Nile Rodgers on his 11 favorite dance music songs

Taking into consideration rolling stones list of the 200 Greatest Dance Songs of All Time, one name kept coming up when reviewing ten years of hits: producer and guitarist Nile Rodgers.

The Chic frontman says he owes his entire dance music career to three songs. One night in the mid-’70s, he went to a club in Greenwich Village in Manhattan and at one point the DJ played the winning trio of Donna Summer’s “I Love to Love You Baby,” “San Francisco” from the Village People and Eddie Kendricks’ “Girl, you need to change your mind” – “in that order,” Rodgers says. Up until then he was a self-proclaimed “hardcore jazz guy”, but when he saw the place explode to these tunes, he became a dance music disciple. “As much as I loved the songs, I’ve never seen such a loving, fun crowd,” Rodgers, now 68, recalled. “Now, of course, it was in the village, so it was a black crowd, a Puerto Rican crowd, a gay crowd, an Asian crowd – it was amazing. It was like totally immersive that night. So that got me into dance music.

From then on, Rodgers and his band mates Chic devoted themselves to disco. Their first two singles, both released in 1977, were “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)” and “Everybody Dance”, and by the end of the decade they had scored two number one hits – “The Freak” and “Good times”. As a producer, Rodgers has contributed to dancefloor hits by Sister Sledge (“We Are Family”), Diana Ross (“I’m Coming Out”), David Bowie (“Let’s Dance”), Madonna (the entire like a virgin album), and Daft Punk (“Get Lucky”), among dozens of others. “I read that ‘Get Lucky’ was the most played record of that particular decade, which is unbelievable to me,” Rodgers laughs. “I actually had a few where they were the most played record of the decade. I’m like, ‘Who even counts that?’ »

Although Rodgers was more of a roller skater than a “regular dancer” (“On roller skates I kick,” he says very seriously), he came to naturally feel what makes a good dance song. “I think if the combination of ingredients in a song elicits a primal response, like it makes people want to dance – they don’t need to know what the song is about or anything like that, just the groove or the vibe – that’s what a great dance song does,” he said in a Zoom interview, sitting in a room surrounded by his countless gold and platinum plaques. is just this thing that hits you.”

Here are 11 of the songs that struck Rodgers the hardest with his commentary on why they’re his favorite.

Technotronic, “Pump Up the Jam”

If I had to think of my favorite jam, where you walk in and you hear it and you have to run to the dance floor, it would be, [raps] “Inflate the jam, pump it while your feet stomp. It’s so magical and so amazing that no matter how many thousands of times I’ve heard it, you still get the same reaction.

First Choice, “Dr. Loving”

I’m also a huge fan of the Philadelphia sound and those diva records that came out, like “Dr. Loving.” That song is amazing to me. Not only is the song great, but it’s just the vocal dexterity of [Rochelle Fleming] and First Choice which I love.

Snap!, “The Power”

From the start…. “I have the power!” It’s just one of those records that you instantly throw on the dance floor. I love that.

Kool and the Gang, “Hollywood Swinging”

What’s great about all these songs is that they give you a signal to stop whatever you’ve been doing — you might be talking to someone, you might be having a drink — and as soon as you hear [sings the opening fanfare of “Hollywood Swinging”] and they give you a minute to go, [sings] “bump bump bump”, you go to the dance floor. It’s like the bomb.

LMFAO, “Rock Party Anthem”

While I know some people might scoff, because it’s such a big novelty, “Party Rock Anthem” is tearing the house up, man. There is nothing about this disc that is not captivating. It’s ridiculous, isn’t it? And even after they burst into “Everyday I Mix” [whistles hook], everything is dope. It’s just, a really, really amazing record. And that’s what great dance songs are supposed to be.

Cheryl Lynn, “Gotta Be Real”

I love Cheryl Lynn and the long version of “Got to Be Real”; I come from the 12 inch era, so I’m talking about 12 inches. Almost every one of these records on my list just has these great diva vocals where they kill. Not only does the band kill the track and the arrangement kills, but it’s also just something about these diva records that kills you.

Sister Sledge, “We Are Family”

Of course, I have to add one of my songs. I have to put “We Are Family” on my list, and it’s not necessarily our best dance record but it’s probably the one that drives everyone crazy. Again, that’s Kathy’s diva quality [Sledge], and when the band breaks down and she leaves and that was a take. She was inspired by the track, she just lit up in it. She just jumped on the track. And I’ve seen it all my life or since I wrote it: the DJs will play “We Are Family” and the dance floor will fill up.

Rick James, “super monster”

Everybody’s always laughing at my bangs, and they’re like, “Oh, yo, man, you look like Rick James,” so I’m gonna give Rick some props. He always used to say to me, “You know, man, your hair is kinda like mine, except yours is real.” “Super Freak” is a great, great dance jam. We played it together. It was awesome.

C+C Music Factory, “This Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody’s Dancing Now)”

It’s another one of those records that was kind of like [Snap!’s] “I have the power”, and you get the voice of the great diva.

Prince, “Let’s Go Crazy”

I played with him. It was, wow, the night of my life. We had a blast.

Loleatta Holloway, “Hit and Run”

She doesn’t give a damn. When you hear it just commanding that track, it kills it, it absolutely devours the track. And that’s the kind of record, when you’re in a band and you do a track and the singer comes along and does that on your song, you just feel like a million bucks. It’s like what Kathy did just for Sister Sledge, just for “We Are Family”. Like we used to say, she peed all over this record. We thought that was really good until she walked in and I just said, “You know, Kathy, you just made me a genius.” [Laughs]. What I wrote was cool. What you just did was so over the top. And that was just one take, she was so inspired by the track. And almost all of these records that we’ve talked about have this kind of amazing performance that I can imagine them walking into there and hearing these tracks, and they’re going, “Damn, OK, baby. I just can’t wait to get to this part so I can leave.

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