No, this won’t be a tribute to Ms Abdul, although wasn’t she supposed to have a record out right about now? If there was a good time for her to release some happy dance music, now would be the time to do so. In the face of hard economic times, there are two types of music that really seem to do well. Anything that reminds the listener of a better time (aka oldies) start popping up more, so expect an upswing in “80s and 90s weekends” on your local Adult Contemporary station. In addition, dance music seems to do better in these times, and I think that may be slowly working itself out.
Case in point: the dance opus “Blackout”. (Why does everything come back to Britney this week?) Yes, it’s the least successful Britney CD saleswise, and I’m sure that part of that has to do with leaks and downloads, but if you look at the single releases, they were collectively more successful than “In The Zone”. Britney’s only had one hit bigger than “Gimme More”, and that’s “Baby One More Time”, her only #1. What’s the common theme of the singles on “Blackout”? It’s dance music, bitch.
A month ago, I found myself at 3 am slightly intoxicated at Charlie’s in Chicago, hanging with a good friend who was on the make. After a year of living in Lansing, it was great to be in a big-city club playing big boy music, and I was just taking it in. The music was bangin’ all night, but when “Closer” came on, the place really lit up, and I found myself on the dancefloor by myself for the one and only time of the night. There was something so liberating about that 7 minutes or so of escapism through dance, and I reveled in it. Gone were the worries about the upcoming move, the pending unemployment, and the final cords being cut on a long-term relationship. In their place was joy, exhilaration, and celebration.
“And I just can’t bring myself away
But I don’t want to escape
I just can’t stop”
Dance music has power, and it’s that power that draws people to it in times of despair and crisis. The mental, emotional, and physical release can be healing.
Of course, I look at this as an American, where dance music seems to seep its way underground more often than not, but this is the same country that rallied behind “disco sucks” in the late 70s. I am often jealous of my counterparts in other countries who enjoy dance music in the mainstream on a regular basis. If all goes according to plan, though, the US will be experiencing a dance renaissance not seen since the mid 90s, when tracks from the likes of Real McCoy, C+C Music Factory, La Bouche, Haddaway, and Crystal Waters were ruling the airwaves. I leave you with a video that arguably represents that period better than any other.
Great post! I always love it when music tells the story of our lives.
And yes, Rhythm Is A Dancer is the quintessential 90s dance song. I have very distinct college memories surrounding that song. Maybe someday I’ll get around to telling that story.
what the fuck happened to Paula’s comeback? Oh well. no huge loss. Gosh i loved all that early 90s dance stuff. Gonna make you sweat til you bleed is still the least romantic lyric ever, but talking of C&C i was OBSESSED with Things That Make You Go Hmmm for ages. And as a right poofy gay little twink, it would come on and me and my friend would say “ooo let’s travel” which meant mince our way round the club looking for trade!! Ah youth. What a hideous memory 😛
This post just sums up why I love this blog. Excellent and thoughtful, as always.
Yeah, wasn’t Ms. Abdul supposed to have that record out by now? Good point. Don’t think it’s going to happen! And you hit the nail on the head about how dance music is still “cool” overseas. I wish rap would go the way of grunge and have dance come back. I’m dreaming, of course, but it would be nice.
Dan, while it’s not my favorite, I’m glad someone else agreed with it’s iconic status.
Paul, you naughty minx, you!
PG, as a fan of your own blog, I am truly flattered.
Yuri, I love GOOD hip-hop, but most of the crap making the Top 10 doesn’t make the cut. Enough with the “Yung” and “Lil”, mm’kay?
I am still waiting on the Abdul return!!! As for Closer, I always dance when I hear that… it is so catchy!
I never really thought about it until now but I guess I have had moments of despair and crisis in my life, which, as your post suggests points to why I mayhave gravitated to dance music so much! It’s definitely the genre of music I am drawn towards. Very insightful post!
Duane, we’re ALL waiting. Whether it’s a success or a trainwreck, we’re gonna watch.
Joe, I think you’ve got multiple sources, between your love of dance music, and your passion for soul/R&B music. Between those two types, that’s a lot of catharsis!