If you weren’t soft-rock in the 70s, chances are you were disco, unless you were what would later come to be labeled “classic rock” in which case you were neither. However, in this day and age, Poison is labeled as “classic rock” which really dilutes the brand if you ask me. But seeings as no one did, I’m going to write just a little bit about one of my favorite disco songs.
“Boogie Oogie Oogie” isn’t a song that I immediately think of when I think of disco songs, but I’ve listened to it a fair amount getting ready to do this post, and really, it’s just about a perfect disco song. First, let’s start with that bass line. A disco song is really only as good as its bass line, and the one in “Boogie Oogie Oogie” is hard to top. There’s so much going on in the background on this song, but front and center is the vocal provided by Hazel Payne and Janice-Marie Johnson which practically commands you to “get on the floor and boogie oogie oogie till you just can’t boogie no more.” How could anyone possibly resist?
Not many did – the song is one of the biggest hits of the disco era, number one for 3 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 and helping them land a Best New Artist Grammy award,helping cement A Taste Of Honey’s status as a one-hit wonder. But as I frequently say about one-hit wonders, if you’re gonna be a one-hit wonder, you could do so much worse than “Boogie Oogie Oogie.” The funny thing about this song is that it was a huge smash in the summer of 1978, a year that brought us all the hits from Saturday Night Fever, Donna Summer’s “Last Dance” and Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana”, just a year prior to the night that disco died aka Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park in Chicago. It still amazed me that people got so worked up by a style of music that they exploded records on a baseball field, damaging the field so much that the second game had to be forfeited.
Not surprisingly, I always liked disco, which morphed into dance music in the 80s and had a significant impact on Eurodance in the 90s. But then again, I’ve always liked my music to make me feel good, and disco really does that, even when the lyrics are melancholy. “Boogie Oogie Oogie” is decidedly not one of those melancholy disco songs.
In 2004, A Taste Of Honey reunited for the first time in 20 years to perform “Boogie Oogie Oogie” on a PBS special. The results were nothing short of amazing.
For one thing, I had no idea they played their own instruments, although the cover of the single should have been my first clue. I just love this video because Payne and Johnson are clearly just enjoying the hell out of playing their only hit song, but a song that has probably kept them comfortable, especially Johnson because she co-wrote the song.
But perhaps more than anything else, I will always think of this Rold Gold pretzel commercial when I hear “Boogie Oogie Oogie” which is unfortunate because I can’t stand Jason Alexander even one little bit.