Gotta make a move to a town that's right for me 🎶
May 31, 2015 6:38 PM   Subscribe

 
Great now this is in my brain for the next week ;)
posted by carter at 6:41 PM on May 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


Still have the 45, one of the first I ever bought.
posted by Melismata at 6:41 PM on May 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


One of the Shrek movies brought this song to the attention of new generations.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:47 PM on May 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh man, early music videos. Those awkward first steps into a new medium. So awkward and adorable.
posted by duffell at 6:47 PM on May 31, 2015 [7 favorites]


This is just great fun--the dance moves, the crazy eyes on the dancer (making me think she wasn't taking things too seriously), the hairstyles and makeup, and oh god, the pink jumpsuit tucked into black cowboy boots!
This is one I like to have appear on the radio when I'm driving so I can turn it up and sing badly, and loudly.
posted by librosegretti at 6:47 PM on May 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


Your deep commitment to your cause has convinced me that you are worthy.

Yes. Yes, I will take you to Funky Town.
posted by Naberius at 6:48 PM on May 31, 2015 [19 favorites]


I'm old enough to remember when this was THE hottest thing on the radio.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:50 PM on May 31, 2015 [15 favorites]


I prefer the inexplicable Australian New Wave cover by Pseudo Echo.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:51 PM on May 31, 2015 [9 favorites]


The taxi rate to funky town is .... (wait for it)

...


...


$20, same as downtown.

Anybody remember the Kids in the Hall funky town bit in Brain Candy?
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:53 PM on May 31, 2015 [12 favorites]


It would have to wait until the invention of the keytar for the song to realize its true potential.
posted by sourwookie at 6:53 PM on May 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


And I would give a non-essential body party for one of those Ibanez M-Series basses in that Pseudo Echo video.
posted by sourwookie at 6:55 PM on May 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


#1 on the charts the day I was born.
posted by ODiV at 6:57 PM on May 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wish that the Henry Rollins/RuPaul cover had seen the light of day.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:58 PM on May 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


Lipps killed the YouTube star.
posted by clvrmnky at 6:58 PM on May 31, 2015


That looks like Doris D. She didn't sing on the track (that was Cynthia Johnson) but she sure likes zu machen das Robot.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:59 PM on May 31, 2015 [5 favorites]


Something in the water that year, for sure. Cf., Ann Steel.
posted by mykescipark at 7:12 PM on May 31, 2015 [4 favorites]


I lived in Funkytown for a while but it got to be too much so I moved to Moderatelypungentsuburb.
posted by jonmc at 7:16 PM on May 31, 2015 [9 favorites]


This song always reminds me of one of the earlier Malcolm in the Middle episodes where Hal shows off his skate skills to teach Malcolm how to play hockey.
posted by bigendian at 7:17 PM on May 31, 2015 [7 favorites]


Much whiter than the vague mind's eye picture I've had in my head for decades.
posted by Ickster at 7:25 PM on May 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


That's because the woman who sang this song wasn't white. This video is a relic from a different and even more bullshit-filled time.
posted by item at 7:36 PM on May 31, 2015 [23 favorites]


I knew I remembered a Funky Town pop culture moment I could share for the thread. I had the show right, problem was I thought it was Mr. Hanky and skewed my Youtube search history accordingly.
posted by Theophrastus Johnson at 7:37 PM on May 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


Try this video if you want to actually see Cynthia Johnson perform.
posted by topynate at 7:38 PM on May 31, 2015 [18 favorites]


I was going to comment on how there was approximately zero creative vision involved in the making of that music video, but then I stumbled across this.

