Wang Chung (band)
Wang Chung performing at Summerfest on 26 June 2010
|Also known as||Huang Chung|
|Origin||London, United Kingdom|
|Genres||Pop rock, new wave|
|Years active||1980–1990, 1997–present|
Wang Chung are a British new wave musical group formed in 1980. The name Wang Chung means "yellow bell" in Chinese (黃鐘, pinyin: huáng zhōng; Wade–Giles: huang chung), and is the first note in the Chinese classical music scale.
The group found their greatest success in the United States, with five Top 40 hits in the US, all charting between 1983 and 1987, including "Dance Hall Days" (No. 16 in the summer of 1984), "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" (No. 2 in 1986) and "Let's Go!" (No. 9 in 1987).
Pre-history: The Intellektuals and 57 Men (1977-1979)
Jeremy Ryder, known professionally as Jack Hues (vocalist/guitarist) and Nick Feldman (bassist) would eventually form the core of Wang Chung. They first met when Hues answered Feldman's ad for a musicians in the classifieds section of the weekly British music magazine Melody Maker in 1977. They were joined by Paul Hammond (ex Atomic Rooster) on drums, forming The Intellektuals.
In less than a year, that band split up. Hues and Feldman then joined up with future Wang Chung drummer Darren Costin, bassist Leigh Gorman, keyboardist Simon Campbell and vocalist Glenn Gregory, to form 57 Men. This band lasted for about 18 months before breaking up.
The Huang Chung years (1980-1982)
At the beginning of Huang Chung's career, all the members performed under pseudonyms. Jeremy Ryder was "Jack Hues" (a play on the French term "j'accuse"), Nick Feldman was "Nick DeSpig", and Darren Costin was "Darren Darwin", "Darren Wang (1984)" (and later, just "Darwin"). The band was signed to a label called 101 Records. The first Huang Chung release, "Baby I'm Hu-man", appeared on a 101 compilation album in 1980. Three live tracks were subsequently released on another 101 Records compilation in 1981.
Later in 1980, the independent record company Rewind Records signed the band up for a two-single deal. Huang Chung's debut single for Rewind Records was "Isn't It About Time We Were on TV". It was followed up by "Stand Still". Neither single charted, but the group had begun to attract the attention of Arista Records, who signed them to a two-album deal in early 1981. Around this same time, the group expanded to a quartet, with the addition of sax player Dave Burnand. In keeping with the all-pseudonymous nature of the band, Burnand was known as "Hogg Robinson" for the first Arista single, and later, simply as "Hogg".
Under the direction of producer Rhett Davies, Huang Chung issued two singles on Arista in 1981, neither of which charted. A third single, produced by Roger Bechirian, appeared in early 1982. It too failed to chart. The band's first album was issued in 1982. Self-titled, it compiled the three non-charting Arista A-sides, one of the Arista B-sides, and six other new tracks. Like the associated singles, the Huang Chung album failed to chart. Around the same time, Hues, DeSpig and Burnand contributed to the lone LP by the mysterious pseudonymous group Blanket of Secrecy.
Hues and DeSpig wrote the song "Lovers" for the album, and Hues scored the strings for that song, while Burnand played sax on the album. Despite some speculation at the time, no member of Huang Chung was actually a member of Blanket of Secrecy—that band consisted of Roger Bechirian, Andrew Howell and Pete Marsh, operating under the pseudonyms Tinker, Soldier, and Tailor. In early 1982, Burnand left Huang Chung amicably, citing "musical differences".
Name change to Wang Chung and initial success (1983-1985)
In late 1982, Huang Chung returned to the studio to start work on their second album for Arista Records. However, their manager David Massey convinced Arista to close their contract with Huang Chung, and instead placed the band with American label Geffen Records, making the group the second UK-based act to be signed to Geffen worldwide after Asia (not counting then-New York-based John Lennon in 1980).
At this juncture, and at Geffen's suggestion, the band changed their name to Wang Chung, allegedly to make pronunciation easier for English-speakers. (This explanation of the group's name change is consistent with the claim by VH1's Pop Up Video that they changed it because people kept calling them "Hung Chung".) At the same time, Nick Feldman and Darren Costin opted to be billed under their real names; only Jack Hues kept his pseudonym. The band spent most of 1983 recording their second album, Points on the Curve. Released in January 1984, the album yielded two moderately successful hits, "Don't Let Go" (No. 38 US) and "Dance Hall Days" (No. 16 US, No. 21 UK).
In late 1983, Hues and Feldman collaborated in a one-off project with vocalist David Van Day. A demo of the track "Ringing the Bell" was submitted to David by their publisher as one of many songs for consideration by David as a possible follow up to his hit "Young Americans Talking". It was recorded in November 1983 but remained unreleased for some time before eventually surfacing under the band name Music Academy in 1985. Wang Chung then followed up the release of Points On The Curve with a spate of soundtrack work.
