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"Atomic Dog" is a song by George Clinton from his 1982 album Computer Games. The track was released as a single in December 1982 and became the P-Funk collective's last to reach #1 on the U.S. R&B Chart. The single failed to reach the Top 100 of the Pop Chart at all, though it has arguably attained greater popular stature over the past two decades due in part to its having been sampled in dozens of rap songs.
George Clinton’s P-Funk reached its commercial and conceptual height during the late 1970s after the release of Mothership Connection and a series of spectacular concert tours. Each of these concerts ended with a climactic descent of a giant spaceship from the rafters. However, as the band and their concept of funk grew, the organization became entangled in internal dissension, legal disputes, and creative exhaustion. “Atomic Dog” was the P-Funk collective’s last single to reach #1 on the U.S. R&B chart.
According to Clinton, most of the song's lyrics were ad-libbed during the recording process.
Although “Atomic Dog” is now regarded a classic in black popular music, it was held back from radio stations at first. George Clinton’s bad reputation in the industry, his political consciousness (as seen in his previous albums and recordings), and a general move towards more youthful-looking acts, kept his songs from being circulated on radio stations. Only after very strong sales was the song finally put on the air. The single “Atomic Dog” was released in December 1982 and reached #1 on the R&B charts, but missed the Hot 100 by just one position.
|Chart (1983)||Peak
|UK Singles Chart||94|
|U.S. BillboardHot R&B Songs||1|
|U.S. Billboard Bubbling Under The Hot 100||101|
|ATL||“Process Of Elimination”|
|“Why Must I Feel Like Dat”|
|“The Beef Is On”|
|Biz Markie||“The Dragon”|
|Compton's Most Wanted||“I Don't Dance”|
|“I Gots Ta Get Over”|
|College Boyz||“Underground Blues”|
|“Bran New Swetta”|
|“Good Thing We're Rappin'”|
|DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince|
|“A Dog Is A Dog”|
|“Let Me Make...”|
|Geto Boys||“Homie Don't Play Dat”|
|Girl Talk||“Get It Get It”|
|Guy||“D-O-G Me Out”|
|MC Hammer||“Pumps And A Bump”|
|Herbie Hancock||“Vibe Alive”|
|Ice Cube||“Better Off Dead”|
|“A Man's Best Friend”|
|“The Nigga You Love To Hate”|
|“2 N Tha Morning”|
|Insane Clown Posse||"Dog Beats"|
|Insane Poetry||“How Ya Gonna Reason With A...”|
|K-9 Corps||“Dog Talk”|
|KMDee||“Here We Go Again”|
|K-Solo||“I Can't Hold It Back”|
|MC Ren||“Hound Dogz”|
|NWH||“Ice Froggy Frog”|
|Oren Waters||"Digga Digga Dog" from 102 Dalmatians|
|“Coffee, Donuts & Death”|
|PR & CLS||“The Basement”|
|“Process Of Elimination”|
|“Slide And Rock On”|
|“Watch Yo Nuggets”|
|Scarface||“Diary Of A Madman”|
|South Central Cartel||“South Central...”|
|Schoolly D||“Where'd You Get That Funk From”|
|Snoop Dogg||“Who Am I? (What's My Name)?”|
|Stetsasonic||“Speaking Of A Girl Named Suzy”|
|Stezo||“It's My Turn”|
|Term, X||“DJ Is The Selector”|
|2Pac||“Holler If Ya Hear Me”|
Copyright lawsuit[edit|edit source]Edit
"Atomic Dog" was the subject of Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. UMG, Inc., et al. (Case No. 07-5596, 6th Cir. 2009), a lawsuit filed in 2007 by the holders of the composition rights to "Atomic Dog" against the producers of "D.O.G. in Me," a song recorded by the R&B and hip-hop group Public Announcement and included on their 1998 album, All Work, No Play. In its complaint, Bridgeport claimed that "D.O.G. in Me" infringed its copyright by repeating the phrase, "Bow wow wow, yippie yo, yippie yea" and the sound of rhythmic panting throughout the song, and by repeating the word "dog" in a low tone of voice at regular intervals as a form of musical punctuation. A jury found that the defendants had willfully infringed Bridgeport's rights and awarded statutory damages of $88,980. In a November 2009 decision affirming the lower court ruling, Circuit Judge Martha Craig Daughtry of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuitdescribed the circumstances surrounding the creation of "Atomic Dog":
- Songwriters David Spradley, Garry Shider, and George Clinton created "Atomic Dog" in a recording studio in January 1982, working without a written score... Testimony at trial indicated that the song was composed spontaneously – Spradley recorded the initial tracks in the studio and recalled that "when George arrived he had been partying pretty heavily so he was, you know, feeling pretty good," and was unsteady at the microphone. Spradley and Garry Shider "got on either side of him. We just kind of kept him in front of the microphone" while Clinton recorded the vocal tracks that same night... Testimony by David Spradley... also demonstrated that Clinton exercised some degree of creative control over the panting by instructing the performers to create a certain rhythm.
The court further described the "Bow Wow refrain" as the best-known aspect of the song – "in terms of iconology, perhaps the functional equivalent of 'E.T. phone home'" – and held that the jury did not act unreasonably in concluding that there was substantial similarity between the two works.