Groove Is in the Heart

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"Groove Is in the Heart"
Deee-Lite – Groove Is In The Heart single cover.png
Single by Deee-Lite
from the album World Clique
B-side"What Is Love?"
ReleasedAugust 1990 (1990-08)[1]
Deee-Lite singles chronology
"Groove Is in the Heart"
"Power of Love"
Music video
"Groove Is in the Heart" on YouTube

"Groove Is in the Heart" is a song by American dance band Deee-Lite, released in August 1990 as their debut and lead single from their first album, World Clique (1990). Written and produced by the band, it was a hit in many countries, reaching number-one in Australia and on both the Canadian RPM and US Billboard dance charts. Today it is widely recognized as a classic of its genre.[5][6]


Though the album version was not recorded until 1990, the song was originally written in the late 1980s; it was performed live as early as 1989.[7] The backing track was built around many samples, primarily the main riff from Herbie Hancock's track "Bring Down the Birds" from the Blowup soundtrack and Vernon Burch's "Get Up", which provided the drum track and also formed the basis for the breakdown featuring a slide whistle. Parliament-Funkadelic bassist Bootsy Collins provided guest vocals, and the rap is provided by Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest.[8]

Critical reception[edit]

AllMusic editor Ned Raggett wrote in his review of World Clique, "Its reputation may rest on only one hit single -- but what a hit. 'Groove Is in the Heart' defined the summer of 1990 on radio and MTV with its delicious combination of funk, modern dance sheen, and Lady Miss Kier's smart, sharp diva ways. Add in guest vocals and bass from Bootsy Collins (a pity his hilarious video cameo wasn't represented here), brass from the original Horny Horns duo of Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker, and a smooth mid-song rap from A Tribe Called Quest's Q-Tip, and the results sounded good then and now."[3] Bill Coleman from Billboard commented, "Sometimes you can believe the hype. Hot New York City underground dance trio more than lives up to prerelease push with this sizzling groove'n'sample funk jam, kicked into gear by the sultry and charismatic vocal presence of future diva Lady Miss Kier."[9] He also added, ""Groove" is, well, very groovy. A house-paced track with a hip-hop sensibility."[4] Matt Stopera and Brian Galindo from BuzzFeed noted that it is a "perfect little slice of the early '90s New York club scene."[10] Bevan Hannan from The Canberra Times described the song as "good fun".[11]

David Giles from Music Week said it's a "fine single". He added, "Pure Seventies funk with a Nineties groove."[12] Helen Mead from NME stated that it is "playfully funky".[13] The magazine also called it a "pretty faultless collage of G-Funk, Daisy Age hip-hop, salsa and dippy disco."[2] A reviewer from People Magazine noted it as "hopping".[14] Ross Grady from The Rice Thresher said it is "one of the creamiest slabs of vinyl ever to come from the house music scene."[15] Slant Magazine ranked the song third in its 100 Greatest Dance Songs list, adding: "No song delivered the group's world-conscious Word as colorfully and open-heartedly as 'Groove Is in the Heart,' which flew up the Billboard charts while goosing stuffed shirts."[6] Caroline Sullivan from Smash Hits wrote that the "ripping floor filler" has "got the samples and twiddly electronoises so necessary for dancefloor success nowadays, but there's also a hummable melody and sense of humour about it all."[16] NME and The Village Voice's Pazz & Jop annual critics' poll named "Groove Is in the Heart" the best single released in the year 1990.

Chart performance[edit]

An immediate smash in nightclubs, the song went to number-one on the US Hot Dance Club Play chart and also hit number four on the Billboard Hot 100. It peaked at number-one for one week in Australia in November 1990, while it reached number two in New Zealand.

In the UK, the record was equally popular and was released as a double A-side with "What Is Love", and, with the UK single released with the subtitle "peanut butter mix" (because the single was heavily edited and completely omitted the contributions by Bootsy Collins and Q-Tip), it eventually reached number two during September 1990.[17] Its placing second was due to a rule instituted in the UK Singles Chart in the 1980s, which settled any "ties" over chart positions due to equal sales: the single with sales that had increased most from the previous week would reside above the other, controversially giving "The Joker" by the Steve Miller Band the top place. Following complaints from Deee-Lite's record company, WEA, the rule, of which this song had been the only victim, was scrapped and joint positions were once again allowed. However, it turned out that the 2,595 panel sales that both records achieved for this week of September 15, 1990, had been rounded up, with chart compilers Gallup later releasing the data that showed that the Steve Miller Band hit was indeed a fraction ahead (selling about eight copies more than Deee-Lite).[18] "The Joker" spent a second week at the number-one spot and thereafter convincingly outsold "Groove Is in the Heart".

In Europe, the single managed to climb into the Top 10 also in Finland, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, as well as on the Eurochart Hot 100 Singles, where it hit number five in September 1990. Additionally, it was a Top 20 hit in Belgium, Germany and Switzerland, while it peaked within the Top 30 in Austria. It earned a gold record in the US, after 500,000 singles were sold. In Australia and the UK, it earned a platinum record, when 70,000 and 600,000 units, respectively, were sold.

