“Groove is in the Heart” is one of the songs that helped put a slight crack in my teenage rage against contemporary pop music.
It was released during my senior year, and I think the video really sucked me in. I should have been around in the 60s, so watching the trippy video for this funky dance song in 1990 got me all excited. And even if there hadn’t been a cool video, the song is super, super catchy and fun. Lady Miss Kier is a fucking brilliant singer—and she’s such a drag queen! I love her.
I did buy the World Clique album on cassette, and I remember being surprised that I liked it so much. This wasn’t a typical early 90s record except for all the samples. And who else had Bootsy Collins and Maceo Parker guesting on their songs back then? This first Deee-Lite song came out when Mariah Carey, New Kids on the Block, and Wilson Phillips were topping the charts. M.C. Hammer’s third album, Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em (read my blog about it here) was released in early 1990, and much to my surprise, I really loved it. When the Deee-Lite moment happened later that year, I wondered what was happening to me.
My musical horizons were expanding. The few radio-friendly songs I considered my private guilty pleasures were fucking with my head. I guess I was kind of a hipster in that way, because I did always pride myself on liking the older music that most kids my age had no interest in. In the 80s I was all about 80s music–while never losing my first love, 50s and 60s rock and roll–up until about 1988 or so. Madonna wasn’t the same skank I knew and loved in her early years, Michael Jackson was getting weirder every day, Duran Duran had fractured. I was getting really into what was starting to be called classic rock, since my favorite radio station had changed its format from Top 40 to classic rock. I knew some of that music already, but instead of hearing the early Beatles and Stones, they’d play stuff from The White Album and Sticky Fingers, and I got to hear more Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, and Allman Brothers.
I have always been a huge fan of music in general, so it’s weird to think of myself as so virulently opposed to anything just because it’s on the radio (or, in modern terminology, Spotify, Pandora, or someone’s iPod). I have quoted the great Dave Grohl on this topic before, and I’ll do it again. In his masterful SXSW Festival keynote address, he said, “Fuck guilty pleasure! How about just pleasure?” He expands on that sentiment here:
I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. If you fucking like something, like it. That’s what’s wrong with our generation: that residual punk rock guilt, like, “You’re not supposed to like that. That’s not fucking cool.” Don’t fucking think it’s not cool to like Britney Spears’ “Toxic.” It is cool to like Britney Spears’ “Toxic”! Why the fuck not? Fuck you! That’s who I am, goddamn it! That whole guilty pleasure thing is full of fucking shit.
So there you are. I fucking love Motorhead. I fucking love Miles Davis. And I fucking love Deee-Lite. “Groove is in the Heart” is one of the greatest songs of the past 25 years. It makes me smile, it makes me sing and dance. What’s so wrong with liking a song just because it makes you happy when you hear it? Revolution is in the eye of the beholder. And Deee-Lite was leading the groove revolution in 1990. I’m thankful to them for helping me realize that not everyone is Bob Dylan or John Lennon. Just listen to this song and try to not have a good day.