Album: Fitz and the Tantrums (2016)
Charted: 53
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Songfacts®:

  • The lead single from the Fitz and the Tantrums 2016 self-titled album finds lead singer Michael Fitzpatrick crooning lyrics about desire. "'HandClap' is a primal tale of love and lust, a call to arms in the late hours of the night," he said. "It's the X-rated version of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind happening on a dance floor."
  • The band wrote this song with Sam Hollander, who was also working with Panic! at the Disco (Emperor's New Clothes) and Pentatonix ("Sing") around this time. Hollander was a huge Fitz and the Tantrums fan and had been trying to get in with them for a while. He finally got his chance when the band got off to a slow start on the album and brought him in for a fresh perspective. It was a good call: Hollander clicked with them right away.

    "'HandClap' was an idea that came running and screaming to me," Hollander told Songfacts. "I sang that couplet, 'I can make your hands clap,' and he did this crazy five-clap thing, and right then and there I thought we had something magical.

    But there was no particular plan of attack with it. I don't think we were trying to write a hit, per se, because the song is so strange. The first verse repeats twice and it's just this strange cacophony of chaos. The fact that it worked was amazing."
  • As well as being a "primal tale of love and lust," the track has another side to it as well. "There's a moment in the song that speaks to just an innate sense of loneliness sometimes, and you wanna have that connection, you wanna have that love in your life," Michael Fitzpatrick explained to ABC Radio. "And sometimes that desire just takes you down a dark road late at night, and you have to do a walk of shame in the morning."
  • The song has two sides musically, as well. "The verses are very primal, and then it goes to this very fluid, beautiful part that's got a touch of melancholy to it," said Fitzpatrick. "And so I wanted to heighten at every chance I could the juxtaposition lyrically, and, even more so, sonically, between those two parts. And that's why the verses of that song are extra raw and have a bit of that harshness to them."
  • The opening line is a tongue twister, showcasing Fitz' vocal dexterity:

    Somebody save your soul 'cause you've been sinning in this city, I know
  • There was some debate as to how the title should be expressed. They lyric is "I can make your hands clap," so Michael Fitzpatrick figured it should be "Hands Clap." Hollander liked the more compact, one-word "HandClap," and that's what won out.
  • "HandClap" did surprisingly well in the Far East, especially in Japan and South Korea. This is likely due to the primal nature of the song, as hand claps need no translation.
  • Some clapping fun facts from The Encyclopedia of Trivia:

    Ancient Greek audiences stamped their feet rather than clapping their hands to applaud.

    One theory is that the tradition of clapping dates back to 1473 and an outbreak of cholera. Slapping your hands together was a signal to those around that you were infected. Eventually it became a token of applause, a way of keeping time, and then, by the 1800s, a musical device in its own right.

    In Japan, rhythmic handclapping, or tejime, is used ceremonially to celebrate the end of a special event.

    A group of people that are hired to clap at a performance are called a claque.
  • "HandClap" soundtracked a 2016 commercial advertising the new Fiat 500X crossover.

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