The song was written by group members Jacques Morali and Victor Willis. It was released on their 1978 album Cruisin’ and as a single back with “The Women.” It was a major international hit, being one of 40 singles that sold 10 million or more physical copies worldwide. The happy, upbeat message of this disco classic is to young men, telling them that they can go to a new city to seek their fortune and the Y.M.C.A. will be there to help them get grounded. The song is often still played at sporting events in the U.S. and Europe, often with the crowd spelling out the four letters of the title with their arms.
In 1978-79, the song topped the charts in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, and the U.K. It went to #2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and U.S. Billboard Hot Disco Singles charts. It was #2 in Norway , #3 in France and South Africa, and #4 in Spain. Wow.
The Village People were formed in New York City in 1977. It was the creation of French composer Jacques Morali and Henri Belolo. They were speaking to the gay and fantasy-loving audience at the discos. The first album Village People was released in 1977 and had success. They were asked to perform at clubs and on American Bandstand. So they recruited folks and had them portray different personae — Native Americans, construction workers, cowboys, police officers, athletes, solders, etc. On “Y.M.C.A.” were Victor Willis (vocals), Russell Dabney (drums), Alfonso Carey (bass), Jimmy Lee (guitar), Rodger Lee (rhythm guitar), Nathanial Wilkie (Fender Rhodes , clavinet), and Bitter Sweet (hand claps). The group The Village People continue to tour and perform internationally.