I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)

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"I Wanna Dance with Somebody" redirects here. For the song by Mando Diao, see Dance with Somebody.
"I Wanna Dance with Somebody"
Single by Whitney Houston
from the album Whitney
B-side Moment of Truth
Released May 2, 1987 (1987-05-02)
Format
Recorded October 1986
Genre
Length 4:50
Label Arista
Writer(s)
Producer(s) Narada Michael Walden
Whitney Houston singles chronology
"Greatest Love of All"
(1986)
"I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)"
(1987)
"Didn't We Almost Have It All"
(1987)
Whitney track listing
"I Wanna Dance With Somebody"
(1)
"Just the Lonely Talking Again"
(2)
Music video
"I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)" on YouTube

"I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)" is the first single from Whitney Houston's second studio album Whitney. It was produced by Narada Michael Walden, and written by George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam of the band Boy Meets Girl, who had previously written the number-one Whitney Houston hit "How Will I Know." The original arrangement was more of a country tune, but was transformed by Walden to make it a dance song.

The song received mixed reviews from critics, who compared the musical arrangement to her own "How Will I Know" and Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun." The song won the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 30th Grammy Awards, and in later years received more complimentary reviews, being broadly considered an eighties gem. The single was a commercial success, topping the charts in 13 countries including Australia, Germany and the UK. In the US, it became her fourth consecutive number one single and sold over one million copies, making it her biggest hit in that country at the time. It was eventually surpassed by her version of "I Will Always Love You."[1]

Background[edit]

"I Wanna Dance with Somebody" was written by George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam, who wrote Houston's 1985 song "How Will I Know." "How Will I Know" became successful, and as a result, they were asked to come up with another song for Houston's then-new album. Originally the song that gave Merrill and Rubican their British top ten success as Boy Meets Girl, "Waiting For a Star to Fall" was intended by the duo to be a song for Houston.[2] The duo sent it to Arista Records, but they passed on it citing it was not suitable for Houston.[2] Undeterred by this minor setback, the pair continued working on finding a song that would be ideal for Houston, and were inspired to come up with "I Wanna Dance with Somebody."[2] Later on, Rubicam explained the idea behind the song:

I pictured somebody single wishing that they could find that special person for themselves. It wasn't, 'I wanna go down the disco and dance,' really. It was, 'I wanna do that dance of life with somebody.' That was the thought behind the song. So we sent our demo version off to Clive Davis and he loved it.[2]

But, the song did not impress the producer, who again was Narada Michael Walden, who had produced "How Will I Know."[2] He took a little more persuading with regard to the song's potential, and at first was not too keen on having Houston record it, as he felt it was too "country and western sounding."[2] He said of it,

[It] reminded me of a rodeo song with Olivia Newton-John singing. I love Olivia Newton-John, but for Whitney Houston it didn't seem right. I felt the song needed a much more funkier feel. I slept, dreaming about it, woke up in the morning thinking about it, wondering what am I gonna do with this dance song. So, we just jumped in the water and lo and behold a magic record was born, Houston just knocked it out and then I knew we had a good record.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

"I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)" received mixed reviews from critics. Vince Aletti of Rolling Stone magazine, in a review of the album Whitney, criticized the song, commenting that "not taking any chances, the songwriters [Merill Griffith and Shannon Rubicam] have simply come up with a clever anagram of their original hit [How Will I Know], and [Narada Michael] Walden has glossed it over in an identically perky style. The strategy is not so different from that behind Hollywood's blockbuster sequels: this is 'How Will I Know II'."[3] Los Angeles Times's pop music critic, Robert Hilburn described the song as "a deliciously raucous tune with a bit of the synthesizer underpinning and giddy zest of Cyndi Lauper's 'Girls Just Want to Have Fun.'"[4]

In its review of Whitney, Jon Pareles of The New York Times gave a negative comment, writing that listening to "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" and "You're Still My Man," another track on the album was like "watching television while someone fiddles with color controls."[5] In 2006, Slant Magazine ranked the song at #88 in their 100 Greatest Dance Songs, commenting that "with its parenthetical title, gummy bassline, schmaltzy horns, tinkling keyboards, and half-step key changes, [the song] is definitive '80s dance-pop."[6]

