Paco Tolson, Tim Chiou, Samantha Quan and Eugene Young dig the music in Poor Yella Rednecks.
Qui Nguyen’s Poor Yella Rednecks incorporates original rap songs to help tell the story of one family’s immigrant experience while building a new life in a foreign land called Arkansas. The hilarious, heartfelt comedy also includes snippets of familiar hits from the ’70s and ’80s that set the tone between scene changes. Here’s a look at the show’s incidental music and some fun facts about these nostalgic tunes that offer a stroll down memory lane.
“September” - Earth, Wind & Fire
Released as a single in 1978, this song was included on The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1 (1978). “September” went on to reach No. 1 on the U.S. R&B chart, No. 8 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and No. 3 on the U.K. Singles Chart.
“Upside Down” - Diana Ross
Written and produced by Chic members Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, “Upside Down” was issued as a single through the Motown label (1980). The song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, No. 1 on the Billboard Disco and Soul charts and the single was also a big international hit. “Upside Down” is listed at No. 80 on Billboard’s “Greatest Songs of All Time.”
“I’m Coming Out” - Diana Ross
Written and produced by Chic members Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, the song was released as the second single from Diana Ross’s self-titled tenth album Diana (1980). Rodgers stated that he got the idea for the song after noticing three different drag queens dressed as Diana Ross at a New York club called the GG Barnum Room.
“I Wanna Be Your Lover” – Prince
Released in August 1979 as the lead single from Prince’s second self-title album, Prince, the song was Prince’s first major hit single in the U.S., reaching No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 and peaking at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Soul Singles chart for two weeks.
“Funkytown” – Lipps Inc.
From Minneapolis group Lipps Inc.’s debut album, Mouth to Mouth, the song was released as the album’s lead single in 1980. A smash disco hit, “Funkytown” held a record for reaching the No. 1 spot in 28 countries, more than any other single release until Madonna’s “Hung Up” reached No. 1 in 41 countries in 2015. “Funkytown” was reportedly written while the band lived in Minneapolis and dreamed of moving to New York.
“I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)” – Daryl Hall & John Oates
Written by Daryl Hall and John Oates, and co-written by Sara Allen, the song was released as the second single from Hall and Oates’ tenth studio album, Private Eyes (1981). The song became the fourth No. 1-hit single of their career on the Billboard Hot 100 and the second hit single from Private Eyes. “I Can't Go for That” was voted No. 6 on VH1’s list of “The 100 Greatest Songs of the ’80s.”
“Fire” – Ohio Players
A hit song by R&B funk band Ohio Players, the song was the opening track from the album of the same name and hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the Hot Soul Singles chart in early 1975. The single is currently used as the theme song to the FOX reality series, Hell’s Kitchen. It was also featured in the fourth season of Gotham, in addition to appearing in a 2019 TV commercial for the Toyota RAV4.
“Just the Two of Us” (featuring Bill Withers) – Grover Washington Jr.
A 1981 R&B song recorded by Grover Washington Jr. and Bill Withers, “Just the Two of Us” originally appeared on Washington’s album Winelight (1980). An edited version reached No. 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100, a position it held for three weeks, behind “Morning Train (9 to 5)” by Sheena Easton and “Bette Davis Eyes” by Kim Carnes. “Just the Two of Us” won a Grammy Award for Best R&B song.
“9-5” – Dolly Parton
This song was written and originally performed by Dolly Parton for the film 9 to 5, starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Parton in her film debut. Released as a single in November 1980, the song was the centerpiece of Parton’s 9 to 5 and Odd Jobs album. The song earned Parton an Academy Award nomination and four Grammy Award nominations, and won her the “Best Country Song” and “Best Country Vocal Performance, Female” awards.
“Call Me” – Blondie
Released in the U.S. in early 1980 as a single by American new wave band Blondie, “Call Me” became the band’s biggest single and second No. 1 hit. The single was No. 1 on Billboard magazine’s 1980 year-end chart and the song was ranked at No. 57 on Billboard’s All Time Top 100. Nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, as well as for a Golden Globe for Best Original Song, “Call Me” was also the theme song of the 1980 film American Gigolo, starring Richard Gere and Lauren Hutton.
“Miss You” – The Rolling Stones
Released as a single by The Rolling Stones in May 1978, one month in advance of their album Some Girls, the song peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 3 on the U.K. Singles Chart. The song was featured in the debut episode of the TV series “Miami Vice” and at the beginning of the film At Close Range.
“Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be) – Sly & the Family Stone
“Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)” appeared on Fresh, the sixth album by the American funk band Sly and the Family Stone. Released in June 1973, Fresh was the band’s final album to reach the U.S. Top 10. Significant as the only cover song issued on an original Family Stone album, “Que Sera, Sera” was a cover of Doris Day’s Academy Award-winning song from Alfred Hitchcock's 1956 film The Man Who Knew Too Much, sung here by Rose Stone.
“You Are the Sunshine of My Life” – Stevie Wonder
A 1973 single released by Stevie Wonder, the song became his third No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and his first No. 1 on the Easy Listening chart. The song won Wonder a Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and was nominated for both Record of the Year and Song of the Year. Rolling Stone ranked the single as song No. 287 on its list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”
“We Are Family” – Sister Sledge
Composed by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, the song was recorded by American vocal group Sister Sledge and eventually became the group’s signature song. “We Are Family” went gold, becoming the No. 1 R&B and No. 2 pop song on the American charts in 1979. The single reached No. 1 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs. It was also the theme song for the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates. In 2017, the song was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically or artistically significant.”
Poor Yella Rednecks’ playlist on Spotify.
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