Reese's, Alabama, and the BodyPump 59 Ab Track
During the 1970's the Hershey Corporation ran a series of television ads depicting several variations of collisions between two people - one savoring a jar of peanut butter, the other happily munching a chocolate bar (parody). You got chocolate in my peanut butter! You got peanut butter in my chocolate! and the slogan "Two great tastes that taste great together" achieved iconic status at a time when America was struggling to come to terms with racial integration.

At about that same time, Southern Rock band Lynyrd Synyrd released Sweet Home Alabama - a song that would eventually become one of biggest hits of their genre. It didn't take long for controversy to swirl around the racial and political overtones the song's lyrics suggest. To some, Sweet Home Alabama sounds more like an outright endorsement for racial segregation than a celebration of the songwriter's home state. Whether or not there's any truth in that (probably not, though I'll leave that analysis to other more capable writers), it's pretty safe to say Skynyrd likely didn't sell too many albums in America's Black community - including those that called Alabama home.

So as that era drew to a close, a whole new musical genre began to emerge - and this time, with roots deep within African American culture. Hardly a decade later Hip Hop had far eclipsed Southern Rock as the music of choice for a whole new generation. Fast-forward another twenty years, and Sweet Home Alabama had long ago taken its place in music history when rap duo B.A.M.A. released Sweet Home Al, which would later become the Ab track on BodyPump 59.

I wouldn't have had the musical intellect to imagine rewriting this song in that musical style. Truth be told, ten seconds into the track I found myself re-living those Reese's commercials when the opening cords of my cherished classic gave way to an onslaught of twisted prose. It didn't take me long to come full-circle though - by the end of the song, track #9 had earned a spot on the short playlist of BodyPump music I actually play even when I'm not rehearsing for class.

Am I so presumptuous to think that Glen had America's racial struggles in mind when he chose this song as the Ab track for BodyPump 59? Heck no. My money says he liked it for an ab workout, and that's about as deep as it went. But for those of us here in the States with a few more grey hairs that we'd like to admit, the irony of that musical combination gives us a little something to think about while we're pounding out that final round of crunches.

Turn it up. And pass the Reese's - I like a little peanut butter with my chocolate.

So did I hit the mark, or go way off the deep end? Click the Comments link below and speak your piece!
8 Comment(s):
On 05 October, 2006, Anonymous Steve McMahon - San Diego said...

I think that BodyPump should be apolitical. But being an older instructor, I am sometimes disappointed at the number of rap/hip-hop songs on the releases.
(I think that most song choices are very good and frequently mention to my classes that it is good for us to be introduced to a variety of modern music.)

My classes average age is around 40 and rap gets old fast for us. Some of them have a good rhythm, but the constant repetition, low-end musical sophistication and lack of musical changes can be very annoying to an older ear.

They tend to fall off my list very rapidly, mostly due to complaints from students.

Sweet Home Alabama may have had some racial overtones, but it pales in comparison to the sexism, anti police and antiestablishment tone to most rap or hip-hop songs.

On 05 October, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! That's some serious thought given to a BP track! Personally, also being of the "older" persuasion, I'm diggin' the squat track. Simply Irresistible certainly takes me back to the mid 80's. (I'm orginally from VA, too.) That song was being played all the time on the radio back then, along with the Run DMC/Aerosmith version of "Walk this Way." Perhaps to beginning of the rap movement?!? Remember? So I guess it's only fittin' to have SI paired up with a rap version of Sweet Home Alabama. It's come full circle!

And as pertaining to the Reese's ad, never in a million years did I think it had anything to do with racial tensions. But then again, when I hear the word chocolate I pretty much tune out everything else.

On 05 October, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I first put the CD in teh player and heard the beginning of the ab track, I said to myself "oh no another sampled/ripped off track", but I must admit this is a great song. It is stuck in my head!

On 06 October, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think they're all pretty good. Although, "A to Z" sounds too much like "From Paris to Berlin" two releases ago. I wouldn't have included that on this release. At first I thought the ab track was alright, but the way John Cleland sings along with it on the DVD has lessened its appeal.

On 09 October, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When Glenn introduced this track during the quarterly in Chicago - he said "This is a really great piece of music"

I think that is all there is to it.

I love this track

On 11 October, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This song is terrible. They took a great classic song and ruined it!

On 13 October, 2006, Anonymous scoxsmith said...

I despised the orginal song and I despise this new version. But I'm one of those Southerners who likes to think I'm more like the rest of the US than 'special' for my Southern heritage.

I have to admit that, though I'm older too, I was into the Sex Pistols in 1978, not Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Marshall Tucker Band and the Allman Brothers——yeeech. (This did not make me a popular girl in NC!) I have maybe only listened to the B.A.M.A song twice since I got my CD. I'll just have to suck it up for the launch, but you can be sure I'll be changing that one out after week two. I've never disliked any track this much and my collection goes back to BP41 (even Eye of the Tiger... meow). In case you are wondering, my all time fave BP song is Push It by Garbage, chest track from BP57(?). That one just makes me want to work harder, go longer and growl louder.

I don't mind any tracks, hip hop, metal, opera, Europop or whatever as long as they are well done and appropriate to the exercise. I do hate a class when an instructor only chooses music they like to the exclusion of a good mix of chorey and difficulty, even if they choose it because they think the participants like it. Example, I don't care for Jump by Girls Aloud, but it's a hard-working tricep track and the members like the opportunity to not do tricep dips, kickbacks or pushups all the time, so I throw it in occassionally, since I seem to prefer tricep track music that inevitably has dips or pushups at the end.

On 02 November, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thinking about how much u cant stand the song will mean less time ur thinkin about how much the pain is hurting :)


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