Flash Light (song)

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This article is about the song by Parliament. For the song by DJ Fresh, see Flashlight (DJ Fresh song).
"Flash Light"
German picture sleeve for the single "Flash Light"
Single by Parliament
from the album Funkentelechy Vs. the Placebo Syndrome
B-side "Swing Down Sweet Chariot"
Released January 1978
Format Vinyl 7" 45 rpm
Recorded 1977
Genre Funk

10:42 (extended 12-inch (300 mm) version)
5:46 (album version)

4:28 (single version)
Label Casablanca NB 909
Writer(s) George Clinton/Bootsy Collins/Bernie Worrell
Producer(s) George Clinton

"Flash Light" is a song by funk band Parliament, written by George Clinton, Bernie Worrell and Bootsy Collins and released in January 1978 on the album Funkentelechy Vs. the Placebo Syndrome.[1] It was the first number-one R&B hit by any of the P-Funk groups and spent sixteen weeks at #16 on the Pop charts.[2][1] The track became Parliament's second certified million-selling single, following "Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker)."[3] "Flash Light" also gave Casablanca Records its first number-one R&B hit.

The song's distinctive bass line is often attributed to Bootsy Collins and was originally written for him. However, Collins rejected the part and Bernie Worrell created the line on at least three, possibly four connected Minimoog synthesizers. Worrell also played all the song's keyboard parts.[4] The New York Times described Worrell's synthesized bass as "[a] descending and ascending chromatic line with a meaty tone and a certain swagger, an approach that would spread through funk, new wave, electro, synth-pop and countless other iterations."[5]

Collins contributed to the track by handling drum duties while his older brother Catfish Collins played rhythm guitar. Lead vocals were by bandleader Clinton. Clinton credited Worrell with the idea of composing the song under a motif. Starting out as a jam, Clinton recorded multiple tracks, layering up to 50 voices within the theme of an inclusive love song. The "Da da da dee da da da" chant was based on a chant from a dance at a bar mitzvah party that Clinton had heard from a friend.[6]

"Flash Light" continued the "Fake the Funk/Your nose will grow/Sir Nose D'Voidoffunk" concept that began with Bootsy's Rubber Band's "The Pinocchio Theory." Its success would greatly influence not only funk music, but also new wave and hip-hop.[7] The Houston Press ranked "Flash Light" as Clinton's most sampled song, finding more than 60 uses, including on Aaliyah's "Back and Forth" and UGK's "Protect and Serve."[8] "Flash Light" was rated #75 in Tablet Magazine's list of 100 Best Jewish Songs.[9] Rolling Stone ranked "Flash Light" #202 on its 2011 list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[1]

In film and television[edit]

Clinton recorded a duet version of the song called "Flashlight (Spaceflight)" for the 1999 film Muppets from Space along with Bill Barreta as Pepe the King Prawn. The original song was featured in the 1996 film Set It Off and the 2005 film Roll Bounce but wasn't included on the official soundtrack for each respective film. However, it is featured both on the soundtrack to and in the 2015 biopic film, Straight Outta Compton. The song was in a scene from the CSI episode "Killer Moves" as well as a commercial for Grand Theft Auto V in 2014. The song was also used in the 2017 Kids' Choice Awards spot of the film Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2


  1. ^ a b c (April 7, 2011). "500 Greatest Songs of All Time," Rolling Stone. Retrieved on September 29, 2016.
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). "Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004," Record Research, Menomonee Falls, WI. ISBN 0898201608
  3. ^ Parliament Gold & Platinum albums and singles. RIAA Gold & Platinum database. Retrieved on September 29, 2016.
  4. ^ Pareles, Jon. (November 1, 2010) "Honoring the Moment When Music Met Moog," The New York Times. Retrieved on September 29, 2016.
  5. ^ Pareles, Jon. (June 24, 2016) "Bernie Worrell, Whose Keyboards Left an Imprint on Funk and Hip-Hop, Dies at 72," The New York Times. Retrieved on October 4, 2016.
  6. ^ Reid, Vernon (2007). The Vibe Q: Raw and Uncut, p. 45. Dafina, Kensington Publishing Corp., New York, New York. ISBN 1601830025. (from original interview with George Clinton entitled, "Brother From Another Planet," (November, 1993)
  7. ^ Deggans, Eric (June 25, 2016). "Bernie Worrell: The Most Influential Keyboardist You've Probably Never Heard Of," NPR All Things Considered. Retrieved on October 4, 2016.
  8. ^ Avery, Justin (February 20, 2013). "Top 5 Most Sampled George Clinton Songs," Houston Press. Retrieved on October 4, 2016.
  9. ^ Rosen, Jody and Kelman, Ari Y. (December 21, 2010)."Song of Songs - 100 Best Jewish Songs," Tablet Magazine. Retrieved on October 5, 2016
Preceded by
"It's You That I Need" by Enchantment
Billboard Hot Soul Singles number-one single
March 4–25, 1978
Succeeded by
"Bootzilla" by Bootsy's Rubber Band