Awards and accolades[edit]

"I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)" won the award for "Favorite Pop/Rock Single" at the 15th American Music Awards on January 25, 1988.[7] Additionally, Houston won the Grammy award for "Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female" with the song at its 30th ceremony on March 2, 1988, where she received a total of three nominations.[8][9] The music video for the song was nominated for "Best Music Video" at the 2nd Soul Train Music Awards on March 30, 1988.[10] Houston won the award for "Best Music Video" for the video at the 1st Garden State Music Awards.[11]

Commercial reception[edit]

"I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)" was released as the first single from Houston's second studio album at the beginning of May 1987. It entered the Billboard Hot 100, the issue dated May 16, 1987, at number 38, her highest debut in the 1980s.[12] Six weeks later, it reached the top spot of the chart, making it Houston's fourth number-one single in the United States, the issue date of June 27, 1987 ― the same day that Houston's album Whitney debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 (formerly "Top Pop Albums") the first time ever by a female artist.[13] It remained there for two weeks, and spent 18 weeks on the chart.[14] The song reached number one on the Hot 100 Single Sales chart for two weeks, and on the Hot 100 Airplay chart for three weeks, her longest run at that time. The single also peaked at number one on the Hot Adult Contemporary and the 12" remixed dance / club version by John "Jellybean" Benitez became Houston's first chart-topper on the Billboard Hot Dance/Club Play Songs, staying on the top position of the charts for three weeks and two weeks, respectively.[15][16] In addition, it reached a peak of two on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart (formerly "Hot Black Singles"), the issue date of July 4, 1987.[17]

On July 28, 1987, the single was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), for shipment of 1,000,000 copies of the single, becoming one of only three singles to reach that level in that year, and re-certified Platinum, making it Houston's first single to achieve that feat, for the same shipment on February 13, 1989, with the change of the RIAA certification criteria for singles.[18] (The number of sales required to qualify for gold and platinum discs was higher prior to January 1, 1989. The thresholds were 1,000,000 units (gold) and 2,000,000 units (platinum), reflecting a decrease in sales of singles.[19]) It placed at number four on the Billboard Year-End Top Pop Singles chart for 1987.[20] In Canada, the song debuted at 74 on the RPM Top 100 Singles chart, the issue dated May 9, 1987,[21] and reached the top of the chart on July 4, 1987.[22] It was ranked second on the RPM Year-End Top 100 Singles chart for 1987.[23] The single was later certified Gold by the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) on February 29, 1988.[24]

Internationally, the song was a massive hit, becoming her most successful single at the time. It reached number one in fourteen countries. The song debuted at number 10 on the UK Singles Chart, the week ending date of May 23, 1987.[25] Two weeks later, it reached number one on the chart, the week ending June 6, 1987, becoming her second UK number-one single.[26] The single was certified Gold by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) on August 1, 1987, for shipments of 400,000 copies.[27] According to The Official Charts Company, it has sold 760,000 copies in the United Kingdom.[28] The single also topped the singles chart in Belgium for three weeks,[29] the Netherlands for four weeks,[30] Germany for five weeks,[31] Italy for a week,[32] Norway for seven weeks,[33] Sweden for six weeks[34] and Switzerland for six weeks,[35] and peaked inside top five in Austria[36] and Ireland.[37] This popularity of the single across Europe led to the song topping the European Hot 100 Singles chart for eight weeks. It became Houston's second number-one single on the Australian Kent Music Report chart, staying at the top for five weeks.[38] The song also peaked at number one on the New Zealand Singles Chart and remained there for four weeks, making it Houston's first number-one single in the country.[39]

"I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)" was a strong seller for its time, having sold 6  million physical copies worldwide and 2 million digital copies; Houston's second best-selling single after "I Will Always Love You" with 15 million copies sold.[40] After her death, the single returned to the Billboard Hot 100 debuting at number 35 the same week "I Will Always Love You" re-entered at number 7, giving Houston two posthumous Top 40 hits.[41]

Music video[edit]

The video for "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" (directed by Brian Grant) is one of Houston's best recognized music videos. The video features Houston in a pink dress and a continuous shot of a purple backdrop that never changes its angle of vision. In the intro of this video, Houston just finishes a performance onstage. She walks backstage, and the scene is intercut with more vivid, colorful images of her. The song then explodes into its beginning, with myriad locations and various outfits by Houston, as dancers trying to impress her as she dances. Towards the end of the song she manhandles a guy, who has a mixture of a look of shock and surprise asking him "Don't you wanna dance say you wanna dance". The music video was in heavy rotation on music channels MTV, VH1, and BET during the song's run.

