Single Stories: Chic, “Le Freak”
40 years ago this week, Chic took their third single to the top of the Billboard Hot 100, earning the first #1 hit of their career.
Co-written by Rodgers and his longtime collaborator, Bernard Edwards, “Le Freak” was written as a tribute to Studio 54, paying sarcastic homage to the nightclub’s notorious tendency to make customers wait in line for extended periods of time, only to be turned away on the whim of whoever was working the door that evening. The bit where they say, “Freak out”? Yeah, it didn’t start out saying that: Chic just ended up going in a more polite direction because their original lyrics to the refrain involved a certain F-word followed by an “off.”
“Le Freak” would’ve gone down in history just by virtue of having sold seven million copies, but it actually holds a legitimate Billboard record: it was the first song ever to rise to the top of the Hot 100 on three separate occasions, returning to the top spot on December 23 and January 20.
In short, a heck of a lot of people really liked “Le Freak,” and 40 years later, most of them still do.
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