Let Us Now Sing the Praises of Deee-Lite

How do you say, “Deee-Timeless?”

In 1991, when I was a young lad of 15 (and a half), I was still taking the bus to school.  I lived in the country, and it was the only way I could get to school until I received my precious driver’s license the next year.  I did have something that made my bus ride bearable, though – a Discman… Or – more specifically – a Toshiba portable CD player, and a dozen of my favourite CDs.

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You know it’s fancy because it has a base that you could plug it into at home. It didn’t charge the batteries or anything – but hey, it kept the discs from skipping.

And while I had some of 1990’s biggest names (Amy Grant, C+C Music Factory, Black Box), I also had Deee-Lite’s World Clique as part of my selections.

I first heard Deee-Lite (as many kids of the 90s did) at a MuchMusic Video Dance Party – the song, of course, was “Groove Is In The Heart.”  Let’s take a look, shall we?

Now, for a 15 year-old from Brandon, Manitoba, this video was mind-blowing. They looked like they were from the 60s, but also from the future! Those colours!  The cultural diversity! Those shoes (Fluevogs, it turns out)!

After seeing this visual treat, I bought the World Clique CD for $356,651 – or whatever obscene price CDs were in 1990.  (They were expensive, kids.  Ask your parents. We would even RENT them like videotapes.)

Fast-forward to today – the CD is still in my collection, and my iPod has a substantial amount of Deee-Lite on it.  And you know what?  It holds up.  Here’s the thing about Deee-Lite: while they helped define 1990s pop culture, there’s really no other (mainstream) act like quite like them.

I did a quick Google search for the term “Bands Like Deee-Lite” – you know what I got? A bunch of dance-pop acts.  Admittedly, good stuff – a post about the genius of Cathy Dennis is percolating – but I’m sorry, Black Box, C+C Music Factory, and even Ms. Dennis are none of the following:

  • Deee-Liscious
  • Deee-Lovely
  • Deee-Lectible
  • Deee-Vine
  • Deee-Gorgeous
  • Deee-Groovy
  • Deee-Lite.

They were also socially conscious (or, woke, as the kids say) before it was cool.

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Lady Miss Kier’s annotation, not mine.

I’m sure commenters may prove me wrong, but for my money, there has been no other mainstream’ish act quite like Deee-Lite. While they may have influenced performers and musicians like Tove Lo sonically, and influenced fashion trends (I remember being so excited for my bell-bottoms from Le Chateau), I can honestly say that Deee-Lite were (and still are) one-of-a-kind.

They brought a unique mix of disco, funk, psychedelia, trance and just plain fun to pop music – Bootsy Collins, for heaven’s sake – to the world in a time of drum machines (Hey, Technotronic!) and grunge.  And I bet if you play “Groove Is In The Heart” in any crowded room, a substantial portion of the people in that room will groove, sing along, or bust out some dance moves you never knew they had in them.

 

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This is from “Runaway”, the lead single off their amazing album “Infinity Within.”  Recommended.

Although Deee-Lite is no longer together, Lady Miss Kier is performing, DJing, and still being ridiculously fabulous.

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Deee-GORGEOUS!

DJ Towa Tei is still DJing and creating music in his native Japan, with a decidedly Deee-Lite Influence:

…and DJ Dmitri? Ummm… He’s on Facebook.

And although they may not be making new music, their brief time together as a group (1988-1996) created art that influenced many and inspired me (and inspires me to this day).

I highly encourage you to fall down a Deee-Lite Youtube hole. Along with “Groove Is In the Heart,” you’ll find some wonderful quirky, inherently danceable neo-disco grooves.

Thanks, Deee-Lite.

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Can We Just Talk About Katy Perry’s “Swish Swish?”

I’m not mad. Just disappointed.

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First off, I want to say that  I’m a big fan of positivity.  There are many things I love, and this blog will likely cover many of them in excruciating detail.  However, there’s been something on my chest that has been bugging me for months, and I need to unload.

Back in May, Katy Perry performed on SNL.  Along with her single of the moment, “Bon Appetit,” she performed “Swish Swish” – and holy crap, you guys… It was amazing.

In full Beetlejuice drag, Katy turned it out.  The song’s dark tone, paired with the fiercest dance line this side of Soul Train, was the kind of thing that screamed “Song of the Summer!!” – well, for, let’s say 10% of the population, at least.  It was just counter-culture enough for mainstream America, and it was strangely both dark and fun at the same time.

And I was excited.  Oh boy, was I excited!  There was some epic fanning in that video! It wasn’t “silly, quirky Katy Perry” – it was semi-savage Katy Perry, taking aim at an unnamed target (whose name rhymes starts with T and rhymes with Taylor Swift.) I anxiously awaited the video.

Then along came the lyric video, and I have to admit, I was still pretty chuffed.  It stars  Gretchen, who is apparently big in Brazil and is – I’m not even kidding here – referred to as the “Queen of Butt.” Again – fun and a bit subversive, but with a nod to the fact that this song will fill circuit party dancefloors around the world.

And then the “official” video came.

Ugh.

I’m not going to even embed it here – you don’t have the 6 and a half minutes to waste, because, let’s be honest… This video is a hot mess, and tries WAY too hard.

We all know (and love) Katy Perry’s silly, whimsical persona.  And on every album, she picks a single to give the cheesy, extended video treatment.  Sometimes it works  (Debbie Gibson!  Darren Criss! REBECCA EFFING BLACK!), sometimes it just kind of fits the song, and sometimes.. Well… You get a steaming pile of video crap.

Now listen, I’m still #TeamKaty, and I still love LISTENING to this song. But this video is just plain awful.  There are many people in this video whom I admire and appreciate – and they just embarrass themselves:

Molly Shannon!

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Terry Crews!

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…and Terry Crews’ reaction was pretty much the same as mine when I saw the video.

I don’t even get who the target audience is for this video. It has stupid special effects that 10 year-olds would think are HILARIOUS, featuring people that don’t register in their world. I mean, for heaven’s sake, it’s a live-action cartoon.

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And that’s not even the WORST of it. I mean, LOOK AT THIS! I did some video editing in college using SuperVHS tape and an ancient computer, and I’m pretty sure I could’ve done better than this.

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Listen, I GET that Katy Perry likes to be silly and quirky and “adorkable.” But this song was NOT the place to do it. This video could have been so much more – heck, if she didn’t want to fire a direct shot to the unsinkable Taylor Swift battleship, at least she could’ve fought her “old” persona or something. That’s alway entertaining – right, Mimi?

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“Swish Swish” takes a great song and turns it silly. I’m not mad, Kathryn. Just disappointed.

Look what you made me do, Katy. Look what you made me do.