The Big Hit
Every summer produces “the big hit.” In 1980 that hit was “Funkytown,” an innovative assembly of pop styles that grooved from the strobe-lit rooms of American discos to the top of international charts. “Funkytown” put the Minneapolis group Lipps, Inc. on the map, at a time when popular music was pre-Prince and post-punk. The obituaries for disco were being written; Lipps, Inc. put the funeral on hold.
With deceptively simple hooks and instrumentation, Lipps. Inc. merged the sounds of disco, new-wave pop and old rhythm and blues staples to create a crossover hit that knew no musical, racial or gender barriers. For all its irresistible simplicity, the song left an indelible stamp on the culture. There was a message in the music and in-between the beats: “Funkytown”’s longing lyric promised release – a chance to get out, bust loose and get down.
People Magazine proclaimed “Disco lives in Funkytown,” although the record proved to be more than just a disco single. It crossed from the dance charts to the black and pop charts, where it became Number One for a month during the summer of 1980. Then “Funkytown” devoured the international charts, selling over 20 million copies in over 40 countries worldwide.
Many persuasively argue that the Lipps Inc. sound preceded the legendary “Minneapolis Sound” made by a host of Twin Cities musicians from Prince, Terry Lewis and Jimmy Jam to The Replacements, Husker Du and many others during the 80’s. You don’t have to look far for the reasons: Any dance floor will do.