Nightshift (song)

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This article is about Commodores single. For Commodores album of same name, see Nightshift (album).
For other uses, see Night Shift (disambiguation).
Standard artwork (U.S. vinyl single pictured)
Single by Commodores
from the album Nightshift
B-side "I Keep Running"
Released January 31, 1985
Genre Soul
Length 5:04 (album version)
4:19 (7" single edit)
Label Motown
Writer(s) Walter Orange
Dennis Lambert
Franne Golde
Producer(s) Dennis Lambert
Commodores singles chronology
"Only You"
"Animal Instinct"

"Nightshift" is a 1985 hit song by the Commodores and the title track from the eleventh album of the same name. The song, written by then lead singer Walter Orange in collaboration with Dennis Lambert and Franne Golde, was a tribute to soul/R&B singers Jackie Wilson and Marvin Gaye, who both died in 1984. The single was released on January 31, 1985 in the United States.[1]

For the Marvin Gaye verse his song "What's Going On" is mentioned, while in the Jackie Wilson verse his song "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher" is mentioned, as well as a reference to Wilson's hit "Baby Work Out".

This song, which was originally recorded in 1984, was the first hit attained by the Commodores following Lionel Richie's departure from the group. It was also their biggest hit after Richie's departure, peaking at number three on both the Billboard Hot 100 and UK Singles Chart,[2] and rising to number one on the Hot Black Singles chart; the single also became a huge success on the Adult Contemporary and the Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales charts in the first half of that year.[3][4]

Although the band was against the label's decision to release it as a single,[5] it won a Grammy Award in 1985 for Best Vocal R&B Performance by a Duo/Group. The song features a lead vocal from drummer Walter Orange, who had sung lead years earlier on the hugely popular "Brick House". Lionel Richie's replacement, J.D. Nicholas, sings the second verse and then Orange and Nicholas share lead vocals on the remaining choruses.

The Commodores recorded another version in 2010, dedicating it to Michael Jackson.[6] In this version Jackson's hit with The Jackson 5, "I'll Be There", and his solo hit "Rock With You" are mentioned in the lyrics.

The song was also parodied by the band as "11 Alive" on a 1985 commercial for NBC affiliate WXIA-TV in Atlanta, Georgia.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1985) Peak
Dutch Top 40 1[7]
UK Top 75 3
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 3
U.S. Billboard Hot Black Singles 1
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales 6
U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary 2
RIANZ New Zealand Top 40 2

Other versions[edit]

A reggae version was recorded by Winston Groovy, with the lyrics changed as a tribute to Bob Marley.[8]

Dexys Midnight Runners covered the song on their 2012 live album At The Royal Court.

American Idol and Grammy Award winner Fantasia sampled the song for her single "Lose to Win".

South African group Dr Victor and the Rasta Rebels recorded a reggae version, which appears on their greatest hits album.[9]


  1. ^ ""Nightshift" The Commodores - 1984". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2014-02-22. 
  2. ^ The Commodores on the UK Singles Chart
  3. ^ "Commodores Artist Biography by Craig Lytle - Awards". Retrieved 2014-02-22. 
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 130. 
  5. ^ John Leland (June 1985). Singles - Commodores "Nightshift" (Motown). Spin. p. 36. Retrieved 2010-08-22. 
  6. ^ Commodores Re-record "Nightshift" As MJ Tribute
  7. ^ "De Nederlandse Top 40, week 13, 1985". Archived from the original on May 18, 2011. Retrieved 2008-03-01. 
  8. ^ Winston Groovys Nightshift lyrics
  9. ^ Retrieved 7 January 2014

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Missing You" by Diana Ross
Billboard Hot Black Singles number one single
March 16, 1985 - April 6, 1985
Succeeded by
"Back In Stride" by Maze featuring Frankie Beverly