Afternoon Delight

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"Afternoon Delight"
Single by Starland Vocal Band
from the album Starland Vocal Band
Released April 1976
Format 7"
Recorded November 1975
Genre Folk rock, country pop, soft rock
Length 3:16
Label RCA
Writer(s) Bill Danoff
Starland Vocal Band singles chronology
"Afternoon Delight"
"California Day"
Audio sample
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"Afternoon Delight" is a song recorded by Starland Vocal Band, featuring close harmony and sexually suggestive wordplay. It was written by Bill Danoff, one of the members of the band. It became a number-one U.S. Billboard Hot 100 single on July 10, 1976.[1] The song also reached number one in Canada and peaked at number 5 in New Zealand. In Australia it was a number 6 hit nationally; Adelaide radio station 5KA was first to pick up the single and give it airplay, making it number 1 in South Australia.

Background and writing[edit]

The title came from a spicy dish of the same name at Clyde's restaurant in Georgetown, Washington, D.C.,[1] where Bill Danoff was eating with fellow bandmember Margot Chapman while his then-wife Taffy Danoff was receiving surgery for cervical cancer.[2] Danoff enjoyed writing the song and downplayed the somewhat controversial lyrics, saying, "I didn't want to write an all-out sex song ... I just wanted to write something that was fun and hinted at sex."[1]

Cover versions[edit]

Concurrent to the Starland Vocal Band's version, country singer Johnny Carver's cover went Top 10 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. In 1983, the Circle Jerks also covered this song as one of the six cover versions on "Golden Shower of Hits (Jerks on 45)", which appears on their third album with the same title. British experimental folk music band Current 93 used an industrial-style cover version as an introduction to their performances of their 2009 album. Claude François sang it in French as "Dimanche après-midi". The popular TV show Glee also covered it in their episode "Sexy", with Dianna Agron, Jayma Mays, Mark Salling, Lea Michele and John Stamos singing.

Critical reaction[edit]

At the 19th Grammy Awards ceremony in 1977, "Afternoon Delight" received three nominations. It won the Grammy Award for Best Arrangement for Voices [3] and was also nominated for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals and Record of the Year.

In 2010 Billboard named "Afternoon Delight" the 20th sexiest song of all time.[4]

Also in 2010, Matthew Wilkening of AOL Radio ranked the song at #26 on the list of the 100 Worst Songs Ever, stating, "If [Danoff] can sing this cheesy song, and still somehow get some in the middle of the workday, we bow to him."[5]

In 2011, Todd Nathanson declared "Afternoon Delight" the worst hit song of 1976, saying "Only very rarely do you have a popular song that in retrospect pretty much everyone agrees was absolutely terrible...Never in the universe has there ever been a sex song this unsexy."

Chart performance[edit]

Starland Vocal Band version[edit]

Johnny Carver version[edit]

Chart (1976) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks 9
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 16

In popular culture[edit]

Since the original song's release, many works have alluded to or even featured "Afternoon Delight" or its suggestive lyrics, often ironically. Among them have been "Kokomo" by The Beach Boys in the 1988 Tom Cruise film 'Cocktail', Glee (where it was mistaken for being a song about the dessert Angel Delight), Get a Life ("Chris Wins a Celebrity"), Good Will Hunting, PCU, Boogie Nights, Lost, The Rules of Attraction, The Spirit of '76, Starsky & Hutch, ER ("No Strings Attached", sung by Abby), Arrested Development (as part of a plot point in the episode "Afternoon Delight"), The Simpsons ("The Fat and the Furriest"), Rules of Engagement, Sports Night, Complete Savages ("Teen Things I Hate About You"), Ugly Betty, Family Guy, Malcolm in the Middle, South Park ("Miss Teacher Bangs a Boy"), Murphy Brown, Entourage, Warehouse 13 (Season 2 Episode 8) and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.

On the December 7, 2013, episode of Saturday Night Live, comedian and host Paul Rudd performed a portion of the song A cappella with boy band and musical guests One Direction, Will Ferrell, David Koechner, and Steve Carell (in a similar fashion to how Rudd, Ferrell, Koechner & Carell sung the song in Anchorman) as part of the opening monologue and to promote Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.

It appears in a 2014 TV commercial for Taco Bell.


External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Never Gonna Fall in Love Again" by Eric Carmen
Canadian RPM number one single
July 31 - August 7, 1976
Succeeded by
"Got to Get You into My Life" by The Beatles
Preceded by
"Silly Love Songs" by Wings
Billboard Hot 100 number one single
July 10–17, 1976
Succeeded by
"Kiss and Say Goodbye" by The Manhattans