Live performances[edit]

Houston performing on her Nothing but Love World Tour, in 2010

Houston has performed the song on almost all of her world and regional tours. She premiered the song during the later shows of The Greatest Love World Tour in 1986, before its official release of the next year, introducing the song along with "Didn't We Almost Have It All" as new tunes from her upcoming album.[42] During her European promotion for a new album in April–May 1987, Houston performed the song on various TV shows such as Domenica In (Italian TV entertainment programme), Montreux Golden Rose Rock Festival: IM&MC Gala (May 15, 1987), and Top of the Pops (May 21, 1987), where she sang live, unlike some other performers who lip-synced on the programme.[43]

Moment of Truth World Tour in 1987-1988 had Houston performing it as the finale song of the tour. She performed the song without back-up dancers on the North American leg (1987), and with four dancers on the European leg of the tour (1988). Two different performances of the song were taped in Saratoga Springs, New York on September 2, 1987 and at Wembley Arena in London, United Kingdom in May 1988. The first was broadcast on MTV, during the 4th MTV Video Music Awards on September 11, 1987.[44] The second was taken from one night of nine sold-out Wembley Arena shows, aired on Italian TV Channel, Rai Uno's special program for her in 1988. On March 2, 1988, she opened the night of the 30th Annual Grammy Awards singing the song.[45] During the European leg of the tour, she participated in the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute Concert and performed the song in front of about 72,000 people at Wembley Stadium on June 11, 1988.[46][47]

Houston also performed the song as one of setlist on fourteen-date-tour in Japan, Feels So Right Tour. One performance of the song on the tour was taped at Yokohama Arena on January 7, 1990 and later broadcast on Japanese TV channel. On March 17, she sang the song live on That's What Friends Are For: Arista Records 15th Anniversary AIDS Benefit Concert, televised on CBS, April 17, 1990.[48] In 1991, she opened I'm Your Baby Tonight World Tour with "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)." Three different performances of the song were taped and broadcast. The first is in Yokohama, Japan on March 15 and the second is in Norfolk, Virginia, the concert titled Welcome Home Heroes, televised live on HBO, March 31 and later released as the video of the same name. The third is in A Coruña, Spain on September 29, broadcast on Spanish TV channel and later featured on the select setlist on This Is My Life, her first hourlong TV special, aired on ABC, May 6, 1992.

The song was also performed The Bodyguard World Tour (1993–1994). On the tour, five different performances of the song were taped and televised; four was on the South American leg of the tour in 1994―Brazil, Chile, Argentina and Venezuela―and one was in Johannesburg, South Africa, broadcast live via satellite on HBO, November 12, 1994; the concert titled "The Concert for a New South Africa." Houston performed the song at a 25-minute pregame show of the 1994 FIFA World Cup Final at Rose Bowl in Los Angeles, broadcast in more than 180 countries on July 17, 1994.[49]

"I Wanna Dance with Somebody" was included in the setlist on two regional tours, The Pacific Rim Tour (1997) and The European Tour (1998). During the 1999 My Love Is Your Love World Tour, the remix version of the song was performed as a part of "1980s Dance Medley" along with "How Will I Know." One performance of the song on the tour was taped in Sopot, Poland and broadcast live on Polish TV channel TVP1 on August 22, 1999. In 2000, she performed the song as a similar version of '99 tour's on Arista Records 25th Anniversary Celebration, taped at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on April 10, and broadcast on May 15 on NBC.[50]

Cover versions[edit]

In summer 2006, R&B artist Lumidee and Fatman Scoop collaborated and released a song for the FIFA 2006 World Cup soundtrack. The song entitled 'Dance' featured a sample of 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody'. German group Royal Gigolos used samples of this and Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" to create their 2008 single "Girls Just Wanna Dance".

