The 100 Best Funk Songs Of All Time

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Sharing Long live the funk! Since the style entered the music world towards the 1960s, the entire scene has changed permanently. The danceable songs, bursting with groove, became a worldwide phenomenon within a brief period, …

Best Funk Songs
Sharing

Long live the funk! Since the style entered the music world towards the 1960s, the entire scene has changed permanently. The danceable songs, bursting with groove, became a worldwide phenomenon within a brief period, which has not been interrupted to this day. In our contribution, we have made it our task to compile a list of the 100 best funk songs of all time, which will exalt every party playlist in style.

Have fun!

(You can find a Spotify playlist at the end of the article.)

1st place: James Brown – “Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine” (1970)


The cult number of the US-American funk legend James Brown is undoubtedly one of the most famous pieces of modern music history, even outside the genre. The song comes with an inimitable, animating beat, which immediately went over into the marrow and dance leg of the international listeners.

The track, released in 1970, invites you to celebrate good humor, both lyrically and rhythmically confidently. At the same time, “Get Up” was the first song that James Brown recorded with his new group, the “JB’s.” The original, often copied afterward, quickly became a box office hit at its release.

In the United States, the song was able to secure the 15. Snatching rank in the “Billboard Hot 100. Within the R&B charts, it was even enough for second place on the hit list.

Number 2: The Meters – “Cissy Strut” (1969)


“Cissy Strut” by “The Meters” can confidently be counted among those releases that made funk’s glorious triumphant march in the industry possible in the first place. The novel mix of unique guitar riffs and driving drums amounted to a musical revolution within the scene. Even more than 50 years after its release, “Cissy Strut” has lost none of its infectious vibes. The song of the funk band, founded in 1965, reached a respectable 23 in its time.

The song reached its first place in the American charts and developed over the years into a true “all-time classic” of the scene. Film fans may know the song from the Tarantino film “Jackie Brown” (1997), in which the song was part of the soundtrack.

#3: Funkadelic – “One Nation Under a Groove” (1978)


Released in 1978, “One Nation Under a Groove” is especially notable for its genre-typical, driving bass-synthesizer elements that are inherent to so many representatives of the style. At the time of its release, the song stood in sharp contrast to the countless disco sound numbers that held the music world in its grip at the end of the 70s. Thus “One Nation Under a Groove” can also be seen as a musical liberation strike directed against the old-established establishment and paves the way for a stylistic reorientation.

This urge for freedom is also reflected in the lyrics of the song. The excellently danceable track is generally considered to be the most famous single from “Funkadelic”.

4th place: Sly & the Family Stone – “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” (1970)


In a contribution about the best funk songs of all times, “Sly & the Family Stone” may not be missing, of course. The group from the United States, formed in 1966, is one of the most influential bands in the history of funk and soul. “Thank You” from the fourth studio album of the crew stands with his groovy, earworm-suspicious sound is representative of the greatest heyday of this funk group, which brought the celebrating masses to ecstasy at the legendary Woodstock Festival only one year earlier.

The single became a huge commercial success and was even able to take first place in the sales lists in the musicians’ home country of the USA, as well as earning them a gold record.

5th place: Rick James – “Give It To Me Baby” (1981)


As soon as the first bars of the bassline of “Give It To Me Baby” sound, we can already guess where the musical journey will lead to. As the title of the number might suggest, the song from 1981 is about passionate love and the lustful fruits it can bear. The inimitable voice of frontman Rick James is underpinned by a melody bursting with a coolness that tells its very own story.

In the American hit lists, the song could not reap the considerable laurels in the form of the number 40. Within the genre-specific charts, however, “Give It To Me Baby” became a bestseller and clawed its way to pole position in both the “Hot Soul Singles” and the “Hot Dance Club Play”.

