Atomic Dog

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"Atomic Dog"
US picture sleeve
Single by George Clinton
from the album Computer Games
B-side"Loopzilla", "Man's Best Friend"
ReleasedDecember 1982
  • 4:15 (7-inch single version)
  • 4:42 (LP and instrumental versions)
  • 10:00 (Atomic mix)
  • George Clinton
  • Ted Currier
George Clinton singles chronology
"Atomic Dog"
"Nubian Nut"
Music video
"Atomic Dog" on YouTube

"Atomic Dog" is a song by George Clinton, released by Capitol Records in December 1982, as the second and final single from his studio album, Computer Games (1982). It became the P-Funk collective's last to reach #1 on the U.S. R&B Chart. The single failed to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 although it has attained a level of stature since then, partly due to having been sampled in several hip hop songs.


George Clinton's P-Funk reached its commercial and conceptual height during the late 1970s after the release of Mothership Connection and a series of spectacular concert tours. Each of these concerts ended with a climactic descent of a giant spaceship from the rafters. However, as the band and their concept of funk grew, the organization became entangled in internal dissension, legal disputes, and creative exhaustion.[1] "Atomic Dog" was the P-Funk collective's last single to reach #1 on the U.S. R&B chart.

According to Clinton, most of the song's lyrics were ad-libbed during the recording process.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

"Atomic Dog" is regarded a classic in black popular music.[3] The song's music video was nominated two Billboard Video Music Awards, one for best special effects, and another for best art direction.[4] However, the video lost to Billy Joel's "Pressure" and Herbie Hancock's "Rockit" respectively.[5]


Chart (1983)[6] Peak
UK Singles Chart 94
U.S. Billboard Hot Black Singles 1
U.S. Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 1

In popular culture[edit]

The song has been included in trailers and TV spots for many films (many dog-related), including 101 Dalmatians, 102 Dalmatians, Rugrats Go Wild, Hotel for Dogs, The Shaggy Dog, Finn on the Fly, Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Boomerang, Scooby-Doo, Menace II Society, Trolls World Tour, Turner & Hooch, and Joe Dirt. The song also appears in a 2019 TV commercial for Etrade.[7]

Copyright lawsuit[edit]

"Atomic Dog" was the subject of Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. UMG, Inc., et al. (Case No. 07-5596, 6th Cir. 2009),[8] a lawsuit filed in 2007 by the holders of the composition rights to "Atomic Dog" against the producers of "D.O.G. in Me," a song recorded by the R&B and hip-hop group Public Announcement and included on their 1998 album, All Work, No Play. In its complaint, Bridgeport claimed that "D.O.G. in Me" infringed its copyright by repeating the phrase, "Bow wow wow, yippie yo, yippie yea" and the sound of rhythmic panting throughout the song, and by repeating the word "dog" in a low tone of voice at regular intervals as a form of musical punctuation. A jury found that the defendants had willfully infringed Bridgeport's rights and awarded statutory damages of $88,980. In a November 2009 decision affirming the lower court ruling, Circuit Judge Martha Craig Daughtry of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit described the circumstances surrounding the creation of "Atomic Dog":

Songwriters David Spradley, Garry Shider, and George Clinton created "Atomic Dog" in a recording studio in January 1982, working without a written score... Testimony at trial indicated that the song was composed spontaneously – Spradley recorded the initial tracks in the studio and recalled that "when George arrived he had been partying pretty heavily so he was, you know, feeling pretty good," and was unsteady at the microphone. Spradley and Garry Shider "got on either side of him. We just kind of kept him in front of the microphone" while Clinton recorded the vocal tracks that same night... Testimony by David Spradley... also demonstrated that Clinton exercised some degree of creative control over the panting by instructing the performers to create a certain rhythm.

The court further described the "Bow Wow refrain" as the best-known aspect of the song – "in terms of iconology, perhaps the functional equivalent of 'E.T. phone home'" – and held that the jury did not act unreasonably in concluding that there was substantial similarity between the two works.


  1. ^ ""Making it Funky" by Ted Friedman". Archived from the original on February 27, 2012. Retrieved September 10, 2009.
  2. ^ George Clinton, Still Radiating the Funk
  3. ^ "BET's 25 Influential Hip Hop Samples"
  4. ^ "Billboard Congratulates the Video Music Awards Nominees" (PDF). Billboard. Vol. 89. November 5, 1983. p. 36. Retrieved May 4, 2019.
  5. ^ "Jackson Cops Five Music Vid Awards" (PDF). Billboard. Vol. 89. November 26, 1983. p. 1. Retrieved May 4, 2019.
  6. ^ "UK & US Chart History". Retrieved May 25, 2020.
  7. ^ "E*TRADE Core Portfolios TV Commercial, 'Cruise Control' Song By George Clinton". Retrieved April 30, 2019.
  8. ^ U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (November 4, 2009). "Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. UMG, Inc., et al. (Case No. 07-5596)" (PDF).
  • Bulmer, John. Devil Music: Race, Class, and Rock And Roll. Troy, New York: Russell Sage College Press.
  • Friedman, Ted. "Making it Funky: The Signifyin(g) Politics of George Clinton's Parliafunkadelicment Thang".1993.
  • Vincent, Rickey. Funk: The Music, The People, and the Rhythm of One. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1996. ISBN 0-312-13499-1.

External links[edit]