“Y.M.C.A.” is one of the most iconic disco tracks ever created, thanks to disco group Village People, which consisted of French producers Henri Belolo, Jacques Morali and Victor Willis. It was the lead and only single from their third studio album “Cruisin’”.
“Y.M.C.A” stands for the “Young Men’s Christian Association” and began building single room occupancy facilities in the 1880’s to house people from rural areas who had moved to a city to look for work. In an interview in 2013 with SirusXM Radio, Victor Willis (lead singer and lyricist for Village People) recalled that while in the studio, producer and fellow group member Jacques Morali asked Willis what the organisation was. After Willis explained this, he saw the expression on Morali’s face and said: “Don’t Tell me, Jacques, you want to write a song about it?”. Thus, “Y.M.C.A” was born. In 2015, Willis won a legal case against “Can’t Stop Productions”, winning the claim that he and Morali had written this track and other Village People tracks together, without any help or involvement from executive producer Henri Belolo, who had been credited on the song’s original release. When “Y.M.C.A.” was initially released, the organisation threatened to sue the band over trademark infringement, however they ultimately decided to settle the situation out of court and had expressed pride for the song.
The lyrics of the track were interpreted in many ways, some viewing the track as a homage to the organisation, but Village People stemmed from gay culture at the time as well as being well known in the scene, therefore the track was deemed to be celebrating the YMCA’s reputation as a popular hook-up spot for young gay men. The aim of Village People was to attract disco’s gay audience by featuring popular gay fantasy in their music (according to Encyclopedia.com). Village People’s publicist insisted throughout the years that the track was not a gay anthem, but rather as a reflection of the activities at the YMCA. As a result of this track, a dance phenomena was created, with an individual’s arms creating the letter of the title of the track.
The music video for the track was filmed in New York City in July 1978. It features Village People dancing all over the city as well as the camera zooming in on the Empire State Building. The video was uploaded to YouTube in September 2008 on the Village People’s official channel. As of September 2019, the video has almost 189 million views and almost 1 million likes.
Release Date: 13th November 1978
Songwriter/s: Jacques Morali, Victor Willis & Henri Belolo
Producer/s: Jacques Morali
Chart Rankings, Certifications & Accolades: Within one year of its release, “Y.M.C.A.” hit #1 in the charts of the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK. The track has Gold certification in Germany and France, Platinum in the UK, the US and the Netherlands, as well as certifying 2x Platinum in Canada. VH1 placed “Y.M.C.A.” at #7 on their list of “100 Greatest Dance Songs” in 2000, as well as Paste Magazine ranked the track at #1 on their list of “The 60 Best Dancefloor Classics” in February 2017.