#6: Chuck Brown & the Soul Searchers – “Bustin Loose” (1979)


While fans familiar with the scene may well count funk virtuoso Chuck Brown among the essential faces on the scene, the year 1979 described a time when the American, who died in 2012, was still a blank slate. “Bustin Loose” gave international listeners a delicate taste of what was to take the music world by storm in the years that followed. The number captivates by its up-tempo, which makes every tired dance leg groove.

The infectious sound was able to win 34th place on the Billboard Hot 100 thanks to its driving beat. Snatching a place in the “Billboard Hot 100. Some elements of “Bustin Loose” were also used for the single “Hot In Herre” by US rapper Nelly.

#7: The Bar-Kays – “Freakshow On The Dance Floor” (1984)


If “The Bar-Kays” has proven one thing in their band history, then it is the fact that the band moves at all times with somnambulistic certainty on the musical pulse of time. The group from Tennessee, founded in 1966, proved an enormous versatility during their career, which should throw off countless hits in the decades. “Freakshow on the Dancefloor” saw the light of day in 1984 and is also part of the soundtrack to the dance flick “Breakin,” which was released in cinemas in the same year. Due to its use in internationally successful films. “Freakshow On The Dance Floor” is part of the album “Dangerous.”

The long-playing record hit the nerve of a broad audience and grooved its way up to seventh place on the American hit list.

8th place: Dam-Funk – “Candy Dancin'” (2009)


While many of the songs on our list were released several decades ago, “Candy Dancin'” by Dam-Funk is a much more recent addition to our selection. Although it is now over ten years old, “Candy Dancin” is classified as “Modern Funk” and shows its competitors that the established style still works excellently in today’s music world. Particularly fascinating are the gripping keyboard passages, which are like intoxicating acoustic hypnosis.

In the same breath, “Candy Dancin'” can be understood as a tribute to the legends of the genre. The lived-in awareness of funk’s past, dressed up in contemporary garb, gives “Candy Dancin” a very special touch.

9th place: Roger Troutman – “So Ruff, So Tuff” (1981)


The musical significance of “So Ruff, So Tuff” is mainly reflected in the many subsequent cross-references dedicated to the song in other songs over the years. The release from the debut solo album of Roger Troutman knows how to grab by a futuristic flair; the iconic groove ultimately helps the number to the status of an inimitable, timelessly good funk milestone.

#10: Parliament – “Give Up the Funk (Tear The Roof Off)” (1976)


“Give Up the Funk” by Parliament was released in 1976 and had an exceptionally infectious melody. The formation around P-Funk founder George Clinton succeeded in integrating groovy jazz elements into the meaningful composition. Combined with the passionate lead vocals that hit the right nuances at all times, the result is an exceptional track that also became a commercial smash hit. “Give Up The Funk” was the most successful single from the album “Mothership.”

Thanks to more than one million certified sales, the song reached fifth place in the Billboard Hot Soul charts and was also honored with a gold record as the first release by Parliament.

11th place: Rick James – “Super Freak” (1981)


The second, “Super Freak,” Rick James tells us the story of a mysterious lady who skillfully wraps the male world around her finger with her feminine charms. Typically, the track from 1981 comes with a good portion of eroticism, which is excellently transported by the musical passion inherent in the song. “Super Freak” is simply a milestone of funk and one of them, if not the essential titles in the vita of Rick James. The outstanding vocal performance of the US-American rightly earned the artist a nomination for the “Grammy” in the category “Best Male Rock Vocal Performance.”

The track itself went through the roof in countless countries. Besides the first place in the US “Hot Dance Club Play” charts, “Super Freak” conquered the second place of the charts in Belgium and the Netherlands.

12th place: Average White Band – “Pick Up the Pieces” (1974)


The “Average White Band” members proved to the music world in 1974 that a Scottish troupe could also be successful in the cosmos of an African-American-influenced genre. The musicians are at the same time one of the few white groups that have made it to world fame in the field of “Black Music.” “Pick Up the Pieces” is a prime example of a successful, easy-going funk track.

The smooth rhythm tells its story almost exclusively with the help of instruments; the rare vocals are rather decorative accessories, which complete the groovy composition sensibly. “Pick Up the Pieces” became a perennial hit on the international music market and took the American charts by storm.

