Ooga Chaka Ooga Ooga

Remember that song from the 70s, “Hooked On A Feeling”? It was a cover of a late 60s tune by B.J. Thomas. The group that recorded it, Blue Swede, added an annoyingly catchy “ooga chaka” chant, and the song reached #1 in 1974. In case you don’t remember it:

Cheesy as hell, right? And yet once you hear it, it’s stuck in your head the rest of the day. I’ll bet half of you will walk away from this post to go attend to some other chore – maybe dicing onions for dinner, or watering the ficus, or gassing up the Mercedes – and you’ll start in with the chant. Ooga chaka ooga ooga, ooga chaka ooga ooga, ooga chaka ooga ooga, ooga chaka ooga ooga…

You’re welcome.

But earlier today, on my lunch, I pulled into the parking lot of Jimmy John’s. You know, that quaint little local sandwich shop exclusive to Spokane. (I have yet to live that down). Anyway, I’m looking for a parking spot, and I see a couple walking towards me, waving. How funny, I thought. These people think I’m somebody else. And then I realized that they actually thought I was Mark Petruska, which made perfect sense because I knew them. They were my former neighbors, the ones who lived next door when I owned a house and was married and living a completely different life. We haven’t been neighbors since 2006, and it had been years since I’d seen them. So I rolled down my window to say hi, and we chatted for a bit, playing catch up. Midway through the conversation, I realized I was playing my “Polyester is Groovy” 70s-themed pop music mix over the car stereo, and the Blue Swede song was on. I tried to lunge for the volume knob, but it was too late. The conversation sounded something like this.

Ooga chaka ooga ooga
Hey Mark, how are you doing?
Ooga chaka ooga ooga
I’m great, how about you guys?
Ooga chaka ooga ooga
We’re fine. Still working at such-and-such. How about you?
Ooga chaka ooga ooga
That’s great! I have a new job as a copywriter at so-and-so.
Ooga chaka ooga ooga
Terrific! Sounds like a great opportunity.
Ooga chaka ooga ooga
It is! How are things in the old neighborhood?
Ooga chaka ooga ooga
Still the same. The Carlsons got a new puppy.
Ooga chaka ooga ooga

I felt like the whole scene was straight out of a Quentin Tarantino movie. And it was a little embarrassing, to be honest. I pride myself on my exceptional taste in music. Why couldn’t I have been playing Nirvana or The Black Keys or Kings of Leon when I rolled the window down? Why, oh why, did it have to be some godawful mid-70s schmaltz with nonsensical lyrics from a one-hit wonder Swedish pop band who didn’t even have the decency to be named ABBA?! I quite honestly felt like my music reputation was sullied in the span of a 30-second fake reggae chant.

Oh, the shame.

But if he’s covering her eyes, how can she even tell whether he’s sexy or not?

Some songs I will defend to the death, even when confronted by somebody who thinks my tastes are horrible. Take “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” by Rod Stewart. I happen to think the song is a disco-themed gem by a music legend, full of confidence and swagger. The synthesizer arrangement is irresistible, and the lyrics are catchy. It’s a great song! One of the guys I worked with at the music gig, Adrian, thought otherwise. He was walking by my cubicle one day when the song was playing, stopped dead in his tracks, and looked at me as if I’d lost my mind. He then proceeded to rip the song apart, calling Rod Stewart a sell-out for recording a disco song because he was a blues-rock legend. Well, you know what? The Rolling Stones did the same thing. “Emotional Rescue,” anybody? “Miss You”? And how about Paul McCartney, with “Goodnight Tonight”? You can’t fault any of these guys for riding a wave that was popular in the late 70s any more than you can blame a 50s group for adding a “doo wop” chorus. Sign o’ the times, baby. Don’t hate the player, hate the game. Besides, I don’t care what Adrian says. “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” is a great song. And it spent four weeks at #1 back in 1979, so there.

Still…it’s hard to defend Blue Swede. “Hooked On A Feeling” by itself is a harmless little bit of pop fluff, I suppose, but all those “ooga chaka”s elevate it to a level of ridicule. And yet, it’s on my iPod, so I must like it, right?

No comment.


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

19 thoughts on “Ooga Chaka Ooga Ooga

  1. You know what?!? Of course you do!!

    While the above-mentioned songs didn’t really do anything for me back in the day. I kinda like them now. I guess it equates to a slow-marinade that is going to make anything taste better.

    It just takes time.


    1. Nice analogy. Great way to tie together cooking and music. Leave it to you, Tracy! (And you’re right. Of course I not-so-secretly like the song. It wouldn’t be on my iPod otherwise).


  2. Mark, I just want you to know that I played, “Hooked On A Feeling” FULL BLAST and was ROCKIN’ OUT!

    Yes, I kid you not! I don’t think I ever listen to words/lyrics when I hear a song, it’s more about the music, and for some reason…I LOVE THAT SONG! Brought back a ton of great 70’s memories for me. So, thank you 🙂

    And yes, I also liked the Rod Stewart song you mentioned here. Another one that brings back fond 70’S memories!

    Thanks for sharing a blast from the past!

    Ooga chaka!


    1. Glad I could help you relive some happy memories, Ron! I always equate Paul Simon, Cat Stevens, Bob Seger, and Journey with the 70s. Those are the artists I used to listen to back then. (Plus disco, of course!).


  3. Sometimes I thnk nonsensical lyrics stick in our heads more than those whose meaning is obvious. Maybe had something to do with right brain-left brain stuff. I have NO idea. Thanks for the memories–and a brain now set on play-repeat!


  4. Have you ever seen the video of David Hasselhoff singing Hooked on a feeling? If you ever want a good laugh look it up. Its the most ridiculous video ever!


Add Your Two Cents!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: