Fantasizing About Love and Genius
Joe: Hello and Welcome to Riffs on Riffs, where we explore the collision of original and sampled tracks and the artists who made them. I’m your host, Joe Watson, and I’m here with my co-host, Toby Brazwell. What’s up Toby?
Toby: What’s going on Joe, glad to be here!
Joe: Together on this show, we’ll listen to legendary tracks and the timeless — but sometimes not-so- well- known — songs they sampled from. What are we listening to today Toby?
Toby: We are listening to none other than R&B icon Mariah Carey sing a track called “Fantasy” off of her Day Dream album that was released in 1995. This was one of 6 singles released that really marked a stylish if not transformative change in her musical career. But before we get into all of that, let’s talk about what track was sampled to create this hit.
Joe: Can’t wait to get into this… I don’t know what you’re going to play, but I know one thing…
Toby: that we need more cowbell?
Joe: that we are about to hear some genius!
Toby: I know exactly what you mean partner. Let’s rewind and take a listen to some of the inspiration behind Mariah Carey’s hit.
🔊Genius of Love 1
Joe and Toby: improv while playing
Joe: This is Tom Tom’s Clubs “Genius of Love” from their self-titled 1981 album. This group was formed by the husband and wife team of Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz, and it was more of a side project from their main band, Talking Heads.
Toby: Ok two things. One, I wish my side projects produced this much interest! and two, the thing I want to know is where they got their name from. I always thought that Tom Tom Club was named after the drum called the Tom Tom, or at least by a group of drummers.
Well it turns out that I was maybe… 1/2 right
Joe: Or 1/2 wrong….
Toby: so true! The group was actually named a er the dance hall club that they rehearsed in while staying in the Bahamas. I’d like to think that Chris Frantz, who is a drummer, played a part in naming the band — so that makes me half right…. right?
Joe: however you slice it, one thing that is 100% certain is that this track was a hit.
Tom Tom Club was composed of several members from the their parent group the “Talking Heads”. The Heads wanted to take a bit of a break from touring and music and decided to do it in the Bahamas of all places.
Toby: Sounds like a great place for a Kit Kat break for me.
Joe: Taking a break is the one thing that Chris and Tina did not do. They wanted to keep experimenting and exploring the new wave sound.
Toby: “Genius of Love” was #1 on the Top 80 Disco Billboard charts. Let’s listen to some of the other singles from that first Tom Tom Club release:
This song is called “Wordy Rappinghood”.
Toby: Another single that they released from their first album was a cover of the Drifters hit “Under the Boardwalk”. I love this song!! Let’s take a listen.
🔊Under the Boardwalk
Toby: So that was a couple of the other hits from Tom Tom Club’s self-titled first release. It’s always cool to see how music has evolved over time. Music, like everything else, has a history. Let’s take another listen to “Genius of Love” and then we can get into how many people have sampled it… and there’s a list!
🔊Genius of Love Main
Joe: You’re not the only one to appreciate the Tom Tom Club’s genius. That song has been sampled 148 times by artists in hip hop and R&B. First, there’s Dr. Jeckyl & Mr. Hyde’s “Genius Rap,” released in 1981 off of their album “Champagne of Rap”
Toby: My favorite line… “We make bald men hair curl” That’s power. That’s the sonic version of Hair club for men. This could have saved me a lot of money by just listening to this song.
I see your sample and I raise you one… You can’t forget Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s “It’s Nasty,” released in 1982.
Joe: That’s so good it’s nasty! Ok, I have one. Check out this 1996 track written and recorded by British R&B singer Mark Morrison…
🔊Return of the Mack
Most songs that sample “Genius of Love” use the funky keyboards and synths. Here, Mark samples the drum break and slows it down. Take a listen:
🔊Genius Drum Break
“Return of the Mack” went Platinum #1 on UK Singles Chart, #2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 for one week behind what song in US? “MMMBop” by Hanson
I know now you want to hear that catchy little chorus Toby. I gotcha buddy…
Mark Morrison has had repeated legal issues, but at least Burger King remixed Return of the Mack in commercials for “Return of the Mac and Cheetos”
Toby: Ok so Mark hooked up with artists Nevada and Fetty Wap for a new version of this song called The Mack that I think is pretty awesome.
