Turn The Beat Around

Album: Never Gonna Let You Go (1976)
Charted: 10

Songfacts®:

  • This was Vicki Sue Robinson's only hit. She performed on Broadway prior to recording the song and later mounted a successful off-Broadway one woman show. She also sang in commercials, including the "We're All Connected" spot for New York Telephone, and did background vocals on the hit "Fame."

    Robinson got her start in showbiz by joining the cast of the stage musical Hair. Nor was this her last stage appearance - she also went back to Broadway as part of the cast of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar. She died of cancer on April 27, 2000 at 45.
  • The lyric to this song is all about the music itself, with Robinson savoring the music and at times describing literally what's going on:

    "Hear the scratch of the guitar scratching"
    "The drums go rat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat"

    To "turn the beat around" means to start a drum pattern over.
  • In the '70s, this was a disco standard that earned a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Female Vocal. It was written by the keyboard session players Pete and Gerold Jackson.
  • Gloria Estefan did a nearly identical cover version in 1994 that was used in the Sharon Stone movie The Specialist. Her version was a #1 Dance hit and went to #13 on the Hot 100.
  • TV shows to use this song as part of the soundtrack include The Sopranos and Ally McBeal. Films include The Specialist (1994), The Last Days of Disco (1998), and The Spirit of '76 (1990). Cover versions by Gloria Estefan have also turned up in TV and film soundtracks.

    Oddly enough, the song was not included in the film of the same name, Turn the Beat Around, which was a 2010 MTV original movie based loosely the film Flashdance.
  • As well as the video clip here showing her appearing on The Midnight Special, Robinson also did the full tour of American Bandstand, Soul Train, and Don Kirshner's Rock Concert. By the way, in the video: That man with the cherubic platinum blonde hair, giant dinner-plate glasses, and shirt collar up to his ears is Paul Williams. He's hosting the show here, but he's better known as the songwriter behind such hits as "An Old Fashioned Love Song" by Three Dog Night, "Rainy Days And Mondays" by the Carpenters, and "Rainbow Connection" from The Muppet Movie.
  • This song is featured in the 2015 film The Martian in a scene where Matt Damon's character reveals that he is trapped on Mars with nothing but disco music. As this song plays, he says, "I will not turn the beat around."

Comments: 9

  • Michael Fox from Rochester NyBruce in Florida... Sad to say, but she IS a one hit wonder as she had only one top 40 hit of her own. Yes she did more stuff, but she only had ONE HIT which makes her a ONE HIT WONDER! Sorry dude!
  • Bruce from FlForgot "House of Joy" being a smash in Britian in 1997! Half a year ago. The Lost Tapes on Apr 14, 2015
    by Viola Wills & Cinema Vicki Sue Robinson.

    Her LP output has 34 different releases of them!
  • Bruce from FlIt has always driven me nuts when she is called a one hit wonder. This gifted vocalist and performer performed for over three decades. Her first three LPs all charted - two in the top 50! These same 3 releases charted on the R&B charts.

    Throughout her career all background vocals were arranged and sung by her ("Should I Stay being the only one that had a choir join her).

    She was on the Fame soundtrack - "Hot Lunch Jam" has Vicki Sue all over it.

    Twelve singles charted throughout her career. In her one woman show, "Behind The Beat" (critically lauded) off Broadway she explained that people say "where have you been", she explained that she never left and proceeded to do a segment of all the commercials she has done. She did Double Your Pleasure for Double (which she said had gone platinum!) Maybelline, Folgers, Downey fabric softener. Hanes Underwear, New York Bell.

    She did the Pokeman lead song. She worked back up sessions with Cher, Cyndi Lauper, (who joined her years later in a music video "Grab Them Cakes"), and Michael Bolton to name a few! She had a studio in her home, in '84, internationally, her cover of "To Sir With Love" hit the top 10 overseas.

    She covered David Gates (of Bread fame) Hold Tight" and scored another club hit. "Nighttime Fantasy" hitting 19 on the dance charts in 1979. From 1975 to 1999 she released like 55 tracks.

    She did 5 motion pictures (granted they were not blockbusters!) and on the stage in theater "Hair" and "Jesus Christ Superstar" being the most prominent. She joined Richard Gere on Broadway.

    I have met her many times, and her husband was awesome to me - sending a track released in Australia only, let Matt and I go to the Dorsey after party on opening night of "Behind". The story of how "Turn" almost destroyed her with the speed the song took to explode upon its release.

    "Turn" was not the label's launch single from her LP debut. After the album was out there was so much buzz about "Turn" and RCA quickly released "Turn" and as they say the rest is history!

    Her last song, in 1999 ,34 years after "Turn" made the top ten, "Move On" hit 18 on the dance charts.

    During the 1990's she, and KC and the Sunshine Band, Thelma Houston, Gloria Gaynor and The Village People embarked on a well-received world tour

    She did endless performances for AIDS related charities.

    Hardly a one hit wonder.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn July 10th 1976, Vicki Sue Robinson performed "Turn the Beat Around" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    Three months earlier on April 4th, 1976 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #93; and on August 8th, 1976 it peaked at #10 (for 2 weeks) and spent almost a half-year on the Top 100 (25 weeks)...
    And on March 14th, 1976 it reached #1 (for 4 weeks)on the Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play chart...
    She had two other Top 100 records; "Daylight" (peaked at #63 in 1976) and "Hold Tight" (reached #67 in 1977)
    R.I.P. Ms. Robinson (1954 - 2000).
  • Kent from Greensburg, PaVicki Sue Robionson also sang vocals on the 80s cartoon Jem as Rapture and Minx.
  • Brian from Boston, MaWhile playing the song Don't let me down by the Beatles I stumbled upon how to play this on guitar.You see the first two chords of both songs are F#minor and E. Well I decided to go to a D chord from there and I realized "hey thats turn the beat around"
  • Karen from Manchester, NhAs much as I like the original, I think Gloria's version blows it out of the water! I disagree that it is a "nearly identical" version.
  • Jerry from Brooklyn, NyThe repeated refrains are in traditional rock rhythms. But listen to the verses Vickie Sue sings -- there are clear elements of rap there.
  • Jorge from Mexicali, MexicoThis song is used in one of the latter episodes of Ally McBeal, with Ally and her shrink discussing the effect the song had on her.
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