Saturday, December 9, 1978

Chic’s “Le Freak” hit #1

Le Freak


Writer(s): Nile Rodgers, Bernard Edwards (see lyrics here)

Released: September 21, 1978

First Charted: October 21, 1978

Peak: 16 US, 17 CB, 17 HR, 12 RR, 48 AC, 15 RB, 7 UK, 12 CN, 15 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, 0.5 UK, 13.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 1.15 video, 120.44 streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

Guitarist Nile Rodgers and bassist Bernard Edwards formed Chic in 1976 after meeting six years earlier as session musicians in New York City. They brought in drummer Tony Thompson and singer Norma Jean Wright and in 1977 released their debut album, Chic, which was fueled by the top 10 hit “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah).” Wright left the group and was replaced by Alfa Anderson and Luci Martin. The change didn’t hurt as Chic did even better the next time out with “Le Freak,” the first single from sophomore album C’est Chic.

The song came about from an incident at New York City’s famed disco club Studio 54. Rodgers and Edwards were invited to the club by Grace Jones on New Year’s Eve in 1977. However, she forgot to notify the nightclub staff and the pair were refused entry WK despite the fact that their music was often played in the club. SF The doorman told them to “fuck off” as he slammed the door on them. They used it in a song, eventually changing it to “freak out” after realizing radio would never play it otherwise. WK

“Le Freak” had an unusual chart run. It moved to #1 in just its seventh week on the chart, but then was replaced by Barbra Steisand and Neil Diamond’s “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” the song it had knocked from the top. However, “Le Freak” was back the next week – only to be knocked out again by the Bee Gees’ “Too Much Heaven.” However, after two weeks, “Le Freak” was back again for another three weeks. There’s was the first song in Billboard history to hit #1 three times. WK It went on to become the best-selling single in the history of Atlantic Records. BR

The record company was not sold on the song when they first heard it. Rodgers said he and Edwards sat with their lawyer in a conference room after playing a seven-and-a-half minute version of the song. The executives had cleared out of the room and were, as Rodgers said, “trying to figure out how to tell us how much the song sucked.” SF

Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Chic
  • BR Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 495.
  • SF Songfacts
  • WK Wikipedia

First posted 10/31/2019; last updated 4/28/2021.

Saturday, October 21, 1978

Village People hit the chart with “Y.M.C.A.”

First posted 4/21/2020.


Village People

Writer(s): Jacques Morali/Victor Willis/Henri Belolo (see lyrics here)

First Charted: October 21, 1978

Peak: 2 US, 3 CB, 2 HR, 6 RR, 32 RB, 13 UK, 12 CN, 15 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 1.51 UK, 12.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 8.2 video, -- streaming


About the Song:

Henri Belolo and Jacques Morali were two French songwriters and producers who worked with Casablanca Records, “the home of mainstream disco in the mid-‘70s.” CR They decided to market music to the gay community, initially with Victor Willis singing lead and backup vocals. WK When the formula succeeded, a group of actors and singers were assembled and “dolled up in costumes that camped on masculine archetypes” TO such as a cop, Indian, and construction worker.

After the group hit with “Macho Man,” they turned to the YMCA for inspiration for the second song. The YMCA provided low-income, single-room occupancies as well as workout facilities. In gay culture, it became “a coded celebration of cruising hot guys at a public gym.” TO

There are differing accounts as to how the song came about. Randy Jones, who played the cowboy in the group, said he joined the YMCA on 23rd Street in New York and took Morali there a few times and that planted the idea for the song. SF Another account suggests Belolo was inspired when he and Morali passed that same Y and Morali explained the center’s reputation. CR Willis contends he wrote the song in celebration of where he played basketball with his friends growing up. SF He says Morali asked him about the YMCA and that Belolo had nothing to do with the song. SF

Regardless of the song’s origins, it became a gay anthem which did the seemingly impossible. It became “an all-purpose massive crowd celebratory singalong.” LA “Whether it's a break at a sports event or a peak moment of a wedding reception,” LA you can see “school children and adults in all walks of life” CR “raising their arms to spell out the letters Y-M-C-A as they join the group’s chorus.” LA

The famous movements came out of a performance of the song on TV’s American Bandstand on January 6, 1979. The Village People formed the letter “Y” when they got to the chorus, but it was the audience who added gestures for the remaining letters. Its unknown if the crowd truly made it up on the spot or choreographed it beforehand. Dick Clark, the show’s host, asked Willis if he thought the group could work the gestures into their routine. Willis replied, “I think we’re going to have to.” SF

Resources and Related Links:

Friday, October 13, 1978

Billy Joel’s 52nd Street released

First posted 3/28/2008; updated 10/17/2020.

52nd Street

Billy Joel

Released: October 13, 1978

Peak: 18 US, 10 UK, 15 CN, 15 AU

Sales (in millions): 7.0 US, 0.1 UK, 12.0 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: pop/rock singer-songwriter


Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Big Shot (2/10/79, 14 US, 9 CL, 13 CN, 91 AU)
  2. Honesty (4/21/79, 24 US, 8 CL, 9 AC, 16 CN, 80 AU)
  3. My Life (11/4/78, 3 US, 2 CL, 2 AC, 12 UK, 3 CN, 6 AU, platinum single)
  4. Zanzibar (23 CL)
  5. Stiletto (23 CL)
  6. Rosalinda’s Eyes (25 CL)
  7. Half a Mile Away
  8. Until the Night (3/79, 34 CL, 50 UK)
  9. 52nd Street

Total Running Time: 40:26


3.777 out of 5.00 (average of 19 ratings)


About the Album:

“Fame can be a bitch, and so were, apparently, many of the people around Joel after The Stranger made him a star. Sounding paranoid and defensive, even on a bouncy trifle like My Life, he slid from tough to boorish as he sang about betrayal, hangovers, name-dropping cokeheads and affairs with waitresses.” DB

“Luckily, he offset those traits with punching-bag rockers and sublime, Broadway-worthy ballads.” DB He may have sounded angry on “the infectious ‘My Life,’” GR but it “still rings out with the bright bounce and touch of edge for which Joel has become known.” GR 52nd Street shows an artist who doesn’t abandon the sound “of his wildly successful previous LP, 1977’s The Stranger,” GR but someone intent on not repeating himself.

