The first clue is right there in its intro. “Steal My Sunshine”, the uber-cheeseball classic by Len, starts off sounding like an interstellar transmission from outer space because, as the following evidence proves, IT IS.
Only an intellectually superior alien race would have the wherewithal to assemble such a sonic juggernaut, a weapon intended to infiltrate and then subjugate the people of Earth. The premise is simple: create an auditory time bomb, a sonic nugget that, upon hearing, everyone on Earth will fall helplessly under its spell, providing our alien overlords with the cover they need to walk amongst us for four and a half minutes at a time.
After patient study and deep research, the aliens landed upon a formula of sorts: First, ape the song’s signature sample from Andrea True Connection’s “More, More, More”. It’s a sound snippet so infectious it deserves to be classified as communicable. It’s the perfect disco rhythm: bouncy, beat-heavy, and absolutely impossible to dance to. Go ahead, try it. Find a full-mirror, fire up the first track off You Can’t Stop the Bum Rush and start shaking your bootie; you’ll find yourself looking like a spastic fool before the first chorus kicks in. And that’s the point: the aliens didn’t want us to look sexy or cool strutting our stuff to “Steal My Sunshine”. The goofier, less coordinated we looked doing the Running Man or Sprinkler the better.
Stripping us of our sex appeal was just the first step; filling our minds with vacuous, non sequitur lyrics was the second. Exhibit A: “Now the funny glare to pay a gleaming tare in a staring under heat / Involved an under usual feat / And I’m not only among but I invite who I want to come / So I missed a million miles of fun.” What. The. Fuck. But we sing along! Or at least, we sing what we think the words are (I’m convinced that even Sharon Costanzo, who actually sings those words, doesn’t know them). That’s because together, the lyrics create a string of hypnotic sounds that only our subconscious mind can hear and the aliens are using the lyrics to control our thoughts.
Anytime any earthling anywhere hears “Steal My Sunshine”, they immediately slip into an alien-induced hypnotic state and are subject to the extra-terrestrials twisted, weird experiments. They move fast, as they have less than five minutes if they’re limited to only a single play, but over the last twenty years, as the song’s irresistible power has only grown stronger, the aliens have discovered that we earthlings can’t listen to “Steal My Sunshine” just once. Wherever possible, we play that sucker on repeat, giving our the invaders prolonged periods in which to carry out their bizarre practices.
But fear not fans of this fanciful one-hot-summer-hit-wonder, there is a way to get your fix of “Steal My Sunshine”’s aural vitamin D and evade tribal lunar speak impairment at the hands of other-worldy conquerors: only listen to Bad Passion’s recently released cover version. The duo of Lesley Davies and Alt “Digits” Altman invest this earworm with cool techno detachment that strips it back to a bare minimum that delivers maximum enjoyment. Last seen together on Digits 2014 mixtape Shake Your Body Down, Bad Passion is very good at simple, soulful chillwave that doesn’t involve alien mind manipulation. You will NOT look like a doofus dancing to it; instead, its steady beat is prone to make you sway gently to and fro in a very normal, human kind of way. Sure the lyrics are what they are, but in Davies and Altman’s unfussy, almost aloof deliveries, the words lose all their power of persuasion.
Perhaps, as Len so eloquently put it to us back in 1999, you can’t stop the bum rush, but DAMN IT, we can beat the Martians at their own game. Join the resistance; this summer, turn off Len and turn on Bad Passion.
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