Craig Allen’s Fun Facts: ‘Everybody Have Fun Tonight’ by Wang Chung
Did you know that "Wang Chung" means "yellow bell" in Mandarin (Chinese)?
It's also the first note in the Chinese classical music scale!
Get set for some Wang Chung Fun Facts...starting with a few about the band.
Jeremy Ryder, known professionally as "Jack Hues" (vocals/guitar) and Nick Feldman (bass) would form the core of Wang Chung.
They first met in 1977, when Hues answered Feldman's ad for a musician in the classifieds!
Paul Hammond joined on drums...and the band "The Intellektuals" was born. It would last about a year.
Hues and Feldman then joined up with future Wang Chung drummer Darren Costin, Leigh Gorman on bass, keyboardist Simon Campbell, and vocalist Glenn Gregory. This new band, "57 Men," lasted for about 18 months.
Great track record, right?
Hues, Feldman and Costin stayed together and renamed themselves "Huang Chung."
They would claim at the time that Huang Chung translated roughly as "perfect pitch." They would later claim on "American Bandstand" that it is the sound a guitar makes.
Not totally accurate...but...Fun!
Coincidentally, at the beginning, all the members performed under pseudonyms! Jeremy Ryder was "Jack Hues", Nick Feldman was "Nick DeSpig", and Darren Costin was "Darren Darwin" (and later, "Darwin").
Huang Chung signed with 101 Records. The first Huang Chung song, "Baby I'm Hu-man", appeared on a compilation album in 1980.
Later in 1980, the independent record company, Rewind Records, signed the guys to a two-single deal.
Neither single charted.
Despite the lack of attention by the record-buying public, Arista Records (the big time) signed Huang Chung to a two-album deal in early 1981.
Now, sax player Dave Burnand joined the band. In keeping with the all-pseudonyms-nature of Huang Chung, Burnand was known as "Hogg Robinson" for the first Arista single. Later, as "Hogg".
Two Arista singles in 1981, and one more in early 1982, failed to chart. Oops!
The band's first album, Huang Chung, came out in 1982...and it failed to chart.
To add insult to injury, in early 1982, Burnand departed, citing "musical differences."
Undeterred, Huang Chung went back into the studio to start work on their second album for Arista. However, their manager David Massey convinced Arista to drop Huang Chung...and he signed a deal with Geffen Records.
Geffen requested was that the band change their name to "Wang Chung."
Allegedly, it was to make the name easier to pronounce in the English-speaking world. As you will see below, VH-1's "Pop Up Video" claimed that people called the guys "Hung Chung."
On the subject of names, Nick Feldman and Darren Costin now decided to be known by their real names.. only Jack Hues would keep his pseudonym.
"Wang Chung" spent most of 1983 in the studio, recording "Points On the Curve."
The second single...
...danced up the Hot 100!
I cranked up "Dance Hall Days" on my radio (#16/1984)...and it was an even BIGGER hit on MTV!
In the summer of 1985, Costin left the band. Hues and Feldman continued to record new material, using producer Peter Wolf as their new drummer.
Wang Chung's fourth album, "Mosaic," gave them their biggest hits!
Which brings us to our spotlight song!
Initially, "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" was a ballad...Hues explaining that after he and Nick Feldman came up with the "original line, I then went away with a 'Hey Jude' ballad style around it, trying to be ironic."
In the recording studio, Peter Wolf changed everything, when he said "This is an amazing dance hit, you rock the tempo. you've got to really deliver what the title suggests."
Apparently, the public agreed with Peter Wolf, as "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" soared to #2 for two weeks in late 1986.
The rather unique video (above) didn't hurt the hit single's rise up the pop charts!
Although, it may (still) make some viewers feel...uneasy.
It's "jump cuts" were a bit of a riff on Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" video's "stop frame" action...which was very popular at the time.
Of the "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" video, Hues says that it's "delivering a song that's essentially very upbeat and intentionally amusing." Of the creative process, he adds that it was "just sort of get out there, have a great time, don't worry too much."
The video was produced by Kevin Godley and Lol Creme, and "they thought I should be singing straight to the camera in a very intense...and very serious way with this lighthearted song."
"Everybody Have Fun Tonight...Everybody Wang Chung Tonight..."
While it's not a new idea for a band to refer to themselves in a song's lyric (remember "In A Big Country" by Big Country), this is a rare (maybe only) example of a band name being used as a VERB.
(ABOVE: Wang Chung LIVE on the "Tonight Show" February 27, 1987)
It is interesting to know that in the original demo, the slow version, the words "Wang Chung" are only used once.
Regarding the multiple use of the name in the hit single, Jack Hues says that Peter Wolf encouraged it as a way to promote the band! "In retrospect, it was probably one of the better commercial decisions we ever made," he says.
Our spotlight song has been referenced many times in pop culture over the years...
...Frasier probably sums it up best!
Back to the Wang Chung timeline...I did say...biggest...HITS...from Mosaic:
"Let's Go" kept the band in the "top 10" (#9/1987).
But, it wouldn't last.
With no other top-40 charting hits...Hues and Feldman moved on to other projects, with other bands...and Wang Chung effectively called it quits in 1990.
But, as we've seen before in the world of Rock & Roll...that's not the end!
Wang Chung stepped back into the public eye in 1997, with the release of "Everybody Wang Chung Tonight," a greatest hits compilation. The CD included a new song "Space Junk."
Wang Chung, with Hues and Feldman, toured the U.S. in 1997...and in 2000, with Hues, as the only original member.
2009 saw Wang Chung touring with other 1980's bands including: ABC, Berlin, Cutting Crew, and Missing Persons!
In 2010, Wang Chung released a digital "double EP" called "Abducted By The 80s." It grew to be a double CD set in 2011.
In December 2012, Wang Chung released "Tazer Up!" their first full-length studio album in 23 years.
It includes a remix of "Dance Hall Days," and several new songs!
In 2017, Wang Chung returned to the 80's music concert circuit, playing the "Lost 80's Live Tour"...not only as themselves, but acting as the backup band behind the lead singer for "Cutting Crew."
To see what else "Wang Chung" is doing...check out their official website here!
One more Fun Fact:
After all this speculation, you might still be asking yourself what "Wang Chung" means.
This time, I'll quote Nick Feldman:
"Wang Chung is the feeling, not the word. It represents an abstract, an escape from pragmatic, complex ideas."
"Wang Chung means whatever you want it to mean."
"Have Fun with it....that's the whole idea of the the line 'Everybody Wang Chung Tonight."
In retrospect, I probably should have asked Frasier Crane.