Story of the song: Genius of Love by Tom Tom Club

From The Independent archive: Robert Webb on one of pop music’s most sampled tunes

Saturday 21 January 2023 09:38 GMT
Perfect marriage: Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz circa 1985
Perfect marriage: Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz circa 1985 (Getty)

For a while in 1981, Tom Tom Club’s success out-stripped even that of its parent act, Talking Heads. The band's husband-and-wife rhythm section, Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth, escaped the chill of a New York winter and booked into Compass Point in Nassau, Bahamas, to work with the Compass Point Allstars, a loose amalgam of studio players brought together by Chris Blackwell at Island Records. “Genius of Love” was their crowning achievement, becoming one of the most sampled pieces of pop.

Weymouth wrote most of the lyrics and came up with the top-line melody. The title was supplied by Frantz. The pair created an infectious, one-finger keyboard riff that jumped to the beat. “Adrian Belew played the delayed picking guitar part that is so freaky,” says Frantz. The fourth composer was studio man Steven Stanley. “His input as a dub-wise recording engineer and tape editor really cannot be underestimated.”

Weymouth and Frantz namecheck their funk and soul heroes on it. “We got a very sweet message from Smokey Robinson and I had an amazing conversation with James Brown about it,” says Frantz. It was famously sampled by Grandmaster Flash, and by Mariah Carey for her 1995 hit “Fantasy”.

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