The original version of the song was produced by Chris Barbosa and Mark Liggett. By the early 1980s, the backlash against disco had driven dance music off mainstream radio stations in the United States. The rhythmic ingenuity of "Let the Music Play" was largely due to Barbosa, who wrote and arranged the original demo track. Rob Kilgore played all the instruments on this seminal track. It featured a series of keyboard chords and drum patterns produced by gating a Roland TR-808 drum machine. Specifically, a reverb was placed across the kick and snare and hard gated to change the sounds. Further, it was one of the first tracks to sync together a TR-808 and a Roland TB-303 bassline, notorious in later years for the instrument responsible for creating acid house. The TB-303 plays the bassline for the entire song; however, in this case, the filter is not adjusted, which was typical for acid house music. This technical achievement made the production even more groundbreaking and it also resulted in a unique sound, called "The Shannon Sound", which eventually became known as freestyle.
The accompanying music video for "Let the Music Play", directed by British director Nigel Dick and released in November 1983, starts with Shannon in a dressing room applying make-up as if she is getting ready for a performance. She then proceeds to the stage of an empty theater where she proceeds to dance and sing the song. Interspersed throughout these scenes are shots of male and female dancers fashioned in dress shirts and bow ties warming up. The dancers join Shannon by the second chorus of the song and near the end, one of the dancers proceeds to take her in his arms and dance with her. The video ends with the dancers doing a choreographed routine while Shannon continues singing.
American DJ, record producer, remixer and songwriter Armand van Helden picked "Let the Music Play" as one of his "classic cuts" in 1995, adding, "A very powerful record. The first strong vocals over electro music. The first big hit that I can remember that struck me and paved the way for freestyle. Back then it was hip hop, but not considered rap."
VH1 ranked the song number 24 in their list of the 100 Greatest Dance Songs in 2000. 
Blender ranked it number 465 in their list of The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born in 2005.
Slant Magazine ranked it number 54 in its 100 Greatest Dance Songs list in 2006, adding, "Alongside Madonna's 'Holiday,' D.C.-born jazz vocalist Brenda Shannon Greene's 'Let the Music Play' helped redefine dance music in the anti-disco early-'80s, setting the stage for the troubled genre for the next decade. Producers Mark Liggett and Chris Barbosa, considered one of the founding fathers of Latin freestyle, merged the then-hip electro-funk sound with Latin rhythms, unwittingly creating the world's first freestyle song."
VH1 ranked the song number 42 in their 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the 1980s in 2009.
ThoughtCo ranked it number nine in their list of 25 Best Dance Pop Songs of All Time in 2018.
Slant Magazine ranked it number nine in their ranking of The 100 Best Dance Songs of All Time in 2020.
Rolling Stone ranked "Let the Music Play" number six in their list of 200 Greatest Dance Songs of All Time in 2022.
In 1996, Mary Kiani covered "Let the Music Play" as her third solo single. The song was remixed in a variety of styles, notably by Paul Oakenfold of Perfecto and Steve Rodway of Motiv8. A video of the song was also released.
Exile, a Japanese boy band, did a cover of this song on their album, titled Asia, released in 2006.
In 2006, Mexican pop band RBD covered "Let the Music Play," which is featured on its first English-language album, Rebels, but only as an iTunes digital-download exclusive. The track was not included on the album itself.