There are some songs that come onto the radio and I can’t help but groove in my seat (or do a little dance if I’m driving) and sing along. From the first “Ohhhhh!” and rhythmic cowbell thunking, I know it’s time to groove. One of the biggest hits of 1990/1991, and still gets me pumped up to this day, is “Unbelievable” by EMF.
EMF is a 1990’s alternative Britpop band who formed in Gloucestershire, UK. EMF’s catchy indie dance music was released on 3 studio albums, “Schubert Dip”, “Stigma”, and “Cha Cha Cha.” The band consists of James Atkins (vocals, guitars), Ian Dench (keyboards, guitars), Derry Brownson (keyboards/samples), Mark Decloedt (drums) and Zac Foley (bass).
EMF was signed by EMI/Parlophone after just 4 performances together, without producing a demo tape, and were known for their baggy shorts, sideways baseball caps, and lively techno/rock music. Ian Dench was the band’s primary songwriter, but the entire band was credited on the track for “Unbelievable”.
One thing I love about the song is that it’s a quintessential early nineties hit, but it still feels very contemporary. It has a cool techno groove that is mainstream enough to appeal to the masses. It rocks out without being too heavy, it’s peppy enough to get people of all ages dancing. The song was a regular recording on my homemade mixtapes (recorded off the radio, of course).
“The things you say
Your purple prose just gives you away
The things you say
You’re unbelievable! Ohhhhh!!!”
There are a few songs that pump me up every time I listen to them: “Going the Distance” by Cake, “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic” by The Police, “Gonna Make You Sweat” by C&C Music Factory, “Jump” by Kris Kross, and “To The Extreme” by Vanilla Ice. “Unbelievable” is also on this list for me. Whenever I add them a workout playlist, these songs can make me work out just a little harder. I’ve listened to it enough in my adulthood that my daughter has taken a liking to it, and she grooves out to it just as much as I do. I just hope she doesn’t notice the profanity in the song that I thought was just mumbling.
Curious about what EMF means? There are a few theories. 1) The B-side of the “Unbelievable” single is a track titled “EMF.” The song includes the refrain: “E! Ecstasy! M! Motherf***er, motherf***er! F! From us to you…” 2) EMF is believed to be an abbreviation of “Epsom Mad Funkers”, the name of the fan club of the band New Order. It is also the name of EMF’s greatest hits album. 3) The song, “Head the Ball”, featured the repeating lines “Electromotive Force.” Take your pick, pop culture junkies!
Fun facts about the song: It was the 1000th #1 hit in Billboard’s chart history. It was ranked #31 on VH1’s 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders in 2002, and #98 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of the 90s in 2007. It has been covered my many different artists, including Shakira, Tom Jones, Weird Al Yankovic, and Alvin and the Chipmunks. It’s also been in a number of movies: “Space Jam,” “Coyote Ugly,” “The Taking of Beverly Hills,” “Hoodwinked.” and a variety of television commercials.
Does “Unbelievable” get you dancing too? Click below to download and download the song to relive the memories.