September (Earth, Wind & Fire song)

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"September"
The single sleeve features the musicians standing side-by-side, mostly wearing suits and smiling
Single by Earth, Wind & Fire
from the album The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1
B-side
  • "Love's Holiday"
  • "Can't Hide Love"
ReleasedNovember 18, 1978 (1978-11-18)
RecordedSeptember 1978
Genre
Length3:35
LabelARC/Columbia
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Maurice White
Earth, Wind & Fire singles chronology
"Got to Get You into My Life"
(1978)
"September"
(1978)
"Boogie Wonderland"
(1979)
Music video
"September" on YouTube

"September" is a song by the American band Earth, Wind & Fire released as a single in 1978 on ARC/Columbia Records.[1] Initially included as a track for The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1, "September" was very successful commercially and reached No. 1 on the US Billboard Hot R&B Songs chart, No. 8 on the US Billboard Hot 100,[2] and No. 3 on the UK Singles Chart.[3] The song remains a staple of the band's body of work and has been sampled, covered, remixed, and re-recorded numerous times.

It was added to the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry list of sound recordings that "are culturally, historically, or aesthetically important" in 2018.[4]

Composition[edit]

"September" is in the key of A major with a tempo of 126 beats per minute in common time. The vocals span from A2 to E5.[5][6]

Using a chord progression written by Earth, Wind & Fire guitarist Al McKay, vocalist Maurice White and songwriter Allee Willis wrote the song over one month. Willis was initially bothered by the gibberish "ba-dee-ya" lyric White used through the song, and begged him to rewrite it: "I just said, 'What the fuck does 'ba-dee-ya' mean?' And he essentially said, 'Who the fuck cares?' I learned my greatest lesson ever in songwriting from him, which was never let the lyric get in the way of the groove."[7] The song was included on the band's first compilation—The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1—solely to boost sales with original content.[8]

Although several theories about the significance of the date have been suggested, the songwriter Maurice White claimed he simply chose the 21st due to how it sounded when sung.[9] His wife, Marilyn White, however, claimed that September 21 was the due date of their son, Kahbran, according to lyricist Allee Willis.[10]

Personnel[edit]

Reception[edit]

"September" has been one of the biggest commercial and critical successes of Earth, Wind & Fire's career. The song was certified silver by the British Phonographic Industry and certified gold in the US (until the RIAA lowered the sales levels for certified singles in 1989, a Gold single equaled 1 million units sold.) "September" was later certified Gold for digital sales by the RIAA,[11][12][13] and has sold over 2 million digital copies in the US as of September 2017.[14] Earth, Wind & Fire recorded a new version of the song, retitled "December", for their 2014 Christmas album Holiday.

In 2021, Rolling Stone included "September" at No. 65 on their updated list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time."[15]

Cultural impact[edit]

In the 2006 film Night at the Museum, "September" is played on the last scene before the end credits.

In the United Kingdom the song has been popular as the basis of football chants at a number of clubs: according to a Guardian article this originated at Newcastle United F.C. where fans started singing a chant about player Chancel Mbemba in the autumn of 2015.[16] It was also adapted by fans of the England national football team at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia: "Woah, England are in Russia / Woah, drinking all the vodka / Woah, England’s going all the way".[17]

A version featuring the band accompanied by Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake is featured in the 2016 film Trolls. It was released on September 23, 2016, as part of the Trolls: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.

The 2014 Big Sean single "IDFWU" uses a slowed-down sample of the "ba-dee-ya" chorus in its closing ad-libs.

The 2019 film Polar features the song playing during its opening sequence, with the characters singing along to it together after pulling off a successful hit.

The song is one of six randomly-selected songs that may play on the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind roller coaster, which opened in May of 2022 at Walt Disney World’s EPCOT theme park.

