Let the Music Play (song)

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"Let the Music Play"
Single by Shannon
from the album Let The Music Play
Released September 1983
Genre Synthpop, Latin freestyle, boogie, electro
Length 5:49 (12" version)
4:38 (7" version)
Label Mirage/Atco/Atlantic Records
Writer(s) Chris Barbosa
Ed Chisolm
Producer(s) Mark Liggett
Chris Barbosa
Shannon singles chronology
"Let the Music Play" (Shannon version)
"Give Me Tonight"

"Let The Music Play" is a landmark dance song recorded by Shannon in 1983.

The original version of the record was produced by Mark Liggett and Chris Barbosa. By the early 1980s, the backlash against disco had driven dance music off mainstream radio stations in the US. The rhythmic ingenuity of "Let the Music Play" was largely due to Chris Barbosa, who wrote and arranged the original demo track. Rob Kilgore played all the instruments on this seminal track. It featured a series of keyboard chords and drum patterns produced by gating a Roland TR-808 drum machine. Specifically, a reverb was placed across the kick and snare and hard gated to change the sounds. Further, it was one of the first tracks to sync together a TR-808 and a Roland TB-303 bassline, notorious in later years for the instrument responsible for creating acid house. The TB-303 plays the bassline for the entire song; however, in this case, the filter is not adjusted, which was typical for acid house music. This technical achievement made the production even more groundbreaking, and it also resulted in a unique sound, called "The Shannon Sound," which in time came to be known as freestyle. The vocal on the chorus is sung by session guitarist/vocalist, Jimi Tunnell, who was uncredited. Shannon sings the answering line but it is Tunnell who sings the "Let the music play" hook.

In November 1983, "Let the Music Play" was the first of Shannon's four #1s on the US Dance chart.[1] The song also peaked at #2 on the soul chart and #8 on the US Singles Chart in February 1984.[2] Some mark this as the beginning of the dance-pop era.

"Let the Music Play" was Shannon's only US Top 40 hit. It was ranked 43rd on the 2009 VH1 Special 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the 1980s. This song was slated to appear in Dance Central 3.

Music Video[edit]

The music video of the song, directed by British music video director Nigel Dick, premiered in November of 1983. The video shows Shannon in a dressing room applying make-up as if she is getting ready for a performance. She then makes her way to the stage of an empty theater where she proceeds to dance and sing the song. Interspersed throughout these scenes are shots of male and female dancers fashioned in dress shirts and bow ties warming up. The dancers join Shannon by the second chorus of the song, and, near the end, one of the dancers proceeds to take her in his arms and dance with her. The video ends with the dancers doing a choreographed routine while Shannon continues singing.[3][4]

Chart peaks[edit]

Chart (1983–84) Peak
UK Singles Chart 14
US Billboard Hot 100 8
U.S. Billboard Hot Black Singles 2
US Hot Dance Club Songs 1
Preceded by
"Holiday" / "Lucky Star" by Madonna
Billboard Hot Dance Club Play number-one single
October 29, 1983 – December 3, 1983
Succeeded by
"Talking in Your Sleep" by The Romantics

Cover versions[edit]

Mary Kiani version[edit]

"Let the Music Play"
Single by Mary Kiani
from the album Long Hard Funky Dreams
Released April 1, 1996
Format CD single, 12" vinyl
Genre Eurodance, Eurohouse
Label 1st Avenue, Mercury Warehouse Records, Leeds UK
Writer(s) Chris Barbosa
Ed Chisolm
Mary Kiani singles chronology
"I Give It All To You" / "I Imagine"
"Let The Music Play (Mary Kiani version)"

In 1996, Mary Kiani covered "Let the Music Play" as her third solo single. The song was remixed in a variety of styles, notably by Paul Oakenfold of Perfecto and Steve Rodway of Motiv8. A video of the song was also released.

Track listings and formats[edit]

These are the main formats and track listings of the single release of Mary Kiani's "Let the Music Play."

# Title Length
UK CD single MERCD456
1. "Let the Music Play" [Radio Mix] 3:50
2. "Let the Music Play" [Perfecto Radio Mix] 5:40
3. "Let the Music Play" [Motiv8 Club Mix] 6:32
4. "Let the Music Play" [Mr. Spring Contrary Mary Mix] 5:34
5. "Let the Music Play" [Perfecto Vocal Mix] 8:00
6. "Let the Music Play" [Argonauts Kiani Do This Mix] 5:42
7. "Let the Music Play" [Mr. Spring Club Edit] 4:29
UK 12" MERX456
A1. "Let the Music Play" [Motiv8 Club Mix] 6:33
A2. "Let the Music Play" [Union Jack Mix] 6:27
B1. "Let the Music Play" [Perfecto Vocal Mix] 8:01
B2. "Let the Music Play" [Perfecto Dub Mix] 5:00
UK 12" MERX457 / Fubar12
A1. "Let the Music Play" [Casio Brothers Mix]
A2. "Let the Music Play" [George Bowie Mix]
B1. "Let the Music Play" [Steve Kerr Mix]
B2. "Let the Music Play" [Tom Wilson & David Livingston Mix]


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 231. 
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 521. 
  3. ^ http://www.mvdbase.com/video.php?id=25057
  4. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpEGDXhu5oM