Monday, January 3, 2011
Top 42-Chic- Le Freak
"Le Freak" is a 1978 hit disco song by Chic. It was the band's third single and first Billboard Hot 100 and soul number-one song. A New York Times critic describes the song as a "haunting, minimalist pop-funk built around the guitar and bass". Along with the tracks, "I Want Your Love" and "Chic Cheer", "Le Freak" stayed at number one on the disco charts for seven weeks.The single bears the distinction of being the highest selling record ever on Atlantic Records, and the highest-selling single ever on WEA until it was displaced in 1990 (by Madonna's "Vogue").
The single achieved sales of over four million and also reached number seven in the UK singles chart.
The song was ranked at number 19 on Billboard Magazine's top 100 songs of the first 50 years of the Hot 100 chart.
This song commemorates Studio 54 for its notoriously long lines, exclusive clientele, and discourteous doormen. On the history of the song, guitarist Nile Rodgers later commented:
On New Year's Eve, 1977, we were invited to meet with Grace Jones at Studio 54. She wanted to interview us about recording her next album. At that time, our music was fairly popular — 'Dance, Dance, Dance' was a big hit and 'Everybody Dance', although more underground, was doing very well, too — but Grace Jones didn't leave our name at the door and the doorman wouldn't let us in. Studio 54 was that kind of place. Our music might be playing inside, but the place was packed for New Year's Eve and this was early in our career. Anyway, my apartment happened to be one block away, so Bernard and I went there to sort of quell our sorrows. We grabbed a couple of bottles of champagne from the corner liquor store and then went back to my place, plugged in our instruments and started jamming.
And since we were feeling bad, we played music to make us feel good. We started jamming on the now-famous riff — Bernard and I were particularly good at making up riffs and jamming together. We were really into jamming and we'd often start writing songs that way, sometimes drawing on ideas that were floating around. In this case, however, the riff was super, super simple, so it didn't have to be pre-planned. It's not like I'd been saving it. It was just something that happened. I had always liked the Cream song "Sunshine of Your Love", and I wanted to do a sort of riff song for Chic, although not a complete linear riff — that wouldn't be like Chic — so I incorporated a little linear lick and we started singing, 'fuck off!' [Repeats the lick.] 'Aaaaahh, fuck off!'
We were so fucked off at what had happened. I mean, it was Studio 54, it was New Year's Eve, it was Grace Jones, and we were wearing the most expensive outfits that we had — back then, in the late '70s, our suits must have cost us a couple of thousand bucks each, and our really fancy shoes had got soaked trudging through the snow. So 'Fuck Off' was a protest song, and we actually thought it was pretty good — 'Aaaaahh, fuck off!' It had a vibe. I was thinking 'This could be the anthem of everybody who gets cut off on the street by a cab driver or any kids who want to say this to their parents.' You know, 'Hey, I wasn't saying it, man! I was just playing the record.'
We really had pretty big designs on completing the song as 'Fuck Off'. You've got to remember, we didn't think of that prior to sitting down and playing. Once we did sit down and play and started singing that hook, it sounded good; just as good as 'freak out'. In fact, had we not come up with 'fuck off' we would never have written 'Freak Out' and some other song would have been our big hit record. We were screaming it: 'Aaaaahh, fuck off!' Bernard and I usually wrote the hook of a song first, and then once we felt we had a chorus that would pay off, the rest of the song would follow. So, that night we actually converted 'fuck off' to 'freak out'. That was part of the process that first night. First, we changed it from 'fuck off' to 'freak off', and that was pretty hideous. We were singing it and just stumbling over 'freak off', because it was so lame by comparison. Then, all of a sudden it just hit me. For one second the light bulb went on and I sang 'Aaaaahh, freak out!'
"Le Freak" was the first song to be knocked out of (and return to) the number one position on the Billboard Hot 100 three times. It first hit number one on the week ending December 9, 1978. After one week, it fell to number two, knocked out by the Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond duet "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" (itself being a song "Le Freak" knocked out of the number one spot the previous week), and returned to the top position on December 23, 1978. After two additional weeks at number one, it again fell to number two, this time replaced by "Too Much Heaven" by the Bee Gees, and then reclaimed number one on January 20, 1979, where it remained for three additional weeks. This record remained in place till 2008, when Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis became the second track to hit number one three times. Later that same year rap artist T.I. tied this record twice with both "Whatever You Like" which he recorded by himself and "Live Your Life" which he recorded with Rihanna. On two of these occasions "Live Your Life" dethroned "Whatever You Like" from the Number One Position.
According to music critic Garry Mulholland - " Chic were masters of black music's key component:the coded message. Ever since the days of slavery, Afro-Americans had used hymns , work songs and field hollers to exchange information that couldn't be spoken straight...Chic honed a perfect, exquisitely crafted dance-soul music. All the words said, on the surface, was ...Dance. Have fun. It's on us. But the lyrics of 'Good Times', 'My Feet Keep Dancing', Le Freak...bore secret messages, sly jokes and a sneaky critique of the entire notion of black people dancing away their blues...Young and old are doing it, I'm told/Just one try, and you too will be sold. "
The song is featured in the home edition of Dance Dance Revolution SuperNova 2 (North America).
The song is featured in Leisure Suit Larry: Love for Sail! during the fashion show portion of the game.
"Le Freak" was performed on the television show Glee on the episode "Showmance", much to the characters' chagrin.
Most recently, "Le Freak" was covered by the electronica band Millionaires for the MTV movie Turn The Beat Around.
The song can be heard in the 2010 film Diary of a Wimpy Kid in the Mother/Son Dance scene.
This song was featured in Toy Story 3 while Ken is modeling clothes for Barbie.