Our Top 10 Kool & The Gang Songs list looks back at a band that started out as a funk band and then transcended into a hit making machine for ten straight years. Kool & The Gang’s musical history is quite interesting to look back on. The group sounded like a mix of Earth Wind & Fire, James Brown, and Parliament early on. However in the mid 1970s the hits started coming as their sound took a turn towards pop with heavy r&b and funk dance overtones. The band rode the disco wave very successfully scoring some major disco hits in the late 1970s. The 1980s would prove to be their most successful commercial period with a series of major hit albums and multiple top ten single’s as their music became even more pop friendly.
Our top 10 Kool & The Gang songs list attempts to present all sides of Kool & The Gang. By doing so, there will be some major hits missing from the list such as “Joanna, Cherish, Too Hot,” and many more. However, we thought it was more important to present some of the earlier Kool & The Gang songs that never enjoyed the commercial success that the later songs celebrated, but were in their own right, great recordings.
# 10 – Open Sesame
We open up our top 10 Kool & The Gang Songs list with a track that many fans did not realize was Kool & The Gang the first time they heard the song. This is the disco era at its peak. We are talking Saturday Night Fever here! The story behind the movie and soundtrack to to the film goes way beyond the scope of this article. However, this great Kool & The Gang song written by Robert Bell of Kool & The Gang stands as part of a legendary album. An album that stayed at number one on the Billboard charts for six months straight. An album that stands as the second biggest soundtrack album of all time. An album that infiltrated pop culture on a level of intensity rarely seen. And Kool & The Gang were part of it with this magical song entitled “Open Sesame.”
# 9 – Spirit Of The Boogie
Continuing with our Top 10 Kool & The Gang songs list we turn to the house of funk and boogie. While bands like Parliament and Funkadelic were often crowned the kings of funk and groove, bands like Kool & The Gang did not get the credit they deserved in that category. Often it was because they had so many commercial pop hits that did not always represent their hardcore funk and boogie side. This one surely does.
# 8 – Let The Music Take Your Mind
And yes we continue with the funk side of Kool & The Gang. Those horns sound so good. “Let The Music Take Your Mind,” is early Kool & The Gang. The group sounds a little more like Earth Wind & Fire meets James Brown on this one. The song was released in 1970 on the album Live At The Sex Machine. It was released as the record’s first single. The song became a top 20 hit on the U.S. Billboard R&B Charts. It also broke the Billboard Hot 100 peaking at number seventy eight.
# 7 – The Gang’s Back Again / Kools Back Again
Before we get to the big time commercial Kool & The Gang hits, just one more time we dive into the early part of their career before they before they became a huge commercially successful band. There were some great funk instrumentals released on the band’s first album back in 1969. “The Gang’s Back Again,” was released as a single with “Kools Back Again,” as the B Side. These are both funk instrumentals to light your 70s bell bottom jeans on fire.
# 6 – Music Is The Message
The great track “Music Is The Message,” is sort of a transitional piece for Kool & The Gang. It kind of of previews their upcoming commercially successful years while also holding onto their original funk grooving instrumental side. The song “Music Is The Message,” was released in 1972 on the album also titled Music Is the Message. The song was released as the second single from the album. However, the single failed to break into any of the U.S. Billboard music charts. Still, a great piece of music and one that simply got away.
# 5 – Fresh
As we enter the second half of our top 10 Kool & The Gang songs list, it’s pretty much big time hits the rest of the way. Of course as we said in the intro, Kool & The Gang had so many hits, a top 10 list could simply just not cover them all. So the ones we picked on the rest of this list are chosen from a rubric based on commercial success and simply just great songs. That brings us to the song “Fresh.” This one sports such a “to die for,” mid temp soul groove that everyone loved.
The song “Fresh,” was released in 1984 on the album Emergency. This was an incredibly successful album for Kool & The Gang. The song “Fresh,” was released as the first single from the album. “Fresh,” went to number one on multiple U.S. music charts. It hit number one on Billboard’s R&B music chart. It also hit number one on Billboard’s Dance music chart. Additionally, it was a top 10 single on the Billboard Hot 100. The album would spawn four singles all together with three of them ” Fresh, Cherish and Misled” breaking the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. That’s a super successful commercial album.
# 4 – Hollywood Swinging
The great Kool & The Gang song “Hollywood Swinging” served as an important milestone in the band’s career. It would become Kool & The Gang’s first number one single as “Hollywood Swinging” hit number one in the U.S. Billboard R&B chart in 1974. The song was released as the follow up single to their smash hit “Jungle Boogie.” The song was released on the album Wild And Peaceful. “Hollywood Swinging” was a great track with a groove that would inspire countless bands and artists for years to come.
# 3 – Ladies Night
If there ever was a song with such a perfect title that could be used forever in nightclubs it was Kool & The Gang’s “Ladies Night.” The song was released in 1979 on the Kool & The Gang album also titled Ladies Night. The song was a great success for the band. “Ladies Night,” broke the Billboard Hot 100’s top 10 list peaking at number eight. Yet, the song had even greater success on the Billboard R&B charts where it hit number one.
# 2 – Celebration
It was a tough choice for us to choose between the next two songs on our Kool & The Gang songs list for the number one spot. At number two is the song that many would easily argue is Kool & The Gang’s most successful song of their career. Kool & The Gang’s “Celebration,” would become the group’s first and only number one single on the Billboard Hot 100. That’s a big deal. Not only did it become the group’s only number one song, it became a party anthem for multiple generations. There are not many parties one will attend that the song “Celebration,” is not played. Should it have been the number one song on this list? Probably; however we liked the next one just a little bit more.
# 1 – Jungle Boogie
We close out our Top 10 Kool & The Gang song list with the all time great funk song entitled “Jungle Boogie.” This song was huge when it was first released in the 1970s. There was nothing else on the radio when it was first released that sounded as funky as this one. The song is fueled by some of the most intense and brilliant horn lines ever put down on vinyl. The song was released on Kool & The Gang’s 1973 album entitled Wild and Peaceful. “Jungle Boogie,” was the second single released from the album at the end of 1973. The song would become a massive hit for the band and rule the airwaves during the winter of 1974.
“Jungle Boogie,” would rise all the way to the number four position on the Billboard Hot 100. It would just miss the number one spot on the Billboard R&B charts peaking at number two. Kool & The Gang would go on and have bigger hits than “Jungle Boogie.” However, for us here at ClassicRockHistory.com, “Jungle Boogie,” will always be our favorite.
Feature Photo at the top of the page – Photo: Joe Bielawa from MInneapolis, USA, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Top 10 Kool & The Gang Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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