Our Top 10 Top 10 George Clinton Songs list presents ten of George Clinton’s most popular and inspiring songs from the all-time funk master. We, as fans, know George Clinton as a member of the Parliament-Funkadelic collective. Some of us know him for his solo work that began in 1982 with Computer Games. Before hip-hop and G-funk became standardized genres, it was Clinton who was among the key influencers who shaped the future of the genre’s music with his funky style.
Styling a New Era
Born on July 22, 1941, in Kannapolis, North Carolina, George Clinton spent most of his childhood growing up in Plainfield, New Jersey. As a teenager, he formed a doo-wop group called The Parliaments. This came after he was inspired by Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers. At the time, he and his group performed at a barbershop he partly owned known as Silk Palace. This was a popular location for musicians to hang out during the 1950s and the 1960s. It was during an era when the barbershop quartet music scene seemed to experience an upgrade that ventured into doo-wop, funk, rock, and soul music. It was also during the 1960s George Clinton worked as a songwriter for Motown. As a recording artist, he met with commercial success and failure just before a new decade, the 1970s, hit.
Going into 1982, he embarked on a career as a solo artist that often featured collaborations with his former bandmates. What should have been a solid, scandal-free career found itself embroiled in several legal battles against Bridgeport Music. The company from Michigan was cited for illegally obtaining the copyright to Clinton’s music, along with the royalties that come with it. He was one of many artists who found themselves on the receiving end of what remains a controversial issue to this day.
Aside from woes with Bridgeport, George Clinton signed up with Capitol Records in 1982 as two different entities. The first was as a solo artist while the second was as P-Funk All-Stars. While with the label, he recorded and released four studio albums in total. The first was Computer Games. The album produced two hits, namely “Atomic Dog” and “Loopzilla.” This was followed by You Shouldn’t-Nuf Bit Fish, then Some of My Best Jokes Are Friends, and then R&B Skeletons in the Closet. He also produced a live album, Mothership Connection, which featured a live recording while he performed in Houston, Texas. In addition to recording his own music, George Clinton continued as a songwriter for other artists, as well as television. In 1997, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the sixteen members of Parliament-Funkadelic to do so. In 2019, the supergroup was recognized by the Grammy Awards for Lifetime Achievement.
The popularity of George Clinton’s music since the 1960s influenced several upcoming recording artists that made a niche out of producing hip-hop and rap songs. Much of it was sampled into their material as they came forth with their own brand of music. Unfortunately, this was sometimes met with legal issues with Bridgeport Music as their claim to own Clinton’s music would come up in lawsuits against artists such as Jay Z, N.W.A., Public Enemy, and The Notorious B.I.G. In the meantime, Clinton continued releasing his own material. Between 1989 to 2008, he recorded and released six studio albums. He also kept busy as an actor and host in various movies and televised programs. One of his most recent television appearances was assuming the role of Gopher during the 2022 season of The Masked Singer.
Top 10 George Clinton Songs
#10 – You’re Thinking Right
In 1987, The Tracey Ullman Show had a theme song that was written by George Clinton. “You’re Thinking Right” was his creation as a songwriter. This was a great tune to rev up the audience to tune in and enjoy a televised program that ran from 1987 until 1990. The show itself was sketch comedy, combined with musical acts and dance numbers. Clinton’s musical composition was perfect as a funky number to get each episode started with whatever theme came to mind, episode for episode.
#9 – One Nation Under A Groove
Continuing with our top 10 George Clinton songs is the legendary musical recording “One Nation Under A Groove. While this one is considered a Funkadelic recording as opposed to a solo George Clinton track, we thought it was too important not to list. This one stands as one of his most memorable songs and easily one of his classics that inspired generations of musicians. Nile Rogers and Bernard Edwards of Chic were listening closely to this one. The song was released in 1978.
#8 – Paint the White House Black
As an EP and as a single, “Paint the White House Black” was a collaborated song that featured a collection of hip-hop and rap artists who worked with George Clinton in a single that failed to chart but earned its place as a fan favorite. Coming across as an angry song, that’s exactly what the intent was behind it. Clinton made a name for himself as a political activist every bit as much as he did a musical performer. While some applauded him for his views, others didn’t and this often played a factor in the man’s career as a recording artist. It became an anthemic number among a community that felt the same as he did when this song first came out. The song itself is controversial with its lyrical content but sometimes that’s what turns a song from mediocracy to greatness. If a song isn’t able to move a person, regardless of its direction, then it’s easily forgotten. “Paint the White House Back” remains as a solid fan favorite, especially among political and social activists who hope to make a difference that works in their favor.
