Middle School Dance Songs, Part 2

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Welcome back to the St. Joseph School gym, 1992! If you missed part 1, you can read it here. To offer a quick refresher, we’re halfway through the dance and kids are hopped up on pop and still scared to dance with the opposite gender. Let’s take a look at the rest of the soundtrack:

C+C Music Factory “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)”

How is this also an American dance music group?! I’m beginning to think that Sweden looked at 1991 and resolved to put all its resources into creating Ace of Base in order to reestablish dance music order in the world (Yes, I saw the chance to call it supremacy and bring up the Ace of Base were Neo-Nazis rumor, but I passed). I love the name of this band so much. It’s wonderfully generic. Hi, my name is C, and I work in a music factory. Gotta wife and a dog and a family. I can’t do the boss part because C is clearly one of the name partners, so it is a boss.

This song is so fun and the perfect thing to set off a bunch of gawky 12 year olds. This was a staple for several years worth of dances, and unlike the Funky Bunch, to my knowledge nobody in this group has ever committed a hate crime.

Boyz II Men “Motownphilly” 

How insanely good were Boyz II Men? Do people today think they were good? I’m not checking. I don’t need to ruin something else from my childhood. I forgot that this was their first single. I might also be my favorite song of theirs, especially the a cappella harmonies. Between Boyz II Men, Rockapella, and the Simpsons B-Sharps episode, a cappella had a moment in the late 80s and early 90s.

The vampire dance I mentioned in Part 1 came into play again here. It was hard to figure out what to do when the parts of the song got slow, so you sort of had to rear back like a startled vampire when they hit. This is all so clear in my head so I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Certain of it.

Gerardo “Rico Suave”

Hi, non-Spanish speaker John here. No idea what Gerardo was saying in most of this song, but you know what? Saying “Rico Suave” was so much fun that it doesn’t matter. Gerardo also looked cool. I used to think that he resembled Richard Grieco from 21 Jump Street, but that also might have just been because Grieco rhymes with Rico. I was an easily influenced kid. Oh hey. Sexy Latin rapper Gerardo is a pastor now. I guess if the Million Dollar Man can do it, so can he.

This was one of the songs where we gesticulated a lot and in retrospect a lot of cultural appropriation was going on, but given that’s what they were selling to a mostly white audience I think we were supposed to? Anyway, the line leading up to it and “Rico Suave” was fun to shout in unison.

MC Hammer “2 Legit 2 Quit”

This song is insanely fun, and it was in The Addams Family! It sucks that MC Hammer became a joke so quickly. It sucks that MC Hammer went bankrupt. It sucks that MC Hammer dropped the MC and tried to become a gangsta rapper.

This is the perfect middle school dance song, because it practically prints out instructions for you on how to dance to it. This is the hip hop version of the Hokey Pokey. Oh, this seems like a perfect time to mention that I went to schools where one of our units in gym class was line dancing. Electric Slide, of course, but also Personal Jesus (was this common? I feel like it shouldn’t have been), and later Cotton Eyed Joe.

By the way, that music video cost $4 million to produce, making it one of the most expensive music videos of all time.

Color Me Badd “All 4 Love”

You’re damn right Color Me Badd gets a song on part 2 as well. Two #1 singles. Nine Top 40 hits. Bruce Springsteen never had a #1 hit. Does this mean that Color Me Badd is better than Bruce Springsteen? Numbers don’t lie. I already covered their sartorial choices in the previous entry, so what else is there to say about Color Me Badd, apart from them being objectively better than The Boss? Uh, they’re from Oklahoma. That’s super weird, right? This fashion forward R&B group is straight out of Oklahoma City.

Unlike “I Wanna Sex You Up” at least this one didn’t require us to potentially be exposed to the concept of grinding. At least from a 12-year-old and 38-year-old John’s perspective, I feel like the move here was sort of saunter, with a half-vampire arms raised. No, I haven’t learned any new dance moves in the last 26 years. Why do you ask?

Jesus Jones “Right Here Right Now”

Hey! Remember when calling a radio station to request a song was a thing that people actually did? Not a lot of things startle me into feeling ancient and out of touch, but the thought that doing this is essentially a thing of the past is pretty wild. Anyway, if you’re under 28, once there was a thing called the radio, and people, known as “callers,” would use a telephone that was connected to the wall in their house to call a human being who was selecting songs to play on said radio and ask that person if he or she would play a song. I did this one time, and the song I requested was “Right Here Right Now” by Jesus Jones. Now this practice is a thing of the past, and I wasted my one experience with it on freaking Jesus Jones. Ugh. I don’t even want to talk about the song. It’s up there if you want to check it out, and they played it at our dances. Jesus Jones, man.

Bryan Adams “(Everything I Do) I do it for You”

Three. At the aforementioned lip sync contest three people did this song. It was massive. Gigantic. It dwarfed the success of the Kevin Costner Robin Hood vehicle it was the signature song of, and while Prince of Thieves is mostly forgotten today (not by me. Keep your eyes peeled for a review in the near future), the song lives on (in infamy?).

But that’s not what’s important now. We’ve reached the end of the dance, and if I and my fellow prepubescent boys want to touch a girl today, this is our last chance. It’s been 27 years and I still remember with crystal clarity the awkwardness of making those asks. There were 30 of us, tops! I’d known these girls for all of my formative years. But the act of asking was excruciating. I’m not naming names here to dredge up old crushes, not that any of them will likely read this, but I know for a fact that I definitely skipped asking my top choices to dance because even then I was a realist. That’s not to say that the person whose shoulders I stiffly held at arm’s length for five minutes wasn’t great for allowing me to do so; she was very cool, and besides, I’m sure I wasn’t her #1 either. So we stepped to the left and to the right together until the music stopped, and promptly retreated back to our corners, like two timid prize fighters.

So that was a typical middle school dance soundtrack! I hope you enjoyed it. Let us know what you thought of the soundtrack selection in the comments, or on Twitter.  

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