Back to 1980 for my B100 top songs list, with the shimmering splendour of “Upside Down” by Diana Ross, a UK number 2 hit taken from the “Diana” album, a collaboration with Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards aka Chic.
After leaving the sublime Supremes to go solo in 1970, Diana Ross’ records had become increasingly dull and MOR throughout the decade. Seeking a fresher sound, she approached Nile Rodgers about working together on a new album. Nile Rodgers has since said that most of the songs on “Diana” were created directly after conversations between them; for example Diana Ross had said that she wanted to turn her career “upside down”. However, the original Chic mixes for the album were a little too far “inside out” for Diana, who then remixed the album with Motown engineer Russ Terana ahead of its release, news which was understandably not taken well by Chic. The original Chic mixes later surfaced on a deluxe version of “Diana” and although some album tracks are noticeably different, both versions of “Upside Down” are pretty much identical, Diana astutely realising that it was fairly unimprovable as was.
And for me, “Upside Down” is up there with “Get Lucky” as the greatest Chic affiliated song, even better than “Le Freak”, “Good Times”, “I Want Your Love”, “Thinking Of You”, “Let’s Dance” etc etc. It’s a tune that simply glides along, guided by Nile Rodgers’ uniquely choppy guitar plus perfect piano flourishes, all topped off by Diana Ross’ smoothly seductive vocals. “Upside Down” just sounds so effortlessly enticing, elegantly encouraging you to dance while also charming you with its sometimes incongruous language: “…respectfully I say to thee, I’m aware that you’re cheating…” providing sub-Shakespearean imagery in a disco banger, this really was Chic’s imperial phase where they could do no wrong.
“Diana” went on to sell over 10 million copies, the biggest record of Diana Ross’ career. “I’m Coming Out”, another single from the album, is also notable for less glamorous reasons as it’s the song playing when Diana Ross took one of the most notorious penalties in World Cup history at the 1994 opening ceremony.
VIDEOS AND OTHER STUFF
- “Upside Down” video on YouTube
- Diana Ross’ penalty at the 1994 World Cup
- Other great Diana Ross/Supremes songs include: Where Did Our Love Go?, You Can’t Hurry Love, You Keep Me Hangin’ On, Come See About Me, Reflections
- “Upside Down” is featured on my B100 Spotify playlist
- Also featured on my 379: Pop Spotify playlist
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