Kung Fu Fighting

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This article is about the song. For the martial art, see Chinese martial arts.
"Kung Fu Fighting"
Single by Carl Douglas
from the album Kung Fu Fighting and Other Great Love Songs
B-side "Gamblin' Man"
Released 1974
Format Vinyl single
Genre Disco,[1] funk[2]
Length 3:15
Label Pye Records (UK and Canada)
20th Century Fox Records (US)
Writer(s) Carl Douglas (lyrics),
Biddu Appaiah (composition)
Producer(s) Biddu Appaiah
Certification Gold (BPI, RIAA)
Carl Douglas singles chronology
"Kung Fu Fighting"
(1974)
"Dance the Kung Fu"
(1975)
Audio sample
file info · help

"Kung Fu Fighting" is a disco song written and performed by Carl Douglas and composed and produced by Biddu.[3] It was released as a single in 1974, on the cusp of a chopsocky film craze, and eventually rose to the top of the British and American charts, in addition to reaching number one on the Soul Singles chart.[4] It received a Gold certification from the RIAA in 1974,[5] won the 1974 Grammy Award for Best Selling Single,[6] and popularized disco music.[7] It eventually went on to sell eleven million records worldwide,[7][8] making it one of the best-selling singles of all time. The song uses the quintessential Oriental riff, a short musical phrase that is used to signify Chinese culture.

"Kung Fu Fighting" was rated number 100 in VH1's 100 Greatest one-hit wonders, and number 1 in the UK Channel 4's Top 10 One Hit Wonders list in 2000, the same channel's 50 Greatest One Hit Wonders poll in 2006 and Bring Back ... the one-hit Wonders, for which Carl Douglas performed the song in a live concert.

Production and release[edit]

The song was originally meant to be a B-side to "I Want to Give You My Everything" (written by Brooklyn songwriter Larry Weiss, and sung by Carl Douglas).[9][10] The producer Biddu originally hired Douglas to sing "I Want to Give You My Everything" but needed something to record for the B-side, and asked Douglas if he had any lyrics they could use. Douglas showed several, out of which Biddu chose the one that would later be called "Kung Fu Fighting" and worked out a melody for it without taking it too seriously.[3]

After having spent over two hours recording the A-side and then taking a break, "Kung Fu Fighting" was recorded quickly in the last ten minutes of studio time,[3] in only two takes, due to a three-hour time constraint for the entire session.[7] According to Biddu, "Kung Fu Fighting was the B-side so I went over the top on the 'huhs' and the 'hahs' and the chopping sounds. It was a B-side: who was going to listen?" After hearing both songs, Robin Blanchflower of Pye Records insisted that "Kung Fu Fighting" be the A-side instead.[7]

Following its release, the song didn't receive any radio airplay for the first five weeks and it initially sold poorly, but the song began gaining popularity in dance clubs,[3] eventually entering the UK Singles Chart at number 42 on 17 August 1974 and reaching the top on 21 September, after which it would remain at the top for three weeks.[11] It was then released in the United States, where it was equally successful, topping the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[3] The single would eventually go on to sell eleven million records worldwide.[7]

Chart performance[edit]

Tracklisting[edit]

  1. "Kung Fu Fighting" (3:15)
  2. "Gamblin' Man" (3:03)

Cover versions[edit]

The Brazilian singer Fernanda Abreu covered the song as a bonus track available only on the CD version of her 1990 album SLA Radical Dance Disco Club.

Robyn Hitchcock also covered the song for the anti-poll tax album Alvin Lives (In Leeds) in 1990.

Merrill Nisker (now known by her stage name "Peaches") covered the song on her 1995 album Fancypants Hoodlum.

Patti Rothberg covered the song for the Beverly Hills Ninja soundtrack in 1997.

The song was very popular in Jamaica, and there were several cover versions by reggae artists including Lloyd Parks, The Maroons, The Cimarons, and Pluto Shervington.[43]

There is also a Finnish version of this song, sung by Frederik. The song's translated name is "Kung-Fu Taistelee".

A cover version of the song was performed by Cee Lo Green and Jack Black for the 2008 animated movie Kung Fu Panda. For the Russian edition of the movie, Mumiy Troll performed the song.