Joel returned to the studio with Phil Ramone with the aim of making the follow-up “more sophisticated and somewhat jazzy.” AMGHe expanded his “rock vocabulary and influence” GR by injecting “his sound with a new swing, enlisting jazz musicians.” GR “Often, his moves sounded as if they were responses to Steely Dan – indeed, his phrasing and melody for Zanzibar is a direct homage to Donald Fagen circa The Royal Scam, and it also boasts a solo from jazz great Freddie Hubbard à la Steely Dan.” AMG That song and Rosalinda’s Eyes “offer a glimpse into Joel’s range as artist and Ramone’s willingness to explore.” GR

Joel “never shies away from big gestures and melodies.” AMG “Consequently, 52nd Street unintentionally embellishes the Broadway overtones of its predecessor, not only on a centerpiece like Stiletto, but when he’s rocking out on Big Shot. That isn’t necessarily bad, since Joel’s strong suit turns out to be showmanship – he dazzles with his melodic skills and his enthusiastic performances.” AMG

“He also knows how to make a record. Song for song, 52nd Street might not be as strong as The Stranger, but there are no weak songs…and they all flow together smoothly, thanks to Ramone’s seamless production and Joel's melodic craftsmanship.” AMG

“It’s remarkable to think that in a matter of three records, Joel had hit upon a workable, marketable formula – one that not only made him one of the biggest-selling artists of his era, but one of the most enjoyable mainstream hitmakers. 52nd Street is a testament to that achievement.” AMG It also won him Grammys for Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance – Male.

Resources and Related Links:

Saturday, September 30, 1978

Styx charted with Pieces of Eight

Pieces of Eight


Charted: September 30, 1978

Peak: 6 US, -- UK, -- CN, 70 AU

Sales (in millions): 3.0 US

Genre: classic arena rock


Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Great White Hope (Young) [4:22]
  2. I’m O.K. (DeYoung/Young) [5:41]
  3. Sing for the Day (Shaw) [4:57] (12/30/78, 41 US, 41 CB, 39 HR, 17 CL, 27 CN)
  4. The Message (DeYoung) [1:08]
  5. Lords of the Ring (DeYoung) [4:33]
  6. Blue Collar Man (Long Nights) (Shaw) [4:05] (9/9/78, 21 US, 21 CB, 22 HR, 21 RR, 4 CL, 9 CN, 98 AU)
  7. Queen of Spades (DeYoung/Young) [5:38]
  8. Renegade (Shaw) [4:13] (1/9/79, 16 US, 18 CB, 22 HR, 17 RR, 1 CL, 10 CN)
  9. Pieces of Eight (DeYoung) [4:44]
  10. Aku Aku (Shaw) [2:57]

Total Running Time: 42:18

The Players:

  • Dennis DeYoung (vocals, keyboards)
  • Tommy Shaw (vocals, guitar)
  • James “J.Y.” Young (guitar, vocals)
  • Chuck Panozzo (bass)
  • John Panozzo (drums)


3.954 out of 5.00 (average of 21 ratings)

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

Styx became an arena rock favorite with their seventh album, 1977’s The Grand Illusion. It became their first top-10 album and was a multi-platinum seller on the strength of hits “Come Sail Away” and “Fooling Yourself.” Pieces of Eight followed suit and became the band’s second multi-platinum top-10 album, also fueled by a pair of top-40 hits.

Like its predecessor, Pieces of Eight was “a tour de force for the band’s trio of songwriters…with the superb backing of the Panozzo rhythm section.” UCR The band’s “feisty, straightforward brand of album rock is represented best by Blue Collar Man, …an invigorating keyboard and guitar rush — hard and heavy, yet curved by Tommy Shaw's emphasized vocals.” AMG It reached #21 on the Billboard Hot 100.

“The frolicking romp of RenegadeAMG met with even more success, peaking at #16. The anthemic song became a fan favorite and concert encore.

Some considered Pieces of Eight to be the band’s last album “with significant progressive rock leanings.” WKSing for the Day, Lords of the Ring, and Aku-Aku all contain slightly more complex instrumental foundations, and are lyrically reminiscent of the material from albums like The Serpent Is Rising or Man of Miracles, but not as intricate or instrumentally convoluted.” AMG The aforementioned “Lords of the Ring” as well as “DeYoung’s title track…provided more majestic pomp rock highlights, and JY simply brought the house down with Great White Hope and (with DeYoung) the simply sublime Queen of Spades.” UCR

It’s also considered a theme album, with Dennis DeYoung explaining that it was about “not giving up your dreams just for the pursuit of money and material possessions.” WK “While the writing may stray slightly from what Styx provided on The Grand Illusion, Pieces of Eight kept their established rock formula in tact quite firmly.” AMG

Resources and Related Links:

First posted 3/24/2008; last updated 5/18/2021.