Nightshift (song)

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Standard artwork (U.S. vinyl single pictured)
Single by Commodores
from the album Nightshift
B-side"I Keep Running"
ReleasedJanuary 31, 1985
Format7" , 12"
Length5:04 (album version)
4:19 (7" single edit)
Songwriter(s)Walter Orange
Dennis Lambert
Franne Golde
Producer(s)Dennis Lambert
Commodores singles chronology
"Only You"
"Animal Instinct"

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

The verse on Marvin Gaye mentions his song "What's Going On", while the verse on Jackie Wilson mentions his songs "Baby Workout" and "(Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher And Higher".

The song was originally recorded in 1984, and became the first hit attained by the Commodores after Lionel Richie's departure from the group. It was also their biggest hit after Richie's departure, peaking at number three for the week of April 20 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 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 "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.

A revised version of the song was dedicated to Michael Jackson in 2010.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1985) Peak
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
Australia (Kent Music Report) [6] 8
RIANZ New Zealand Top 40 2
Dutch Top 40 [7] 1

Other versions[edit]

A reggae version was recorded by Winston Groovy, with the lyrics changed as a tribute to Bob Marley who had also recorded a song titled "Nightshift".[8]

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

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

In popular culture[edit]

In 2016, MTN South Africa used the song in the advert "Night Shift" as an ode to workers on night duty across the country.[10]


  1. ^ ""Nightshift" The Commodores - 1984". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2014-02-22.
  2. ^ "COMMODORES - full Official Chart History - Official Charts Company". Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  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. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  7. ^ "De Nederlandse Top 40, week 13, 1985". Archived from the original on May 18, 2011. Retrieved 2008-03-01.
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-11. Retrieved 2009-04-01.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "Shazam". Archived from the original on 7 January 2014. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  10. ^ "Howard Audio works the night shift for MTN". Retrieved 5 January 2018.

External links[edit]