Car Wash (song)

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"Car Wash"
Single by Rose Royce
from the album Car Wash: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Released September 12, 1976
Format 7" vinyl
Genre Disco
Length 5:06
Label MCA
Writer(s) Norman Whitfield
Producer(s) Norman Whitfield
Rose Royce singles chronology
  • "Car Wash"
  • (1976)

"Car Wash" is a hit disco song performed by Rose Royce and written and produced by Norman Whitfield, it was the group's debut single and one of the most notable successes of the disco era.[1] Written and produced by the band's main producer Norman Whitfield, "Car Wash", the theme of the 1976 film Car Wash, was Rose Royce's most successful hit single and the lead single from their first album, the Car Wash soundtrack. Reaching number one in the United States on the Billboard pop and R&B charts, "Car Wash" also peaked at number three on the disco charts[2] and reached number nine in the UK singles chart in February 1977. The song was later covered in 2004 by Christina Aguilera and Missy Elliott, who released their version as the single for the Shark Tale soundtrack.


Former Motown Records producer Norman Whitfield had been commissioned to record the soundtrack album for Car Wash by director Michael Schultz. Although Whitfield did not want to assume the project, he decided to do so, both for financial incentives as well as the chance to give Rose Royce, a disco/funk backing band that Whitfield signed to his own label in 1975, the exposure they needed to become mainstream. Unable to develop a theme song for the film, inspiration finally struck Whitfield while playing a game of basketball, and he allegedly wrote his first draft of "Car Wash" on a paper bag from a fried chicken eatery.

The resulting song set the mood and tone for the comedy film it was commissioned for. Rose Royce lead singer Rose Norwalt (Gwen Dickey), with brief assistance from guitarist Kenji Brown, describes a fun and easy-going car washing business, where everything is "always cool/and the boss don't mind sometimes if you act a fool."

Car Wash's soundtrack, a double album, was Rose Royce's debut LP, and the title track was their debut single. "Car Wash" sold two million copies, and was a number one success on both the Billboard popular and R&B charts in the United States and a top ten success in the United Kingdom. The song held the number-one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for one week, from January 23 to January 29, 1977, replacing "I Wish" by Stevie Wonder and replaced by "Torn Between Two Lovers" by Mary MacGregor. The Car Wash soundtrack album, entirely recorded by Rose Royce and Whitfield, spawned two more successful singles: "I Wanna Get Next to You" and "I'm Going Down" (later covered in 1994 by Mary J. Blige).

In 1988 the song was re-released as a double A-side single with "Is It Love You're After?" in the United Kingdom, peaking at #20.

The original Rose Royce version of "Car Wash" is one of the most sampled songs in history, not for its main instrumentation, but for its introductory section. The song opens with a series of hand claps, which have been sampled many times for both hip hop and R&B songs from the 1980s on.


Charts (1976/77) Peak
Australian Kent Music Report 12
Austria Top 40 16
Belgian VRT Top 30 9
Canadian RPM Singles Chart 1
Dutch Top 40 5
German Media Control Top 100 15
Irish Singles Chart[3] 20
New Zealand Singles Chart 5
Swedish Singles Chart 15
Swiss Singles Top 75 6
UK Singles Chart[4] 9
US Billboard Hot 100 1
US Hot Black Singles 1
US Hot Dance/Disco 3

Christina Aguilera and Missy Elliott version[edit]

"Car Wash"
Single by Christina Aguilera featuring Missy Elliott
from the album Shark Tale: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Released August 29, 2004 (2004-08-29)[5]
Recorded 2004
Length 3:50
Label DreamWorks
  • Norman Whitfield
  • Missy Elliott
  • Missy Elliott
  • Christina Aguilera
  • Ron Fair
  • T. Herzberg
  • C. Styles
  • Bang Out
  • Silence
Christina Aguilera chronology
  • "Car Wash"
  • (2004)
Missy Elliott chronology
  • "Car Wash"
  • (2004)
"Free Yourself"

In 2004, pop singer Christina Aguilera featuring rapper-singer Missy Elliott recorded a cover version of "Car Wash", giving the disco song a more modern pop feel and adding rapped verses from Elliott. In an interview Aguilera said, "We had to change the key to be a little bit higher for my range. So we couldn't take the exact samples, but we brought in all these live instruments to recreate kind of this old, old classic, soulful feel and sound...."

