The List: Essential Nile Rodgers

Diving into the deep, diverse catalog of the legendary musician, songwriter and producer

Andy Downing
Columbus Alive
Nile Rodgers

For decades, Nile Rodgers has delivered as both a musician (with Chic and others) and as a producer (David Bowie, Madonna), amassing a catalog as deep and eclectic as anyone in the industry. With the living legend set to appear as part of the next edition of Music Business Monday, presented by the Columbus Music Commission on Monday, May 24, we thought we’d take a moment to point readers to just 10 of Rodgers' most essential tracks, which are presented here in no particular order.

“Le Freak,” Chic

Sometimes rejection can be a good thing, as evidenced by this funk classic, which Rodgers and Bernard Edwards wrote after being denied entry to New York’s Studio 54. (The original refrain was a far more explicit kiss-off.)

“Good Times,” Chic

The riff on this one is unmistakable, having most famously been sampled by the Sugar Hill Gang for “Rapper’s Delight.”

“Lost in Music,” Sister Sledge

The single, off 1979 album We Are Family, is a disco classic that highlights Rodgers' skillful production, which manages to walk that line between tension and rapturous release.

“Like a Virgin,” Madonna

Arguably the song that made Madonna Madonna.

“I’m Coming Out,” Diana Ross

Included as part of Ross’ 1980 comeback album, Diana, and boy did it ever deliver.

“Language Is a Virus,” Laurie Anderson

Both weirder and less-known than other entries on this list, this dizzying art-pop wonder expertly melds Anderson’s fractured, galactic world with Rodgers' penchant for hip-shaking grooves.

“Let’s Dance,” David Bowie

I’d still rather not, David (I'm not a dancer). Great song, though.

“Roam,” B-52s

The chorus to this 1990 single is an underrated earworm.

“Together,” Disclosure

Full disclosure (*insert rimshot*): This band generally bores me. But not so on this bonus cut off of Settle, from 2014, which funks up the group’s sound nicely.

“Get Lucky,” Daft Punk featuring Nile Rodgers and Pharrell Williams

Some of the most recent proof that good things happen when you allow Rodgers to strap on his guitar and then you get the hell out of his way.