#7 – Double Oh Oh
What George Clinton did in the 1980s was upgrade the songs he and his P-Funk associates had in the 1970s. Done George Clinton style, “Double Oh Oh” was a song that made good use of the influence of the new sounds that came through with synthesizers and digital music sounds that seemed to funk up psychedelic rock to a whole new level. “Double Oh Oh” came from Clinton’s 1985 album, Some of My Best Jokes Are Friends. The song made a playful, political reference to a sexy double agent who was serving two different countries at the same time.
#6 – Last Dance
“Last Dance” peaked as high as number twenty-six on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart as a single released from the You Shouldn’t-Nuf Bit Fish album. This 1983 recording was the second of two hits from George Clinton that earned him recognition on the official music chart. This song was designed as an upgraded dance number from the 1970s to the 1980s, which became a favorite in the clubs that dove into the mix of funk and psychedelic music, along with rap as it gained popularity as a genre. This led to the spark of G-funk and hip-hop, two musical styles that would heavily influence the direction of music straight into the twenty-first century.
#5 – Nubian Nut
On the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, “Nubian Nut” became a number fifteen hit after it was released as a single in 1983. This came from George Clinton’s second album, You Shouldn’t-Nuf Bit Fish. According to Clinton, King Nubian held the key to the funky future of mankind and it was up to his supporters to back him up to make that happen.
#4 – If Anybody Gets Funked Up (It’s Gonna Be You)
Technically, “If Anybody Gets Funked Up (It’s Gonna Be You)” was released as a single by George Clinton & the P-Funk All-Stars. However, this was his comeback hit, ten years after “Do Fries Come with That Shake?” was released in 1986. Although Clinton continued to write music and produce singles in the meantime, it wasn’t until this song from his 1996 album, T.A.P.O.A.F.O.M., would put an end to his chart-hitting drought. On the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, it peaked as high as number thirteen.
On the UK Singles Chart, it was a number ninety-seven hit. For Clinton, this served as a reunion album as he and his former P-Funk bandmates decided to work together for the first time in several years. The lineup featured Bootsy Collins, Junie Morrison, Maceo Parker, Fred Wesley, and Bernie Worrell. Some of these once upon a time worked with Clinton in the past while others had yet to collaborate with the man as Parliament-Funkadelic. As for “If Anybody Gets Funked Up,” MC Breed and Eric Sermon were the rappers who joined Clinton in this somewhat colorful song about getting messed up, P-Funk style.
#3 – Loopzilla
Released in 1982 from Computer Games, “Loopzilla” was George Clinton’s first single as a solo artist since his Parliament-Funkadelic days. On the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, it became a number nineteen hit. In the 2004 video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, “Loopzilla” was one of the songs featured as part of its soundtrack. Clinton also served as a deejay for one of the game’s radio stations. The influence of “Loopzilla” came from “I Can’t Help Myself (Suger Pie Honey Bunch)” from the Four Tops. One can also hear some of the funky blends that came from his supergroup as he turned this song into a psychedelic fan favorite. As a song, “Loopzilla” criticized the radio stations for overplaying some songs while ignoring others in what felt like unimaginative programming.
# 2- Do Fries Come with That Shake?
From R&B Skeletons in the Closet, “Do Fries Come with That Shake?” became George Clinton’s fourth hit on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. In 1986, it peaked as high as number thirteen there while on the UK Singles Chart, it became a number fifty-six hit. This would be the final time Clinton would realize a hit as a solo artist until 1996. In 1997, it was used as one of the songs featured in 1997’s movie, Good Burger. Not one to shy away from suggestive humor, Clinton’s music video for this song featured an altered version of the classic fairytale, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.
#1 – Atomic Dog
“Atomic Dog” became George Clinton’s best-known hit, as well as his best-selling. Released as the second single from his debut solo album, Computer Games, this 1982 classic became a number-one hit on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, as well as a number ninety-four hit on the UK Singles Chart. With the help of some of his old P-Funk colleagues, Clinton’s canine-themed song was highlighted with the infamous “bow-wow-wow” hook that sounded like a metallic dog attempting to sound like a cowboy. At first, radio stations were reluctant to play “Atomic Dog” as Clinton’s name was dragged through the mud in the music industry due to the legal issues he was experiencing at the time. He was also politically outspoken, to the point where he often drew controversy to himself in a manner that played a role in this song’s potential to become even more successful. It fell just shy of making an appearance on the US Billboard Hot 100 but it did go down in history over time as a major fan favorite. As a music video, this is where “Atomic Dog” really became popular, thanks to the special effects it used at the time. Since its release, it became one of the theme songs for Maddie, the canine mascot representing the women’s basketball team, New York Liberty.
Top 10 George Clinton Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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