Most of my memories of the early 1990s come from the fact that while I was hitting puberty, and becoming aware of the wider world around me, the pop culture was suddenly becoming aware of many things itself. The decade of rad was leaving, and when I was thirteen or fourteen, dance pop was summation of everything we hated.
And so where does "Groove is in the Heart" come in? It is a single by Deee-Lite, a New York City based funk/dance band. Its music is a combination of at least a half dozen funk samples, complimented by Bootsy Collins playing bass and Maceo Parker playing saxophone. Its lyrics are about dancing, having fun, and infatuation. This would seem to be the type of slick, empty party music that we had such a rebellion against.
And yet, this song is a work of art. For one thing, along with having two of the most respected funk musicians ever playing on it, it also featured a rap by Q-Tip, when he was still mostly unknown. There was way more talent and innovation put into a record about dancing than needed to be. And the results are good: the record is fun, infectious, funny and still interesting to listen to two decades later.
In 1990, no one probably would have guessed what the next two years of music would be like. The sudden emergence of distorted guitars and unkempt men in plaid was not something that many would have guessed at. It might have been just as possible that funky dance music like this could have transcended its vapid associations and been the mainstream of alternative music (forgive the term) in the 1990s. However, such a route was not to be, but we can still listen to a song like this and imagine what the decade would have been like if that was the case.
"And remember...groove is in the heart."