"Car Wash" was the only single from the soundtrack to DreamWorks' computer animated film Shark Tale. Aguilera and Elliott's cover of "Car Wash" missed the U.S. Billboard Top 40, peaking at number sixty-three, while becoming a top five hit in the United Kingdom and became the 48th best selling single in the United Kingdom of 2004 with sales of over 100,000 copies. In this context, the "car wash" the song refers to would be the place where Oscar (the main protagonist, voiced by Will Smith) works, where large sea animals who behave like cars are washed in the same manner. The single has sold over 1.5 million copies worldwide.

Music video[edit]

The music video to Aguilera's version shows her and Elliott as animated fish similar to those in the film, combined with scenes of Aguilera and Elliott recording the song in a recording studio. The video also includes scenes of Shark Tale. The scenes of Aguilera and Elliott recording the song in the studio were shot by Rich Newey, while the scenes of Aguilera as a jellyfish and Elliott as a fish were edited by Peter Lonsdale and John Venzon, who also edited Shark Tale.

Track listing[edit]


  1. "Car Wash"
  2. "Can't Wait" (performed by Avant)
  3. "Digits" (performed by Fan 3)
  4. "Car Wash" (enhanced video)

Weekly charts[edit]

Charts (2004–05) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[6] 2
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[7] 11
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[8] 2
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[9] 18
Denmark (Tracklisten)[10] 5
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[11] 9
Greece (IFPI Greece)[12] 21
Hungary (Single Top 20)[13] 8
Ireland (IRMA)[14] 5
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[15] 3
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[16] 2
Norway (VG-lista)[17] 13
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[18] 27
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[19] 5
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[20] 4
US Billboard Hot 100[21] 63
US Mainstream Top 40 (Billboard)[22] 23

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (2004) Rank
Australia[23] 48
Netherlands[24] 62
Switzerland[25] 68
UK[26] 48
Chart (2005) Rank
Switzerland[27] 73

Other versions[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 501. 
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 222. 
  3. ^ "Irish Singles Chart – Search for song". Irish Recorded Music Association. 1978-09-28. Retrieved 2010-09-22. 
  4. ^ "Chartstats – Artist – Rose Royce". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2010-09-21. 
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ " – Christina Aguilera feat. Missy Elliott – Car Wash". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  7. ^ "Christina Aguilera feat. Missy Elliott – Car Wash –" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  8. ^ " – Christina Aguilera feat. Missy Elliott – Car Wash" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  9. ^ " – Christina Aguilera feat. Missy Elliott – Car Wash" (in French). Ultratop 50.
  10. ^ " – Christina Aguilera feat. Missy Elliott – Car Wash". Tracklisten.
  11. ^ "Christina Aguilera feat. Missy Elliott: Car Wash" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland.
  12. ^ "IFPI Greece Singles chart 18-25/12 2004". Archived from the original on December 29, 2004. 
  13. ^ "Archívum – Slágerlisták – MAHASZ – Magyar Hanglemezkiadók Szövetsége" (in Hungarian). Single (track) Top 10 lista. Magyar Hanglemezkiadók Szövetsége.
  14. ^ "Chart Track: Week 46, 2004". Irish Singles Chart.
  15. ^ " – Christina Aguilera feat. Missy Elliott – Car Wash" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  16. ^ " – Christina Aguilera feat. Missy Elliott – Car Wash". Top 40 Singles.
  17. ^ " – Christina Aguilera feat. Missy Elliott – Car Wash". VG-lista.
  18. ^ " – Christina Aguilera feat. Missy Elliott – Car Wash". Singles Top 60.
  19. ^ "Christina Aguilera feat. Missy Elliott – Car Wash –". Swiss Singles Chart.
  20. ^ "Archive Chart: 2004-11-13" UK Singles Chart.
  21. ^ "Christina Aguilera Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot 100 for Christina Aguilera.
  22. ^ "Christina Aguilera Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Pop Songs for Christina Aguilera.
  23. ^ "ARIA Charts - End of Year Charts - Top 100 Singles 2003". Retrieved 2013-04-22. 
  24. ^ Steffen Hung. "Dutch charts portal". Retrieved 2013-04-22. 
  25. ^ Steffen Hung. "Schweizer Jahreshitparade 2004". Retrieved 2013-04-22. 
  26. ^
  27. ^ Steffen Hung. "Schweizer Jahreshitparade 2005". Retrieved 2013-04-22. 
  28. ^ "YouTube: The Brady Bunch Variety Hour in Oz". Retrieved June 6, 2014. 
  29. ^ Nichelson, Ted (2009). Love to Love You Bradys: The Bizarre Story of the Brady Bunch Variety Hour. ECW Press. p. 158-159, 283. ISBN 9781550228885. 

See also[edit]