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Best Chic Songs: 20 Disco Classics To Freak Out To
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List & Guides

Best Chic Songs: 20 Disco Classics To Freak Out To

With a taste for velvety funk guitar tones and elastic bass grooves, the best Chic songs lit up the dancefloor for the disco era and beyond.

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Proving disco wasn’t just a passing fad, R&B/soul pioneers Chic left a legacy of funky hits that shimmer like a spinning mirror ball. Masterminded by the twin talents of ice-cool guitarist Nile Rodgers and rock-solid bassist Bernard Edwards, the best Chic songs hit upon a magic formula of uptempo, exuberant funk which not only got us dancing but also influenced a slew of genres that sprung up in their wake, from hip-hop to New Wave and EDM.

Listen to the best of Chic here, and check out our 20 best Chic songs, below.

20: You Can Get By (from ‘C’est Chic’, 1977)

Tucked away on Chic’s second album, C’est Chic, You Can Get By deftly switches from rousing floor-thumper to a tale of urban aspiration for Black singletons (“Somewhere in the city/There’s someone for you”). As a former section leader of the Black Panther Party’s Harlem branch, Nile Rodgers wasn’t shy of addressing social issues through his music: “Because of my political history,” Rodgers later said, “I couldn’t stand to be in a band that wasn’t about uplifting the race. So, what we would do was hide it in our songs.” You Can Get By is one of many examples of Chic’s commitment to what they referred to as “DHM” – Deep Hidden Meaning. As such, this oft-forgotten album track is not just a song promoting desire to transcend one’s social standing, but also a celebration of self-love and beauty.

19: Rebels Are We (from ‘Real People’, 1980)

Released during a time when disco was falling out of favour with both critics and club-goers, Chic’s 1980 single Rebels Are We was the sound of Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards nailing their colours to the mast. After going to an industry party, Rodgers noticed that the room which had “D-I-S-C-O” over the door was being avoided like the plague. Unperturbed, he and Bernard decided to go in. “We were the only two guys in there, because everybody else was afraid to be associated with it,” Rodgers remembered. Like the band that played while the Titanic sank, Nile and Bernard wrote Rebels Are We to dispel disco’s doubters. The song ended up peaking at No.61 in the US Hot 100, proving that disco wasn’t quite dead yet.

18: Your Love (from ‘Chic-ism’, 1992)

Taking their cue from Black Box’s diva house-banger Ride On Time, Chic’s 1992 single Your Love saw the band attempt to adapt their disco stylings to a totally different musical landscape. Ditching the John Travolta flares and breaking out the glow sticks instead, this underrated early 90s gem updated Chic’s sound for a whole new decade, and was the second single to be released from their comeback album, Chic-ism, the band’s first record in nine years. Though Your Love only ended up reaching No.3 in the US Dance Club Songs Chart, it’s one of the best Chic songs of the era – and you can’t fault Rodgers and Edwards for trying to bring back the funk. Much credit is owed to vocalists Sylver Logan Sharp and Jenn Thomas, who both did wonders in making Chic appeal to the acid-house generation.

17: Hangin’ (from ‘Tongue In Chic’, 1982)

Following the rise of early 80s old-school hip-hop, it’s rather endearing to hear Chic flirt with a rap-style intro on Hangin’. Released in late 1982, and taken from their sixth album, Tongue In Chic, this overlooked single features Nile Rodgers exchanging words with drummer Tony Thompson (“Well then, Slick, I said what we gonna do tonight, man?”) before launching into a propulsively funky beat replete with Chic’s trademark swagger. Mindful of how times had changed with the advent of MTV, Nile Rodgers appeared in the music video behind a set of turntables, perhaps signifying how hip-hop had stolen disco’s thunder. Sadly, the single failed to chart in the US, though it performed moderately better in the UK, reaching No.64 and becoming an underground club smash.

