"Play That Funky Music" (also known as "Play That Funky Music, White Boy") is a funk rock song written by Robert Parissi and recorded by the rock band Wild Cherry. The song hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on September 18, 1976. It was also the basis of a top five U.S.A. hit for Vanilla Ice in 1990.
The song was inspired by a black audience member who shouted, "Play some funky music, white boy" while they were playing at the 2001 Club. Lead singer Robert Parissi decided they should, and wrote down the phrase on a bar order pad. They later recorded it in Cleveland with a Disco sound. Although the band was concerned about the lyrics, Parissi insisted on keeping them.
Originally, it was planned that the song should be released on the B-side of Wild Cherry's cover of the Commodores' "I Feel Sanctified;" however, when the owners of their record label heard the song, they suggested that the B-side become the A-side. The song sold over two million copies, but was Wild Cherry's only hit.
Vanilla Ice later released a cover of "Play That Funky Music", as the B-side of his single "Ice Ice Baby", which catapulted him to stardom. Vanilla Ice did not credit Parissi for the piece, leading to a lawsuit that ended in a large settlement for Parissi. Vanilla Ice's version hit #4 in the US, and was his second and last hit song.
A tribute version of the song was arranged and recorded by Gordon Goodwin and his Big Phat Band on their 2006 record The Phat Pack. A spoken word version of the song, deliberately done in an unflattering manner, was used in the early 1990s in a Pioneer Electronics commercial for their automobile audio products.
The song listed at #73 on Billboard's Greatest Songs of all time.
- The rhythm guitar part and the complete horn arrangement were appropriated from "Slippery When Wet" by the Commodores.
- "Play That Funky Music" is often mistakenly attributed to the Commodores, James Brown or KC and the Sunshine Band (though KC did in fact do a cover version).
- The song has become a sort of theme song for professional golfer Fred Funk, a fan favorite on the PGA Tour.
- This song was featured on Dance Dance Revolution Extreme 2.
- In 1996 this song was covered by The Chipmunks on their album Club Chipmunk: The Dance Mixes.
- In 1997, this song was used in a commercial for the Intel Pentium Pro MMX featuring a disco scene in a white room with clean suits. The lyrics were truncated to "Play that Funky Music" despite the white clean suits worn by the dancing processor technicians.
- In a scene from the film American Pie Presents Band Camp, the lead character plays the song on bagpipes to win a competition.
- The song is used at home games for the Washington Redskins (American Football) by a group called "The Funky Four" during breaks in the game. The four members are part of the Redskins band and do a dance routine in the end zone to the tune of "Play That Funky Music". Interesting, while the main chorus of the song is "play that funky music white boy", all members of "The Funky Four" are black.
- Prince introduced the song in to his concerts in 2006 and continues to play it, usually with someone from the audience invited on stage to sing the lyrics.
- In the motion picture Evolution the lead characters sing to it in a jeep after killing an alien in a mall. It's also on Evolutions's soundtrack.
- This song was used as Craig Kilborn's entrance song on The Late Late Show.
- British Comedian Alexei Sayle recorded a parody entitled "Play that Funky Music Jewish Boy".
- This song was performed by Taylor Hicks on American Idol during its Season 5 broadcast in 2006.
- The song is used as a finale number in the Disco Inferno The Musical Set in the 1976
- The song was covered by The Countdown Singers, who are considered by many AMG critics to be one of the worst bands ever.
- The song appears on the video game Karaoke Revolution Party.
- The song was covered by death metal band Ten Masked Men.