Director William Friedkin specifically sought out Wang Chung to score his 1985 film To Live and Die in L.A. The resulting soundtrack became the group's third album, and is recognisable as one of their more mainstream works. It went top ten on the US Billboard chart for soundtracks. The band recorded "Fire in the Twilight" for the 1985 John Hughes film The Breakfast Club. In the summer of 1985, Costin left the band. Hues and Feldman continued to record new material, employing producer Peter Wolf as their new drummer (although he never became an official member of the band).
Commercial peak (1986-1989)
Wang Chung released their fourth album, Mosaic, in 1986. This album spun off their biggest hits: "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" (No. 2 US) and "Let's Go!" (No. 9 US). "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" features the oft-quoted lyric "Everybody Wang Chung tonight", and also has a well-remembered music video (directed by Godley & Creme) where virtually every frame featured a jump cut. During some US dates in the Summer 1987, they were the opening act for Tina Turner during her Break Every Rule world tour.
Their final US Top 40 single, "Hypnotize Me" (No. 36) was also from the same album, as well as being featured on the soundtrack of the 1987 film Innerspace. Wang Chung released their fifth album, The Warmer Side of Cool, in 1989. The album featured a minor hit in "Praying to a New God" (No. 63 US), but was considered a commercial disappointment. Hues and Feldman then went on to other projects and the band effectively disbanded in 1990 after Dave Godowsky was brought in as a session guitarist and "hype man".
During the 1990s, Feldman joined up with Jon Moss of Culture Club to form the band Promised Land, and subsequently released their self-titled debut album, Promised Land, in 1992. Also in the 1990s, Hues worked on various film soundtracks, including 1990's The Guardian. He was signed to a solo deal by Sony Records in the early 1990s, but his intended debut solo album, The Anatomy Lesson, was shelved by the label and remains unreleased. Hues later teamed up with Tony Banks of Genesis to form the one-off group Strictly Inc, which released a self-titled album in 1995.
1997 saw the return of Wang Chung, still consisting of Hues and Feldman, with a greatest hits collection entitled Everybody Wang Chung Tonight: Wang Chung's Greatest Hits. Included on this CD was a new single, "Space Junk". The group also toured America around this time. A 2000 edition of Wang Chung played several dates in the United States. Hues was the only original member of this iteration of the band, as Feldman bowed out due to other commitments.
In March 2005, Wang Chung (once again consisting of Hues and Feldman) contributed "Akasha", a previously unreleased song, to the "Of Hands and Hearts compilation", in response to the 2004 Southeast Asia tsunami crisis. In June 2005, Wang Chung appeared on the reality TV series Hit Me Baby One More Time, performing "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" and a cover of "Hot in Herre" by Nelly.
Beginning in June 2009, Wang Chung was a part of the Regeneration 80's tour along with ABC, Berlin, Cutting Crew, and Missing Persons. In June 2010, Wang Chung released a digital "double EP" entitled Abducted by the 80s. This was subsequently released as a double CD set in mid-2011 (available direct from the band's web site). The eight song collection included four re-recordings of previous hits, and four new songs. Wang Chung toured the United States from June to July 2010 to promote the new release.
On 21 September 2010, The Beatles Complete On Ukulele released Wang Chung's reworking of the Beatles' "Rain", in an arrangement which features the ukulele. On 31 October 2010, their song "Space Junk" was featured in the pilot episode of the AMC series The Walking Dead. The Fighter, a 2010 film starring Mark Walberg, featured Wang Chung's music.
They played the Rewind Festival in Perth in July 2012, and Henley-on-Thames in August 2012. In December of that year, Wang Chung released Tazer Up!, their first full-length studio album in 23 years. All four original tracks from Abducted By The 80s appear on Tazer Up! (some in remixed and/or edited form); the album also features a remix of the re-recorded Abducted version of "Dance Hall Days". The remaining 6 tracks are unique to this release.
- 1982: Huang Chung
- 1984: Points on the Curve
- 1985: To Live and Die in L.A.
- 1986: Mosaic
- 1989: The Warmer Side of Cool
- 2010: Abducted by the 80's
- 2012: Tazer Up!
- 1997: Everybody Wang Chung Tonight: Wang Chung's Greatest Hits
- 2002: 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Wang Chung
Music video for "Everybody Have Fun Tonight"
There were two versions of the video "Everybody Have Fun Tonight". The first version contained a series of hundreds of videos that flashed in very quick succession across the screen. Many television stations, notably BBC, banned this version from airing after its premiere due to reviews determining that it would trigger epileptic seizures. A second version of the video was shot and debuted shortly after the first. Wang Chung's Everybody Have Fun Tonight reached No. 99 on VH1'S 100 Greatest Hits of the '80s.
- "Wang Chung". Wang Chung. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
- "The Beatles Complete on Ukulele |Wang Chung, Rain". Retrieved 16 July 2013.
- Price, Johnny (17 January 2013). "Wang Chung". Rock Revolt Magazine. 2.
- "Wang Chung Album Premiere: 'Tazer Up' First Listen". Billboard. 5 December 2012. Retrieved 16 July 2013.