13th place: Prince – “Irresistible Bitch” (1982)


On the 13. In the 13th place of our list of the best funk songs, we have a real insider tip ready for you.

In detail, it is a rare music pearl of the legendary singer Prince, which appeared in 1982. Although “Irresistible Bitch” failed to reach a wide audience at the time, the number in itself, with its hard sound and controversial lyrics, is a real drumbeat of the genre, which should not be missing any good playlist.

14th place: Mtume – “Juicy Fruit” (1983)


“Juicy Fruit” from 1983 has a sensitive character. The soulful lead vocals of Tawatha Agee are underpinned by a leisurely, perfectly mixed beat that gets deep under your skin. The mid-tempo song won’t make you dance euphorically, but it’s a great song to groove to in a relaxed and thoughtful way. From a commercial point of view, the track achieved mindful success, especially in the United States.

While the song still had to settle for number 45 in the “Billboard Hot 100”, “Juicy Fruits” conquered the top of the charts in the “Hot Black Singles” section.

15th place: Cameo – “Word Up!” (1986)


No matter whether you listen to “Word Up!”The song from 1986 has a unique character that quickly helped it achieve international recognition. Compared to other representatives of our selection, “Word Up” sounds..!” clearly more complex. The sharp drums give the song an upbeat note, while the futuristic elements perfectly reflect the musical zeitgeist of the late 80s.

The song, which reached third place on the charts in this country, was countless times in the course of time covered and also found its way into many other areas of pop culture, including several movies, commercials, and TV series.

16th place: Stevie Wonder – “Superstition” (1972)


It seems that he succeeds at everything the US music veteran Stevie Wonder touches. Therefore, it is not surprising that the blind singer takes us on an unforgettable musical journey in his song “Superstition,” without equal. The track was the singer’s first number one hit in quite a few years, and the iconic feeling conveyed by “Superstition” would reverberate through the rest of the music scene for a long time to come.

Accordingly, the song was included in many official “all-time favorite” lists. Prince also stated that the track, which deals with the fatal consequences of superstition, had inspired and impressed him in a lasting way.

17th place: Kool & the Gang – “Get Down On It” (1981)


It may sound surprising at first that “Get Down On It” by “Kool & the Gang” did not achieve any groundbreaking chart success at that time. Thus the number did not succeed in conquering the first place of a hit list in any country on our globe.

Nevertheless, released in 1981, the song has become an absolute hit, and probably everyone has heard it at least once. The beat of the song spreads a good mood and whether you like it or not: as soon as the cult track is played in the club, there is unrestrained dancing.

18th place: Earth, Wind & Fire – “Shining Star” (1975)


“Shining Star” from “Earth, Wind & Fire” represents the glorious heyday of funk during the 1970s and has a wonderfully smooth acoustic sound. The strong vocals and the excellently crafted beat form a perfect acoustic symbiosis, which has meanwhile aged superbly. More than one million units sold meant first place in the charts in the United States.

In addition, the musical masterpiece was recognized with a “Grammy” in the category of “Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus.”

#19: Michael Jackson – “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” (1979)


It’s kind of funny that the self-proclaimed “King of Pop” finds himself in a selection of funk songs. Nevertheless, “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” comes with a characteristic funk flair that we don’t want to classify in any other genre. From the early days of the artist’s solo career, fans and critics alike extremely well received the track.

The rousing single not only took first place in the U.S. but also won a Grammy in the “Best Male R&B Vocal Performance” section.

20th place: The Whispers – “Rock Steady” (1987)


To close out the top-20, we bring you “Rock Steady” by The Whispers. The record was released in 1987 and immediately attracted a large international audience.

Especially in the American homeland of the funk ensemble, “Rock Steady” became a box office hit with its motivational, uplifting spirit.

