Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Quick inanity: "Boogie Oogie Oogie"

A Taste of Honey's "Boogie Oogie Oogie" (lyrics) is a brilliant exercise in inanity. Unlike "Whoomp! (There It Is)" (previously covered here), this song is not incoherent or self-referential, but it is no less inane for its message.

The song, as a whole, makes up not a mere argument for boogying, but rather a statement of fact addressed directly to the listener: you are going to boogie, regardless of what you may think, until you are physically incapable of further boogying.

Stanza one forms a coherent sentence: "If you're thinking you're too cool to boogie, boy oh boy have I got news for you: everybody here tonight must boogie; let me tell you, you are no exception to the rule." Here we are presented with a sort of regula boogi, and the remainder of the song is primarily dedicated to an entreaty to follow the rule. "There's no time to waste" summarizes the urgency of the message.

However, "Boogie Oogie Oogie" goes beyond mere creedal statements and entreaty to offer the listener -- a catechumen in the church of boogying -- some small degree of instruction, making it somewhat analogous to the Didache of first-century Christianity. The listener is instructed to "listen to the music" and "let [his or her] body move" and/or "flow" -- and that's what takes this song from a mere disco hit into a true masterpiece of inanity.

Whoomp! update:

Semprini wonders about the Scrabble value of "Shackalackashackalackashackawhoomp." Unfortunately, the Scrabble board is only 15 tiles wide,
so you would either have to be playing with three boards placed next to each other, or you would have to wrap the word onto three rows. If the rules allowed this and you had the necessary ten A's, five C's, five K's, etc., you would be certain to win the game; if you played the word starting at the upper-left corner of the board, you would have 3,564 points after the three triple-word scores, three double-word scores, two double-letter scores, and two triple-letter scores. The 2007 Scrabble World Championship (held in Mumbai) was won by a series of games under 500 points each.

Elcaballo argues for an interpretation of Whoomp! as a "masterpiece of erotic literature," but his thesis rests on a sexual reading of the phrase "getting busy" which is, frankly, not supported by the text.

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