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"Car Wash"
Single by Rose Royce
from the album Car Wash: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Released 1976
Format 7" vinyl
Genre Disco, funk
Length 3:20 (LP mix is 5:06)
Label MCA
110 076
Writer(s) Norman Whitfield
Producer Norman Whitfield
Certification 2x Platinum (US)
Rose Royce singles chronology
"Car Wash"
"I Wanna Get Next to You"

"Car Wash" is a 1976 number-one popular and soul music single album by Rose Royce for MCA Records, the group's debut single album and one of the most notable successes of the disco era.[1] Written and produced by the band's main producer Norman Whitfield, "Car Wash", the theme of the 1976 film Car Wash, was Rose Royce's most successful hit single. "Car Wash" also peaked at number three on the disco charts.[2] The song was later covered in 2004 by Christina Aguilera and Missy Elliott, who released their version as the single for the Shark Tale soundtrack.


Song information

Norman Whitfield, a former producer for Motown Records, had been commissioned to record the soundtrack album for Car Wash by director Michael Schultz. Although Whitfield did not want to assume the project, he did so because of both the money and the chance to give Rose Royce, a disco/funk band who left Motown with Whitfield in 1975, the exposure they needed to become mainstream. Unable to develop a theme song for the film, inspiration finally struck Whitfield while playing a game of basketball, and he allegedly wrote his first draft of "Car Wash" on a bag of fried chicken he'd bought.

The resulting song set the mood and tone for the blaxploitation comedy film it was commissioned for. Rose Royce lead singer Rose Norwalt, with brief assistance from guitarist Kanji Brown, describes a fun and easy-going car washing business, where everything is "always cool/and the boss don't mind sometimes if you act a fool."

Car Wash's soundtrack, a double album, was Rose Royce's debut LP, and the title track was their debut single. "Car Wash" sold two million copies, and was a number one success on both the Billboard popular and R&B charts in the United States and a top ten success in the United Kingdom. The song held the number-one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for one week, from January 22, 1977 to January 29, replacing "I Wish" by Stevie Wonder, and replaced by "Torn Between Two Lovers" by Mary MacGregor. The Car Wash soundtrack album, entirely recorded by Rose Royce and Whitfield, spawned two more successful singles: "I Wanna Get Next to You" and "I'm Going Down" (later covered in 1994 by Mary J. Blige).

The original Rose Royce version of "Car Wash" is one of the most sampled songs in history, not for its main instrumentation, but for its introductory section. The song opens with a series of hand claps, which have been sampled many times for both hip hop and R&B songs from the 1980s on. It was also re-released as a double A-side single with "Is It Love You're After?" in 1988 in the UK, peaking at #20.


Chart (1977) Position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 1
U.S. Billboard Hot Soul Singles 1
UK Singles Chart 9
Australian Singles Chart 12

Chart procession and succession

Preceded by
"I Wish" by Stevie Wonder
Billboard Hot 100 number one single (Rose Royce version)
January 29, 1977
Succeeded by
"Torn Between Two Lovers" by Mary MacGregor
Preceded by
"Dazz" by Brick
Billboard's Hot Soul Singles number one single (Rose Royce version)
December 25, 1976 - January 1, 1977
Succeeded by
"Darlin' Darlin' Baby (Sweet, Tender, Love)" by The O'Jays

Christina Aguilera and Missy Elliott version

"Car Wash"
Single by Christina Aguilera and Missy Elliott
from the album Shark Tale: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Released October 19, 2004[3]
Format CD single
Genre Dance-pop, R&B, hip hop, blue-eyed soul
Label RCA
Writer(s) Norman Whitfield, Missy Elliott (uncredited)
Producer Missy Elliott, Christina Aguilera, Ron Fair, T. Herzberg, C. Styles, Bang Out, Silence
Certification Gold (ARIA), (RIANZ)
Christina Aguilera chronology
"The Voice Within"
"Car Wash"
"Tilt Ya Head Back"
Missy Elliott chronology
"1, 2 Step"
"Car Wash"
"Where Could He Be"

In 2004, pop singer Christina Aguilera and rapper/singer Missy Elliott recorded a cover version of "Car Wash", giving the disco song a more modern pop feel and adding rapped verses from Elliott. In an interview Aguilera said, "...we had to change the key to be a little bit higher for my range. So we couldn't take the exact samples, but we brought in all these live instruments to recreate kind of this old, old classic, soulful feel and sound...."

"Car Wash" was the only single from the soundtrack to DreamWorks' computer animated film Shark Tale. Their version was supported with a music video, featuring Aguilera and Elliott as animated fish similar to those in the film. Aguilera and Elliott's cover of "Car Wash" missed the U.S. Billboard Top 40, peaking at number sixty-three, while becoming a top five hit in the United Kingdom and became the 48th best selling single in the United Kingdom of 2004 with sales of over 100,000 copies, despite only being released in late November.

In this context, the "car wash" the song refers to would be the place where Oscar (the main protagonist, voiced by Will Smith) works, where large sea animals who behave like cars are washed in the same manner.

The music video to Christina's version was directed by Rich Newey.

Track listing

  • Car Wash [Australian/UK single]
  1. Car Wash
  2. Can't Wait (Performed by Avant)
  3. Digits (Performed by Fan 3)
  4. Car Wash (Enhanced Video)


Chart (2004) Position
Australia (ARIA)[4] 2
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[5] 11
Belgium (Ultratop Flanders)[6] 2
Belgium (Ultratop Wallonia)[7] 18
Denmark (IFPI)[8] 5
Eurochart Hot 100[9] 4
Finland (YLE)[10] 9
Germany (Media Control AG)[11] 6
Hungary (Mahasz) 8
Ireland (IRMA)[12] 5
Netherlands (Mega Single Top 100)[13] 3
New Zealand (RIANZ)[14] 2
Norway (VG-lista)[15] 13
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[16] 27
Switzerland (Media Control AG)[17] 5
United Kingdom (Official Charts Company)[18] 4
US Billboard Hot 100[19] 63

See also


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 501.  
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 222.  
  3. ^
  4. ^ ARIA Christina Aguilera - Car Wash Hung Medien
  5. ^ Ö3 Austria Top 40 Christina Aguilera - Car Wash Hung Medien
  6. ^ Ultratop Belgium (Flanders) Christina Aguilera - Car Wash Ultratop and Hung Medien
  7. ^ Ultratop Belgium (Wallonia) Christina Aguilera - Car Wash Ultratop and Hung Medien
  8. ^ IFPI Denmark Christina Aguilera - Car Wash Hung Medien
  9. ^ Billboard Christina Aguilera Album & Song Chart History Eurochart Hot 100 for Christina Aguilera Billboard
  10. ^ YLE Christina Aguilera - Car Wash Hung Medien
  11. ^ Media Control - Chartverfolgung - Christina Aguilera - Car Wash PhonoNet GmbH
  12. ^ Irish Recorded Music Association Chart Track GfK
  13. ^ GFK Christina Aguilera - Car Wash Hung Medien
  14. ^ RIANZ Christina Aguilera - Car Wash Hung Medien
  15. ^ VG-Lista Christina Aguilera - Car Wash Hung Medien
  16. ^ Sverigetoplisttan Christina Aguilera - Car Wash Hung Medien
  17. ^ Media Control AG Christina Aguilera - Car Wash Hung Medien
  18. ^ Official Charts Company Chart Stats - Christina Aguilera - Car Wash Chart Stats
  19. ^ Billboard Christina Aguilera Album & Song Chart History Billboard Hot 100 for Christina Aguilera Billboard


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