SoulBounce’s Class Of 1990: C+C Music Factory ‘Gonna Make You Sweat’


My relationship with the music of 1990 is a vague one; I was seven years old. After wrapping my mind around that for a while and really trying to parse through the music of my childhood, most of it came back to me. In parts. That moment was rife with politically minded, anti-establishment and wildly expressive music (stay tuned to this Class of 1990 series for more on each). Gangsta rap was emerging from the West, the East was bringing us socially conscious rhymes, the definitive pop triumvirate of the era -- Micheal Jackson, Madonna and Janet Jackson -- were holding court.

And wedged between the synthpop of the late '80s and the New Jack Swing of the early '90s was a brief mainstreaming of house/dance music. Today, high energy, thumping-bass heavy songs like "Everybody Everybody" by Black Box are mostly relegated to aerobic workout playlists and sport stadium filler-music, but they were all over the radio in the years on either side of 1990. Perhaps the most omnipresent and the most memorable was the bombastic single "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)" from C+C Music Factory.

Produced by Robert Clivillés and the late David Cole (undeniable hit-makers who also produced much of Mariah Carey's early, and arguably best, work), the group released their album of the same name near the end of the year. Seemingly overnight "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)" was inescapable. Twenty years later, it's still so infectious that merely speak-singing the words "everybody dance now" at any given moment will trigger at least one person to start doing the Running Man and make at least four people unable to get the song out of their heads for the next hour. It's the type of song where the lyrics "gonna make you sweat 'til you bleed" are not intimidating or ridiculous -- they're a delightful cardiovasuclar gauntlet. [Aside: The 1990s were the best for making people move their asses. We were all much more excitable in those days.]

The label infamously substituted Zelma Davis for Martha Wash in the music video for "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)" and they caught a fair (and deserved) amount of flack for their shenanigans. After all, what better way to insult everyone's intelligence dismissing one woman as unmarketable because of her weight (Wash) and the other as cute but not talented enough to sing vocals on the title track (Davis)? It was an especially bold move in the immediate wake of the whole Milli Vanilli fiasco.

Regardless, Gonna Make You Sweat continued to dominate and ultimately went platinum five times. It also sat at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 for a few weeks. The group successfully released several more singles from the album, including "Things That Make You Go Hmmm..." and "Here We Go (Let's Rock and Roll)." With unrelenting beats and a bottomless well of exclamatory non sequiturs from Freedom Williams (personal favorite: "...sipping cocoa on a bearskin rug" from "Things that Make You Go Hmmm..." Touche, Freedom.), the album had supernatural crossover appeal.

While they found moderate success in subsequent years with their follow-up albums Anything Goes (1994) and C+C Music Factory (1995), it was their debut that really attached itself to the mainstream. C+C Music Factory's mark on music at the end of the 20th century is indelible. This album was pure pop goodness, a true time-capsule from an exuberant moment of genre-crossing and cultural uncertainty of the last decade before a new millennium. A time when most of us were eager to let it go and just get on up and dance.

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11 Responses

  1. BET played this video till the wheels feel off & I hated it every time. I thought this group was a broke down Blackbox whom I still love.

  2. I remember when I first heard Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now), I said to myself, "When did Ice-T start doing dance music?" Freedom sounded so much like him.
    Loved Martha's vocals on the song, but this was one annoying ass song. I liked it the first 2000 times I heard it, but that 2001 time sent me over the edge.

  3. Undeniably danceable. And will always remind me of that episode of Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

  4. I definitely preferred Black Box to this group... and that CD has a permanent spot on my mp3 player today (Hoping they will get their own feature in "class of 1990). The meaningless rapping, simplistic lyrics and wackness of Zelma's vocals grated on me.

  5. Freedom was the gold standard of wackness, even Chris Rock clowned him CB4 as Wacky D is the house:-)

  6. Cosign on Blackbox >>> C+C. But let us not forget that Blackbox did Martha Wash dirty too.

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    Black Box and C and C are basically the same group, they had the same singer Martha Wash

  8. Groups like C+C and BlackBox were okay but I considered watered down mainstream house music. Kind of like the stuff they're making now.
    Give me some Todd Terry, Frankie Knuckles, 10 City, Richie Rich or any house music from New York or Chicago during the 80's and 90's.

  9. Groups like C+C and BlackBox were okay but I considered watered down mainstream house music. Kind of like the stuff they're making now.
    Give me some Todd Terry, Frankie Knuckles, 10 City, Richie Rich or any house music from New York or Chicago during the 80's and 90's.

  10. I dont know much about Todd Terry's stuff... He didnt move me like Frankie Knuckles, Ten City, Marshall Jefferson etc... but he gained a foe in me for what he did on Martha's solo CD. The tracks he did for her and the way he chopped up her voice was bad. I would have loved to have heard another collabo w/ Black Box & Martha... and for the person who said Black Box and C&C were basically the same group, Martha was the main vocalist in Black Box... C&C just used Martha for a few vocal hooks on ONE song on that CD... NOT the same thing. Go back and listen... Check out Fantasy and find a track on C&C that even comes close.