Dance-rap duo LMFAO approached its second album, 2011’s Sorry for Party Rocking, with the explicit goal of scoring a No. 1. “Party Rock Anthem” — a feel-good EDM track partly inspired by “shuffling,” a dance move popular in Australian clubs — did just that, topping the Billboard Hot 100 on July 16, 2011 and remaining there for six weeks. Its viral video still remains one of YouTube’s most popular, with more than 902 million views, and helped secure the tune a place among summer’s all-time biggest hits.
Sky Blu (half of LMFAO): “Me and Foo, we heavily believe in The Secret – manifesting your dreams — so we had a goal to be No. 1 around the world and sell out the Staples Center, where the Lakers play.”
Goonrock (co-producer): “‘Party Rock Anthem’ actually started in a session for [rapper] Flo Rida. I wrote the chorus, but it was, ‘I can feel it in my soul tonight.’ Flo Rida passed on the song, but we were making the LMFAO album. Redfoo wanted to revisit it.”
Redfoo (LMFAO leader): “I wanted a song we could play when we stepped into the club. It was just, ‘Let me change this [line], “I can feel it in my soul.”‘ I felt like that was outdated — the word ‘soul’ in a song.”
Goonrock: “Him changing the chorus was a business move, too. He wanted to brand [the phrase] ‘party rock.’ At the time, I was mad. I hated that he wanted to change it to ‘party rock.’ I was trying to get deep and stuff.” (Laughs.)
Sky Blu: “I was at Jimmy Iovine’s house, and I heard the finished product. Foo takes a long time. He sits there and tweaks sounds like crazy.”
Martin Kierszenbaum (Cherrytree Records founder): “I was in Kansas City because I was spending Christmas there, and [Redfoo] sends me ‘Party Rock Anthem.’ I hear it, and I go, ‘Oh my God, this is massive.’ He said, ‘I’m going to leak it New Year’s Eve.’ I was fighting, saying, ‘You have to do this properly, because the song is a bona fide smash.’ And I remember what he said: ‘I’ve got a ton more!'”
Redfoo: “It was the [bass] drop that really inspired the dance. It made me do the running man, and someone said, ‘That’s like that dance ‘shuffling.’ Then we started looking it up on YouTube.”
Mickey Finnegan (video director): “I first met LMFAO in Hollywood before they had become who they were. I ended up doing their  ‘Shots’ video and ‘La La La.’ The first thing Redfoo did when he played the new song was open YouTube and show me shuffling. He was like, ‘This dance is so cool!’ I put together the pieces: ‘OK, we’ll play off [2002 horror film] 28 Days Later and build a story around that.'”
Shufflebot (LMFAO Dancer): “A lot of the people that we ended up getting to come and dance in the video shoot were just people who we had met at the club or we knew personally. That was one of the first times you ever saw that style come out in the limelight.”
Kierszenbaum: “We were outside Universal Music in Paris, and there’s a restaurant and kids coming out of the school [who yelled]: ‘Are you Redfoo from LMFAO?’ They start shuffling. And then the owner of the restaurant, who’s about 55, is like, ‘You! Shuffle! Shuffle!’ That’s when I realized, ‘OK, this song is going to go wide.'”
Sky Blu: “When we heard the song was No. 1, we were in Europe. I was actually taking a piss. Then we just had a hell of a night.”
Redfoo: “If I go to a place where a jukebox is, people play it. Sometimes I get up and dance. People still send me Snapchats of it playing in clubs.”
Sky Blu: “Doing that song at the Wembley Arena was incredible. I think it was 90,000 or 100,000 people. As soon as we went out onstage, it was just ridiculous how crazy everybody got.”
Goonrock: “The song is special because it did all the things we all collectively visualized.”
This story originally appeared in the July 25 issue of Billboard.