In 2004, the German record label Echo Beach released an album entitled Kung Fu Fighting Remixes (Dub Drenched Soundscapes) that featured remixes of the track by 16 different artists including Adrian Sherwood, Dreadzone and Pole.[44]

Bus Stop version[edit]

"Kung Fu Fighting"
Single by Bus Stop featuring Carl Douglas
from the album Ticket to Ride
Released 1998
Format CD, vinyl single
Genre Alternative hip hop
Eurodance[45]
Length 3:45
Label All Around the World (UK)
Writer(s) Carl Douglas
Producer(s) Graham Turner,
Mark Hall
Certification Gold (ARIA)
Bus Stop singles chronology
"Kung Fu Fighting"
(1998)
"You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet"
(1998)

British dance act Bus Stop reached number eight on the U.K. charts[46] with their 1998 remix single of "Kung Fu Fighting", which sampled the original vocals by Carl Douglas and added rap verses.[47] In Australia, the single received a gold certification from the ARIA.[48]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1998) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[49] 15
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[50] 39
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[51] 22
Canada (RPM Dance)[52] 11
Denmark (IFPI)[53] 10
France (SNEP)[54] 25
Ireland (IRMA)[20] 12
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[55] 1
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[56] 20
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[46] 8

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1998) Position
Australia (ARIA)[57] 40

Sales and certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (ARIA)[58] Gold 35,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[59] Gold 400,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

Preceded by
"The Boy Is Mine" by Brandy & Monica
New Zealand number-one single
26 July 1998 – 2 August 1998 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Lost in Love" by Deep Obsession

Use in popular culture[edit]

The song was used as the title song in the German version of the TV series Kung Fu. It has been used in many films and television shows since 1990 where there is a light-hearted spirit to the martial arts, including:

It also has been used in trailers for the films Kung Fu Panda, Disney's Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior, and Kung Fu Hustle, and a cover by Cee Lo Green and Jack Black is used over the end credits of Kung Fu Panda. This version has partially rewritten lyrics to avoid the term "chinaman".

The song can be heard in the 1975 French movie Les Galettes de Pont-Aven, during a scene where a young couple is dancing fully naked in front of a drunk Jean-Pierre Marielle.

In the film Horrible Bosses the song is featured as Bobby Pellitt's ringtone, which leads Harkin to find and kill him.

A version was recorded by Tom Jones featuring Ruby for the 1996 film Supercop. The lyrics were slightly changed to reference the film.

It is used as the theme song for the Xbox game Kung Fu Chaos. It is also one of the downloadable duet songs in the game Just Dance 2 for the Wii. A re-recorded version of the song by Douglas is featured in Lego Rock Band & Band Hero. The Bus Stop version has appeared in the video game Dance Dance Revolution, and the original version appeared in Dancing Stage MAX.

The song was also featured in the Seventies episode of The Supersizers Go... on BBC Two. The episode was aired on 10 June 2008, and featured Sue Perkins and Giles Coren sitting down to eat an average 1970s dinner in a period living room, watching the music video for "Kung Fu Fighting."[60]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Huey, Steve. "Carl Douglas – Artist Biography". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 6 January 2014. 
  2. ^ "Rap Pages" 7. L.F.P. Incorporated. 1998. p. 68. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Bronson, Fred (1988). "Kung Fu Fighting". The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (4th ed.). Super Seventies. ISBN 0-8230-7641-5. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Carl Douglas – Awards". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  5. ^ "RIAA – Gold & Platinum Searchable Database – Kung Fu Fighting". RIAA. Retrieved 6 January 2014. 
  6. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 344. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Ellis, James (27 October 2009). "Biddu". Metro. Retrieved 17 April 2011. 
  8. ^ Browne, Malika (20 August 2004). "It's a big step from disco to Sanskrit chants, but Biddu has made it". The Sunday Times (London). Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  9. ^ "Kung Fu Fighting by Carl Douglas". Songfacts. Retrieved 6 January 2014. 
  10. ^ Bronson, Fred (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th ed.). New York: Billboard Books. p. 385. 
  11. ^ "Carl Douglas". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 7 July 2013. 
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External links[edit]