Thursday, September 4, 2014

You Can Dance If You Want To, But Probably Not to These 11 "Dance" Songs

Dancing and dance songs have been vital to rock & roll right from the start, sort of like love and love songs. But unlike "love" songs, which are almost always about love, "dance" songs are sometimes dance songs in name only. Don't try dancing to these at home.

"Dancing Days" Led Zeppelin (1973) It rocks. It rolls. It's one of my favorite Led Zeppelin singles (possibly my favorite, considering that it was the B-side to the nearly equally awesome "Over the Hills and Far Away"). While it inspires me to bang my head for an entire 3:43, play air guitar and run a little faster around Cape Town (not necessarily at the same time), I wouldn't dream of shakin' my body down to the ground like a dancin' machine and then blamin' it on the boogie when it's on. The "g" in lieu of an apostrophe at the end of "Dancing" is a dead giveaway of its more genteel intent.

"Dancin' Man" Q (1977) Here's a dancing apostrophe attached to a song that's a little mid-'70s show-tune pop, but it's one of the better discoveries I've made during my recent ongoing Casey Kasem's American Top 40 listening binge.

"St. Vitus Dance" Bauhaus (1980) In the late '80s at MFP (My Friend's Place) in Gainesville, Florida, had the DJ dared to play this in the middle of a three-song block that also included "Headhunter" by Front 242 and "Wildflower" by The Cult, I would have found a way to lose it, and now, a quarter of a century later, I'd be wondering, What was I thinking?

"Don't Forget to Dance" The Kinks (1983) If "Come Dancing" -- which has a certain waltz-like quality -- hadn't been a surprise comeback hit in 1983, would The Kinks' follow-up have gotten anywhere near No. 29? As danceable/undanceable 1983 "Dance" songs go, this one was well below its predecessor and what was likely the biggest one of the year -- Men Without Hats' "The Safety Dance," which I probably wouldn't consider to be much of a dance song either if it didn't actually have choreography to go along with the title.

"All She Wants to Do Is Dance" Don Henley (1984) And that lady did an excellent job of it in the video, but while it's probably the most un-Don Henley thing Henley ever did (It was such a long, long way from "Hotel California"), and quite possibly his idea of funky, it's so not a dance song.

Don Henley - All She Wants To Do Is Danc by jpdc11

"Don't Stop the Dance" Bryan Ferry (1985) It's more post-Roxy Music music to move sexily to (see the girls in the video below for instructions), or, to paraphrase Johnny River's 1977 hit, sway to the music to, not bust any full-on dance moves to.

"Bring on the Dancing Horses" Echo & the Bunnymen (1985) After this college-rock classic from Pretty in Pink, Ian McCulloch and company would get the dancing thing closer to right three singles later with the cha-cha-cha-ing "Bedbugs and Ballyhoo," which I'm almost certain I must have danced to at MFP.

"Dance" Ratt (1986) I loved Ratt in the '80s, and I was certainly a fan of hair metal, but unless it had the rattlesnake shake of Motley Crue's "Dr. Feelgood," it rarely made me feel like dancin'. Not even with a title like this one's. It was one of my favorite Ratt singles, but it had even less of a backbeat than "Round and Round" or "You're in Love" or "Lay It Down," all of which were far more suitable for dancing undercover (which was the title of the 1986 album from whence "Dance" came).

"I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)" Whitney Houston (1987) One of my most memorable college moments arrived in 1990 when I went to Mardi Gras for the first time with a group of my University of Florida friends. On the morning of our arrival in New Orleans, we were all dancing around our hotel room to Whitney Houston singing "I wanna dance with somebody," already a golden oldie at the time, at the top of her/our lungs. In the middle of our drunken haze, my friend and then-roommate Rebecca and I were coherent enough to look at each other and simultaneously ask, "What are we doing?" Exactly.

"The Dance" Garth Brooks (1990) I know. He was singing metaphorically (It's not the final destination, but the journey, or "the dance"), but as anyone who has seen Garth Brooks live well knows (and I'm not one of them), he's never been above throwing in a dance at the most inappropriate moments. It would never ever work during this one.

The Dance - Garth Brooks from BlueHighways TV (BHTV) on Vimeo.

"I Can't Dance" Genesis (1991) Is it any wonder?

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