Let the Music Play (song)

"Let the Music Play"
Single by Shannon
from the album Let the Music Play
Released September 1983
Recorded 1983
Length 3:34
Label Mirage/Atco/Atlantic Records
  • Mark Liggett
  • Chris Barbosa
Certification Gold (RIAA)
Shannon singles chronology
"Let the Music Play"
"Give Me Tonight"

"Let The Music Play" is a song by American singer Shannon. The song was the first of Shannon's four #1s on the US Dance chart, reaching the top spot in October 1983.[2] The song also became a huge crossover hit, peaking at #2 on the soul chart and #8 on the US Singles Chart in February 1984.[3] Some mark this as the beginning of the dance-pop era. "Let the Music Play" was Shannon's only US Top 40 hit. It was ranked 43rd on the 2009 VH1 Special 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the 1980s.[4] This song appears in video games Dance Central 3 and Scarface: The World Is Yours.


The original version of the record was produced by Mark Liggett and Chris Barbosa. By the early 1980s, the backlash against disco had driven dance music off mainstream radio stations in the US. The rhythmic ingenuity of "Let the Music Play" was largely due to Chris Barbosa, who wrote and arranged the original demo track. Rob Kilgore played all the instruments on this seminal track. It featured a series of keyboard chords and drum patterns produced by gating a Roland TR-808 drum machine. Specifically, a reverb was placed across the kick and snare and hard gated to change the sounds. Further, it was one of the first tracks to sync together a TR-808 and a Roland TB-303 bassline, notorious in later years for the instrument responsible for creating acid house. The TB-303 plays the bassline for the entire song; however, in this case, the filter is not adjusted, which was typical for acid house music. This technical achievement made the production even more groundbreaking, and it also resulted in a unique sound, called "The Shannon Sound," which in time came to be known as freestyle. The Prophet-5 is used for the hookline and sound effects. The vocal on the chorus is sung by session guitarist/vocalist, Jimi Tunnell, who was uncredited. Shannon sings the answering line but it is Tunnell who sings the "Let the music play" hook.


"Let the Music Play" is a freestyle dance song with synthesizer and drum machine-produced rim shot percussion sounds and kick-drum/snare-drum interaction. Critic and journalist Peter Shapiro described the song as a "cross between Gary Numan and Tito Puente."[5] The song has a tempo of 116 beats per minute.[6]

Music video

The music video of the song was directed by British music video director Nigel Dick and premiered in November 1983. The video shows Shannon in a dressing room applying make-up as if she is getting ready for a performance. She then makes her way to the stage of an empty theater where she proceeds to dance and sing the song. Interspersed throughout these scenes are shots of male and female dancers fashioned in dress shirts and bow ties warming up. The dancers join Shannon by the second chorus of the song, and, near the end, one of the dancers proceeds to take her in his arms and dance with her. The video ends with the dancers doing a choreographed routine while Shannon continues singing.[7][8]

Charts and certifications

Weekly charts

Chart (1983) Peak
US Dance/Disco Top 80 (Billboard)[9] 1
Chart (1984) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[10] 62
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[11] 30
Belgium (VRT Top 30 Flanders)[12] 20
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[13] 12
Canada (CHUM)[14] 9
France (IFOP)[15] 79
Germany (Official German Charts)[16] 5
Italy (FIMI)[17] 13
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[18] 25
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[19] 17
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[20] 2
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[21] 23
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[22] 14
US Billboard Hot 100[23] 8
US Top Black Singles (Billboard[24] 2
US Cash Box Top 100[25] 8
Chart (2002) Peak
Germany (Official German Charts)[26]
2002 Remix

Year-end charts

Chart (1984) Position
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[27] 91
Germany (Official German Charts)[28] 58
Italy (FIMI)[29] 90
US Billboard Hot 100[30] 49
US Top Dance Singles (Billboard) [30] 15
US Top Black Singles (Billboard[30] 9
US Cash Box Top 100[31] 68


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United States (RIAA)[32] Gold 1,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Preceded by
"Holiday" / "Lucky Star" by Madonna
Billboard Hot Dance Club Play number-one single
October 29, 1983 – December 3, 1983 (6 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Talking in Your Sleep" by The Romantics

Mary Kiani version

"Let the Music Play"
Single by Mary Kiani
from the album Long Hard Funky Dreams
Released April 1, 1996
Format CD single, 12" vinyl
Label 1st Avenue, Mercury Warehouse Records, Leeds UK
Writer(s) Chris Barbosa
Ed Chisolm
Mary Kiani singles chronology
"I Give It All To You" / "I Imagine"
"Let The Music Play"

In 1996, Mary Kiani covered "Let the Music Play" as her third solo single. The song was remixed in a variety of styles, notably by Paul Oakenfold of Perfecto and Steve Rodway of Motiv8. A video of the song was also released.

