National Get Funky Day will be observed for the very first time on Thursday, Oct. 5, according to the National Day Calendar.
Funk music as we know it today first emerged in the 1960s with acts such as James Brown. It was characterized by syncopated beats and rhythms that put strong focus on the first beat of the measure. Funk developed and thrived as an art form for African-American musicians, with performers such as George Clinton (of Parliament and Funkadelic), Earth, Wind & Fire, Prince and Stevie Wonder utilizing the funk sound in some way.
Funk later became more widespread and now includes many subgenres; its influences can even be seen in many modern songs.
Without further delay, here are some tunes—old and new—that can help funk you up for National Get Funky Day.
James Brown — “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag”
James Brown is arguably the pioneer of funk music. His regular use of syncopated rhythms, heavy emphasis on the first beat of a measure and prominent bass became funk mainstays. These elements, on display in this song, are perfect examples of musical concepts that funk popularized.
The Isley Brothers — “It’s Your Thing”
This song received a lot of commercial success after its release in 1969, reaching number two on the Billboard Hot 100 in mere months. “It’s Your Thing” is an iconic song that many people, regardless of generation, will know at least the chorus to. It’s a classic that helped bring funk to the forefront of ‘70s music.
Earth, Wind & Fire — “Shining Star”
While Earth, Wind & Fire have numerous recognizable songs (they’re behind the classic “September” that everyone blasts on the 21st of the month), “Shining Star” is their most successful. This song helped introduce the fusion of jazz and funk to listeners in the 1970s and paved the way for a new funk sound.
Prince — “When Doves Cry”
Prince’s music can be hard to define but there is definitely an element of funk in many of his songs. Even though it doesn’t sound like most traditional funk songs, “When Doves Cry” exhibits the popular syncopated beat. Prince’s innovative way of combining funk with other genres like rock is just one indicator of how funk evolved.
Jamiroquai — “Virtual Insanity”
This ‘90s MTV staple ushered in new ways for funk to be used in more modern music. It blended the usual funk beat and bassline with piano. It also showcased electronic sounds that mirrored the message behind the song while sounding similar to past funk guitar effects.
Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars — “Uptown Funk”
“Uptown Funk” is one of the most successful songs of the 2010s. It has been certified diamond by the RIAA and won Record of the Year at the 2016 Grammys. Besides this, the hit exhibits classic funk elements such as the prominent bassline and some James Brown-style vocals from Bruno Mars.
Listen to the full funky playlist here: