One of pop’s unlikeliest hits is a yell king anthem that was written in celebration of the 1970s gay lifestyle, but which has come to signify good times for all of America and beyond. “YMCA” is the biggest hit by the Village People, which began life as a concept hatched by two French songwriters and ended up one of disco’s signature acts.
The Village People idea came to fruition when French-Moroccan producer and songwriter Jacques Morali spotted Felipe Rose dancing in full Native American regalia in a Greenwich Village club, and signed him up for a project that would use gay culture as its lyrical base and disco as its soundtrack. Each VP member stood for a hyper-masculine archetype – the Native American, the Construction Worker (David Hodo), the Cop (Victor Willis), the Soldier (Alex Briley), the Cowboy (Randy Jones) and the Biker (Glenn M. Hughes). Morali and his partner, Henri Belolo, wrote anthems that were equal parts gay liberation and wholesome, happy Americana. And they sold like crazy.
When the disco craze crashed, the Village People became deeply unfashionable. But the brand has survived and has been revived now that disco is back in style. The Village People still tour, with three original members. And no sporting event or wedding reception is complete without that song.