Song: "Groove Is In The Heart"
Album: World Clique
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We all have guilty pleasures, and though many of them may be rather embarrassing, they also tend to reveal a great deal about our true musical tastes. Many times, these guilty pleasures are classic pop songs, and though they may have once been passed off as part of a passing fad, there is always SOME reason why a song becomes a pop hit. Whether it is due to a catchy melody, a brilliant lyric, or something so different from the normal music scene of the time, "true" pop hits are usually unpredictable at first, yet they are also the songs that stand the test of time. Bringing together every element necessary to create one of the most catchy yet original songs in history, there are few songs that are as perfectly crafted as Deee-Lite's 1990 musical masterpiece, "Groove Is In The Heart."
As the highlight of their equally fantastic record, World Clique, the song quickly found its way to the top of the charts across the globe. Without question, one of the main reasons the song was a such a hit was due to the fact that the sound was so unique, and regardless of ones' musical preference, it was a pure joy to experience time and time again. Songs that provided such wide-ranging enjoyment and musical creativity had not been heard in decades, and the infamous video for "Groove Is In The Heart" further reinforced the songs' likeness to the vibe and style of the music scene of the late 1960's. Mixing together funk grooves, perfectly selected music samples, some choice hip-hop rhyming, and a beat that was as danceable in ones' car as it was in a club, "Groove Is In The Heart" is about as perfect as a song can get.
At the core of the music is the mixing of samples chosen and spun by DJ's Towa Tei and Super DJ Dimitri. Pulling from sources as wide ranging as Herbie Hancock and a clip from the TV show Green Acres, the DJ duo proves that there is a true craft to being a turntablist. The infamous slide whistle on the song is taken from the same source as the part of the drum beat: Vernon Burch's "Get Up," while the rest of the percussion comes from Ralph MacDonald's "Jam On The Groove." The songs' mesmerizing basswork is a combination of a Hancock sample, as well as live bass being provided by none other than music legend Bootsy Collins. His presence on the track not only gives it a great deal of credibility, but it also further reinforces the "retro" feel of the groups' music. Furthering this roll call of music legends, the duo known as "The Horny Horns," Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker, are also featured on the song, and this "mini reunion" of the core of the bands of both James Brown as well as Parliament helps to make "Groove Is In The Heart" one of the most fantastic musical efforts of the decade.
Along with the amazing music, the lyrics of "Groove Is In The Heart" are catchy and simple, yet not in the least bit any less perfect. The core of the songs' lyrics compare the feeling to a love infatuation to hearing a great new song, and for anyone who has experienced both, it is a very just comparison. The opening lyric perfectly sets out the similarity as Youngstown, OH's own vocalist, Lady Miss Kier proclaims, "...the chills that you spill up my back keep me filled with satisfaction, when we're done, satisfaction of what's to come..." With a voice that is capable of any note on the scale, and a demeanor that is ideal for the party style mood of the songs, few singers so perfectly captured the mood of their music as one finds on "Groove Is In The Heart." The song also takes great benefit from the mid-song rap, which is provided by none other than Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest. Q-Tip's smooth, cool vocal delivery plays in wonderful contrast to the vibrant music that dominates the song, yet it is very much his verse that pushes the song into a category of greatness all its own. Collins also provides some ad-libbed lyrics throughout the song, and it is these small additions that make "Groove Is In The Heart" a true classic.
At the end of the day, regardless of genre, great songs will always stand tall due to whatever special element it is that makes it such a great musical work. Whether the song captured a specific moment in history, contains an amazing musical feat, or is simply just a great song that is fun to listen to, there are countless reasons as to "why" a song becomes a hit. In the case of Deee-Lite's "Groove Is In The Heart," it is in many ways a "perfect storm" of pop-hit content, as the music, lyrics, and mood are absolutely addictive. Without question one of the most purely "fun" songs in history, the trio at comprised the group, along with a number of stunning cameo musicians, used the song to prove that simple lyrical concepts and well structured music could still be great, even during the strange "musical limbo" between "hair metal" and "grunge" that was present at the time. The true greatness of the song is proven in the fact that twenty years later, the song is still as enjoyable and still finds its way into regular rotation on radio stations across the world. In many ways defining the creative freedom that would dominate the music scene, as well as popular culture of the next few years, there are few songs in history that are as wonderfully enjoyable as Deee-Lite's 1990 hit, "Groove Is In The Heart."