16: Real People (from ‘Real People’, 1980)

As the second single to be taken from the album of the same name, Real People was a tangle of busily-played Strat that nevertheless deserves its place among the best Chic songs. Despite launching like a rocket with one of Nile Rodgers’ most soaring guitar riffs, and singer Luci Martin making up for the song’s repetition with tons of soul (“I’m doggone gonna be with/Some real people”), the track only managed to peak at No.79 in the US. “We did it to convince people we were artists,” Rodgers later said. “We were trying to be intellectual – that is the kiss of death.” As a result, Real People failed to connect with audiences, despite being punctuated with some of the guitarist’s most ambitious soloing. It’s one of many Chic songs that deserve to be re-appraised.

15: Stage Fright (from ‘Stage Fright’, 1981)

Disco was dead by 1981 – or so music executives were concerned. Nile Rodgers didn’t get the memo, it seems, as Stage Fright, the lead single from Chic’s fifth album, Take It Off, aimed to keep the party going for any stragglers still hanging on by the skin of their platform shoes. Lean and stripped-back, the song was a clean, minimalist funk cut brought screaming to life by vocalist Luci Martin, and sweeps its way into our list of the best Chic songs thanks to its delightfully choppy guitar riffs and lumbering bass. Unsurprisingly, for its anachronistic disco sound, the single missed out on the charts, but since it’s played so joyfully – similar, in many ways, to Nile Rodgers’ work with Daft Punk on Get Lucky – it cannot be ignored.

14: Chip Off The Old Block (from ‘Real People’, 1980)

Packing a surprisingly aggressive punch, thanks to its stabs of disco strings and Bernard Edwards’ springy bassline, Chip Off the Old Block quite frankly deserved to be an A-side. Relegated to the flip of their 1980 single Real People, and hidden on the second side of their fourth album, the song is nevertheless set apart by singer Alfa Anderson’s astonishing vocal performance – especially when she squares off against Nile Rodgers’ seesawing guitar work and conductor Gene Orloff’s pizzicato string arrangement. Though it marked a period when question marks were being raised over disco’s longevity, Chip Off The Old Block was such a sugary listen it’s hardly surprising the music’s sweet-toothed fans weren’t quite ready for it to end – particularly those who enjoyed gorging on groovy and danceable confections such as this.

13: What About Me? (from ‘Risqué’, 1979)

Walking along to a loping bass groove from Bernard Edwards, the B-side to My Forbidden Lover oozes coolness and poise – much as you’d expect from Chic at the peak of their powers. Taken at a lower tempo than usual, the song seems to decry the self-centredness of a toxic lover during the Me Generation, with singers Alfi Anderson, Fonzi Thornton, Michele Thornton and Ullanda McCullough giving a domineering partner a severe dressing-down (“Used me, abused me/Knocked down and walked all over me”). Liberating and empowering, the lyrics to What About Me? unapologetically champion female independence, clearly showing how much Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards abhorred the selfish antics of the male predators stalking the dancefloor, and celebrating a women’s right to stick up for themselves in the face of mistreatment.

12: Chic Mystique (from ‘Chic-ism’, 1992)

House music was all the rage when Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards decided to mount their musical comeback, giving their disco sound a near-total overhaul on 1992’s Chic Mystique. Understandably finding more success on the European club circuit than in the US, Nile Rodgers’ twanging disco-funk riffs and Bernard Edwards’ reliably grounded bass bounce along to all the early 90s hi-hats more comfortably than you’d expect. Somewhat let down by the song’s overeager use of pimp-baiting vocal samples (“Hit it!”), Chic Mystique’s driving rhythm certainly proved the band had what it took to reinvent themselves for the new age of DJs and turntables, and it continues to hold its own among the best Chic songs. “It’s not a great house song,” Nile Rodgers later admitted, “but you can feel that we were finding our way back to the light.”

