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Tom Tom Club is the side project of Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth, the drummer and bass player of the Talking Heads. They married in 1977 and released the first Tom Tom Club album in 1981. The group was a family affair: Tina's sisters Laura and Lani were backup singers, and their brother Loric wrote a song called "Booming And Zooming" for them. When "Genius Of Love" became a hit, they served as the opening act for Talking Heads at some shows (double duty for Frantz and Weymouth), and did an extended version of the song to close their sets.
The nimble beat on this song has been appropriated by many other artists, most successfully by Mariah Carey, who used it on her 1995 #1 hit "Fantasy
." It was also sampled by Grandmaster Flash on "It's Nasty/Genius Of Love," and by Ziggy Marley on a remix of "Tomorrow People." Money from earned from the sampling royalties financed future albums from the group.
Free from the cerebral lyrical stylings of David Byrne with their group Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club created songs that focused on the grooves. They make this clear in the line, "Who needs to think when your feet just go?"
In lieu of poetic missives, the lyrics are mostly a mention of various artists that influenced Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth, including Smokey Robinson, Bob Marley, Kurtis Blow, Bootsy Collins, and James Brown.
"Genius Of Love" was a bigger hit than anything the Talking Heads had done to that point. Chris Frantz thinks this may have extended the life of the Talking Heads by convincing David Byrne to keep the group together.
Tom Tom Club released an updated version of this song in 1999 called "Who Feelin' It
," which mentions a new list of influences.
This was used in a 2002 commercial for Kia cars. It features young women driving the cars with men who are not exactly "geniuses."
Drawing on disco, rock and the hip-hop sounds then emerging from the South Bronx, this song set the template not just for the group's 1981 self-titled debut, but also for much of the music they've made since. Tina Weymouth looked back at the song in a 2010 interview with Spinner UK: "It just has a texture that sounds like magic," she recalled. "It was kind of a different edge. Everything else was about 120 bpm at the time for dance music, and we wanted to slow it down to give it more internal swing, and not have any four on the floor -- maybe give it kind of an island feel as well. I can't remember if it was 112 bpm or something. Maybe it was around 108, but it was really slow for us, because we were used to playing these nervous paces and breakneck speed and stuff, so it was a delightful challenge."
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