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Chic's New Single calls us to Come and be Safer on the Dancefloor

It is a bright, energetic song about doomsday. Chic’s 2018 song, Till the World Falls, their first single for an album in 26 years, defuses the idea of impending oblivion, transforming it into an opportunity for unashamed disco fun.  

At a time where Donald Trump is expressing nationalist sentiments in the U.S., Chic calls us to reject this and unite around dance music. This borderless theme compliments Edith Turner’s theory of communitas, which she describes as a ‘group’s pleasure in sharing common experiences with one’s fellows’.[1] It is no coincidence that the song speaks both of apocalypse, and of partying. As Turner has argued, communitas ‘often comes in the direst moments in the life of a person or society’.[2]

Besides Nile Rodgers’ funky chucking guitar, as would be expected in any good Chic song, it also includes collaborations with Vic Mensa, Mura Masa, and Cosha. Mensa may seem like an odd addition to a disco song, given that he usually raps over angrier hip-hop beats, but he does not disappoint, delivering an uplifting third verse.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EoP0nqCpJE (Attached youtube link to song)

 

Album Art

 

The cover art for the upcoming album, aptly titled It’s About Time, compliments the optimistic sound of its first single. Its image of two supermodels imitates the sleeve of the band’s self-titled 1977 debut album. Rodgers explains this significance by identifying a cyclical link between the 1970s and the present, saying that the new artwork 'tells exactly the same story'.[3] He associates the former with the Buppie movement of the 1970s, an emerging social group of ambitious black urban professionals. Its stylish magazine style cover, aside from looking cool, was meant to reflect the aspiration and racial empowerment that came with that movement. Whereas the 1977 image featured popular supermodels back then (Valentine Monnier and Alva Chinn) the new album features contemporary equivalents through fashion icons Duckie Thot and Jazzelle Zanaughtti who are themselves vocal advocates of diversity within the fashion industry.[4]

In Rolling Stone, Rodgers has said: ‘When I first came up with the concept for the first Chic album cover more than 40 years ago it was a deliberate statement that we could all be abundant, we could all be with the beautiful people, we could all be included, we could all have good times’.[5] He believes that this needs to be said again for ‘a new generation’, as we should all be aspiring for a better world.[6]

 

Keep Dancing

 

It is difficult to listen to the single’s lyrics without thinking that it is a response to current anxieties about the unpredictability of Donald Trump’s presidency. Chosha for instance, opens the first verse by singing: ‘the world has gone mad, we might be safer on the dancefloor’.[7] Here it can be reasoned that dancefloors, unlike the divisive political rhetoric of the president, bring people together for the common purpose of dancing. Rodgers has seemed to confirm this, telling Billboard that 2016’s vicious presidential campaign was an influence in creating the new album.[8] Another interpretation of this is that while Trump’s presidency is characterised by people being uncertain of what his next actions will be, Chic’s disco music provides the alternative of a consistent disco beat.

Till the World Falls is reminiscent of the subtle theme of Chic’s classic single, Good Times (1979). The opening words of Good Times’ first verse were intended as ironic. ‘Happy days are here again’ was a line taken from a popular song during the turbulent U.S. Depression period. The use of references in Chic's single and album to other volatile moments in American history demonstrates a common theme of recurrence. As ‘Good Times’ likened the 1970s to the 1930s, Chic’s new song similarly draws parallels between the 1970s and today.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKl6EZShaaw (Attached youtube link to Good Times single)

 

While the dancefloor can be seen as a retreat from today’s problems, rather than a solution, the optimism of the song can be said to have significance. As Vic Mesa raps in the second verse: ‘you gotta have a song when the world falls down’.[9] That is to say that everyone needs something that motivates them to keep going on. Till the World Falls’ message is as simple and important today as that of any song Chic have previously produced: even if the world around seems to be crumbling, you must never give in to despair. If you can find hope in music, use it!

 

 

 

 

 

References

 

[1] Edith Turner, Communitas: The Anthropology of Collective Joy, (2012), p. 2.

 

[2] Edith Turner, Communitas: The Anthropology of Collective Joy, (2012), p. 2.

 

[3] Gary Graff, ‘Nile Rodgers & Chic Release New Song, 'Till the World Falls,' Announce Album Date’, Billboard 22 Jun. 2018, https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/8462282/nile-rodgers-chic-new-song-till-the-world-falls-announce-album-date

 

[4] David Barden, ‘Duckie Thot Criticises Australia's Failure to Promote Black Models’, Huffpost, 18 Sep. 2017; ‘Jazzelle is the Gender-bending, Gold-grilled Model Slaying on Instagram’, Vice, 29 Apr. 2017.

 

[5] Daniel Kreps, ‘Hear Nile Rodgers & Chic Team With Vic Mensa on Ecstatic 'Till the World Falls'’, https://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/nile-rodgers-chic-team-with-vic-mensa-on-new-song-w521846

 

[6] Daniel Kreps, ‘Hear Nile Rodgers & Chic Team With Vic Mensa on Ecstatic 'Till the World Falls'’, https://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/nile-rodgers-chic-team-with-vic-mensa-on-new-song-w521846

 

[7] Chic, ‘Till the World Falls’, Virgin EMI Records, (2018).

 

[8] Gary Graff, ‘Nile Rodgers & Chic Release New Song, 'Till the World Falls,' Announce Album Date’, Billboard 22 Jun. 2018, https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/8462282/nile-rodgers-chic-new-song-till-the-world-falls-announce-album-date

 

[9] Chic, ‘Till the World Falls’, Virgin EMI Records, (2018).

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