Get Down Tonight

Album: KC and the Sunshine Band (1975)
Charted: 21 1
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Songfacts®:

  • Written and produced by Harry Wayne (KC) Casey and his writing partner (and bass player) Richard Finch, this disco classic takes place in a nightclub, where our hero is trying to convince a girl do some dancing, followed by some lovemaking. Casey and Finch would sneak into nightclubs in the Miami area and get a taste of that culture, which influenced their sound.
  • In a Songfacts interview with Harry Wayne Casey, he told the story behind this song. "'Get Down Tonight' was originally called 'What You Want Is What You'll Get,'" he said. "A lot of times I will have an idea of a song, and during recording I'll just sing whatever comes into my mind and then go back, and if I don't like that, will change it to another complete title. I do it a little bit differently now. I start with titles most of the time and already have the idea of what the title is going to be. But for that particular song and for 'I'm Your Boogie Man,' it was different.

    My working title was 'What You Want Is What You'll Get,' and that's what I used during the recording of the record. Then I came back and decided to change it to 'Get Down Tonight.' I just thought, 'What are the things I like to do?' I love to dance, and so do other people. Do a little dance, make a little love, get down tonight.' It was just a story about life, about the things that one likes to do."
  • This was the first of five US #1 hits for KC & The Sunshine Band. It also went to #1 on the R&B charts, not surprising since disco was really a funky form of R&B. According to Richard Finch, they knew they were creating a new sound, but it was based on what was happening on the charts and in the clubs. T.K. Records, where Finch and Casey worked, was both a recording studio and record distributor, which meant they could tell which records were selling, and then try recreating those sounds in the studio. Helping their cause were guitarist Jerome Smith and drummer Robert Johnson. Finch told Songfacts: "Jerome and Robert were the mainstay session cats at T.K. Records. These guys were on fire! They had this Funk Brothers thing going on, and I am very happy to have worked with these two very wonderful guys. They always had a sense of workability and openness - you could record with these guys on 12 different tunes and no two recordings would sound the same."
  • The song features a distinctive introduction, in which a recorded guitar solo is rendered at double speed over a normal-speed guitar line in the background. After observing someone else slowing down a tape machine, Richard Finch had the idea of using this technique to create the guitar riff, as a way of adding to the song something "that really keeps the buzz, that really keeps the excitement going all the way through without being too artificial sounding." Finch states that he was "always doing weird science" in those days, referring to his various experiments with sound.
  • Some of the movies in which this song has appeared include:

    Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009)
    Game Boys (2008)
    The Education of Charlie Banks (2007)
    Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003)
    Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999)
    Arlington Road (1999)
    Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo (1999)
    Rush Hour (1998)
    Doctor Dolittle (1998)
    Arlington Road (1998)
    Forrest Gump (1994)
    An American Summer (1990)
    Loser (2000)
    Sid and Nancy (1986)

    TV series to use it include:

    Scandal ("Nobody Likes Babies" - 2013)
    The Big Bang Theory ("The Pulled Groin Extrapolation" - 2011)
    One Tree Hill ("Luck Be a Lady" - 2010)
    Big Love ("Circle the Wagons" - 2007)
    ER ("Photographs and Memories" - 2007)
    House ("Top Secret" - 2007)
    The King of Queens ("Affidavit Justice" - 2003)
    Futurama ("Crimes of the Hot" - 2002)
  • This song is part of some snappy dialogue in the 1996 Friends episode "The One With The Prom Video." After Ross takes a message from a guy named Casey calling for Rachel, he asks Chandler, "What does he want with her." Chandler's reply: "I'm guessing he wants to do a little dance, make a little love... pretty much get down tonight."

Comments: 6

  • William from Reno, NvI just watched one of their concerts at the "Bomb Factory" on AXS tv and was amazed how many of their songs were so good. Coming from a guy that grew up in that timeframe into Ted, Boston, Thinn Lizzy, REO, Styx and tons of today's Classic Rock it was nice to have enjoyed so much of KC. That old man can still boogie!!!!

    K/H D
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn August 30th 1975, K.C. & the Sunshine Band performed "Get Down Tonight" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    At the time the song was at #1 {for 1 week} on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; it had entered the chart just under two months earlier on July 6th, 1975 and spent 15 weeks on the Top 100...
    As already stated it was the first of five #1 records by the band; they just missed having a sixth #1 when "Keep In Comin' Love" peaked at #2 {for 3 weeks} on September 25th, 1977...
    K.C., in a duet with Teri Desario, also had another record, "Yes, I'm Ready", peak at #2, for 2 weeks on April 25th, 1980...
    Interestingly; the band's first and last Top 100 record, "Please Don't Go", both peaked at #1 {they had a total of 15 records make the Top 100}.
  • Mike from Nampa, IdThey sped up the guitar part? seems to imply that it couldn't be played that fast. Yet I saw a live video where the guitarist played it at that speed. Anyway, this song gives me the chills when I hear it, especially the beginning guitar. My favorite disco & KC & the Sunshine band song of all time. FANTASTIC!
  • Camille from Toronto, OhYes, the very distinctive guitar riff intro makes this song instantly recognizable and incredibly memorable. It gives you a rush the millisecond you hear it and makes you want to get on the dance floor and GET DOWN! Love it.
  • Larry from Coral Springs, FlThis was one of my all time faves from this band. I thought it was so keen and listening to the instrumental interval so cool!
  • Eric from Maastricht, NetherlandsThis song features in the 1994 movie Forrest Gump
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