Gym Class Music and Other Lapses in Judgment

 

I gotta feeling (Whoo-hoo) that tonight’s gonna be a good night
That tonight’s gonna be a good night
That tonight’s gonna be a good, good night.

I threw the basketball in a half-hearted attempt to make a basket, missed again, and got back in line. This particular gym class lesson seemed custom made for both my failure and boredom. My classmates and I were lining up, taking turns throwing the basketball from a spot around the key, moving to the next location, and doing it again. We were supposed to keep track of the number of shots we made, out of about 50 possible, and I was at zero about halfway through this exercise.

Tonight’s the night
Let’s live it up
I got my money
Let’s spend it up

Go out and smash it
Like oh my God
Jump off that sofa
Let’s get get off

As I waited in line to throw the next ball, “I Gotta Feeling” by The Black Eyed Peas echoed through the gym. It was part of the normal gym class music rotation, most of which was loud, upbeat pop music. Sometimes, I will hear a pop song of that era and wonder why it’s so familiar, then realize that (a) I probably know the song from gym class, and (b) the song is absolutely unsuitable for children. “I Gotta Feeling” was among the milder of the gym class songs.

I know that we’ll have a ball
If we get down
And go out
And just lose it all

I feel stressed out
I wanna let it go
Let’s go way out spaced out
And losing all control

I threw the ball again, missed, retrieved it, then gave it to the next person, The Black Eyed Peas still chanting about their party in the background. Wait a second … shouldn’t the song be over by now? I knew this particular song was kind of long, and basketball drills made everything feel longer, but I thought I had just heard the opening again. Why was it playing twice in a row?

Fill up my cup
Mazel Tov
Look at her dancing
Just take it off

Let’s paint the town
We’ll shut it down
Let’s burn the roof
And then we’ll do it again

The song was repetitive, and so were the basketball drills. After my next throw, I snuck a look toward the stereo and realized what was happening. Maddy S. was sitting by the stereo, knee in a black brace. She had been excused from gym due to a knee injury and was now apparently in charge of the music. Or had been hitting the repeat button quietly, without the gym teacher noticing. Either way, I was now trapped in a time loop of basketball throwing and Black Eyed Peas.

Let’s do it, let’s do it,
Let’s do it,
Let’s do it, and do it, and do it,
Let’s live it up
And do it, and do it, and do it, do it, do it,
Let’s do it,
Let’s do it,
Let’s do it

‘Cause…

I gotta feeling (ooooo hoooo) that tonight’s gonna be a good night

That tonight’s gonna be a good night

Thankfully, I was not the only person in the room bothered by excessive Black Eyed Peas. After several repeats, somebody eventually complained, the song was changed, and the basketball drills finished, leaving me with a score of 2/42, or something like that, and a permanent dislike of “I’ve Gotta Feeling.”

The gym class music thing seems to be universal. Sawatdeeka reports hearing loud pop music emanating from elementary gyms when substituting, and my sister has found music playlists entitled “Fourth grade gym” with much the same music we were subjected to at about the same age.

Interestingly, that was not the only age-inappropriate music played without hesitation by school staff. One of my elementary bus drivers liked to listen to Laura Ingraham in the morning, so I was relieved when his replacement preferred the top 40 country station. This was in the prime of what is called “bro-country” and included masterpieces such as Drink a little drink, smoke a little smoke, country girl (shake it for me) and “I Don’t Want This Night to End.” These songs were not complex; the titles cover the content pretty well. Kindergarten through eighth graders were exposed to lyrics like Girl, I know I don’t know you, but those pretty little eyes so blue are pulling me in, like the moon on your skin. I’m so glad you trusted me to slide up on this dusty seat and let your hair down, and get out of town. (How much of an impression did that make on me? I just typed that from memory.)

And then, there was the mysterious incident of “Bleeding Love.” This was a slightly cheesy pop song about a breakup that came out when I was in third grade, and for some reason, the music teacher obtained sheet music and made the class sing it. Every music class, twice a week, for several weeks, we would enter the music room, “Bleeding Love” sheet music would be passed out, and we would sing. We would always stop for something to be corrected and then start from the beginning, so we never reached the end. I recall wondering about the “coda” section at the end of the music and wondering when we would get there. We didn’t, if memory serves correctly. We just stopped singing the song. We never sang it at a concert or anything, and it would have been pretty strange concert material. I have no idea why the music teacher felt that the third graders really needed to know how to sing “Bleeding Love,” but clearly he did. Occasionally, the music class would spend several weeks on music that we would never end up singing at a concert, but it was usually more interesting music and more traditional choir fare, with melody and harmony parts and lyrics that didn’t involve my heart’s crippled by the vein that I keep closing.

My teachers were generally a solid bunch of people with good judgment, but nobody seemed to have much of an opinion on child-appropriate music. One thing I can appreciate, though? They never used Kidz Bop.

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  1. Dotorimuk Coolidge
    Dotorimuk
    @Dotorimuk

    In my middle school music class, we had to sing Kenny Rogers’ “The Coward of the County,” with that infamous line about the Gatlin Boys:

    ”They took turns with Becky…and there were three of them.”

    • #1
  2. Dill Inactive
    Dill
    @Dill

    Dotorimuk (View Comment):

    In my middle school music class, we had to sing Kenny Rogers’ “The Coward of the County,” with that infamous line about the Gatlin Boys:

    ”They took turns with Becky…and there were three of them.”

    Wow. I listened to that a while back and was surprised at how dark it got.

