“I liked pop. I liked soul. I liked rock, but I never liked disco.”
— Everclear, “AM Radio”
“Who the hell are we fooling? This isn’t really what we do. We had to borrow these keyboards. We only listen to Mötley Crüe.”
— Bowling for Soup, “A Really Cool Dance Song”
It took a long time to admit liking any dance music at all. Despite being a teenager who claimed to fervently embrace individuality, acknowledging enjoyment in any kind of song expressly recorded to make your body move seemed like a form of moral failure. The thought that anyone might discover I enjoyed any kind of dance music resulted in feeling a foreboding sense of dread. Bruce Springsteen, ZZ Top, The Beatles, Prince, Sting, Van Halen… these were the artists that mattered. Huey Lewis and the News and “Weird” Al also mattered, but the less that’s said about that, the better.
In retrospect, this is absurd. Aside from the logical inconsistency of being a proud individual who didn’t want anyone thinking he liked certain musical genres, a significant number of the songs I enjoyed also appeared on the dance charts. In fact, many of the acceptable artists and pop hits in the ‘80s also appeared in the dance charts. The fact that one could actually shake their rump to Prince’s “When Doves Cry,” Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This),” or Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded Me With Science” was simply an unacknowledged coincidence. It was kind of like a don’t ask, don’t tell situation — not that there’s anything wrong with that.
This reticence to accept the truth was certainly reinforced by the terror induced by the thought of actually dancing. Like a significant number of teenage boys, every single attempt at rhythmically my body to the beat resulted in motions similar to those of a robot’s spastic movements whilst experiencing widespread system failure. I recall one friend valiantly attempting to teach me how to dance in junior year of high school. All her efforts were doomed from the start by my absolute inability to overcome any feelings of self-consciousness engendered by even the slightest attempt to move shoulders or hips to the beat.
Alas, it’s three decades later, and I still don’t dance. I know… As Annie Savoy said in Bull Durham, “How sad.” Many women, including my wife, have managed to drag this poor boy onto a dance floor only to barely escape accidental injury. No one can determine whether the blood alcohol content in each of those instances was a mitigating or aggravating influence.
Despite those ill-advised attempts at shaking my groove thing, the teenage stubbornness regarding dance music faded. It’s now easy to openly enjoy the dance songs that sound appealing. Oh, they are the minority when it comes to the types of genres and songs that typically receive airplay, but there’s no attempt to hide or downplay how much I enjoy them. Yet, songs that are parodies or tongue-in-cheek renditions of dance songs bring a special enjoyment of their own.
That’s the area “A Really Cool Dance Song” falls into. It’s kinda-sorta a dance song, and the whether or not the lyrics are accurate portray Bowling for Soup’s musical taste, it is by far the closest they’ve come to writing a dance song — even though it’s abundantly clear that they are treating the exercise as a well-intentioned joke. Unfortunately, Bowling for Soup is one of those bands that have an exceedingly narrow range, and by the time they released this track, they had mined their musical talent for every song it was worth. Oh, but what a great job did they of getting maximum value out it.
This song almost makes me want to go up and dance.
Bowling for Soup
“A Really Cool Dance Song”
Sorry for Partyin’
Hall of Songs: 2019 inductee