Now I don't know what to think any more.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:41 PM on May 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


Don't forget about Pseudo Echo's awesome keytar-featuring cover version.
posted by Slinga at 7:48 PM on May 31, 2015


Funkytown: where disco and funk went to an afterparty and met a mysterious stranger named EDM, who was sitting at a table in the corner all alone nursing an impossibly skinny but quite tall fluorescent vodka drink, whereupon they commenced to make new friends and compare platform shoes.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:22 PM on May 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


Hey, has anyone mentioned the Pseudo Echo version yet?
posted by yhbc at 8:24 PM on May 31, 2015 [10 favorites]


I think there's a Pseudo Echo in here, here, here,
posted by Zedcaster at 8:33 PM on May 31, 2015 [9 favorites]


I tok a wrong turn on Route 42 and ended up in Funkfreetown. My usual luck.

Also, PSEUDO ECHO!
posted by Samizdata at 8:35 PM on May 31, 2015


This video is such a surprise to me. It's the beginning of the Minneapolis Sound (you're welcome, Mark Ronson and your Uptown Funk), and Lipps Inc includes black members but the star of this video is white (she's a Minneapolis Swede imo). Very confusing.
posted by littlewater at 8:41 PM on May 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's the beginning of the Minneapolis Sound

Surely you jest.
posted by mykescipark at 8:51 PM on May 31, 2015 [8 favorites]


I was young enough at the time to think that TOTALLY BITCHEN Pseudo Echo cover was the original. I still like it better. Besides, the boys in Pseudo Echo are like, total foxes.
posted by msali at 8:53 PM on May 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


Pseudo Echo's cover was totally perfect for the beginning scene of the movie North Shore, in which a surfer makes a move to a town that's right for him.
posted by hush at 8:56 PM on May 31, 2015


This thread is a representation of everything that is fucked up about society and the internet.
posted by phaedon at 9:02 PM on May 31, 2015 [6 favorites]


I had this 45. Totally missed the video on MTV. Thanks for bringing it all full circle. And wow. That was kinda O_O

This was almost as big of an earworm for me as Pop Muzik. Which also has a video.
posted by not_on_display at 9:33 PM on May 31, 2015 [6 favorites]


This thread is a representation of everything that is fucked up about society and the internet.
No, just a test to see if MetaFilter is capable of making a silk purse out of a sow's ear. The best we could do was a little bag o' bacon.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:02 PM on May 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wow. There was something surreally modern about that video. I could pretty much see Animal Collective just using it as a video for one of their songs without changing it at all.

I honestly love this song. "Gotta make a move to a town that's right for me" sounds like she's stuck in a small town and wants to move to, you know, the Big Apple, but then she throws it down: FUNKYTOWN. That's the goal.

In the early 80s my mom had a big poster above her desk at work that just said
FUNKY
TOWN

in big block letters. I kinda never realized how punk rock that was until now.
posted by town of cats at 10:15 PM on May 31, 2015 [5 favorites]


The last disco hit.



.
posted by alex_skazat at 10:21 PM on May 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think this is not "the" video for this song, but a performance of the song for the German TV shop Musikladen from June 19, 1980. (Two days after my sixth birthday!) That show was also pretty much the only place where you could see naked boobs on TV before ca. 1985...
posted by tecg at 11:10 PM on May 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


God I needed the video topynate linked after watching the one in the FPP. Is there nothing white people can't ruin?

The woman in pink (HELLO I AM HERE FROM 80'S HAIR HOW ARE YOU) in the FPP video isn't all that great a dancer (or lip synch artist) but the woman in black actually had moves that worked with the song (though I'm not sure her feet ever moved).

I kept thinking "this is what Mondo 2000 would have looked like if it was a video."
posted by maxwelton at 11:23 PM on May 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


Just making sure, but those of you actually saying they prefer the Pseudo Echo version (which I'd never heard until I just now when, unfortunately, I listened to it for 35 seconds before closing the window) realize that Lipps Inc's version is a classic, its sound as relevant today in 2015 as when "Funky Town" reigned the charts, right?

This is in addition to both the FPP's linked video and Lipp's Inc's video being invaluable organic documents of, respectively, of a nascent video music industry and one of the final bright stars of a faded disco culture.

Whereas the Pseudo Echo version is, well, hm.

