’90s No. 1s Revisited: “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)”
The thirtieth No. 1 song of the 1990s was “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” by C+C Music Factory f/ Freedom Williams (and Martha Wash, un-credited). This highly energetic, groundbreaking dance track brought a distinctively ’90s sound to the radio and foreshadowed the producer-driven rap/sung collaborations that are commonplace 25 years later. The “C” and “C” stood for Robert Clivillés and David Cole, the behind-the-scenes producers and writers.
“Gonna Make You Sweat” was the duo’s debut song, and it was followed by two more big U.S. hits: “Here We Go (Let’s Rock & Roll)” and “Things That Make You Go Hmm …,” which peaked at Nos. 3 and 4 respectively. All three were up-tempo and fun, with innovative videos that got heavy rotation on MTV. After “Hmm,” they had three more Hot 100 appearances, the last of which was in 1994. With a different lineup, they still tour today. (You can read about their numerous controversies and infighting elsewhere.)
Let’s spend a few minutes listening to “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)”:
One could argue that “Gonna Make You Sweat” is the best dance recording in history, or at least in the ’90s, or at least in 1991. It was a legitimate sensation and accelerated the mainstream popularity of dance and rap. It was accessible to listeners of all ages, making it a favorite at nightclubs, Bar Mitzvahs, house parties and any occasion on which the host wanted his or her guests to dance till they can’t dance till they can’t dance no more. The melody is iconic and tremendously hooky, and Williams’ raps are easy to understand and sing along with. The crisp, high-quality instrumental has rock and pop influences that were decidedly modern at the time, helping the country ween off the 1980s and embrace the possibilities of the new decade.
This song, at the time, was hard, edgy and smart enough to be legitimately cool, but also accessible and totally inoffensive. It was a fresh jam for all.
Does it hold up? You still hear this song constantly, but not really end-to-end in a manner that allows the listener to appreciate the entire piece. It’s typically thrown in as a punchline during a TV show or film, or during a commercial. That’s in some ways an honor, as it speaks to the durability and cultural pervasiveness of the track. But in other ways it’s too bad, because this is a great song that should get some credit for being innovative as well as outstandingly produced and written.
Dopeness: 5 out of 5 Birkenstocks
C+C Music Factory f/ Freedom Williams
“Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)”
2 weeks at No. 1, starting Feb. 9, 1991
Preceded by: “The First Time,” Surface
Followed by: “All The Man That I Need,” Whitney Houston
’90s No. 1s Revisited is a regular feature on “Was It Dope?” where we walk through every No. 1 song of the 1990s on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in order, give it another listen, and answer two critical questions: Was it dope? And does it hold up?