Listen here, how we sing it in your ear

Bar Keys Boogie BodyOn 12 January 1980, “Move Your Boogie Body” by The Bar-Kays was at #57. It peaked in 1979 at #53. 

OK, let’s talk about “Move Your Boogie Body” and let’s talk about funk, because “Move Your Boogie Body” is as funk as funk gets.   Which is to say I hate it.

Which is not to say I hate funk in general; there’s a lot of fun and interesting funk.  Like “Brick House” by The Commodores; who doesn’t like “Brick House”?  And there’s a lot about funk in general I like — interesting instrumentation, complicated rhythms, a general sinuosity, and lots of bass guitar.  The problem with lots of funk groups, though, is that they want to sound like they’re the center of everything that’s funk, and as a result, there are a lot of bands that sound alike and, strangely, unintelligible. And that’s “Move Your Boogie Body” in a nutshell.  There’s too much going on to get a sense for how this song is its own creature; it just sounds like all sorts of other funk songs.  This is the disco of funk.  And I can’t understand a word anyone is saying.  Unintelligibility is not a problem in of itself when the voice is being used more as an instrument than in communicating information; Sigur Ros (definitely not funk) is brilliant at singing meaningless lyrics in ways that are musically intriguing.  But the vocals in a lot of funk songs are jarring in a way that, while not exactly cacophonous, isn’t exactly musical either.  The Bar-Keys are the kind of funk I can do without, but which was very very popular in the late 70s.  It’ll take us until about 1985 before there’s going to be funk I like, I fear.

 

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