Part 1. “Double Dutch Bus” Frankie Smith
Whatever happened to Frankie Smith, and why don’t more people today talk about what I believe must have been his only hit?
A bridge between post-disco funk and early rap that still holds up, Smith’s 1981 No. 1 R&B crossover single (it got as high as No. 30 on the Hot 100), sounded pretty ridiculous the first time around, and 31 years later, I’m still not sure what he was getting at. I’m mean, who writes a song about jumping rope and driving a bus? One doesn’t really make me think of the other.
But who cares what all that izz-ing is about when the song is so impossible to resist? Today, for the third time in the last few months, “Double Dutch Bus” made my work out go by so much faster that I was tempted to do it all over again just so I could keep listening to the song. In popular music, that’s what we call aging well. Time has been similarly kind to Yarbrough & Peoples “Don’t Stop the Music,” A Taste of Honey’s “Sukiyaki,” and Kool and the Gang’s “Take My Heart,” all great, seldom-discussed 1981 No. 1 R&B hits.
Let’s see most of today’s hit parade pull that off.
Now where’s my jump rope? There’s a “Double Dutch Bus” pulling up in my iPod, and I want to be on it.