In 2011, These Kids Wear Crowns released a cover of 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody' as a single.[citation needed]

In 2012, the song was performed by Naya Rivera and Heather Morris (as their characters Santana Lopez and Brittany Pierce) on Glee's Whitney Houston tribute episode, "Dance with Somebody" (whose title is also based on the song).[51]

Track listing and formats[edit]

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Chart procession and succession[edit]

Order of precedence
Preceded by
"Slice of Heaven" by Dave Dobbyn with Herbs
Australian Kent Music Report Singles Chart number-one single
June 15 – July 19, 1987 (5 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Respectable" by Mel and Kim
Preceded by
"Hold Me Now" by Johnny Logan
Belgian VRT Top 30 Chart number-one single
July 4–24, 1987 (3 weeks)
Succeeded by
"I Want Your Sex" by George Michael
Preceded by
"You Keep Me Hangin' On" by Kim Wilde
Canadian RPM 100 Singles Chart number-one single
July 4–10, 1987 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"Always" by Atlantic Starr
Preceded by
"You Want Love (Maria, Maria)" by Mixed Emotions
Dutch Top 40 number-one single
June 20 – July 17, 1987 (4 weeks)
Succeeded by
"I Want Your Sex" by George Michael
Preceded by
"La Isla Bonita" by Madonna
European Hot 100 Singles Chart number-one single
June 20 – August 14, 1987 (8 weeks)
Succeeded by
"I Just Can't Stop Loving You" by Michael Jackson & Siedah Garrett
German Media Control Top 100 Singles Chart number-one single
June 15 – July 19, 1987 (5 weeks)
Succeeded by
"It's a Sin" by Pet Shop Boys
Preceded by
"Let It Be" by Ferry Aid
Italian Musica e dischi Singles Chart number-one single
June 13–19, 1987 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"Let It Be" by Ferry Aid
Preceded by
"Real Wild Child (Wild One)" by Iggy Pop
New Zealand RIANZ Singles Chart number-one single
June 28 – July 25, 1987 (4 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Respectable" by Mel and Kim
Preceded by
"Let It Be" by Ferry Aid
Norwegian VG-lista Top 20 Singles Chart number-one single
22nd week – 28th week, 1987 (7 weeks)
Succeeded by
"The Living Daylights" by a-ha
Preceded by
"Ever Fallen in Love" by Fine Young Cannibals
South African Singles Chart number-one single
August 29 – September 11, 1987 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Wild Horses" by Gino Vannelli
Preceded by
"You're the Voice" by John Farnham
Swedish Singles Chart number-one single
June 3 – July 28, 1987 (6 weeks)
Succeeded by
"It's a Sin" by Pet Shop Boys
Preceded by
"Let It Be" by Ferry Aid
Swiss Singles Chart number-one single
June 14 – July 25, 1987 (6 weeks)
Preceded by
"Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" by Starship
UK Singles Chart number-one single
May 31 – June 13, 1987 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Star Trekkin'" by The Firm
Preceded by
"Head to Toe" by Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam
US Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart number-one single
June 27, 1987 – July 10, 1987 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Alone" by Heart
Preceded by
"In Too Deep" by Genesis
US Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Chart number-one single
July 4–24, 1987 (3 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Moonlighting" by Al Jarreau
Preceded by
"In Love with Love" by Debbie Harry
US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play Chart number-one single
July 18, 1987 – July 31, 1987 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Strangelove" by Depeche Mode

Certifications[edit]

Country Provider Certification Date Shipments/sales
Australia[citation needed] ARIA Gold 1987 35,000
Austria[87] IFPI Gold March 1, 1993 15,000
Canada[citation needed] Music Canda Gold 1993 50,000
Germany[88] BVMI Gold 1987 250,000
Netherlands[89] NVPI Gold 1987 70,000
Sweden[90] IFPI Gold 1987 25,000
United Kingdom[91] BPI Gold 1987 760,000+[92]
United States[93] RIAA Platinum January 12, 1989 2,000,000+
Worldwide 8,000,000+[40]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Bibliography[edit]

  • Seal, Richard (1994), One Moment in Time: Whitney Houston, Britannia Press Publishing, ISBN 0-9519937-8-X 

External links[edit]