Friday, October 16, 2009

Sega’s Less-Than-Groovy Heart

Another from that “cloudbush” thread — and one that gets to reference “Groove Is in the Heart,” so it’s inherently extra special. You remember the song, of course.

Apparently sometime after this song by Deee-Lite hit it big, the singer, Lady Miss Kier got word of the existence of Space Channel 5, a music-based video game released by Sega in 1999. Kier concluded the game’s mascot, Ulala, bore more than a passing resemblance to her own stage persona — specifically by being a dancing girl sporting knee-high boots, a short skirt, a pink ponytail — and sued Sega. There is a similarity, I have to admit.

And according to Kier, Sega offered $16,000 to use her likeness in the game. When she declined, Sega used it anyway. Sega maintains that Ulala was different enough that they could legally use the character. Ultimately, a judge ruled in Sega’s favor and Kier was forced to pay the video game company $608,000 in legal fees, which surely took a big chunk out of any money Kier would have made with the success of “Grove Is in the Heart,” the band’s only real hit. (I mean, they had a cover of “You Sexy Thing” on the Dumb & Dumber soundtrack, but how many other songs by Deee-Lite have you ever heard?) And so ends the strange and acrimonious intersection of these two pop culture elements that I wouldn’t have imagined had a shared history.

That is, except for an even more curious epilogue: “Groove Is in the Heart” is featured in the 2008 Wii game Samba de Amigo — another Sega-produced music-based game — and notably the song appears in a stage that also features a cameo by Ulala. And that’s either an ironic little coincidence or a very purposeful fuck-you from the video game giant and to Kier.

Less-than-groovy indeed.


  1. If you play it, you'll see that the whole game "Space Channel 5" is pretty much based off of Deee Lite.

    Sega was just trying to make up for not being -as good- as Ninhindo.

    1. Yeah, at least Nintendo never ripped off an established pop star.