    • #2
  3. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    There’s nothing wrong with music that a dose of AC/DC can’t cure.

    This is a really fun, well done post.  Thanks.

    • #3
  4. Dill Inactive
    Dill
    @Dill

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    There’s nothing wrong with music that a dose of AC/DC can’t cure.

    This is a really fun, well done post. Thanks.

    Thank you!

    I do wonder why my gym teachers didn’t turn to classic rock a little more often. So much good stuff there, and I think on average it was less inappropriate than the modern pop they seemed to prefer.

    • #4
  5. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Dill (View Comment):

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    There’s nothing wrong with music that a dose of AC/DC can’t cure.

    This is a really fun, well done post. Thanks.

    Thank you!

    I do wonder why my gym teachers didn’t turn to classic rock a little more often. So much good stuff there, and I think on average it was less inappropriate than the modern pop they seemed to prefer.

    Agreed.  More Than A Feeling’ seems a natural.

    • #5
  6. Dill Inactive
    Dill
    @Dill

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Dill (View Comment):

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    There’s nothing wrong with music that a dose of AC/DC can’t cure.

    This is a really fun, well done post. Thanks.

    Thank you!

    I do wonder why my gym teachers didn’t turn to classic rock a little more often. So much good stuff there, and I think on average it was less inappropriate than the modern pop they seemed to prefer.

    Agreed. More Than A Feeling’ seems a natural.

    When I got into high school, I was introduced to a bunch of upbeat classic rock songs through pep band. Carry on My Wayward Son, Seven Nation Army, Crazy Train, The Final Countdown, Walking on Sunshine, and similar songs would have been great gym class music. (To be fair, I’m not familiar with some of the lyrics to these because I was introduced through instrumental pep band arrangements, so they could be just as inappropriate as the modern songs. But at least they have cultural value. I can’t imagine the music I listened to will be popular for more than a generation.)

    • #6
  7. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    My version of gym music is power anthems that are all about overcoming the crazy hard stuff cuz it matters.

    • #7
  8. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Stina (View Comment):

    My version of gym music is power anthems that are all about overcoming the crazy hard stuff cuz it matters.

    My favorite power anthem is Whitesnake’s Here I Go Again, not that anyone should care since I don’t do gym music.

    • #8
  9. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    My version of gym music is power anthems that are all about overcoming the crazy hard stuff cuz it matters.

    My favorite power anthem is Whitesnake’s Here I Go Again, not that anyone should care since I don’t do gym music.

    Mine is a Superchick’s Anthem. I’d use yours as a warm up. It’s too slow for too long to keep the energy in the middle of a workout.

    • #9
  10. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Stina (View Comment):
    Mine is a Superchick’s Anthem. I’d use yours as a warm up. It’s too slow for too long to keep the energy in the middle of a workout.

    Do you mean

    When you find yourself in danger,

    When you’re threatened by a stranger,

    When it looks like you will take a lickin’,

    There is one thing you should learn,

    When there is no one else to turn to,

    Call for Superchicken?

    • #10
  11. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):
    Mine is a Superchick’s Anthem. I’d use yours as a warm up. It’s too slow for too long to keep the energy in the middle of a workout.

    Do you mean

    When you find yourself in danger,

    When you’re threatened by a stranger,

    When it looks like you will take a lickin’,

    There is one thing you should learn,

    When there is no one else to turn to,

    Call for Superchicken?

    Uh. Nope. It’s ok, my music is totally foreign to most of y’all around here. Their most mainstream song was completely out of character for most of their music and was “Kiss Me” in the movie “She’s All That”.

    • #11
  12. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Stina (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):
    Mine is a Superchick’s Anthem. I’d use yours as a warm up. It’s too slow for too long to keep the energy in the middle of a workout.

    Do you mean

    When you find yourself in danger,

    When you’re threatened by a stranger,

    When it looks like you will take a lickin’,

    There is one thing you should learn,

    When there is no one else to turn to,

    Call for Superchicken?

    Uh. Nope. It’s ok, my music is totally foreign to most of y’all around here. Their most mainstream song was completely out of character for most of their music and was “Kiss Me” in the movie “She’s All That”.

    Looks like I got the lyrics wrong, anyway.

    • #12
  13. Michael Minnott Member
    Michael Minnott
    @MichaelMinnott

    This reminds me of wrestling team practice in high school.  One of the guys would always play Sea of Madness by Iron Maiden.

    I don’t know if it was appropriate, but it rocked nonetheless.

     

    • #13
  14. American Abroad Thatcher
    American Abroad
    @AmericanAbroad

    I don’t remember the exact context, but at one point I think the freshman class at my school danced to the Aerosmith song, Pink.  It was awful, and I wasn’t sure if I should stop the song or pretend I didn’t know what the song was about. 

    • #14
  15. Dill Inactive
    Dill
    @Dill

    American Abroad (View Comment):

    I don’t remember the exact context, but at one point I think the freshman class at my school danced to the Aerosmith song, Pink. It was awful, and I wasn’t sure if I should stop the song or pretend I didn’t know what the song was about.

    Inappropriate music in high school is a whole different kettle of fish. I think a lot of the time the students know what they’re doing when they put on awful music.

    • #15
  16. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Why does there have to be music in gym class or during wrestling practice? There was none in my day. I wouldn’t have liked it. Being surrounded by loud music is too confining, unless it’s at a concert. 

    Also, get off my lawn. The grass makes too much noise when you step on it. 

    • #16