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Album: Go WestReleased: 1979Charted:
This was the third and final charting Billboard hit for Village People in the US, following on the heels of "Y.M.C.A.
" in 1978. "Y.M.C.A." had been a surprise for the group, because they thought of it as album filler until their producer hyped the song. So "In The Navy" was a continuation in their direction of being campier.
The success of "Y.M.C.A." prompted a Navy spokesperson to contact band manager Henri Belolo asking for a similar song to act as a recruitment device for the US Navy, since that other song had done so well for the actual YMCA. Along with producer Jacques Morali and band member Victor Willis (the cop), Belolo wrote the song in praise of the United States Navy, providing the best free advertising for the service until Tom Cruise made it the coolest profession on Earth in Top Gun. The lyrics read like an ad for the Navy: "If you like adventure don't you wait to enter the recruiting office fast."
Village People were one of the few groups in the '70s to shoot music videos for their singles, as they were popular in Europe where the clips could get airplay (this was before MTV). "In The Navy" was shot on the deck of the USS Reasoner at San Diego Naval Base. Not only that, but the Navy lent full support, including equipment and personnel. So what happened to the commercial? Conservative taxpayers balked at the idea of such a "controversial" group advertising for the Navy, and the spot was scrapped.
Shortly after the success of "In The Navy" came Village People's downfall: they produced the film Can't Stop the Music, which proved to be a critical disaster. Along with the equally maligned Xanadu, it prompted publicist John Wilson to start "The Golden Raspberry Awards" - and in the first award year it was nominated in almost every category! The sudden death of disco also contributed to their fade from fame.
Like many Village People songs, this has a cult following and pops up in the strangest places in media. It's been used in the Muppet Show as the anthem for Viking piggies, in the soundtrack to the 1996 comedy Down Periscope, a couple of episodes of The Simpsons, and even in the video game Grand Theft Auto III.
The song was parodied by Scottish comedian Billy Connolly - His "In The Brownies" peaked at #38 in the UK singles chart in August 1979. Here's the video