Comedian Demi Adejuyigbe is known for creating annual videos of himself dancing to the song on September 21; he began this tradition in 2016 and each year receives millions of YouTube views.[18][19][20]

"September '99"[edit]

"September '99"
A black silhouette of a woman's body on an orange background
Single by Earth, Wind & Fire
from the album The Ultimate Collection
Released1999
GenreDance-pop, house
Length3:43
LabelColumbia
Songwriter(s)Maurice White, Allee Willis, Al McKay
Producer(s)Maurice White
Earth, Wind & Fire singles chronology
"When Love Goes Wrong"
(1997)
"September '99"
(1999)
"All in the Way"
(2003)
Music video
"September 99" on YouTube

A remix of the song called "September '99" was issued in 1999 on Columbia Records.[21] The single reached No. 1 on the RPM Canadian Dance Songs chart, No. 4 on the UK Dance Chart and No. 25 on the UK Singles Chart.[22][23][24][25]

The song was remixed by English dance music duo Phats and Small[26] and was included on EWF's 1999 compilation album The Ultimate Collection.[21]

Kirk Franklin version[edit]

"September"
Single by Kirk Franklin
from the album Interpretations: Celebrating the Music of Earth, Wind & Fire
Released2007
GenreR&B, gospel
LabelStax
Songwriter(s)Maurice White, Allee Willis, Al McKay
Producer(s)Maurice White
Kirk Franklin singles chronology
"Look at Me Now"
(2006)
"September"
(2007)
"Declaration (This Is It)"
(2007)
Music video
"September" on YouTube

Kirk Franklin released a cover of "September" in 2007 on Stax Records.[27] The song reached No. 17 on the Billboard Adult R&B Songs chart and No. 26 on the Billboard Hot Gospel Songs chart.[28][29]

Overview[edit]

Frankin's rendition was produced by Maurice White and appears on the 2007 tribute album Interpretations: Celebrating the Music of Earth, Wind & Fire.[1]

Critical reception[edit]

Steve Jones of USA Today wrote: "Franklin turns the energetic 'September' into a gospel-fueled romp."[30] James Christopher Monger of AllMusic found "Kirk Franklin offering up an impeccable, if nearly identical rendition of 'September'."[31] Mike Joseph of PopMatters said "Kirk Franklin takes the band's 'September' (literally, by sampling the original version) and refashions it into an anthem of survival, using 'September' as a metaphor for a time when things aren't going so well, and using his talented choir of singers to give the lyrics a jubilant reading."[32] People exclaimed "Kirk Franklin turns 'September' into a rousing celebration of faith."[33]

Charts[edit]

Sales and certifications[edit]

Sales certifications for "September"
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[77] 6× Platinum 420,000double-dagger
Denmark (IFPI Danmark)[78] Platinum 90,000double-dagger
Italy (FIMI)[79] Platinum 50,000double-dagger
Japan (RIAJ)[80]
Full-length ringtone
Gold 100,000*
Mexico (AMPROFON)[81] 3× Platinum+Gold 210,000double-dagger
United Kingdom (BPI)[82] 2× Platinum 1,200,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[83]
Physical release
Gold 1,000,000^
United States (RIAA)[84] 6× Platinum 6,000,000double-dagger

