Popcorn, but not Hot Butter
October 8, 2005 2:35 PM   Subscribe

Why do so many funk songs reference popcorn?

So many funk songs reference popcorn, but depending on the song it seems to allude to anything from booty to sex to drinking, to just plain old freaking out. So what's the deal? Any do you know of any other songs besides the following?

Off the top of my head I can think of:
  • James Brown - Mother Popcorn
  • The Soul Generals - Grandma's Funky Popcorn
  • RDM Band - Butter that Popcorn
  • Eldrige Holmes - Pop Popcorn
  • Big Daddy Graham Trio - Tightening Your Popcorn
  • Doc Oliver - Soul Popcorn
  • The Poets of Rythm - Hotpie's Popcorn
  • The Supremes - Buttered Popcorn
posted by furtive to Media & Arts (18 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Do any of these songs musically reference "Popcorn" (the synth novelty hit)?
posted by kindall at 2:36 PM on October 8, 2005

It's hot, it's buttered, and it explodes.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 2:59 PM on October 8, 2005

Kindall: Nope, and they all predate it by about twenty years. The title of this post on the other hand...
posted by furtive at 3:23 PM on October 8, 2005

Nope, and they all predate it by about twenty years.

Gershon Kingsley's Popcorn that I think kindall is referring to was 1972. Most of these are contemporaries.

I would think it evokes energetic dancing.
posted by sourwookie at 3:41 PM on October 8, 2005

Not really funk, but in 'Pass the Popcorn' by The Roots popcorn refers to the microphone.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:47 PM on October 8, 2005

I believe popcorn is the name of the drum break. Try reading this though.
posted by atom128 at 3:47 PM on October 8, 2005

I take it back, I think im wrong. But that thing is still a good read.
posted by atom128 at 3:59 PM on October 8, 2005

Aerosmith - Mother Popcorn
Crazy Frog - Popcorn
New Edition - Popcorn Love
The Roots - Popcorn Revisited (I think)
The Roots - Pass The Popcorn
Edwin McCain - Popcorn Box

I always thought it was a dance.
posted by iconomy at 4:14 PM on October 8, 2005

I don't think it has anything to do with microphones. I've heard the term "popcorn funk" and 'popcorn guitar rythmns" referring to funk of the era. Does it have to do with the chaotic guitar sounds that mimic that of popcorn popping?
posted by geoff. at 4:17 PM on October 8, 2005

I should correct myself, in the Roots song it definitely refers to a microphone, but when referring to funk of the Jackson 5/James Brown era -- and a certain type of funk I believe the reference is something different.
posted by geoff. at 4:17 PM on October 8, 2005

In both A Tribe Called Quest's "If The Papes Come" and The Beastie Boys' "Shadrach," there's the line:

"We like the hot butter on what (say what?) the popcorn"

For whatever it's worth.
posted by StopMakingSense at 5:22 PM on October 8, 2005

You know, I recommend that folks stop guessing and start researching. There's something going on here, but all I can discover so far are quick mentions of something called "popcorn music" or "popcorn style". Here's one quote:

The sound of Latin teenagers in and around New York during the mid- to late-'60s, Boogaloo was an Anglicized form of Latin music incorporating R&B, mambo, and rock & roll, among other forms. Often known as popcorn music or shing-a-ling, the style is also quite similar to Latin soul. In 1963, two Top 20 breakout hits -- "Watermelon Man" by Mongo Santamaria and "El Watusi" by Ray Barretto -- helped birth the boogaloo. ..."

"The Belgian "popcorn" style began in 1968 in Oostende (where Marvin Gaye lived). There is a nightclub that was called 'The Groove". The first notes of music came from this nightclub wich was called at that time "Soul Music".I never heard such beautiful music. I'm still crazy about that type of music, "The Oldies Popcorn" as we call this music in Belgium.

So, you're onto some interesting music history here, and I look forward to learning more about it when people begin finding things to share.
posted by Miko at 7:24 PM on October 8, 2005 [1 favorite]

The Belgian Popcorn Oldies page
posted by Miko at 7:27 PM on October 8, 2005

atom128's link seems to provide the most insight.

Brown started doing a little dance to "Bringing Up The Guitar" on stage, and it caught on. He called the dance the Popcorn, and in late August, 1968, the band re-recorded the instrumental as "The Popcorn" (credited to James Brown Plays & Directs). In fact, he wasn't playing, though he can be heard yelping a little;

So it started off as a dance, then was pushed as a concept/theme/meme and others who were doing the same style of music picked up on it. I guess not having been at the shows/clubs then and never seen a video of funk music besides JB on the Ed Sullivan show it's hard to pick up this sort of thing.
posted by furtive at 7:35 PM on October 8, 2005

...except, furtive, that something called 'popcorn' was apparently happening earlier in Hispanic musics. I'd suspect a fusion.
posted by Miko at 7:37 PM on October 8, 2005

This cached page, which lists fad dances of the 60s, has James Brown poularizing something called "The Mashed Potato Popcorn" in 1966.

I just want to find out how it got to him from Puerto Rican teenagers in New York.
posted by Miko at 7:42 PM on October 8, 2005

Finally, Wikipedia is the source for many of the other sites I'm finding.
posted by Miko at 7:54 PM on October 8, 2005

Cool question, I learned a few things. Thanks!
posted by Miko at 9:04 AM on October 9, 2005

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