411. ‘Float On’, by The Floaters

Two of the 1970’s most forgotten number ones back to back, then. From ‘Angelo’, to ‘Float On’, as the world shrugs and thinks ‘Nope, don’t remember them…’

Float On, by The Floaters (their 1st and only #1)

1 week, from 21st – 28th August 1977

Musically, this is dense, lush, soul-cheese. The bassline is smooth, while the production has a ‘sounds of rainforest’ vibe, all echoey and dripping, with what sounds like tropical birds in the distance. While, lyrically, it’s a lonely hearts ad. There are four members of The Floaters, and they all take turns at introducing themselves, their star-signs, and the kind of women they’re after.

First up is Ralph, an Aquarius. Now I like a woman who loves her freedom, And who can hold her own… Then Charles, a Libra, who likes a woman who carries herself like Miss Universe… He really goes for it with the falsetto, in a kind of vocal peacocking move. (And is there a more seventies line than let me take you Loveland…?) Actually, by the late nineties, every pop group worth their salt had a gimmick for introducing the members in their debut single. In this respect, The Floaters were well ahead of their time.

Anyway. Our Leo, Paul, isn’t picky. See, I like all women of the world, he announces proudly. And last up is Larry, who delivers his sign, Cancer!, slightly too loudly. He likes… Oh to be honest, who cares? The descriptions are deliberately vague in order to not put off any woman who might buy the record. I guess sociology students could look back, forty-plus years later, at this song as a first-hand example of what men of the late-1970s looked for in a woman (if that was their ultra-niche specialist subject).

Float, Float on… I’m not sure where they’ll be floating, or what they’ll be on, but I’m getting an image of each Floater with his girl, in a swan-shaped boat, cruising down one of those old ‘Tunnel of Love’ rides. It all goes a bit weird at the end, with some trippy flutes and heavy breathing, as we wonder just what is going on as those boats float out of sight…

The Floaters were from Detroit, and are stone-cold, one-hit wonders. ‘Float On’ floated to #1 in the UK, and to #2 in the USA, and that was that. To be honest, naming your band after your debut single, or vice-versa, pretty much guarantees that you will remain in one-hit purgatory for all eternity. They do, though, usurp Pussycat as the chart-topping act with the worst name because to me a ‘floater’ is, at best, an unwelcome object in your drink and, at worst, an unwelcome returnee to your toilet bowl…


12 thoughts on “411. ‘Float On’, by The Floaters

  1. Well…it’s a mite less cringeworthy than the pitiful ‘No Charge’, but I find it hard to say anything really praiseworthy about this. I thought it one of the dullest records I’d ever heard when it was out, and 43 years later I find no reason to change my mind. The fact that it reached No. 1 – sorry to sound opinionated, but – suggests that I’ve missed something vital, or else the rest of the Top 40 that week must have been even worse, which I’m sure was not the case. Or else somebody was giving away a free luxury holiday with every tenth copy sold.

    • I quite like the way it just basks in its cheesiness, and in a way it sums up the mid-to-late seventies well: easy-listening, soul-lite gloop. (That’s what much of 1977 has felt like anyway.) I have no desire to keep it listening to it, now I’ve finished writing this post, though…

  2. “Float On” is one of those songs I find too hilarious to hate on. Musically, it lives up to its title with the lush orchestral soul instrumentation giving off the feeling of floating so much so that there’s a 12 minute version of the song where the first 8 minutes is just that instrumental played over and over. As for the lyrics, they’re basically the 70s equivalent of someone reading out their online dating profile and they’re not all that different from each other. The main thing I get from listening to “Float On” is that it sounds like something they would play in Anchorman with a line like “Let me take you to Loveland” sounding exactly like the type of pickup line Ron Burgundy would say to a woman. It’s so silly that I have to imagine the audiences in 1977 not taking this song all that seriously. Ultimately, I feel that the Floaters never gained much traction after aside from hitting big with a joke song is that this type of lush soul music was on its way out by 1977 with disco taking over as the sound of R&B.

    • I agree on the Ron Burgundy angle and I agree that, like I wrote, any band that names their debut hit after themselves, or vice versa, isn’t aiming for longevity… I swayed over categorising it as a novelty, but decided not to. It is though, really.

  3. I liked this song, while being well aware of it’s cheesiness, as picked up by the genuine novelty piss-take of this, and a couple of other big hits like You Make Me feel Like Dancing and Angelo, by the truly dreadful (and dated even in 1977) Barron Knights – Live In Trouble which was a big hit in 1977. I suggest playing their Top Of The Pops appearance and suddenly Float On will improve no end in anyone’s estimation. I grew to loathe that record very quickly, still do!

    I think my biggest problem was with the obsession with star signs signifying anything except for use as a way of blagging a shot at a quickie from women who believe in made-up stuff, hah! Bet they were having a laugh… 🙂 Floaters these days is more usually related to those things drfiting in front of your eyes if your brain isn’t switching them off and you start chasing them till your eyeballs start rolling inside your head, but I still think of the toilet after 44 years of association, oops!

    • Apparently star signs were a big thing at the time? This record was very ‘on trend’. And the very general way they describe the women they like – ‘I like all women of the world…’ – is about as vague and nonsensical as your average horoscope, too!

      • Yes I agree (and if that were a thing for everyone then skinny busty model types and fit gymn handsome types wouldnt hoover up the film/TV/music spots and it would go to people with personality or talent as the priority, not good looks being essential) 🙂

  4. I don’t remember these guys back then but since I’ve blogged I’ve heard them a lot. I love this…their name does leave a lot to be desired.

  5. I actually remember this being on the radio. Back then, it just blended into the background with the plethora of other Soul Train groups….The Four Tops, The Spinners, The Stylistics, The Temptations…

  6. Pingback: Recap: #391 – #420 – The UK Number Ones Blog

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