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 Richard Finch
, he explained that "Get Down Tonight" was inspired by a Gilbert O'Sullivan song called "Get Down
," which is sometimes known as "Bad Dog, Baby." Finch explains: "He wrote that song about his dog. That record was really hot back then. And I was like, 'Okay, this guy has a great idea.' He's talking about 'get down.' But I didn't find out until later on he was talking about his dog. And I was like, 'Well, that's really square.' How hip is that?"
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 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. Says Finch: "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)
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 1995 Friends episode "The One with the Evil Orthodontist." 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."