'Planet of the Bass': Will a Parody Be the Song of the Summer?
The Eurodance parody “Planet of the Bass” by DJ Crazy Times (played by comedian Kyle Gordon)—now a genuine contender for Song of the Summer—owes much of its mega-viral status to its highly meme-able lyrics.
The lines between parody, homage, and nostalgia here are blurry, though. Gordon doesn't take any shortcuts on quality. For one, the voice behind the character Ms. Biljana Electronica is the acclaimed soul and jazz vocalist Chrissi Poland B.M. ’01, who studied performance at Berklee, and has worked with Nile Rodgers ’18H, Scissor Sisters, and more. And the words and arrangement are a pitch-perfect clone of the Eurodance genre that dominated the global charts in the 1990s.
'How Does It Mean?'
Lyrically, Gordon does his job so well that it’s hard to tell apart his parody from the original sources.
Consider some of the song's most memorable lines: “All of the dream / How does it mean?” “There is nothing to be sad.” “If you want parties to be making / Have some noise.”
Now compare these to the refrain, “What is love? / Baby don’t hurt me,” from Trinidadian-German singer Haddaway; “Rhythm Is a Dancer” by German duo Snap!; or the line from Belgian/Dutch act 2 Unlimited that goes, “People started dancing a long time ago / The bass was fast, but then again it was slow."
'The People Wanna Make a Fun'
While the song does have good-natured fun with the Eurodance trope of clumsy English translations, it highlights one of the genre’s most memorable feats: shifting focus from the lyrics’ literal meaning to their sound, and to the feelings they can evoke.
A close look at the actual text of these lines is bound to uncover some silliness—that’s what makes the genre so ripe for parody. But that’s also a comment on how transporting these songs were in their day: we rarely stopped to think about what they were saying while they danced their way to the top of the global charts.
In a Stereogum article about the Swedish pop-rock group Roxette, music critic Tom Breihan makes the argument that lyrics in this vein are a feature, not a bug. Breihan says that, for their 1989 No. 1 smash “The Look,” Roxette “was really participating in the grand Swedish pop tradition of picking the word that’ll sound the best, regardless of meaning. . . . The lyrics, ridiculous as they are, are merely part of the whole musical equation. Everything about 'The Look' is mathematically calibrated to hit just right.”
'A Passion in a Million Way'
Making Gordon’s achievement even more impressive is the fact that he was able to evoke this whole genre while still sounding distinct.
It’s a task that the king of contemporary parody music, Weird Al Yankovic, says is quite difficult. In an interview with Fast Company, Yankovic said, “It’s certainly more work to do a genre parody,” compared to parodying one specific song. For a genre parody, “not only do you have to do all the work that one necessarily does with an original song, but you also have to do a fair amount of research into the chosen genre or other artist’s work.”
Does this mean that “Planet of the Bass” will actually topple songs such as “Vampire” by Olivia Rodrigo, Troye Sivan’s “Rush,” or "Barbie World" by Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice (which just so happens to feature seminal Eurodance band Aqua) as the definitive summer jam of 2023? Only time will tell. Until then, DJ Crazy Times entreats you to simply get out on the dance floor and “have a body, feel the groove.”
Oh wait, did you say you wanted a Eurodance playlist? Happy to oblige: