Many songwriters are guilty of asking us to “shake” something, but how come they so often ask us to shake something that’s not supposed to be shaken. For example:

Andre 3000 sings “shake it like a Polaroid picture”, which Polaroid insists is a terrible idea and will ruin your photographs

Sam Cooke sings “shake it like a bowl of soup”, which sounds less like a recipe for success, and more like a recipe for a mess.

Ray Charles sings “shake your tailfeather”, which is a nice in a metaphor kind of way.

The Gap Band sings “shake shake shake shake shake your booty at the disco”, which is repetitively literal.

The Bar-Kays sing “shake your rump to the funk”, which is even more explicit, though they should probably say “disco funk”.

Elmore James sings “shake your moneymaker”. We’re back in figurative land here, at least for most of us, but I can get behind this one, in a classic sense.

The Jacksons ask you to “shake your body down to the ground”. (Man, the late ’70s had a real resurgence of shaking. Or maybe I just have easy access to too much late ’70s music…)

And blues, because in addition to Elmore James, we have:

Lightin’ Hopkins asking his baby to “shake that thing” and Howlin’ Wolf asking to “shake like jello on a plate” and more simply “shake it for me”.

And of course, “shake your rump” was revitalized in the early nineties, when Wreckx-N-Effect dropped “to the funk” and added a bunch of nonsense syllables.

 

Shake!

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