Everybody Have Fun Tonight

Album: Mosaic (1986)
Charted: 76 2
  • This song was conceived as a ballad by Wang Chung's Jack Hues and Nick Feldman, which is how it appears on the original demo. It was produced by Peter Wolf (not the lead singer of The J. Geils Band - this Peter Wolf is a composer from Vienna), who also got a writing credit on the song. On the Just My Show podcast with Eric Greenberg, Hues explained: "Most of the time we write separately, but 'Everybody Have Fun Tonight' is actually quite a collaborative song. When we came up with the original line, I then went away and wrote with a 'Hey Jude' style ballad around it, trying to be ironic. And then when we got in the studio with Peter Wolf, he was like, 'This is an amazing dance hit, you rock the tempo, you've got to really deliver what the title suggests.'

    The original demo we recorded in Nick's flat in London around Christmas time I think one Monday, because it had all these sort of like sleigh bells and stuff on it. And I just wanted it to have that kind of weird Disney-esque sort of atmosphere. But things obviously change as people hear the songs and see certain potentials in it. And after To Live and Die in LA we did have a choice facing us, which is, Okay you can do more movies, you can be sort of arty if you want, but you won't necessarily get support for that. Or you can go and have a hit record, which is what the label always wants from you. And we pretty consciously chose to have a proper hit record and sort of establish ourselves."
  • Bands have referred to themselves in their song lyrics before ("In A Big Country," "Bad Company), but this is the only hit song we know of where the band name was used as a verb. The line "Everybody Wang Chung tonight" perplexed listeners and created a memorable catch phrase that etched the song in history. This being the '80s, unusual lyrics combined with a catchy beat made for some of the biggest hits. As Holly Knight, who wrote "Obsession" and "Love Is A Battlefield" explained, "You come up with something that's very infectious and anthemic, and the key is to try and put something out of the box on top of that, throw a wrench."
  • In his appearance on Just My Show, Hues added: "Growing up at the end of the '60s and into the '70s, I was at that very impressionable age and thought that music could really change the world - it actually did really change the world at the end of the '60s. I probably had that as a subtext in everything I was writing. It may not be worthy of all of that early '60s and '70s stuff, the music I still love, but it was our little contribution."
  • This song is also known for its spasmodic video, which is full of extremely quick cuts between similar images. If the song is about musical purity, the video is the opposite, creating a dissonance that left some viewers literally sick. Regarding the video, Hues explained: "It was delivering a song that's essentially very upbeat and intentionally amusing. We weren't super serious about 'this is an amazing song that's gonna change your life.' It is just sort of like, get out there, have a great time, don't worry too much. I remember when we did the video with Kevin Godley and Lol Crème, they thought I should be singing straight to camera in a very intense way and very serious way with this pretty lighthearted song. And I think that really works in that video.

    The video that everybody was in love with around that time was Peter Gabriel's 'Sledgehammer,' anything with a bit of stop-frame in it was cool. It was actually banned in the UK, because some BBC guys said that that particular frame rate could cause epileptic seizures in people."
  • The video was one of the many memorable Godley & Creme productions of the '80s; some of their other videos include "Rockit" by Herbie Hancock and "Only Time Will Tell" by Asia. The team was always trying new techniques in an effort to create something eye-catching and different. For "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" they got their hands on a Grass Valley switcher with a piece of software that could cut back and forth between sources at two-frame intervals. They shot the footage first, then ran it through the switcher to achieve the effect.

    In a Songfacts interview with Kevin Godley, he explained: "We had a number of different situations going on throughout the song from lots of cameras, and then we ran it through this piece of software and told it to cut between takes one to six all the way through, two frames each. And that's all it is. In other words, it was an automated edit process because we knew vaguely how it would work. We designed the idea of the video for that piece of software.

    We tried that technique once before for an American artist and it didn't work as well because it was too extreme. Every single shot that we did was different. There was a common denominator in that the artist was center frame, but we had him perform in six different environments, and again it was two-frame cuts all the way through the video. It was effective, but it kind of digged your head in. What we learned from it was that something has to remain static in the background. You can have things moving in there but if the environment is a constant thing, then it will work better."
  • What exactly does it mean to "Wang Chung"? Maybe nothing, but perhaps there is a deep spiritual meaning rooted in ancient Buddhism. "Huang Chung" is Chinese for "Yellow Bell," and refers to what they believed was the perfect pitch for music, and a manifestation of the divine. Nick Feldman, who is half of the duo Wang Chung, once said: "Wang Chung is the feeling, not the word. It represents an abstract, an escape from pragmatic, complex ideas. Wang Chung means whatever you want it to mean. Have fun with it. That's the whole idea of the line 'Everybody Wang Chung Tonight.' It can mean a tribal dance, a Viennese waltz, a party in New York, or whatever."
  • In the original slow version, the words "Wang Chung" are said just once. Regarding the repetition of the phrase in on the single, Hues explained that Peter Wolf encouraged them to do so to help promote the band. Said Hues: "In retrospect it was probably one of the better commercial decisions we ever made."
  • There have been many pop culture references to this song, but perhaps the most famous was when the uptight psychiatrist Frasier Crane was ready for his bachelor party on the TV show Cheers. When Frasier enters the bar, he says, "I was listening to a Rock and Roll station on my way over to put me in the mood, and there was a passage from one of those trifling songs that I feel is the keynote this evening: Everybody have fun tonight, everybody Wang Chung tonight."
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Comments: 7

  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenAnother song that mentions the artist (repeatedly) is Chaka Khan's cover of "I Feel For You."
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 21st 1986, "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" by Wang Chung peaked at #2 (for 1 week) on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; it had entered the chart on October 28th at position #82 and spent 19 weeks on the Top 100...
    It also reached #2 on the Canadian RPM Top Hits chart
    The one week it was at #2 "Walk Like An Egyptian" by the Bangles was in its 2nd week at #1...
    Was track one on side one of the group's album, 'Mosaic', the album peaked at #41 on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart.
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxThere are 2 versions of this song. The longer one has an extra synth-drenched bridge where you hear a fellow ask "Does anybody know what a Wang Chung is?"
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxA friend of mine played this at his wedding party. Fit the mood perfectly. Everybody was Wang Chung-ing like crazy!
  • Paul from Detroit, MiA great song, that only reached #76 in the UK? WHAT??!
  • Marcus from Houston, TxOne of the best party/ dance songs of the 80's. Great club music.
  • Eric from Beaverton, OrI'm surprised there are no comments on this song. :) As for the meaning of "Everybody Wang Chung tonight", I always thought that "Wang Chung" as a verb meant to listen to Wang Chung. :)
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