Music Box Dancer
|"Music Box Dancer"|
|Single by Frank Mills|
|from the album Music Box Dancer|
|A-side||"The Poet and I"|
"Music Box Dancer" is an instrumental piece by Canadian musician Frank Mills that was an international hit in the late 1970s. It features a piano theme that is accompanied by other instrumentation, designed to resemble a music box.
"Music Box Dancer" was written and recorded by Frank Mills in 1974, but it was not to become a single until 1978. By Christmas of that year, it was in the top ten of many pop music charts throughout Europe and Asia. Released as a single in the United States late in 1978, it reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in April 1979 and it also reached number three on the Canadian Adult Contemporary chart and number 47 on the Canadian pop chart. The single also did well in Australia, reaching number 14 on the Australian Singles Chart (Kent Music Report).
Mills released an album in 1974 that featured "Music Box Dancer", but it was not a hit initially. When he re-signed with Polydor Records Canada in 1978, the label released a new song as a single, with "Music Box Dancer" on the B-side. The single was sent to easy listening stations in Canada, but a copy was sent in error to CFRA-AM, a pop station in Ottawa. The program director played the A-side and couldn't figure out why it had been sent to his station, so he played the B-side to see if the record was mistakenly marked. He liked "Music Box Dancer" and added it to his station's playlist, turning the record into a Canadian hit. Iconic Ottawa Valley radio personality Dave "50,000" Watts gave the record extensive airplay on the station. The album went gold in Canada, which prompted Polydor in the US to release the album and single.
The million-selling Gold-certified single reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the spring of 1979 as well as #4 on the Billboard Easy Listening chart, while the album reached #21 on the Billboard Top Album chart and also went gold. Polydor awarded a gold record to TV station WNGE for breaking the single in the U.S.
It was Mills' only U.S. Top 40 pop hit; the follow-up, another piano instrumental titled "Peter Piper", peaked at #48 on the Billboard Hot 100 although it was a popular Top 10 hit on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. Mills managed one final Adult Contemporary chart entry, "Happy Song", which peaked at #41 at the beginning of 1981.
"Music Box Dancer" has been recorded by such pianists as Floyd Cramer, Richard Clayderman, Roger Williams and Eric Robertson, and by orchestral artists such as James Last and 101 Strings. Bandleader Ray Conniff added lyrics and titled the song for his album I Will Survive in 1979. A calypso version was recorded by Germany's Roberto Delgado, while in Sweden, an accordion version was released. The band PePe produced a techno version. The Wiggles covered this song on the video/album Racing to the Rainbow.
In popular culture
- The tune playing on the ice cream van heard in the background during Part 1 of Kill Bill.
- A segment of the song was used in The Simpsons episode "Bart Star."
- Played as part of the soundtrack in the movie Summerhood.
- A snippet of the song is played on piano by Dewey in the episode "Reese Joins the Army" on "Malcolm in the Middle."
- [American Top 40 with Casey Kasem, March 10, 1979]
- [Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-2002]
- Music Featured on the Simpsons. The Simpsons Archive