Ymca Village People Paper

Published: 2021-06-25 04:07:26
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Category: Gay Rights

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This sample essay on Ymca Village People provides important aspects of the issue and arguments for and against as well as the needed facts. Read on this essay’s introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.
“YMCA”, released in the fall of 1978, has become one of the great survivors of the disco era not only because it followed to the letter the motto of disco: ‘anyone could dance to this song’, but also because the Village People, looking so vigorously American in their costumes, turned it into a crossover hit. The events that led to this success were varied: sociological, political and cultural. The purpose of this paper is to analyze how the song “YMCA” reflects the events of the decade that nestled disco music and how it fits into this genre which has opened minds up to a new experience that has remained unimpaired to this day.OverviewIn order to understand the Village People phenomenon we must consider some of the relevant facts of the decade (70’s). Although disco was born to suit marginalized audiences (blacks, latinos and gays), it soon crossed over to the mainstream. The most diverse audiences accepted it and adopted its ideals of communal harmony. The Stonewall Riots of June 1969, which started with one more police raid into a Greenwich Village gay bar, developed into a series of violent protests that went on for weeks and finally marked the beginning of the gay rights movement in the United States (Kelly Boyer Sagert 31) As a consequence of the Stonewall Riots, the gay community won, among others, the right to dance and interact in their own bars and clubs away from police harassment. Discotheques became the main site of gay liberation. As Robert Walser points out, the music of the 70’s was, in many ways, an answer to the frustrated ideals of the 60’s. Punk and heavy metal took over the economic slump, the chronic social problems and the political distrust but “the new gender identities and communal ideals” were taken up by disco (“The Rock and Roll Era” 374)As its primary aim was making people get together and dance, disco became in many ways, the studio-created ‘product of producers’, relegating performers to a state of near anonymity and making dancers the stars. In the case of Village People, this was the job of two French music producers: Jacques Morali and Henri Belolo who fell in love with disco and decided to move to the United States to be part of the great movement. They wrote and co-produced for the female trio The Ritchie Family. By the end of the seventies, Morali’s genius for the business spotted an American Indian who danced in a gay disco down in the Village, as they watched him dance they noticed a cowboy who was waiting for his turn to perform. Both producers had the same idea: mixing together in one disco band the male stereotypes of America that the gay community responded to. They placed an ad and eventually filled the roles of cowboy (Randy Jones), cop (Victor Willis), construction worker (David Hodo), soldier (Alex Briley), leather-clad biker (Glenn Hughes), and Indian (Felipe Rose).Description and analysisJacques Morali came up with the idea of writing a song about the “YMCA” after visiting Randy Jones who was staying there as he moved to New York in 1975. According to what the members of the Village People said in an interview for SPIN Magazine, Morali wrote the song in fifteen minutes during a lunch break without realizing it was to become a disco anthem (Jeff Pearlman 74)YMCA was the first of the five songs which formed part of the LP Cruisin released by Casablanca Records in 1978. As most disco songs, it was meant for dancing in a club. The song reflects the interaction and identification of the individuals with a community. Some authors suggest that such experiences are essential to the disco music: “To understand this music it is necessary to understand (and respect, and probably love) the sensation of being one among hundreds of others on a packed dance-floor, dancing because dancing is what we enjoy most, and because dance music (like sex) binds us intimately.”(Watney 9)“YMCA” is sung almost entirely as a set of recommendations to partners who have just arrived in New York with no money and nowhere to stay. In this song the group vocals can be understood as representing the community and the soloist, the individual. Every line of the song is in a call-and-response format. First all the members of the Village People sing a short word or phrase, then Victor Willis, with his broad-chested lead vocal, adds a longer line.The song consists mainly of six stanzas, each pair followed by the same chorus. The song tunes are closed, self-contained. This is achieved by an almost strict musical structure (AABB) and the word by word stress of the last verse in a stanza, punctuated by synthesizers. There is a modest textural crescendo after the first chorus, but the intensity level pattern remains basically the same throughout the song. All choruses are virtually identical not only lyrically but also in terms of instrumentation. The song starts with a brass introduction which is immediately followed by the four-four pulse beat of disco as the band begins to sing.  Many different instruments are used: clavinet and electric piano (Nathanial Wilke), drums (Russell Drabney), lead guitar (Jimmy Lee), rhythm guitar (Rodger Lee), synthesizer (Richard Trifan) but brass instruments stand out. Before each of the choruses we can hear five bursts of brass which seem to announce the important message:It’s fun to stay at the YMCAThe rest of the stanzas are there to explain why it is so much fun:They have everything for you men to enjoy,You can hang out with all the boys …You can get yourself clean, you can have a good meal,You can do what about you feel …Having taken off in gay discotheques, the Village People managed to make their songs’ associations with gay lifestyle obvious but somehow hardly noticeable. They simply chose not to say much about the topic and let everybody believe what they wanted.It was this strategy, together with their charisma and the right social circumstances which made “YMCA” sell 12 million internationally and be constantly reissued and repackaged. ConclusionDisco sound was ultra-inclusive. Jazz, classical, calypso, rock, latin, soul, funk were mixed in a perfect recipe within a studio to create an innovative sound. It, in turn, influenced 1990’s and 2000’s rhythms like house, techno and hip-hop proving efficiently that disco is a really dignified link of the chain of music.Although in 1977 it might have been hard to believe, the Village People occupied an extreme place in the history of music. It was a brief, frenzied moment when the cultural principle was ‘if it feels good, then it’s ok’, but with their picturesque looks and their contagious rhythm, they became one of the disco decade most enduring phenomena. There is not a sporting event, wedding reception, biker meeting where “YMCA” is not played confirming it as one of the disco anthems of all times.As Richard Dryer wrote “disco can’t change the world or make the revolution” but it did open up experience and changed definitions (“In Defence of Disco” 151)

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