11: Happy Man (from ‘C’est Chic’, 1978)

Built around the same spongy swell of strings Rose Royce lathered up for Car Wash, Happy Man saw Bernard Edwards step behind the mic himself on lead vocals. “I loved Bernard’s voice and talked him into singing it,” Nile Rodgers said. Never released as a single, the song’s sunnily optimistic tone is said to have perfectly matched Bernard’s outlook on life (“When you see me, I’m a smilin’ face/Spreadin’ all my love around the place”). “We were big fans of Bob Marley and we were aiming for a semi-reggae vibe, while keeping it in the mode of Chic,” Rodgers later confessed. Though the end result is more Studio 54 than Studio One, few bands can pull off the effortlessly cool strut that Chic do here.

10: I’ll Be There (single A-side, 2015)

Nearly 20 years after the death of Chic’s bass maestro and co-founder, Bernard Edwards, at the age of 43, Nile Rodgers found himself back in the spotlight thanks to the breakout success of his Daft Punk collaboration, Get Lucky. Keen to head back out on the road, Rodgers brought Chic back together to record new material, but he was keen to involve his departed bandmate in some way. Revisiting old master tapes of Edwards’ bass-playing, Rodgers enlisted help from DJs The Martinez Brothers to piece together a brand-new song. As if playing from beyond the grave, Edwards’ bass groove on 2015’s I’ll Be There is complemented by Chic and Sister Sledge samples, perfectly blending the old and the new while coming on like the best Chic songs of yore. Unmistakably Chic through and through, the song peaked at No.64 in the UK.

9: Chic Cheer (from ‘C’est Chic’, 1978)

A fan favourite which frequently kicked off many of Chic’s live concerts, Chic Cheer was also the opening track on the band’s second album, C’est Chic. “The opening song sets the stage for the show,” Nile Rodgers would later say. “Every Chic album follows the same formula. Chic Cheer is the Strike Up The Band of C’est Chic. That’s all – just better.” Manna from heaven for disco fans, the song would also prove hugely influential on the development of hip-hop, its memorably jagged guitar riff ending up on numerous chart-topping hits across the years. Most famously, it was sampled by Puff Daddy for Faith Evans’ Love Like This, in 1998, and then later by Fatman Scoop on 2003’s Be Faithful.

8: Soup For One (from ‘Soup For One’, 1982)

By the time Chic were invited to create the title track for the 1982 sex comedy Soup For One, the band were regarded by many as disco dinosaurs. Though the song stalled at No.80 in the US, falling short of the heights of Chic’s previous hits, Nile Rodgers always professed a liking for it. “I’m actually glad we wrote that song – it’s one of my favourites,” he said. In time, Soup For One’s stuttering funk riff would inadvertently influence a whole new generation of musicians. French house DJ Romain Tranchart and singer Yann Destagnol (aka Modjo) sampled it on their global hit Lady (Hear Me Tonight), giving the song a life far beyond Nile Rodgers’ wildest expectations. “Songs don’t lose their value: they are like diamonds or oil,” Rodgers declared. “Now that copyright is worth millions.”

7: My Feet Keep Dancing (from ‘Risqué’, 1979)

As is the case with many of the best Chic songs, there’s a lot more going on under the surface of My Feet Keep Dancing. The 1979 single may seem fairly superficial at first, but by featuring tap solos from dance veterans Fayard Nicholas, Eugene Jackson and Sammy Warren, Chic were making a powerful statement. “We were saying ‘Thank you’ to the Aristocats in the ghetto,” Nile Rodgers later said, referring to how they coaxed these former dance legends out of retirement. “Their form of dancing was lindy hopping and tapping.” Reaching No.21 in the UK, My Feet Keep Dancing was a powerful ode to the power of dance (“Now my name is up in lights and I hoof here every night/They were right, my brains are in my feet”).

6: My Forbidden Lover (from ‘Risqué’, 1979)

Chic’s third album, Risqué, doubled down on the band’s flair for disco dynamism, as evidenced by the record’s second single, My Forbidden Lover. Hitting No.15 in the UK in 1979, the song was cherished by LGBTQ+ disco fans, many of whom had to conduct their love affairs in secret. However, Nile Rodgers has admitted it was largely inspired by an extramarital affair he was having with a woman. “I was going out with my best friend’s girlfriend and there was a lot of that on-the-road rock’n’roll band stuff,” he later said. The song’s relevance to LGBTQ+ audiences was not lost on the guitarist, however, who would go on to write I’m Coming Out for Diana Ross in 1980, to encourage and celebrate gay music fans coming out of the closet.

