Music / Chic

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/chic_x_large3.jpg
From the left: Bernard Edwards, Alfa Anderson, Tony Thompson, Luci Martin and Nile Rodgers.
"Have you heard about the new dance craze?
Listen to us, I'm sure you'll be amazed,
Big fun to be had by everyone,
It's up to you, It surely can be done."
"Le Freak"

One of the key groups in the Disco genre. Formed in New York in 1976 by Bernard Edwards (bass) and Nile Rodgers (guitar), they recruited drummer Tony Thompson and vocalist Norma Jean Wright to make a self-titled debut album which included the hits "Dance Dance Dance (Yowsah Yowsah Yowsah)" and "Everybody Dance". Wright went solo and Chic continued with Edwards stepping up to the microphone and joined by various other vocalists including Alfa Anderson, Luci Martin (who sang lead on most of the singles) and Fonzi Thornton. A young Luther Vandross was a back-up singer.

Rodgers and Edwards were the group's songwriters and producers; both went on to produce other acts, most notably Sister Sledge (of "We Are Family" fame).

Discography

  • Chic (1977)
  • C'est Chic (1978) (The One with... "Le Freak" and "I Want Your Love")
  • Risque (1979) (The One with... "Good Times")
  • Real People (1980)
  • Take it Off (1981)
  • Tongue in Chic (1982)
  • Believer (1983)
  • Chic-ism (1992)
  • At Budokan (1996)

Rodgers & Edwards joint productions for other artists

  • Norma Jean Wright Norma Jean (1978)
  • Sister Sledge We Are Family (1979)
  • Sister Sledge Love Somebody Today (1980)
  • Sheila and B. Devotion King Of The World (1980)
  • Diana Ross Diana (1980)
  • Debbie Harry Koo Koo (1981)
  • Various Artists: Soup For One OST (1982)

Also unreleased projects with Johnny Mathis and Fonzi Thornton.

Chic's work provides examples of:

  • Audience Participation Song: The "Good Times"/"Rappers Delight" medley with its "Say ho-o!" call-and-reponse section, as well as the Spelling Song "Chic Cheer".
  • Bowdlerize: "Le Freak" began as a jam between Bernard and Nile when the two were repeatedly turned away from Studio 54 after Grace Jones had personally invited them there. They went to their studio across the street, started jamming towards the window and singing "Awwww, FUCK YOU!" This being an age before parental advisory stickers and songs censored for radio play, their producer advised them to keep the tune, but lose the profanity.
  • B-Side: Averted. They never threw anything away as a B-side, instead putting something else from the same album on the flip (usually something as different to the A side as possible - so as they usually put dance songs on the A-side, jazz instrumentals and ballads tended to end up on the B-side).
  • Canon Discontinuity: The house-style remixes "Jack Le Freak" and "Good Times 88" never happened. The megamix from around that time, "Megachic" does appear to be canon, however.
  • Cover Version: A live version of Stone Free, with an assist from Slash and Steve Winwood.
    • Their one studio cover was Sam Cooke's "Having a Party", on Norma Jean Wright's solo album.
  • Dance Sensation: Have you heard about the new dance craze? It's called "Le Freak", they're doing it night and day...
  • Epic Rocking: Chic are not shy about extended jams, and many of their hits have extended 12" versions. The full version of "Good Times" is upwards of eight minutes.
  • Everything Sounds Sexier in French / Gratuitous French: Well, they were called Chic. "Est-ce que c'est Chic" and "Le Freak" are the most blatant examples.
  • Greatest Hits Album: Oh, so many. Recent years have seen a bit more thought go into their compilations, with The Definitive Groove Collection being a well-regarded career-spanning double CD, Magnifique covering similar ground but with radio edits of many of the singles (though this does leave space for a few extra "deep" LP cuts), and Up All Night (which uses full-length versions) being roughly half-and-half Chic tracks, and Chic productions for other artists.
    • The most gratuitous collection is definitely The Chic Organization Box Set, Vol. 1: Savoir Faire. This covers all the Chic hits, and many of the notable songs they wrote for other artists, including unreleased alternate takes and some songs from their aborted project with Johnny Mathis. Even though Dimitri From Paris does a little touching up of some tracks, it's pretty much all the Chic you'll ever need, and then some.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Bernard and Nile. In a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming (with just a little bit of Ho Yay), on the Live at Budokan album (their last performance together), Rodgers actually introduces Edwards as "My partner in music and my partner in life".
  • The Great Depression: "Good Times" draws parallels between this era and the late 1970s, via a Shout-Out to the song "Happy Days (Are Here Again)" and the suggestion "Let's cut a rug / A little jive and jitterbug".
  • I Am the Band: Previously a Revolving Door Band, but since Bernard Edwards' death in 1996, Chic has been Nile Rodgers and whoever is on stage with him at the time. Other than Nile, the only regular remaining from the Edwards days is lead vocalist Sylver Logan Sharp, who joined in 1991.
  • It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": BerNARD Edwards.
  • Lead Bassist: Edwards.
  • Looped Lyrics: "Stage Fright"
  • Precision F-Strike: The original draft of what would go on to be "Le Freak" originally had "Fuck off!" in place of "Freak out!", directed towards the exclusivity of Studio 54.
  • Pun-Based Title: Tongue In Chic
  • Self-Titled Album
  • Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll: Nile Rodgers' autobiography doesn't shy away from telling us about his prodigious drugtaking (both legal and illegal).
  • Song Style Shift: "Megachic". While it's not surprising that a medley of other records would have some style shifts, what is a little unusual is the way that the style of the medley itself changes - it starts off as your typical hit-mix, with extracts of records strung together with the jarring cuts typical of the genre, then after about two and a half minutes it abruptly turns into a surprisingly effective and sustained mash-up of "I Want Your Love" and "Le Freak" (with a bit of "Dance, Dance, Dance" thrown in as well, though it's not officially listed). It's as though the opening section doesn't really belong with the rest of it at all.
  • Spelling Song: "Chic Cheer"
  • Strictly Formula: Invoked. They developed three rules for writing a hit song:
    • "Deep Hidden Meaning": in fact, the meaning was often neither deep nor hidden, but the idea was that a song should have a point and stick to it.
    • Have a breakdown section.
    • Get to the hook as quickly as possible. Listen to any of Chic's hit productions and you'll notice they start with the chorus.
  • Take That!: Quite often against elitists and posers in the disco scene. "Real People" is an obvious example.
    • "Le Freak" was originally a riposte to the door staff at Studio 54, who turned them away from a party Grace Jones invited them to. Nile and Bernard went to their studio across the street and started jamming out the window singing "Awwwww FUCK YOU!"
    • "My Feet Keep Dancing" is a jab at racism.

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