Impact and legacy[edit]

In 2003, Q Magazine ranked "Groove Is in the Heart" at number 323 in their list of the "1001 Best Songs Ever".[19] VH1 placed it at No. 67 in their list of "100 Greatest Songs of the 90s" in 2007.[20] Pitchfork named it the 59th best track of the 1990s. They wrote: "With their sass-tastic frontwoman and kitsched-to-death fashion sense, Deee-Lite probably seemed like a good bet at a time when pop's future was still up for grabs. If you were a kid in the 'burbs, they almost resembled a Daisy Age hip-hop group (the day-glo/flower-power look, the Q-Tip guest rap) as much as a house act (a strange urban subculture we had little access to in junior high)."[21]

In 2011, The Guardian featured the song on their "A history of modern music: Dance".[5] In April 2017 the single was re-released on pink vinyl, as part of Record Store Day with remixes of "What Is Love?" on the B-Side.[22] BuzzFeed listed the song number 3 in their "The 101 Greatest Dance Songs of the '90s" list in 2017.[23]

In 2018, Time Out listed the song number 23 in their list of "The 100 best party songs", adding: "In this tale of New York's anything-is-possible East Village of the late '80s, a trio of candy-coloured club kids – Super DJ Dmitri, Lady Miss Kier and Towa Tei – decide to form a band. The threesome (with a little help from ringers Q-Tip, Maceo Parker and Bootsy Collins) come up with 'Groove Is in the Heart', a sweetly innocent percolator of a tune that, against all odds, becomes the worldwide club smash of 1990. True story!"[24]

In 2021, Rolling Stone ranked the "Groove Is in the Heart" at 233 in its updated list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, calling it "a collage across different generations of funkateers."[25]


Year Publisher Country Accolade Rank
2003 Q United Kingdom "1001 Best Songs Ever"[19] 323
2005 Bruce Pollock United States "The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944–2000"[26] *
2007 VH1 United States "100 Greatest Songs of the 90s"[20] 67
2010 Robert Dimery United States "1,001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die"[27] *
2010 Pitchfork United States "The Top 200 Tracks of the 1990s"[21] 59
2011 MTV Dance United Kingdom "The 100 Biggest 90s Dance Anthems of All Time"[28] 9
2011 The Guardian United Kingdom "A history of modern music: Dance"[5] *
2012 NME United Kingdom "100 Best Songs of the 1990s"[2] 79
2012 Porcys Poland "100 Singli 1990–1999"[29] 93
2013 Complex United States "15 Songs That Gave Dance Music a Good Name"[30] *
2014 Musikexpress Germany "Die 700 besten Songs aller Zeiten"[31] 518
2017 BuzzFeed United States "The 101 Greatest Dance Songs of the '90s"[23] 3
2017 ThoughtCo United States "The Best 100 Songs from the 1990s"[32] 89
2018 Max Australia "1000 Greatest Songs of All Time"[33] 152
2018 Time Out United Kingdom "The 100 best party songs"[24] 23
2019 Billboard United States "Billboard's Top Songs of the '90s"[34] 220
2019 Max Australia "1000 Greatest Songs of All Time"[35] 998
2020 Slant Magazine United States "The 100 Best Dance Songs of All Time"[6] 3
2021 Rolling Stone United States Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time[25] 233
2022 Time Out United Kingdom "The 100 Best Party Songs Ever Made"[36] 12

(*) indicates the list is unordered.

Samples used[edit]

This is an incomplete list of samples used in the song.[37]

  • Bel-Sha-Zaar with Tommy Genapopoluis and the Grecian Knights – "Introduction" from the album The Art of Belly Dancing, 1969, Gateway: GSLP 3527 (intro music, vocal sample: "We're going to dance, and have some fun")
  • Herbie Hancock – "Bring Down the Birds" from the soundtrack album Blow-Up, 1966 (bassline)
  • Vernon Burch – "Get Up" from the album Get Up, 1979 (drums, crowd noise, slide whistle)
  • Ray Barretto – "Right On" from the album Barretto Power, 1972 (cowbell)
  • Theme from the TV series Green Acres, 1965 (vocal sample: looped "I" sample ("I-i-i-i-i-i"), sung by Eva Gabor)
  • Ralph MacDonald – "Jam on the Groove" from the album Sound of a Drum, 1976 (percussion)
  • Billy Preston – "Uptight" from the album Wildest Organ in Town!, 1966 (breakbeat under rap by Q-Tip)
  • The Headhunters – "God Make Me Funky" from the album Survival of the Fittest, 1975 (drum fill)
  • Hateful Head Helen – "Hateful Head Helen", 1989 (vocal sample: "blulululu")

Track listings[edit]


Credits adapted from the album liner notes for World Clique.[39]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Cover versions[edit]

American retail chain Target Corporation used the song, as performed by Charli XCX with Questlove and Black Thought from the Roots, in a series of 2015 television advertisements.[74]

See also[edit]


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  4. ^ a b Coleman, Bill (July 7, 1990). "The Summer's Sizzling for Everybody Everybody" (PDF). Billboard. Vol. 102, no. 27. p. 27. Retrieved October 14, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c "A history of modern music: Dance". The Guardian. Retrieved March 12, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c "100 Greatest Dance Songs". Slant Magazine. January 30, 2006. Retrieved April 16, 2011.
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