Song Of The Day 9/18/2014: Billy Squier - "The Big Beat"



Hip Hop Samples: I Googled "the most sampled song of all time" expecting about a thousand different claimants to the title and little in the way of hard data to back any of them up. But everybody appears to agree that the champion is "Change The Beat" by Fab 5 Freddy, a single from 1982. The A-side featured Freddy rapping in English and French. The B-side was the "female" version of the song from a vocalist named, appropriately, Beside. Elements of the B-side have appeared in everything from Herbie Hancock's "Rockit" to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' "Thrift Shop." According to a handy, easy-to-use chart over at Whosampled.com, "Change The Beat" has been sampled 1,421 times, followed by a sort of holy trinity of instantly recalled hip hop samples: The Winstons' "Amen, Brother," Lyn Collins' "Think (About It)" and, inevitably, James Brown's "Funky Drummer."

And little hermetically sealed me thought that ringlet rocker Billy Squier's "The Big Beat" would be somewhere in the top ten. It's at #35, which ain't bad. It's the big, reverberant, beautifully stupid drum beat that producers have flocked to again and again ever since Jay Z confiscated it for "99 Problems." The purest sample was Dizzee Rascal's "Fix Up, Look Sharp," which also kept Billy's stand-alone vocal hook "I... got the big beat" intact for the chorus. The most unexpected use is probably Alicia Keys' "Girl On Fire," a delicate song about empowerment until that fat drum sound (originally played by Bobby Chouinard) stomps in like an emasculated oak barrel shattering on a corrugated tin plank weatherproofed with spite.

"The Big Beat" has been used by everybody. Kanye West, Nas, Puff Daddy, Ice Cube. Hell, Big Daddy Kane used it five times. It's nice to know Billy could rebound -- somewhat -- from making the worst music video of all time. That assertion, as well, is backed up by hard data. I believe the stat is "number of music career dreams crushed by a pair of pastel pink pants."


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