If aliens came to me and asked me to play them one song to represent humanity at its best, I would play “Tighten Up” by Archie Bell & the Drells for them. It is distilled joy.
If this song does not make you at least a little happy every time you hear it, then you may be a heartless robot. This song is as irresistible as a basket full of puppies and kittens on Christmas morning. It has the most perfect bassline. It has the happiest two-chord progression ever. Even its brief, mellow bridge makes one smile. The fact that it has no real lyrics to speak of is immaterial. The fact that the song was ostensibly written as a companion to a dance no one knows is irrelevant. It remains the simplest, most elegant musical construct man has yet devised.
If I were L. Ron Hubbard, I would have designed a religion around this song instead of a lame sci-fi story. It is a testament to the ability of music itself to spontaneously generate joy. Perhaps the secret to its magic is that is has no melody. It is simply a groove. The happiest groove ever written. Melodies lose their luster with overuse, but grooves never die. A fat groove is a joy forever.
As an added bonus, if you listen to it with headphones on, you can hear all sorts of extra voices in the studio. It’s like you’re there with them, making this thing up as they go.
>> Download Tighten Up Pt. 1 (LP Version) from amazon.com.