Better than slagging a poorly conceived and embarrassingly executed affront to Cynthia Johnson's musical legacy is considering the still-in-many-ways unsurpassed innovations and accomplishments of Lipps Inc's 1979 "Funky Town", a landmark of pop music history.
posted by mistersquid at 11:26 PM on May 31, 2015 [6 favorites]


Here's a clip of the Musikladen episode that includes the host announcing the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwcmOa1gxDc You can see the "singer" and the dancer in the background in front of the live audience.
posted by tecg at 11:36 PM on May 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


Taco buddy, taco buddy, taco buddy, oooooOOoooh!

This song demolished my shameful teenage conviction that "Disco sucks, maaan".
posted by gamera at 11:59 PM on May 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


The last disco hit.

This song demolished my shameful teenage conviction that "Disco sucks, maaan".


I saw it as a perfectly timed (start of a new decade) transitional landmark between "Disco As We Knew It" and "80s-Style Dance Music". The later "New Wave"-styled cover version was just the exclamation points (!!!) at the end of the statement.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:05 AM on June 1, 2015


Pah. Everyone knows the only version of this song worth listening to is by World Domination Enterprises. Sadly it must have upset Lipps Inc because it has vanished from YouTube. Check their cover of LL Cool J's I Can't Live Without My Radio or their evergreen original Asbestos Lead Asbestos for a hint of what it might sound like. Or let me know if you'd like to hear it.
posted by srednivashtar at 2:05 AM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


And your point for posting this is...?
That it's fully awsome?

This video is a relic from a different and even more bullshit-filled time.
Hey at least she's not wearing blackface, right?

And those of you complaining about lip synch should examine the name of the band a bit more closely :)
posted by merlynkline at 2:20 AM on June 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


Here's Cynthia Johnson performing "Funky Town" for French TV, 2015. And here is a great slice of retro dance and fashion: Soul Train dancers boogie to Funkytown, the original extended mix.

I don't understand the Doris D. and the Pins thing. Most of the Funky Town videos feature her dancing/lip syncing, and a Google translation of their Dutch Wikipedia page says, "The center of the [Pins] group was the English singer Doris D. ( pseudonym of Debbie Jenner) who was also the face of the group Lipps Inc ."

Does anyone know more about that? Was she officially a part of Lipps Inc. to visually represent the band (a la "lip sync")? Or just in Europe? Or is this a translation problem?

Also: Steven Greenberg talks about creating Lipps, Inc. and writing ‘Funkytown.’
posted by taz at 2:24 AM on June 1, 2015 [8 favorites]


I was listening to this song recently and tried to sing along, which made me realise what it is about the vocal delivery of the original that keeps the song feeling fresh. The difference in the timing between the two repetitions of the funkytown lyric in the original are what makes it for me. The first time it is sung the word funkytown occurs just ahead of the beat so that the strong 'kee' sound lands on the beat or possibly fractionally before it, preempting the expected four on the floor timing of the back beat. The second time this timing is repeated, but with slightly less impetus which gives a more laid back feel.

The Psuedo Echo version lacks this attention to timing and as a result manages to remove the funk from funky town, but it has it's own particular charm.
posted by asok at 2:30 AM on June 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


That Pseudo Echo guy has an interesting way of "playing" the keytar.
posted by digitalprimate at 2:32 AM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


And then, there was the time it was used to promote nuclear power.

(If the ad looks familiar, it's because it was done by H5, the french studio behind the award-winning Remind Me by Röyksopp)
posted by lmfsilva at 2:53 AM on June 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm not going to apologize for being six and puzzling out Pseudo Echo's version of Funkytown on our new used piano. (It's in F.)
posted by infinitewindow at 3:38 AM on June 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


When I was about 15 I was learning the ways of funk guitar and asked my teacher why the Pseudo Echo version of this song felt weird. For the duration of the lesson he ranted in detail on the profound, bleak funklessness of the Pseudo Funkytown, and their complete lack of understanding of syncopation, and leaning forward or back on the beat. That day I learned exactly how not to do funk. The original however is a delight, love those crazy eyes.
posted by threecheesetrees at 4:13 AM on June 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


Radio disc jockeys always pronounce the band's name, "Lipps, Incorporated"? I always assumed it should be pronounced "lip synch" and the DJs were dumb. But maybe I was (dumb)?
posted by Eyebeams at 4:36 AM on June 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


The fashion in this video is a fascinating look at the transition from 70's disco to 80's bright colored prep.
posted by jefflowrey at 4:50 AM on June 1, 2015


The later "New Wave"-styled cover version was just the exclamation points (!!!) at the end of the statement.

