Kung Fu Fighting

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Kung Fu Fighting is a mega-hit funky ass song written and performed by Carl Douglas and Vivian Hawke. It was released as a single in 1974, at the cusp of a chop-socky Kung Fu film craze, and quickly rose to the top of British and American charts. The song also is famous for its use of the quintessential Oriental Riff, a short musical phrase that is used to signify Chinese culture.

It originally was meant to be a B-side to I Want to Give You My Everything by Brooklyn songwriter Larry Weiss, and was recorded in the last ten minutes of his studio time. This song has been featured prominently in every facet of pop culture since its inception, from comedic movies to Mott’s Clamato advertisements.

Douglas states that his inspiration to write the song was affected by three factors: he had seen a kung fu movie, later visited a jazz concert by Oscar Peterson, and was suffering from side-effects of pain killers (Douglas had injured his foot playing football).

Kung Fu Fighting was rated #100 in VH1′s “100 Greatest one-hit wonders, and number 1 in the UK Channel 4′s Top 10 One Hit Wonders list in 2000, the same channel’s 50 Greatest One Hit Wonders poll in 2006 and Bring Back the one-hit Wonders, for which Carl Douglas performed the song in a live concert.

The song has been used in several movies since 1990 where there is a light-hearted spirit to the martial arts, including Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, Shaolin Soccer, Little Manhattan, Epic Movie, City of God, Beverly Hills Ninja, Sin noticias de Dios, Scrubs, Bowfinger, Kung Fu Panda, and Rush Hour 3, in which Chris Tucker sings the song after successfully defeating a group of Triads in martial combat. It also has been used in trailers for the films Kung Fu Panda, Disney’s Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior, & Kung Fu Hustle, and a cover by Cee-Lo Green and Jack Black is used over the end credits of Kung Fu Panda. This version has partially rewritten lyrics more in keeping with the film’s themes. This song has also been confirmed for use in the upcoming game Lego Rock Band. Long Live this great Hit from the 1970s! Thomas DiSanto


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