stations were encouraged to make local versions. New York City, for example, included a traffic report describing conditions on the George Washington Bridge.

Janice Cruz, later from the Brooklyn-based indie rock trio Dark Room NYC, appears in the first verse of the video.

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