Oh? Who did that cover version, oneswellfoop?
posted by Naberius at 6:25 AM on June 1, 2015


I emailed Steve Greenberg years ago, curious about how much of the song was about Minbeapolis. His assistant wrote back to say he had written in at a time when there was very little new music in Minneapolis, and very little that was soulful or funky, and he generally wanted to move away to a better town. Of course, within a few years the Twin Cities music scene would explode, and so it just turned into the Funkytown he had dreamed of.

So, in answer to my question, Minneapolis somehow managed to be the town he wanted to leave in the song and the town he wanted to move to.
posted by maxsparber at 6:50 AM on June 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


And now I see from Taz's link that Andrea Swenson literally found out the same thing recently.
posted by maxsparber at 6:53 AM on June 1, 2015


..going on hour three (3) of my day with this hook as the soundtrack (and dreaming of Santa Barbara)
posted by bird internet at 7:12 AM on June 1, 2015


the profound, bleak funklessness of the Pseudo Funkytown

Seriously. And they butcher the "talk about it!" harmonies too, which are IMO the best part of the whole song.
posted by grog at 7:25 AM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


the profound, bleak funklessness of the Pseudo Funkytown

It's not that there weren't any funky Australians in the 70's or 80's, it's just that these were not them. I would say it was a cunning ironic comment on what it means to be funky, but I am going to have to agree with threecheesetrees' guitar teacher, and say that Pseudo Echo simply did not get it.
posted by asok at 8:34 AM on June 1, 2015


Kind of ruined for me by the Parenthood writers, who made "going to funky town" Adam and Kristina's euphemism for sex.
posted by Beardman at 9:04 AM on June 1, 2015


Radio disc jockeys always pronounce the band's name, "Lipps, Incorporated"? I always assumed it should be pronounced "lip synch" and the DJs were dumb. But maybe I was (dumb)?

Layers within layers within layers...
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:12 AM on June 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also about the video and whitewashing: I have the idea that it was relatively common in Europe in the 70s and early 80s, particularly on variety and quiz shows, to have a in-house dancing troupe to interpret what was hot in the charts, as videoclips were not that common - a lot of "videoclips" I remember from VH1 on this era were TV performances (warning: gratuitous Boney M on Musikladen, the same show according to tecg) or were harder to obtain. It's not like an assistant director could pull a 1080p video from a server somewhere half an hour before the show.
posted by lmfsilva at 9:34 AM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


So, in answer to my question, Minneapolis somehow managed to be the town he wanted to leave in the song and the town he wanted to move to.

Minneapolis IS Funkytown, haters!
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:46 AM on June 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


Here's Robyn Hitchcock's cover of Funkytown. It's like Nick Drake in his most dismal mode -- dear God, before I completely succumb to despair, I've just got to make a move to a town that's right for me.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 10:33 AM on June 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


any woman who can wear that 1979 mom hair -- well, I admire them
posted by angrycat at 10:33 AM on June 1, 2015


I'm of the age that the Pseudo Echo version was the first version I heard. I was initially confused, because the Lipps version was from 1979-1980, and I was certain I'd first heard this song in the mid-80s. Then someone mentioned the Pseudo Echo version.
posted by persona au gratin at 10:38 AM on June 1, 2015


I have the idea that it was relatively common in Europe in the 70s and early 80s, particularly on variety and quiz shows, to have a in-house dancing troupe to interpret what was hot in the charts

