Music Video Monday: Top Ten ’80s Dance Routines

I went back to dance class for the first time in about a year and a half tonight, and I’m (not) looking forward to an awkward few weeks where I struggle to keep up ’cause I’m still learning the routines. I thought I’d motivate myself by looking at some videos where everyone knows what they’re doing!

10. Kelly Marie – Feels Like I’m In Love

I can never help but smile at this silly, kitschy video in which Kelly Marie and her two sailor friends go dancing around Central London for a bit of shore leave sightseeing.

Kelly Marie - Feels Like I'm In Love

9. Lionel Richie – Dancing On The Ceiling

Lionel and his fabulously-dressed ’80s friends decide the floor is not good enough and go stamping all over the walls and ceiling, causing a disturbance on the next floor up! The ceiling dancing effect is a bit hokey nowadays (you can tell the exact angle to which the set has just been spun when the dancers awkwardly clamber from wall to ceiling), but it’s still a highly entertaining watch.

Lionel Richie - Dancing On The Ceiling

8. Wham! – Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go

A lot of colourful dancing here, mainly from stalwart Wham! backing singers Pepsi and Shirlie plus a couple of extra friends, but it’s the day-glo UV lights sequence (long before it became trendy in videos of the early ’10s!) complete with dancing feet that I love about this video.

Wham! - Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go

7. David Bowie and Mick Jagger – Dancing In The Street

I still see a lot online, strangely, about how this video is OMG SCANDALOUS for some reason and not becoming of such musical luminaries (mainly from American commentators, it has to be said; Brits tend to be more ‘meh, it’s just a couple of mates pissing about having a laugh, what’s the issue here?’). Either way, you can’t have an ’80s dance video list without it, and I want to give a shout out to Mick Jagger’s Reebok Freestyles here. Freestyle wearers represent.

David Bowie and Mick Jagger - Dancing In The Street

6. Duran Duran – Wild Boys

No dancing from the band members here (Duran Duran do not dance, apart from that bit at the end of the New Moon On Monday video that they’d like you to forget about). The dancing is instead provided by the eponymous Wild Boys, a tribe of body-painted hostiles who have kidnapped the band (or something – like most music videos, the plot’s not very clear), and was choreographed by one-time Strictly judge Arlene Phillips.

Duran Duran - Wild Boys

5. Adam & The Ants – Prince Charming

There’s a lot to like in this classic video – Adam as the male Cinderella, Diana Dors as the fairy godmother, that fancy sports car that substitutes for the pumpkin carriage – but it’s the daft dance routine that will be remembered till the end of time. Ridicule is nothing to be scared of!

Adam & The Ants - Prince Charming

4. Elton John – I’m Still Standing

Elton John’s I’m Still Standing video is the gift that keeps on giving. The entire video is basically one long dance routine, ably led by Strictly judge Bruno Tonioli and his extensive collection of skimpy beachwear. The dancers lift each other in the air! They spin effortlessly on stairwells! They fall over on the beach! I could watch it a thousand more times and I’d probably still be picking up extra details.

Elton John - I'm Still Standing

3. Bananarama – Love In The First Degree

Bananarama are the ’80s queens of not-entirely-serious dance routines (their brilliantly half-arsed shuffle in the café in Really Saying Something is another of my favourites), and this cartoony prison-set video, complete with striped prisoner garb, balls and chains, and obvious stunt double backflips, is a shining example. Bonus points for the song being on the legendary Now! That’s What I Call Music #10 compilation.

Bananarama - Love In The First Degree

2. Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes

Another wonderfully odd early ’80s dance routine where the dancers spend a lot of time artistically slapping each other and then rhythmically slamming their palms against the floor in some kind of apparent protest. Great video.

Kim Carnes - Bette Davis Eyes

1. Michael Jackson – Thriller

Come on. What else could it have been?

When I became a horror film buff in the late ’90s/early ’00s I was utterly fascinated with this video and the way it homaged so many horror tropes. Vincent Price’s narration in the middle of the song over the zombies crawling out of their graves is a highlight, but there’s a reason why the dance routine is still taught in Zumba classes all over the world every time Hallowe’en rolls around. It’s an absolute classic, and I love the story of how director John Landis insisted on the dancers having two weeks of rehearsals (not the norm at the time) so that they would be absolutely in sync with each other and therefore creepier. No video will ever better this one.

Michael Jackson - Thriller

More music videos next week.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #4

Day 4, and today’s Now! compilation was released on 26th November 1984 (just one day after the recording of the original Do They Know It’s Christmas? by Band Aid, fact fans).

November 1984
In November 1984, there were still far more houseplants around than there are today, and soft furnishings featured a lot more brown (probably a hangover from the ’70s).

I wonder what the Now! compilers have in store for me today?

Now! That's What I Call Music #4
Track 1: Paul McCartney – No More Lonely Nights [Special Dance Mix]

I couldn’t find the dance mix, so I’m reviewing the original.  Nice tune, but a bit slow for my liking.

Track 2: Giorgio Moroder and Philip Oakey – Together In Electric Dreams

Another one of Geth’s DJing favourites.  Great synthpop, love this one.  That chorus!

Track 3: Bronski Beat – Why?

Great dance track, really like this one, especially the trumpet instrumentals.

Track 4: Limahl – Neverending Story

Hey, it’s Limahl’s one good solo song that I was talking about the other day!  (Well, I say solo – it’s actually a duet with Beth Anderson, but she never gets credited.)  Love the ethereal vocals, great tune.

Track 5: Nick Heyward – Warning Sign

I like the guitar instrumentals.  Most of the song is a bit pedestrian, but it does step up towards the end.  Also, is that a rap at about two-thirds of the way in?  You almost never hear that in pop of this era.  Interesting.

