“Let The Music Play” is a song by American singer Shannon. The song was the first of Shannon’s four #1s on the US Dance chart, reaching the top spot in October 1983. The song also became a huge crossover hit, peaking at #2 on the soul chart and #8 on the US Singles Chart in February 1984. Some mark this as the beginning of the dance-pop era. “Let the Music Play” was Shannon’s only US Top 40 hit. It was ranked 43rd on the 2009 VH1 Special 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the 1980s. This song appears in video games Dance Central 3 and Scarface: The World Is Yours.
The original version of the record was produced by Mark Liggett and Chris Barbosa. By the early 1980s, the backlash against disco had driven dance music off mainstream radio stations in the US. The rhythmic ingenuity of “Let the Music Play” was largely due to Chris Barbosa, who wrote and arranged the original demo track. Rob Kilgore played all the instruments on this seminal track. It featured a series of keyboard chords and drum patterns produced by gating a Roland TR-808 drum machine. Specifically, a reverb was placed across the kick and snare and hard gated to change the sounds. Further, it was one of the first tracks to sync together a TR-808 and a Roland TB-303 bassline, notorious in later years for the instrument responsible for creating acid house. The TB-303 plays the bassline for the entire song; however, in this case, the filter is not adjusted, which was typical for acid house music. This technical achievement made the production even more groundbreaking, and it also resulted in a unique sound, called “The Shannon Sound,” which in time came to be known as freestyle. The Prophet-5 is used for the hookline and sound effects. The vocal on the chorus is sung by session guitarist/vocalist, Jimi Tunnell, who was uncredited. Shannon sings the answering line but it is Tunnell who sings the “Let the music play” hook.