Yep. In the UK, the troupes on Top Of The Pops in the UK are famous to the extent that I know their names, even though I was born in 1985. I've seen Pan's People and Legs & Co. many times on re-runs. Using a dance band for a music video is a bit different, but people would have been used to it. Re whitewashing: one can't say for certain that Doris D.'s video was promoted and was successful because she was white and Cynthia Johnson was black, when it could have been down to the early 80s appetite for robot-dancing chroma-keyed video effects nonsense, buuut I doubt that anyone was completely naive about a colour change making the video more 'commercial.' In 1980 it probably did.
posted by topynate at 10:47 AM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


My wife, a few weeks ago: "Some of us live with the knowledge that we'll *never* go to Funkytown."
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:08 AM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


This video is a relic from a different and even more bullshit-filled time.

Yes, every single time preceding the present is much more different, risible, backward, sclerotic, and bullshit-filled, it goes without saying, but I defy anyone to find a song from the present day that's funkier than this one. And if someone proffers "Blurred Lines" or "Uptown Funk" I'll laugh loud and long.
posted by blucevalo at 11:38 AM on June 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


For years, "Funkytown" was used in the TV ads from French nuclear power company Areva. I guess they liked the line "keep me grooving with some energy".
posted by iviken at 11:46 AM on June 1, 2015


buuut I doubt that anyone was completely naive about a colour change making the video more 'commercial.'

Oh, I'm not arguing that there wasn't (yeah, "wasn't", as if it gone away) an underlying idea that whiter = more marketable, but this video to me seems a lot more an artifact of TV production and music marketing of the time (dancing to a pre-recorded song, re-using said TV perfomance because fuck you, this sells for like 5 weeks and there's no budget to record an actual video) than a simplistic "put the blonde on TV to sell more records" as it was implied.

Also in part because it's Disco, not rock or punk or the rest of the white-boy music club. Now that I've mentioned Boney M, there was the case of early Bobby Farrell, the face and the sweet, sweet dance moves for the voice on the records, from a guy that uh, who'd never thought of doing that kind of stunt again.
posted by lmfsilva at 12:18 PM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


I’m pretty sure tecg is right – the version linked in the FPP might not have been an official video but rather an interpretation for a European broadcast on a pop-hits TV show (which were super-popular worldwide in the pre-MTV era). Although there was definitely some whitewashing going on in commercial pop at the time, I don’t get the sense that Steve Greenberg was trying to hide Cynthia Johnson, although he probably approved Doris D and her backup dancers lip-syncing for a European TV show. In the Current article linked above, he seems happy with Johnson's contributions and refers to her as a creative partner in Lipps Inc.

And this was still a year before MTV's debut; even though the concept of promo videos had already been around for about 15 years, there still were some big hits that didn't have them. It was possible to hear songs for weeks on end without knowing what the artists looked like at all, especially if they weren't in the teenybopper magazines.

I think a lot of those pop-hit shows had pretty elaborate productions every week, whether an artist was making a personal appearance (to lip-sync) or whether they’d just show dancers (who might also lip-sync). Also from 1980, here’s something I think is also from Musicladen in Germany: a production of “Looking for Clues” for when Robert Palmer came by the set. I like it; it’s much weirder than the official video.
posted by lisa g at 12:50 PM on June 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


I see your Funkytown and raise you Rapture
posted by Chuffy at 3:23 PM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Here's an interesting find: A performance of Patto's "Black and White" for the TV Musikladen show that visually resembles the "Funky Town" video. The kicker is that the go-go dancers are (very tentatively) lip-synching to a male (!) voice. This suggests that maybe the lip-synching in the "Funky Town" video by Doris D. was not supposed to "fool" the audience, but rather that it was clear by the convention of the show that the dancers weren't necessarily the performers.
posted by tecg at 3:41 PM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


but the original video is SO MUCH BETTER....https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTx4Pwa_YBg
posted by morerio at 3:57 PM on June 1, 2015


Oooh, y'all, I need a palate cleanser after all that.
posted by droplet at 6:24 PM on June 1, 2015


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