I'm Serious as Thoreau When I Say 'Wrote by Barlow'
September 26, 2019 2:30 PM   Subscribe

In March 1992, the Eurodance hit "Rhythm is a Dancer" was released. This song had two different spoken-word interludes. In the 7" Version, a rap by Turbo B assured listeners, "I'm serious as cancer / when I say rhythm is a dancer." However, the awfulness of that lyric has distracted people from a rather remarkable note: that rhyme replaced what was on the original album version of the smash hit – an excerpt from an essay ... by EFF founder and Grateful Dead lyricist John Perry Barlow.

Man, sometimes the world is wonderfully bizarre.
posted by WCityMike (39 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
It also contains what one critic called the worst lyric of all time

Surely second-worst, after the Vanilla Ice lyric about being as badass as a German Nazi or something similar.
posted by acb at 2:50 PM on September 26, 2019


LOLzzz! reminds me of the other version of that catchy buzzfeed article, "7 Fantastic Ways To Distinguish Between Sense And Nonsense"
posted by lalochezia at 3:04 PM on September 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


Sorry, but this:

I don't want to see a ghost,
It's a sight that I fear most
I'd rather have a piece of toast

is the worst lyric of all time.
posted by dazed_one at 3:15 PM on September 26, 2019 [15 favorites]


what

also I probably think about the line "I'm as serious as cancer" approximately weekly but I have to bite my tongue as I don't think anyone is going to get my shout-out references to the clubbiest hits of '92.
posted by GuyZero at 3:41 PM on September 26, 2019 [4 favorites]


Thanks for the memories. I danced so hard to this but had forgotten about it. Not sure which version.
posted by zengargoyle at 3:43 PM on September 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


I'm as serious as cancer when I ask "Are we human or are we dancer?"
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:52 PM on September 26, 2019 [15 favorites]


I'm as serious as cancer when I ask "Are we human or are we dancer?"

Try asking Mr Brightside.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 4:14 PM on September 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


Did they get "I'm serious as cancer" from Down by Law? I think I read an interview with Jim Jarmusch that Rockets Redglare improvised it.
posted by cazoo at 4:28 PM on September 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


I'm sore as a canker when I say rhythm is an anchor
posted by not_on_display at 5:07 PM on September 26, 2019 [7 favorites]


I'm serious as carcinogens from burning Toast Targaryen
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 5:23 PM on September 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


I'm as serious as Henry Cavill when I say rhythm is the davill
posted by GuyZero at 5:38 PM on September 26, 2019 [4 favorites]


I'm as serious as botulinum when I say I'm gonna win 'em.
posted by lalochezia at 5:53 PM on September 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


I'm just a fossa / trynna get a lemur / so move your femur
posted by grumpybear69 at 5:59 PM on September 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


I'm serious as an answer when I say rhythm is Tony Danza
posted by not_on_display at 5:59 PM on September 26, 2019 [5 favorites]


I'm serious as Alan Arkin when I say rhythm is like Grand Moff Tarkin
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:04 PM on September 26, 2019 [5 favorites]


🎶 I'm serious as vitiligo / when you've got that mooooood indigo 🎶
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 6:07 PM on September 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


But vitiligo and indigo don’t even rhyme!
posted by ocherdraco at 6:17 PM on September 26, 2019


I mean this is the worst lyric of all time no?

Generals gathered in their masses
Just like witches at black masses

posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 6:25 PM on September 26, 2019 [4 favorites]


Same word, different meanings, used as the rhyme? That’s great stuff.
posted by The World Famous at 6:27 PM on September 26, 2019 [4 favorites]


It's no Beastie Boys
posted by GuyZero at 6:42 PM on September 26, 2019




Generals gathered in their masses
Just like witches at black masses


I would contend that, while it contains a very lazy (non) rhyme, the above is a potent image and a very effective opening line, especially as intoned by Ozzy.

So there.
posted by misterbee at 7:06 PM on September 26, 2019 [7 favorites]


Worst lyrics? Gotta go with this top-40 hit:
Nee Nee Na Na Na Na Nu Nu. This title appears 3 times in the song, which is otherwise an instrumental. Artist: Dicky Doo and the Don'ts, on the Swan label. The songwriter is still alive, if that helps anyone.
posted by Twang at 7:10 PM on September 26, 2019


This is like some kind of new straightforward postmodern rick roll where you don't get tricked into listening to a terrible song twice, your Too Online disease manipulates you into it.
posted by bleep at 8:09 PM on September 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


"Awfulness of that lyric"??? But he's the lyrical Jesse James!
posted by Chrysostom at 9:43 PM on September 26, 2019 [4 favorites]


It was very bold of them to drop that lyric just as the world was only just recovering from "It's your world and I'm just a squirrel. Tryin' to get a nut to move your butt."
posted by subocoyne at 10:08 PM on September 26, 2019 [3 favorites]


I have this song on a playlist of 90s Eurodance* that I listen to at work (on headphones) whenever I'm flagging late in the day and it works great!

* also featuring "Another Night" by Real McCoy, "What is Love" by Haddaway, "Rhythm of the Night" by Corona, "Be My Lover" by La Bouche and "Mr Vain" by Culture Beat.
posted by retrograde at 12:05 AM on September 27, 2019 [7 favorites]


I mean this is the worst lyric of all time no?

Well I got this guitar
And I learned how to make it
Talk

posted by chavenet at 7:22 AM on September 27, 2019


ಠ_ಠ
posted by Chrysostom at 8:02 AM on September 27, 2019


I mean, you all know Ted Nugent songs exist, right? And that every single one of them has lyrics so bad that they defy any description?
posted by The World Famous at 8:17 AM on September 27, 2019 [3 favorites]


Side note: acoustic version by Sagi Rei (although it does not contain the rap section in question)
posted by CyberSlug Labs at 10:18 AM on September 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


You want worst lyircs, let me give you the "Roll The Bones" rap by Rush:

Jack, relax
get busy with the facts
no zodiacs or almanacs
just maniacs in polyester slacks
just the facts
gonna kick some gluetus max
it's a parallax, you dig?
you move around
the small gets big
it's a rig
it's action, reaction
random interaction
so who's afraid of a little abstraction
can't get no satisfactions from the facts?
you better run, homebody
a fact's a fact from Rome to Nome, boy

posted by grumpybear69 at 10:38 AM on September 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


DON'T BE SMACK TALKING RUSH

GEDDY LEE PUT FUCKING BINARY NUMBERS IN A SONG
posted by GuyZero at 10:52 AM on September 27, 2019 [2 favorites]


I rapped that rap at my wedding. I can make fun of it all I want.
posted by grumpybear69 at 10:53 AM on September 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


That album is not Rush at their peak, shall we say.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:03 AM on September 27, 2019


I rapped that rap at my wedding.

Bold move for the vows, the reception must have been a blast
posted by GuyZero at 11:03 AM on September 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


Let's just say I learned a lot about sourcing large numbers of saxophones.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:12 AM on September 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


I'm serious like Ayn Rand when I say Rush is an okay band
posted by not_on_display at 6:59 PM on September 27, 2019 [5 favorites]


Barlow's excerpt:
How very like the future this place might be: a tiny world just big enough to support the cubicle of one Knowledge Worker. I feel a wave of loneliness and head back down. But I'm going too fast. I plunge right on through the office floor and into the bottomless indigo below. Suddenly I can't remember how to stop and turn around. Do I point behind myself? Do I have to turn around before I can point? I flip into brain fugue.
posted by WCityMike at 10:19 PM on September 28, 2019


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