I don’t think this song gets enough play so let’s take a listen!
Joe: This is cool, but if we are talking remakes of Return of the Mack, I prefer Mann’s version, mostly because it has my man Snoop.
I know you’re a big fan of Redman. Didn’t he sample Genius of Love as well?
Toby: He sure did, on a track called “Brick City Mashin’” Off of his 1998 platinum album “Doc’s da Name 2000” Produced by Erik Sermon of EPMD, who also discovered and gave Redman his start
🔊Brick City Mashin
Let’s keep it going, Joe. You have another sample to bust out?
Joe: Yessir. Busta Rhymes, in fact. A song called “One” that was released in 1997, and features Erykah Badu.
I’m glad that they are calling attention to the absurdity of that whole “fun, natural fun” line. What does that even mean?
Also, can we just talk for a second about how huge Erykah’s “Baduizm” album was when it came out that same year? 3X platinum. The song “On and On” won Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and the album won Best R&B Album Next Lifetime… I think we all have that story…
Toby: Dont we all! Badu and other artists like D’angelo, Maxwell and others helped usher in the neo-soul movement in music, which was a more soulful approach to the organic R&B sound. But that’s a story for another episode… Let’s get into our next featured track and talk about another musical genius, and one who has been the subject of many a fantasy. This is Mariah Carey’s 1995 track, “Fantasy.”
Off 5th album, Daydream, released Sept. 1995
Second single to debut at Number 1 on Billboard chart; first by a female artist
Joe: Interestingly enough, the first song to debut at #1 happened only a couple weeks prior: “You are Not Alone” by Michael Jackson, off his History album
🔊You Are Not Alone
- written by R Kelley
- video has Michael and then wife Lisa Marie Presley half naked in their own sort of surreal fantasy sequence. But let’s get back to Mariah’s “Fantasy.”
Topped singles charts for 8 weeks in US, was top five hit in several other countries.
Mariah quote: “I was listening to the radio and heard ‘Genius of Love’, and I hadn’t heard it in a long time. It reminded me of growing up and listening to the radio and that feeling the song gave me seemed to go with the melody and basic idea I had for ‘Fantasy.’ I initially told Dave (co-writer and producer Dave “Jam” Hall) about the idea, and we did it. We called up the Tom Tom Club and they were really into it.”
Toby: Mariah made her directorial debut for video. She was unhappy with previous videos and wanted more control. It opens with creepy clown shot, but thankfully ODB takes care of that in the remix. (ties clown to phone pole) Let’s talk about that remix…
Joe: Puff Daddy produced
Mariah wanted to appeal to hip hop crowd, record company was leery about having ODB on the track. I don’t generally think of Mariah as hip hop, do you?
The Bad Boy Remix uses the bridge from the Genius of Love track as the chorus
🔊Bad Boy Chorus
Bad Boy remix accounts for over half the sales of the song Fantasy
Joe: I love how ODB makes sure everyone is in the house
In true scattered ODB fashion, he manages to shout out 4, and maybe even 6, other tracks in one verse:
First, we have Kriss Kross - Jump
This is stretching it, because he says stump, but it’s ODB, so who knows. Maybe he’s calling out The Brothers Johnson - Stomp! Regardless, I always welcome a
chance to play a snippet of these guys:
Then we shake our rump, so Wreckx-N-Effect - Rump Shaker
Now we do the hump, which of course would be Digital Underground’s - Humpty Dance
This is where things take a sharp turn with Donnie and Marie Osmond - Little Bit Country, Little Bit Rock n Roll
🔊Little Bit Country
ODB also says he’s soul to soul, which could be referencing The Temptations - Soul to Soul
🔊Soul to Soul
Maybe I’m just reading way too much into this one verse, but I thought it was cool nonetheless.
