Super Freak

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"Super Freak"
Single by Rick James
from the album Street Songs
Released July 10, 1981
Format Vinyl record (7")
Recorded 1981
Genre
Length 3:24 (album/7" version)
7:05 (12" version)
Label Gordy
Writer(s)
Producer(s) Rick James
Certification Gold (RIAA)[3]
Rick James singles chronology
"Give It to Me Baby"
(1981)
"Super Freak"
(1981)
"Ghetto Life"
(1982)
Music video
"Super Freak" on YouTube
Music sample

"Super Freak" is a 1981 single produced and performed by Rick James. The song, co-written by James and Alonzo Miller, was first released on James' album Street Songs and became one of James' signature songs. It features background vocals from Motown labelmates The Temptations–in which the bass singer is James' uncle Melvin Franklin–and Canadian singer Taborah Johnson. "Freak" is a slang term for prostitution,[citation needed] as described in the song's lyrics, "...a very kinky girl / The kind you don't take home to mother". Rolling Stone magazine ranked the song #477 in its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[4]

Chart performance[edit]

The song was a big hit for James in 1981, charting on the pop, R&B and dance charts in the US. On the Billboard Hot 100 chart, the song peaked at no. 16 in the fall of 1981 and spent 10 weeks in the top 40. Together with two other singles from Street Songs, "Give It to Me Baby" and "Ghetto Life", it spent three weeks at no. 1 on the American dance charts earlier that year.

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1981–1982) Peak
position
Australia (Kent Music Report)[5] 26
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[6] 2
Belgium (VRT Top 30 Flanders)[7] 4
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[8] 40
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[9] 2
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[10] 3
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[11] 4
US Billboard Hot 100[12] 16
US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play[12] 1
US Billboard Hot Soul Singles[12] 3
US Cash Box[13] 17
US Record World[14] 14

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1981) Position
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[15] 54
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[16] 24
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[17] 26

Cover versions[edit]

Live cover performances[edit]

Sampling[edit]

  • The riff of the song was most popularly sampled in 1990 by MC Hammer in his well known single, "U Can't Touch This". The song was also sampled in Wassuup by Da Muttz in 2001.
  • Hip hop artist GZA/Genius sampled the song on his debut 1991 album Words from the Genius.
  • In 1997, artist Jude's song entitled "Rick James" (no. 28 Billboard Modern Rock Chart) featured the words "Oh, Rick James was the original Super Freak" in its chorus line.
  • The title track of Jay-Z's 2006 comeback album Kingdom Come features a sample from "Super Freak".
  • In the 2007 song "Freaky Gurl" by Gucci Mane, the lines in the chorus pay homage to the original Rick James song.
  • In 2007, French actor/rapper Disiz la Peste released a rap song in French that uses of "Super Freak" as the instrumental backing.
  • In 2013, British singer Lily Allen sampled the song for her single "Hard out Here".

Beatfreakz cover[edit]

In 2006, the Beatfreakz covered the song, as "Superfreak", and gained a no. 7 UK hit with it.

Chart (2006–2007) Peak
position
Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)[18] 5
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Dance Flanders)[18] 8
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[19] 6
France (SNEP)[20] 56
Ireland (IRMA)[21] 20
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[22] 34
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[23] 26
Romania (Romanian Top 100)[24] 66
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[25] 7

In popular culture[edit]

