Tuesday, November 6, 2018

"The Superbowl Shuffle" by The Chicago Bears Shufflin' Crew

Song#:  2580
Date:  01/11/1986
Debut:  92
Peak:  41
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Novelty, Charity

**Welcome to 1986! New year, new song, new artists, and a whole lotta fun!**

Pop Bits:  The 1985 NFL season was being dominated by one team - the Chicago Bears. Players for the team like Walter Payton, Jim McMahon, and William "Refrigerator" Perry had become stars doing endorsements and other gigs. The team's wide receiver Willie Gault had aspirations outside of his day job and wanted to get involved in music and acting. He ended up being cast in a video for the Linda Clifford song "The Heat in Me" (#17 Dance, 1985). Clifford recorded for the upstart Red Label Records and its owner Richard Meyer started talking with Gault about doing a song with the Bears team. It would be a fun thing to do that would help the label. Gault like the idea and started talking to his teammates about it. Players came on board with the understanding that they would get a small fee and a percentage of the proceeds would go to charitable organizations. For the song, it was decided that a rap would work well, especially for guys who were not singers. Meyer bought the rights to an existing unreleased novelty track called "The Kingfish Shuffle" (based on a character from the old Amos 'n' Andy show) and it was updated with raps for the various players were written. After it got recorded, it went to Chicago radio stations and soon it was all over the airwaves. A video would also be filmed for the tune and it quickly began to get play on MTV. All of a sudden, this little charity record turned into a significant hit. It got on the Pop chart and nearly make the Top 40 while reaching #75 at R&B. Although its chart placement wasn't that high due to lack of airplay and/or reporting from many stations, it sold a lot of copies and would eventually be certified gold. The VHS video of the song would also be a big seller. The Bears would have a 15-1 season and would go on to win the Super Bowl.

ReduxReview:  Yeesh. What a cruddy way to start the year! I typically dislike novelty songs and this one is no exception. However, in this case it's hard to get too mad at it because the idea behind it (or part of it) was thoughtful. Depending on which story you read, it wasn't a full-on charity item. The label was going to get compensation, the players involved were to be paid a fee and supposedly a cut of the royalties as well, and only a certain percentage of profits would actually go to a charity. In other words, it wasn't a true charity event where all proceeds are donated. From what I read, Meyer just wanted to do it to help boost his new record label and Gault introduced the charity part in order to get the players on board. It all seems a bit fishy to me, but at least some money did get out to help a few people. Players said they didn't do it to boast or brag, but c'mon - they were celebrity pro football stars who were having a great season and their egos were being fed with stories about being the best team ever. Of course there was a bit of bravado involved. As far as the actual song, it's like a radio show comedy skit gone awry. I thought the song and the video were just stupid. However, it reflected a cultural moment in time and folks loved it - especially Bears fans. It's so hard to rate something like this. As a pop culture phenomenon, it certainly was quite something. As an actual song, ugh. So I'll split the difference and hope that the charity was able to help some folks with whatever proceeds they got.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Not only did the Crew get a gold record hit, they also got a Grammy nomination. They were nominated in the Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group category. They lost the award to "Kiss" by Prince & the Revolution.  2) As happens sometimes with tossed together benefit events, there quickly became problems in regards to the finances. There were issues with agreements, amounts, etc., that kept money from going to the actual charity. This irritated the participants quite a bit. They wouldn't consider the single a success until money actually made it to the charity. After quite a bit of legal wrangling, money was finally distributed to charity. Yet there are varying stories as to if any of the players or other folks involved got the proper compensation promised to them. There were more legal issues that came about years later as well. The good thing though is that anywhere from $200,000-$300,000 did finally make its way to a charitable cause.


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