I also like how Puff does a call back to the opening line from Genius of Love, “What you gonna do when you get outta jail?”
Toby: In listening to the Genius of Love track again, this type of music evokes memories in me outside of hearing it back in the day. And I was wondering why until I did some research for this episode. This song reminds me of famous hip hop influenced show “Yo Gabba Gabbba!” And it all makes sense because one of the characters on Yo Gabba Gabba is Mark Mothersbaugh. Mark was one of the founding members of the new wave group Devo, who was famous for songs like Whip It.
Joe: I think I know why you are feeling that vibe. Let’s dig into Yo Gabba Gabba for this episode’s bonus material. Yo Gabba Gabba debuted in August 2007. It is obviously a kid’s show, but more than that, it’s a fascinating blend of new wave, hip hop, and numerous other musical styles. First, we start with the theme, which blends a hip hop beat with new wave sounds.
🔊Yo Gabba Gabba Theme
As you mentioned before, Mark Mothersbaugh from Devo has a regular skit as the art teacher.
Toby: And Lance Robertson, aka DJ Lance Rock, the show’s host, is a real life DJ and musician. One of the show’s co-creators, Christian Jacobs, is the founding member of the band The Aquabats. They originally started out in Cali as a satirical punk band, but eventually moved to ska and then began to incorporate new wave elements in their music. The Aquabats toured with bands like No Doubt and Sublime, and even featured a young Travis Barker as their drummer for a while before he left to join Blink–182.
Joe: The musical guests that have appeared on Yo Gabba Gabba have run the gamut. Everyone from Mos Def, Lil Wayne and The Roots to Weezer, Jimmy Eat World, Joy Zipper and My Chemical Romance — just to give a small sample.
Toby: Biz Markie even does a “Beat of the Day” segment. He was initially asked to do a Dancey Dance routine for the show, but he has a bad back, so he offered to teach the kids how to do a beat instead. It became a regular skit. Check it out.
🔊Yo Biz Markie
So Toby, I’m a little disappointed that we haven’t had our Bootsy Collins reference in the show yet. You mind if I rectify that?
Toby: You mean to tell me that the magic yellow robot is Bootzilla in disguise?
Joe: As amazing as that would be, I’m afraid not. Have no fear though, because Bootsy did indeed bring the party, and the funk, to Yo Gabba Gabba. You know who else joined him?
Toby: Biz Markie? Maybe Questlove on drums?
Joe: That’s right! But there’s one more crazy connection — Erykah Badu sings on this, too! Here’s a track called “We’re Going to Party Today.”
Joe: You know we also flew right by an even more obvious Bootsy shout out in the “Genius of Love” track, right?
Toby: We did?
Joe: Yep, In fact, they call him out by name. Let’s take a listen.
It’s maybe a little hard to decipher all the words, but the lyrics are,
“Clinton’s musicians such as Bootsy Collins Raise expectation to a new intention”
Toby: Man, I am always amazed at all the crazy connections when we do this show.
Joe: Me too!
That just about wraps up this episode. Today we listened to our featured tracks “Genius of Love” by Tom Tom Club, and “Fantasy” by Mariah Carey — and lots of stuff in between. Toby, what do we have coming up on the next episode?
Toby: I have a feeling we’ll come to a crossroads. We might hear some footsteps in the dark, but one thing is for sure, it will be a good day.
Joe: Well hip hop hooray, that sounds fun to me. Til then, thanks for joining us on Riffs on Riffs. We’ll leave you with a Talking Heads song that also features Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth from Tom Tom Club — and was inspired by a Parliament Funkadelic concert. This is “Burning Down the House”. Enjoy.
🔊Burning Down the House