“Y.M.C.A.,” the 1978 gay disco anthem from the Village People, has been inducted into the U.S. Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry.
The National Recording Registry honors “aural treasures worthy of preservation because of their cultural, historical and aesthetic importance to the nation’s recorded sound heritage,” according to a Library of Congress news release announcing this year’s inductees.
“In 1977, the Village People emerged as a purposely campy and extravagantly costumed vocal sextet of guys — the Native American, the cop, the biker, the soldier, the cowboy and the construction worker — singing upbeat dance floor anthems that often referenced gay pop culture,” the release states. “Now, over 40 years since it hit the streets and the dance floors, ‘Y.M.C.A.,’ their biggest hit, is an American cultural phenomenon — people from all walks of life do the ‘Y.M.C.A.’ dance at weddings, Bar Mitzvahs or sporting events. It is as likely to be heard at a Midwestern prom as it is at New York City’s annual Gay Pride parade. Back in its heyday, ‘Y.M.C.A.’ was a hit around the world, going to No. 1 on the charts in over 15 countries, and its ongoing popularity is evidence that, despite the naysayers, disco has never truly died.”
“Y.M.C.A.” is one of 25 songs or albums added to the National Recording Registry this year. Others include Whitney Houston’s version of “I Will Always Love You,” Tina Turner’s “Private Dancer,” Selena’s Ven Conmigo, Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, and the original Broadway cast recording of Fiddler on the Roof.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reports: The selection of “Y.M.C.A.” was welcomed by Village People leader and lead singer Victor Willis, a longtime San Diego resident, who rejoined the group in 2017 after a four-decade hiatus. He wrote the lyrics to “Y.M.C.A.” and other Village People hits, including “Macho Man,” “In the Navy” and “Go West.” He also wrote the group’s recently released 2019 piano ballad, “If You Believe,” an inspirational song of hope, whose video version has just been released and features coronavirus-inspired footage and images. “I had no idea when we wrote ‘Y.M.C.A.’ that it would become one of the most iconic songs in the world, and a fixture at almost every wedding, birthday party, bar mitzvah and sporting event,” Willis said in a statement issued by the Library of Congress.
Although the song was inspired by the YMCA in New York City’s heavily gay Chelsea neighborhood, Willis told the Union-Tribune it was intended to have universal appeal.
“Whether you’re gay, straight, Democrat, Republican, it doesn’t matter to me,” he said. “I tried to write it in an open enough way that anybody could find something in it and relate it to their life.”
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Village People this week released the group’s video for “If You Believe,” a song from their 2019 Christmas album.
“We decided now would be a good time to release the video, because the song is uplifting and may give people a little hope,” Willis told the newspaper.
Watch it below.