Can you give a higher rating than 5 stars? If I could, one of the songs that I’d give it to would be “Good Times”, Chic’s groundbreaking (and excellent-the two can be mutually exclusive) #1 smash from summer 1979.
Let’s talk historical significance. “Good Times”, serving as it did to back “Rappers Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang, provided the literal backdrop for hip-hop’s entrance into mainstream America. It set the table for the next forty (and counting) years of musical evolution. “Good Times” also was heavy on John Deacon’s mind when the Queen bassist was writing “Another One Bites the Dust”. That particular song cruised to the top of the singles chart, introduced Queen to R&B audiences, and became the biggest American hit by the venerable British band (until Freddie Mercury passed away and “Bohemian Rhapsody” began its second, “Wayne’s World”-assisted chart run).
Now, let’s toss historical significance aside. Let’s think about (or better yet, let’s listen to) Bernard Edwards’ effortless walking bassline, one of the most recognizable bass parts in music history. Let’s take a minute to appreciate Nile Rodgers’ axe work. “Good Times” cemented his status as one of the baddest rhythm guitarists of all time. Let’s talk about those lyrics! Disco has gotten a bad rap from lots of rockist types for being lyrically deficient. However…
Rumor has it that it’s getting late
Time marches on, just can’t wait
The clock is turning, why hesitate?
You silly fool, you can’t change your fate!
Not exactly “everybody dance! whooohoooo clap your hands!”, now is it?¹
We haven’t even gotten to the Chic strings yet? Or Alfa Anderson and Lucy Martin’s gorgeously staccato vocals. Or Tony Thompson’s rock-steady drumming. Look, I’m not sure if Nile and Bernard were trying to make a point for immortality with “Good Times”, coming hot on the heels of two successful albums. But not many songs can rule a summer, serve as the incoming volley for a whole new genre or keep people shouting “THESE! ARE! THE! GOOD! TIMES!” at shows four whole decades later.
If they were trying to make a point, though; they damn sure succeeded.
Random Note: Somewhat amazingly, “Good Times” only peaked at #3 on Billboard‘s Dance/Disco chart!