First Hit #1: February 9, 1991
There’s nothing worse than becoming shorthand, especially for a song. Gonna Make You Sweat was, when released, a song that seemed to announce a return to prominence of dance music, as Martha Walsh literally demanded everyone dance. It was sort of like the disco backlash never happened, and we had a song that fit the way disco probably would have gone had it remained a dominant genre. It still sounded like 1991, complete with rap verses, and it was obnoxiously repetitive, but it did seem like it could herald the triumphant return of a dance heavy chart. At a bare minimum, it was instantly recognizable.
The fact that it was distinct is what lead to its downfall. Soon, the siren call of the dance floor heralded not joy, but a lazy director trying to spice up their milquetoast comedy with a wacky dance segment. You didn’t know what you were going to get when Walsh’s voice came out of the theater’s speaker system, but you did know you were probably going to regret spending the admission money. It was on trailers for movies you knew you would never watch on purpose, played during events you wished you weren’t attending, and played loudly by people you wouldn’t willingly talk to.
Because of it’s association with bad things, it’s easy to assume that Gonna Make You Sweat is a bad thing itself. Not really, though it’s not the greatest dance song ever recorded it’s not too bad. It almost feels like it belongs in an alternate 1991, since it is so indebted to the disco movement. Maybe in that alternate 1991 some other song was ruined by overexposure in unpleasant situations.