Bad Girls

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"Bad Girls"
Bad Girls (France).jpg
Artwork for French release
Single by Donna Summer
from the album Bad Girls (1979)
B-side "On My Honor"
Released June 23, 1979
Recorded 1979
Genre Disco
Length 4:55
Label Casablanca
Donna Summer singles chronology
"Hot Stuff"
"Bad Girls"
"Dim All the Lights"

"Hot Stuff"
"Bad Girls"
"Dim All the Lights"
Peaked @ #1 on July 14 1979

The "Bad Girls" are prostitutes. Summer got the idea when she was working for Casablanca Records in Los Angeles. She sent her secretary on an errand, which took her down Sunset Boulevard, a street known for illicit activity. The secretary, who was black, told Summer that the police harassed her, assuming she was a working girl. This raised the ire of Summer, but also provided inspiration for the song, which came together when she started ad-libbing lyrics in the studio. Summer wrote this song in 1977 when she was collaborating with a vocal group called Brooklyn Dreams, which were comprised of Eddie Hokenson, Joe Esposito, and Summer's future husband Bruce Sudano. All three members of the group contributed to its writing and shared the songwriter credit with Summer.

When Summer played the demo track of the song for the head of Casablanca Records, Neil Bogart, he thought it was too rock for her and suggested the song would be more suitable for Labelle or Cher. This didn't go over well with Summer, since she wanted to record the song herself, so she shelved it.

In 1979, an engineer named Steve Smith was looking through some tapes, trying to find some blank space to record when he came across the demo of this song. He reminded Summer of the song, which she had forgotten about, and also told producer Giorgio Moroder about it. Moroder and Pete Bellotte, who are team that produced "Love To Love You Baby," produced a new version of "Bad Girls" that became the hit two years after the song was written. This was Summer's biggest hit. It was #1 in the US for five weeks, helping her earn the title "The Queen Of Disco." Scott Edwards, who played on many hits of the era, was the bass player on this track. He told us about the session: "I remember we cut it at the studio just north of Sunset on La Brea [Rusk Sound Studios]. We went in, and they just had chord charts. Georgio Moroder was the producer, but he wasn't even there. The cat who did the music for Eddie Murphy's movie - Harold Faltermeyer - he was the one that we saw. Faltermeyer was the guy who actually came up with the concept and everything. He didn't have any parts, he just had the chords. But he told us to go for it. And sadly, the drummer who played on a lot of that stuff was Michael Baird, and somehow they forgot to put his name on the contract. And once they didn't do that, he doesn't get paid for new use. They basically said, 'Musicians, do it.' And we did it. That's how all that stuff came about. But there were no written parts. We didn't know until later that Harold Faltermeyer could do what he did electronically on computers, because he just let us do our thing, and it turned out pretty good." The famous "toot-toot" and "beep-beep" vocal interjections were something Donna Summer came up with in the studio after the track was finished. She felt the song sounded a bit empty in parts, so she made up some car sounds to simulate the horns calling for the attention of the prostitutes. Summer performed this song on her TV special (unimaginatively titled The Donna Summer Special), which aired January 27, 1980. The performance featured summer dressed as a prostitute singing on a studio replica of Sunset Boulevard. Her fellow "bad girls" were played by the model/actresses Twiggy, Debralee Scott, and Pat Ast.

The clip would have been a very interesting addition to MTV's playlist when they launched in 1981, but the network rejected disco and didn't put a black artist in heavy rotation until 1983 with Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean." That same year, Summer had an MTV hit with "She Works Hard For The Money." This was used in the kids' movie Rugrats In Paris. It was sung by Angelica, with some of the words changed to stay away from the adult themes.

Other movies to use the song include:

Picture Perfect (1997) The Out-of-Towners (1999) The Replacements (2000) Charlie Wilson's War (2007)

Some TV series to use it are:

Cybill (1995, "Cybill with an 'S'") Sex and the City (2000, "Where There's Smoke") Cold Case (2004, "Daniela") Arrested Development (2004, "Whistler's Mother") Scandal (2014, "The Last Supper")

Music video


Bad girls
Talking about the sad girls
Sad girls
Talking About bad girls, yeah

See them out on the street at night, walkin'
Picking up on all kinds of strangers
If the price is right
You can't score if you're pocket's tight
But you want a good time

You ask yourself who they are
Like everybody else, they come from near and far

Bad girls
Talking about the sad girls
Sad girls
Talking About bad girls, yeah

Friday night and the strip is hot
Sun's gone down and they're out to trot
Spirit's high and legs look hot
Do you want to get down?

Now don't you ask yourself who they are?
Like everybody else, they want to be a star

Now you and me we're both the same
But you call yourself by different names
Now your mama won't like it when she finds out
That her girl is out at night
Street talkin', street walkin'

Hey, mister, have you got a dime?
Mister, do you want to spent some time? Oh, yeah
I got what you want, you got what I need
I'll be your baby, come and spend it on me

Sad Girls, you such a dirty bad girl
Beep-Beep uh uh
You bad girl you sad girl
You such a dirty bad girl
Beep-Beep uh uh

Weekly charts

Chart (1979) Peak
May 26, 1979 55
June 2, 1979 46
June 9, 1979 28
June 16, 1979 11
June 23, 1979 6
June 30, 1979 3
July 7, 1979 2
July 14, 1979 1
July 21, 1979 1
July 28, 1979 1
August 4, 1979 1
August 11, 1979 1
August 18, 1979 4
August 25, 1979 5
September 1, 1979 11
September 8, 1979 21
September 15, 1979 31
September 22, 1979 52
September 29, 1979 98
October 6, 1979 98

Cover versions


  • Its "toot-toot, beep-beep" chant would be sampled by hip hop and R&B artists, most notably by R. Kelly on the remix to "Ignition" and his ex-wife Aaliyah and Missy Elliott on their track "Ladies in Da House", a deep cut from her 1996 album One in a Million.
  • The "toot-toot, beep-beep" chant was also used for Miranda!'s "Mirandamix" from their 2008 album El Templo Del Pop.
  • The chorus was sampled in Lil Kim's unreleased song "Bad Girl" in which RuPaul takes Summer's part.

Appearances in other media

Preceded by
"Ring My Bell" by Anita Ward
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
July 14 - August 11, 1979
Succeeded by
"Good Times" by Chic
Preceded by
"Ring My Bell" by Anita Ward
Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs number-one single
July 21, 1979
Succeeded by
"Good Times" by Chic
Preceded by
"Ring My Bell" by Anita Ward
Billboard Dance Club Songs number-one single (with "Hot Stuff")
May 26, 1979 - July 7, 1979
Succeeded by
"Born to Be Alive" by Patrick Hernandez