Track 6: John Waite – Missing You

A favourite.  Nice intensity on the chorus, great guitar line.

Track 7: Michael Jackson – Farewell My Summer Love

Bit saccharine for my liking.  I prefer Michael Jackson’s stuff when it has a bit of edge.

Track 8: Lionel Richie – Hello

I think most people know this one for the so-bad-it’s-hilarious video, which features Geth’s least favourite trope, that of the icky student-professor relationship.  The song is extremely cheesy, but is also in the realm of so-bad-it’s-good for me, and I actually quite like it in a serious way when I’m in the right mood.

True fact: one time in Southampton, a couple of random guys serenaded me on the street with this song.  I could not stop laughing, which I’m not sure was the desired effect.

Track 9: Culture Club – The War Song

Argh, it’s another example from the ‘annoying’ end of Culture Club’s back catalogue!  I do like some of their stuff…I just can’t think of any examples at the moment.

I forgot to mention during the Karma Chameleon review the other day that that song gets bonus points for inspiring the Lothian Buses ‘Karma Chameleon’ no. 26 bus, which was one of my favourite stories of 2017.  It goes to Edinburgh Zoo, is painted in red, gold and green, and says ‘we come and go’ on the back!  I am in love.  I never go to zoos ’cause I always think the animals look sad, but I gotta get myself on that bus sometime when I’m in Edinburgh.

Um, back to The War Song.  ‘War is stupid, and people are stupid‘, and in all honesty I find these lyrics irritatingly stupid too.  Sorry.

Track 10: Elton John – Passengers

I quite like this bouncy song when I’m in the right mood, especially the chanting on the chorus.

Track 11: Julian Lennon – Too Late For Goodbyes

Nice upbeat track, though it’s more of a ‘background’ one for me.

Track 12: The Style Council – Shout To The Top!

I’m not usually that keen on the Style Council, but this one’s actually all right – I like the strings on the intro and the slightly urgent atmosphere.

Track 13: Thompson Twins – Doctor! Doctor!

I just remembered I really like this one (great synth line!), so maybe I was a bit hasty in writing off the Thompson Twins during yesterday’s review.  Another one that was used well in The Doctor Who Years, which was kind of an obvious choice if you think about it.

Track 14: Heaven 17 – Sunset Now

Typically nice pop from Heaven 17, though I prefer their more synth-y stuff.

Track 15: Kane Gang – Respect Yourself

I’m a big fan of this one, largely because the video was filmed in central Newcastle, and as I only moved to Newcastle in 2015 (and had never been here in my life until Geth and I came to househunt a month before we were due to move), I find it fascinating to see what the Quayside looked like in the mid-’80s before it was de-industrialised and gentrified.  Quite like the song too.

Track 16: Tina Turner – Private Dancer

I can’t put my finger on why, but I’ve never really liked this one, even though it does have a couple of nice sax solos.

Track 17: Queen – It’s A Hard Life

Not my favourite Queen song, but I can’t say they ever did a bad song – it’s still a good chair-swayer.

Track 18: Status Quo – The Wanderer

I quite like the jauntiness of this one.  It might even make my list of ‘songs I’d dance to at a wedding reception’ – if I’d had a lot of cider.

Track 19: Big Country – East Of Eden

Probably one of the best Big Country songs in my opinion.  Great tune and atmosphere.

Track 20: U2 – Pride (In The Name Of Love)

Most of the song is a bit dull, but I do quite like the chorus.

Track 21: Feargal Sharkey – Listen To Your Father

Not only is this song not on Spotify, but there’s no tribute version either, so I couldn’t be lazy this time – I had to pause the playlist and hit up YouTube.  So inconvenient.

As for the song, I quite like this one – nice uptempo track and instrumentals, even if the lyrics are a little irritating.

Track 22: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Tesla Girls

Awesome uptempo synthpop.  OMD delivering the goods as usual.

Track 23: Kim Wilde – The Second Time

Great piece of pop!  It’s everything I love about the ’80s – great bassline and instrumentals, epic atmosphere, strong lyrics.  It’s begging to be played on vinyl on my dad’s old sound system, rather than digitally through my tinny laptop earphones.

Incidentally, I’m going to see Kim Wilde at the Sage Gateshead tomorrow!  I’M SO EXCITED.  Watch out for my review of the gig on Tuesday.

Track 24: Nik Kershaw – Human Racing

A bit slow and dull for me, and there’s something I’m not keen on in the tune.  Nice lyrics though.

Track 25: Ray Parker Jr – Ghostbusters

How can you not love this one?  The ultimate party song.

I also have many happy memories of playing it on Lego Rock Band.  Now that I live in a detached house, I have got to break out those Rock Band drums again.  It’s just a case of finding the time!

Track 26: UB40 – If It Happens Again

Another good chair-swayer, but again this one’s a bit more ‘background’ for me.

Track 27: Pointer Sisters – Jump (For My Love)

It’s an okay party song, but I’ve always been a bit ‘meh’ about this one.

Track 28: Level 42 – Hot Water

Good danceable song, great instrumentals.

Track 29: Eurythmics – Sex Crime (Nineteen Eighty-Four)

I really like Eurythmics, and this one’s a great dance song with chantable lyrics.  It vastly improves what has been a relatively poor second disc so far.

Track 30: Rockwell – Somebody’s Watching Me

I LOVE this song.  Great sing-along track, great for Hallowe’en playlists, great for parties.  Awesome video too.

Track 31: Malcolm McLaren – Madam Butterfly

Quite a nice chillout track until the spoken word kicks in.  Is there an instrumental version of this?

Track 32: Eugene Wilde – Gotta Get You Home Tonight

Fairly typical ’80s soul.  Nice tune, if a bit slow.