“Atomic Dog” is about as kid-friendly as funk gets. Video game whooshes and sound effects, silly canine/feline references, that “bow wow wow yippee yo yippee yay” refrain. Hell, even the title sounds like it could be the name of some silly superhero. These things set it apart from the work Clinton did as the leader/mastermind of Parliament/Funkadelic (Atomic Dog was his first-and honestly, only-big hit under his own name.) The song’s kid-friendliness might also provide an excuse for its resurgence via sampling in the early ‘90s. The songs you remember fondly at age 10 is going to be the song you (probably) remember fondly when you’re a musician at age 20. The fact that “Atomic Dog” is funky as hell doesn’t hurt, either.
Interesting (head scratching) fact: “Atomic Dog” didn’t chart at all on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, even though it topped the R&B list.
Interesting (not so head scratching) fact: According to his memoir, Clinton was extremely fucked up on drugs when “Atomic Dog” was recorded and ad-libbed most of the lyrics.
NOT QUITE FIVE STARS…
“At Your Best (You Are Love)” by Aaliyah (1994): Not gonna lie, I prefer Aaliyah’s ’90s remake to the Isley Brothers’ original. There’s something about the innocent quality of her voice that elevates this version. Also, that acapella opening.