Track listings and formats

These are the main formats and track listings of the single release of Mary Kiani's "Let the Music Play."

# Title Length
UK CD single MERCD456
1. "Let the Music Play" [Radio Mix] 3:50
2. "Let the Music Play" [Perfecto Radio Mix] 5:40
3. "Let the Music Play" [Motiv8 Club Mix] 6:32
4. "Let the Music Play" [Mr. Spring Contrary Mary Mix] 5:34
5. "Let the Music Play" [Perfecto Vocal Mix] 8:00
6. "Let the Music Play" [Argonauts Kiani Do This Mix] 5:42
7. "Let the Music Play" [Mr. Spring Club Edit] 4:29
UK 12" MERX456
A1. "Let the Music Play" [Motiv8 Club Mix] 6:33
A2. "Let the Music Play" [Union Jack Mix] 6:27
B1. "Let the Music Play" [Perfecto Vocal Mix] 8:01
B2. "Let the Music Play" [Perfecto Dub Mix] 5:00
UK 12" MERX457 / Fubar12
A1. "Let the Music Play" [Casio Brothers Mix]
A2. "Let the Music Play" [George Bowie Mix]
B1. "Let the Music Play" [Steve Kerr Mix]
B2. "Let the Music Play" [Tom Wilson & David Livingston Mix]

Cover versions


  1. Hogan, Ed. "Artist Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved October 15, 2014.
  2. Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 231.
  3. Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 521.
  4. Ali, Rahsheeda (2 May 2013). "100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 80s". VH1. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  5. Jamieson, Teddy (28 October 2013). Not Fade Away 1983: Let the Music Play, Shannon. HeraldScotland. Retrieved 2014-10-01
  6. Brusca, Donny (2006). BPM List 2006: Main Edition. Lulu.com, 2006. p. 542. ISBN 978-1-84728-860-8.
  7. http://www.mvdbase.com/video.php?id=25057
  8. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpEGDXhu5oM
  9. "Billboard Oct. 29, 1983" (PDF). Billboard. New York, NY, USA. 29 October 1983. p. 47. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  10. "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – CHART POSITIONS PRE 1989". Australian-charts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  11. "Ultratop.be – Shannon – Let the Music Play" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  12. "Radio 2 Top 30" (in Dutch). Top 30. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  13. "Top RPM Singles: Issue 6304." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  14. CHART NUMBER 1420 – Saturday, March 24, 1984 at the Wayback Machine (archived 7 November 2006). CHUM.
  15. "Le Détail par Artiste". InfoDisc (in French). Select "SHANNON" from the artist drop-down menu. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  16. "Offiziellecharts.de – Shannon – Let the Music Play". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  17. "HitParadeItalia Indice per Interprete: S". HitParadeItalia (in Italian). Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  18. "Dutchcharts.nl – Shannon – Let the Music Play" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  19. "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 18, 1984" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40 Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  20. "Charts.org.nz – Shannon – Let the Music Play". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  21. "Swisscharts.com – Shannon – Let the Music Play". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  22. "Archive Chart: 1984-02-25" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  23. "Billboard Feb. 25. 1984" (PDF). Billboard. New York, NY, USA. 25 February 1984. p. 76. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  24. "Billboard Feb. 4, 1984" (PDF). Billboard. New York, NY, USA. 4 February 1984. p. 49. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  25. CASH BOX Top 100 Singles – Week ending MARCH 3, 1984 at the Wayback Machine (archived 11 September 2012). Cash Box magazine.
  26. "Offiziellecharts.de – Shannon – Let the Music Play". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  27. "Top RPM Singles: Issue 9638." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  28. "Top 100 Single-Jahrescharts 1984". GfK Entertainment Charts (in German). Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  29. "Hit Parade Italia - I singoli più venduti del 1984". FIMI (in Italian). Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  30. 1 2 3 "Volume 96 No. 51, DECEMBER 22. 1984" (PDF). Billboard. New York, NY, USA. 22 December 1984. p. TA-19, TA-21, TA-25. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  31. The CASH BOX Year-End Charts: 1984 at the Wayback Machine (archived September 11, 2012). Cash Box magazine.
  32. "American single certifications – Shannon – Let the Music Play". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
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