 

5: Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah) (from ‘Chic’, 1977)

The insistent pulse of Bernard Edwards’ juddering bassline made it obvious that, from their very first hit, 1977’s Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah), Chic were on to something special. “It was one of the first pop songs where you could feel the speakers rumble in clubs with every bass beat,” Nile Rodgers said. Instantly courting commercial success by shooting to No.6 in both the UK and the US, Dance, Dance, Dance pretty much created Chic’s bass-heavy disco-funk sound from scratch, immediately taking its place among the best Chic songs in the process. Nile Rodgers credits the song’s success to its novel production style: “We cut deeper and wider grooves to have that bass response, so you could take that record home and it didn’t skip. We were pushing the limit.”

4: Everybody Dance (from ‘Chic’, 1978)

Everybody Dance is nothing short of a bass-playing masterclass from Bernard Edwards. With some of his most jaw-droppingly jerky and vibrant basslines, the No.9 UK hit single bounces along with real spirit and vigour, making it easy to see why Edwards is lauded as one of the all-time greats. Taken from Chic’s debut album, Everybody Dance served as a manifesto for the band and outlined what disco truly stood for in the eyes of many late-70s music fans (“Music never lets you down/Puts a smile on your face/Any time, any place/Dancing helps relieve the pain/Soothes your mind, makes you happy again”). Nile Rodgers was particularly fond of it: “It’s one of the best songs we’ve ever written,” he proudly declared.

3: I Want Your Love (from ‘C’est Chic’, 1978)

This No.4 UK hit single from 1979 saw Nile Rodgers string together an insistent guitar riff to evoke his own feelings of unrequited love and romantic longing. Inspired by a crush he had on a friend of his girlfriend, Rodgers claimed the song’s melody came to him in a dream. “I dreamt the song’s arrangement in its entirety,” later revealed. “I woke up, wrote the chart and we played it exactly as written musically.” At the time, Giorgio Moroder’s pioneering work on Donna Summer’s electro-disco favourite I Feel Love was sweeping the charts, so Nile Rodgers attempted to emulate it by squaring the circle of Moroder’s hypnotic loops of repetition, using only his guitar instead of a sequencer. The results were predictably enthralling.

2: Le Freak (from ‘C’est Chic’, 1978)

Despite its untouchable status as an era-defining disco anthem, there’s something oddly cynical about the way Le Freak sees Chic pushing a new fad on to the world (“Have you heard about the new dance craze?/Listen to us; I’m sure you’ll be amazed”). “I had never set foot in Studio 54,” Bernard Edwards later claimed. “I just knew there was this dance called The Freak.” Brought to life in this 1978 single, Chic compared 30s dances like the lindy hop and the jitterbug jive with its freaky-deaky newcomer. Le Freak became a gargantuan hit for the band, topping the US charts for six weeks and reportedly selling a whopping six million copies in North America alone. It’s a true classic that will forever hold its place among Chic’s best songs.

1: Good Times (from ‘Risqué’, 1979)

Topping our list of the best Chic songs, the 1979 single Good Times was released during the worst economic downturn since the Wall Street Crash, so it’s no coincidence the song made ironic references to 30s dance crazes (“Let’s cut a rug, a little jive and jitterbug”) and gave nods to Al Jolson. “Every lyric in the song was a throwback to Depression-era songs,” Nile Rodgers later said. “We were talking to people in a time of financial chaos and putting a bright face on it.” Peaking at No.1 in the US and No.5 in the UK, the song’s wandering bassline quickly become a seminal touchpoint in the development of hip-hop, sampled by The Sugarhill Gang on Rapper’s Delight and practically taking the genre into the mainstream overnight. It remains Chic’s most defining moment.

 

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