  • The song appears in the soundtrack of the 1983 movie Doctor Detroit.
  • In the 1986 movie Heartbreak Ridge, Mario Van Peebles as Corporal 'Stitch' Jones, sings most of the song before he is thrown out of a bar.
  • In season 4 of The A-Team, Rick James guest stars and performs this song in the episode "The Heart of Rock n Roll."
  • An instrumental version of the song was featured in the 1992 movie Batman Returns.
  • In a 1998 episode of Just Shoot Me!, disappointed to find out she hadn't been the inspiration to the fictional song "Nina in The Cantina", Nina Van Horn found solace in the belief that she was at least the inspiration to Rick James' Super Freak.
  • In the 2002 episode of One on One titled "Me and My Shadow," Flex (Flex Alexander) and Duane (Kelly Perine) decide to have a high school band and Alfonso Ribeiro sings the song.
  • In the 2006 comedy film Little Miss Sunshine, Olive Hoover (Abigail Breslin) performs a burlesque routine to the song at a children's beauty pageant.
  • In an episode of George Lopez, George sings this song to the baby he thinks is in Angie's womb.
  • In season 7 episode 10 of Two and a Half Men a drunk Charlie Harper sings this song at the wedding of his brother Alan.
  • In the 2013 war film Lone Survivor, the song is referenced sporadically.
  • This song is played in the 2010 film Diary Of A Wimpy Kid when Greg is constantly being taken down by Fregley in their wrestling class.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Keyes, Cheryl Lynette (1991). Rappin to the Beat: Rap Music as Street Culture Among African Americans. Indiana University Press. p. 109. Hammer's musical success is predicated on his extensive use of recycled old rhythm and blues tunes as background music in his rap songs, for example, "U Can't Touch This" uses the music from Rick James' "Super Freak" 
  2. ^ "Super Freaky Bluegrass". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media) 119 (13): 48. March 31, 2007. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  3. ^ "RIAA – Gold & Platinum Searchable Database – Super Freak". RIAA. Retrieved July 11, 2014. 
  4. ^ The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (1-500) at the Wayback Machine (archived October 25, 2006). Rolling Stone. RealNetworks. Retrieved July 11, 2014.
  5. ^ "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – Chart Positions Pre 1989 Part 4". Australian-charts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved July 11, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Ultratop.be – Rick James – Super Freak" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved July 14, 2013.
  7. ^ "Super Freak – RICK JAMES" (in Dutch). Top 30. Retrieved July 11, 2014. Hoogste notering in de top 30 : 4 
  8. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 0460." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved July 14, 2013.
  9. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Rick James - Super Freak search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40. Retrieved July 14, 2013.
  10. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Rick James – Super Freak" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved July 14, 2013.
  11. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Rick James – Super Freak". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved July 14, 2013.
  12. ^ a b c "Street Songs – Awards". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved July 14, 2013. 
  13. ^ CASH BOX Top 100 Singles – Week ending OCTOBER 31, 1981 at the Wayback Machine (archived May 11, 2012). Cash Box magazine. Retrieved July 11, 2014.
  14. ^ RECORD WORLD 1981 at the Wayback Machine (archived July 15, 2004). Record World. Geocities.com. Retrieved July 11, 2014.
  15. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 1981" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Hung Medien. Retrieved July 11, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Single Top 100 1981" (PDF) (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved July 11, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1981" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Hung Medien. Retrieved July 11, 2014. 
  18. ^ a b "Ultratop.be – Beatfreakz – Superfreak" (in Dutch). Ultratip. Retrieved July 14, 2013.
  19. ^ "Beatfreakz: Superfreak" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved July 14, 2013.
  20. ^ "Lescharts.com – Beatfreakz – Superfreak" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved July 14, 2013.
  21. ^ "The Irish Charts – All there is to know". Irishcharts.ie. Retrieved July 14, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Beatfreakz - Superfreak search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40. Retrieved July 14, 2013.
  23. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Beatfreakz – Superfreak" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved July 14, 2013.
  24. ^ (Romanian) Issue nr: 48/2006 (04 Decembrie - 10 Decembrie 2006) at the Wayback Machine (archived December 6, 2006). See last week peak position. Romanian Top 100. Retrieved July 11, 2014.
  25. ^ "Archive Chart: 2006-10-21" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved July 14, 2013.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Try It Out" / "Hold Tight" by Gino Soccio
US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play number-one single
(with "Give It to Me Baby" and "Ghetto Life")

July 25, 1981 - August 8, 1981 (3 weeks)
Succeeded by
"I'm in Love" by Evelyn "Champagne" King