Places 21-100 of the best funk songs of all time:

Place: Song/artist: Listen:
21. Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag – James Brown & The Famous Flames
22. Shakey Ground – Temptations
23. Fire – Ohio Players
24. Get Out of My Life, Woman – Lee Dorsey
25. Mothership Connection (Star Child) – Parliament
26. Car Wash – Rose Royce
27. Cutie Pie – One Way
28. You Sexy Thing – Hot Chocolate
29. Superfly – Curtis Mayfield
30. No Parking (On the Dancefloor) – Midnight Star
31. Dazz – Brick
32. Fantastic Voyage – Lakeside
33. Theme from “Shaft” – Isaac Hayes
34. Future Shock – Curtis Mayfield
35. Play That Funky Music (White Boy) – Wild Cherry
36. Cloud Nine – Temptations
37. Genius of Love – Tom Tom Club
38. Kiss – Prince & The Revolution
39. Hot Fun in the Summertime – Sly & The Family Stone
40. Brick House – Commodores
41. Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone – The Temptations
42. You Dropped a Bomb on Me – Gap Band
43. Atomic Dog – George Clinton
44. I Can’t Stand the Rain – Ann Peebles
45. When Doves Cry – Prince & The Revolution
46. Sign O’ the Times – Prince
47. Just Kissed My Baby – Meters
48. Funky Broadway – Dyke & The Blazers
49. Burn Rubber (Why You Wanna Hurt Me?) – Gap Band
50. Express Yourself – Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band
51. Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World is Today) – Temptations
52. Tell Me Something Good – Rufus
53. What is Hip? – Tower of Power
54. Low Rider – War
55. Chameleon – Herbie Hancock
56. Funky Stuff – Kool & The Gang
57. Hollywood Swinging – Kool & The Gang
58. Higher Ground – Stevie Wonder
59. Love Rollercoaster – Ohio Players
60. Got to Give It Up Part I – Marvin Gaye
61. It’s Your Thing – Isley Brothers
62. Funkin’ for Jamaica – Tom Browne
63. Heartbeat – Taana Gardner
64. Mr. Big Stuff – Jean Knight
65. It’s Just Begun – Jimmy Castor Bunch
66. Flash Light – Parliament
67. Do It (‘Til You’re Satisfied) – B.T. Express
68. Jungle Boogie – Kool & The Gang
69. Rock Steady – Aretha Franklin
70. War – Edwin Starr
71. I Don’t Believe You Want To Get Up and Dance (Oops, Up Side Your Head) – Gap Band
72. Think (About It) – Lyn Collins
73. Kung Fu Fighting – Carl Douglas
74. Little Red Corvette – Prince & The Revolution
75. Use Me – Bill Withers
76. For the Love of Money – O’Jays
77. Get the Funk Out of Ma Face – Brothers Johnson
78. Family Affair – Sly & The Family Stone
79. Upside Down (Inside Out) – Diana Ross
80. Slide – Slave
81. Lovely Day – Bill Withers
82. Amen, Brother – Winstons
83. Stand! – Sly & The Family Stone
84. Clean Up Woman – Betty Wright
85. Living for the City – Stevie Wonder
86. Computer Love – Zapp & Roger
87. The Payback – James Brown
88. Let it Whip – Dazz Band
89. P-Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up) – Parliament
90. I’ll Take You There – Staple Singers
91. Give It Up or Turnit a Loose (In the Jungle Groove remix) – James Brown
92. The Jam – Graham Central Station
93. Apache – Incredible Bongo Band
94. Get on the Good Foot – James Brown
95. That Lady Part I – Isley Brothers
96. I Got My Mind Made Up (You Can Get It Girl) – Instant Funk
97. Groove Me – King Floyd
98. Tramp – Otis & Carla
99. Ain’t Nobody – Rufus & Chaka Khan
100. Right Place, Wrong Time – Dr. John

Funk Spotify Playlist:

As always, we hope you enjoyed our selection. Of course, we know that there are countless other funk gems out there, but we couldn’t include them in our list due to space limitations. Thanks for your interest.

Until next time!

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