Tom Tom Club is an American new wave band founded in 1981 by husband-and-wife team Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz, both also known for being members of Talking Heads. “Genius of Love” is a 1981 hit song by Tom Tom Club from their 1981 eponymous debut album. It reached number one on the Billboard Disco Top 80 chart.
“Genius of Love” is Tom Tom Club’s second single. Although the album had not been released in North America, over 100,000 copies of the single sold as imports from Island Records’s UK, at which point Sire Records made a deal to release the single and the album in North America in late 1981.
Tina Weymouth sings the lead and also co-wrote the song: although she was responsible for writing the bassline and intended to play it on record, she was forced to pass on the latter task to another musician. As she related in a 1997 interview with Bassplayer.com, “we were given extremely limited studio time – just three days – and when it was time to do that track my whole right arm seized up in a terrible cramp, and I couldn’t play. I had never played in the studio around the clock like we were doing, so I didn’t even know that could happen. I ended up waking the assistant engineer – he was asleep under the console – and I showed him the part, and he played it. Chris (Frantz) was mad, but I really couldn’t play; my hand wouldn’t even close. So we did what we had to do. These things happen.”
The melody is playful and almost child-like, using catchy syncopation. The lyrics and video imply that the singer is in jail although why she’s imprisoned is not explained. The singer tells her fellow inmates about her boyfriend whom she describes as the “genius of love”.
The lyrics also pay tribute to many notable black musicians and singers, including George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Smokey Robinson, Bob Marley, Sly and Robbie, Kurtis Blow, Hamilton Bohannon, and James Brown
Frantz and Weymouth performed the song as Tom Tom Club in the 1984 Talking Heads concert movie Stop Making Sense, as an interlude to allow Talking Heads frontman David Byrne to change into costume for the film’s performance of “Girlfriend is Better”.
The B-side of the “Genius of Love (Long Version)” 12″ vinyl has a lesser-known underground hit called “Yella”. On some pressings, the song is sometimes credited to Mr. Yellow and, on others, it is credited to Yella.