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Earth, Wind & Fire: September. ARC/Columbia Records. 1978.
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–2004. Record Research. p. 179.
  3. ^ Dean, Maury (2003). Rock N' Roll Gold Rush. Algora. p. 289. ISBN 0-87586-207-1.
  4. ^ "National Recording Registry". Library of Congress. Retrieved February 10, 2021.
  5. ^ White, Maurice (June 21, 1999). "Earth Wind & Fire "September" Sheet Music in F# Minor (transposable) – Download & Print". Musicnotes.com. Retrieved June 10, 2017.
  6. ^ "September – Earth, Wind & Fire – Spot On Track". www.spotontrack.com. Retrieved June 10, 2017.
  7. ^ "The Song That Never Ends: Why 'September' Sustains". NPR.org. Retrieved April 15, 2018.
  8. ^ Myers, Marc (September 3, 2019). "Do You Remember? The Message in Earth, Wind & Fire's 'September'". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved September 20, 2019.
  9. ^ Charnas, Dan (September 19, 2014). "The Song That Never Ends: Why Earth, Wind & Fire's 'September' Sustains". Morning Edition.
  10. ^ Myers, Marc (September 3, 2019). "Do You Remember? The Message in Earth, Wind & Fire's 'September'". Wall Street Journal.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Recording Industry Association of America. Archived from the original on May 10, 2014. Retrieved March 29, 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "Rock Music, etc., Terms". spider.georgetowncollege.edu. Archived from the original on May 18, 2011. Retrieved March 23, 2009.
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 4, 2011. Retrieved October 19, 2010.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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  16. ^ MacInnes, Paul (November 23, 2017). "When a terrace tune goes viral: the hunt for the source of the September chant". theguardian.com. Retrieved July 11, 2018.
  17. ^ Simpson, Dave (July 11, 2018). "Why Atomic Kitten and Earth, Wind & Fire became England's World Cup chants". theguardian.com. Retrieved July 11, 2018.
  18. ^ Dessem, Matthew (September 21, 2019). "Celebrate the 21st of September With Demi Adejuyigbe's Videos About the 21st of September". Slate Magazine.
  19. ^ Romano, Aja (September 21, 2018). "Do you remember the very best meme of September?". Vox.
  20. ^ "Demi Adejuyigbe keeps it cool with this year's now-traditional Sept. 21 dance". News.
  21. ^ a b Earth, Wind & Fire: September 99. Columbia Records. 1999.
  22. ^ "RPM Top Dance". bac-lac.gc.ca. Vol. 70, no. 7. RPM. December 6, 1999.
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  26. ^ "Phats & Small". allmusic.com.
  27. ^ Kirk Franklin: September. Stax Records. 2007.
  28. ^ "Kirk Franklin: September (Adult R&B Songs)". Billboard.
  29. ^ "Kirk Franklin: September (Hot Gospel Songs)". Billboard.
  30. ^ Jones, Steve (June 19, 2007). "Various Artists: Interpretations: Celebrating the Music of Earth, Wind and Fire". USA Today. USA Today.
  31. ^ Monger Christopher, James. "Various Artists: Interpretations Celebrating the Music of Earth, Wind & Fire". allmusic.com. Allmusic.
  32. ^ Joseph, Mike (June 18, 2007). "Various Artists: Interpretations". popmatters.com. Popmatters.
  33. ^ Arnold, Chuck; Stoynoff, Natasha; Herndon, Jessica (April 16, 2007). "Picks and Pans Review: Quick Cuts". People. People.
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  39. ^ "Toutes les Chansons N° 1 des Années 70" (in French). InfoDisc. March 2, 1979. Retrieved December 22, 2019.
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  59. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – September". Irish Singles Chart.
  60. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Earth, Wind & Fire" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  61. ^ "Earth, Wind & Fire – September 99 (Phats & Small Remix)" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  62. ^ "Earth, Wind & Fire – September 99 (Phats & Small Remix)". VG-lista.
  63. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 8, 2018.
  64. ^ "Earth, Wind & Fire – September 99 (Phats & Small Remix)". Singles Top 100.
  65. ^ "Earth, Wind & Fire – September 99 (Phats & Small Remix)". Swiss Singles Chart.
  66. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  67. ^ "Official Dance Singles Chart Top 40". Official Charts Company. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  68. ^ "Earth, Wind & Fire – September" (in French). Les classement single.
  69. ^ "Most Broadcast of 1999: Pop Top 20 Tracks of 1999" (PDF). Music Week. January 22, 2000. p. 32. Retrieved April 24, 2022.
  70. ^ "Australian Chart Book". Austchartbook.com.au. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved October 13, 2016.
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  75. ^ "Cash Box Year-End Charts: Top 100 Pop Singles, December 29, 1979". Archived from the original on July 13, 2014. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  76. ^ "Jaarlijsten 1999" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved May 12, 2022.
  77. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2021 Singles" (PDF). Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved February 3, 2022.
  78. ^ "Danish single certifications – Earth, Wind & Fire – September". IFPI Danmark. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  79. ^ "Italian single certifications – Earth, Wind & Fire – September" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved November 27, 2017. Select "2017" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "September" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Singoli" under "Sezione".
  80. ^ "Japanese ringtone certifications – Earth, Wind & Fire – September" (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan. Retrieved February 28, 2021. Select 2013年4月 on the drop-down menu
  81. ^ "Certificaciones" (in Spanish). Asociación Mexicana de Productores de Fonogramas y Videogramas. Retrieved October 24, 2020. Type Earth Wind & Fire in the box under the ARTISTA column heading and September in the box under the TÍTULO column heading.
  82. ^ "British single certifications – Earth Wind & Fire – September". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
  83. ^ "American single certifications – Earth, Wind & Fire – September". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
  84. ^ "American single certifications – Earth, Wind & Fire – September". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved September 22, 2020.

External links[edit]