Neutron Dance

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"Neutron Dance"
Single by The Pointer Sisters
from the album Break Out
A-side Neutron Dance
B-side Telegraph Your Love
Released December 30, 1984
Format 7" single
Recorded 1983
Genre R&B, dance-pop
Length 4:12
Label Planet
Writer(s) Allee Willis, Danny Sembello
Producer(s) Richard Perry
The Pointer Sisters singles chronology
"I'm So Excited"
(1984)
"Neutron Dance"
(1984)
"Baby Come and Get It"
(1985)

"Neutron Dance" is a song written by Allee Willis and Danny Sembello which was introduced by the Pointer Sisters on their 1984 album Break Out. The song became a Top Ten hit in 1985, its success augmented by being prominently featured on the soundtrack of motion picture Beverly Hills Cop.

Background[edit]

According to Allee Willis, "Neutron Dance" was written in hopes of being placed on the soundtrack of the film Streets of Fire: "we were told that there was a scene on a bus that was leaving town after there had been this nuclear holocaust, and that a '50s doo-wop black group was going to be at the back of the bus that the lead couple was escaping on ... Danny Sembello and I just met that day ... I was very disinterested in songwriting at that point, and I'm writing with this kid who's never had a record before, and I just wanted to get him in and out. He was a phenomenal keyboard player, and I just said: 'Play the most common sounding old fashioned '50s black music bass line that you can think of." And he just started doing the [rhythm for "Neutron Dance"]. And I'm someone who could write a melody to a spoon falling on the table. So I literally sang that melody down. First time down, he just kind of followed and went to the right places. And then I said, Let's just write this quick lyric ... we're taking a half an hour on the lyric, and this thing's gonna get done."[1]

Willis adds that the lyric theme of "Neutron Dance" was due to "all this stuff going on in my life: I don't want to take it anymore, I'll just stay here locked behind the door. Just no time to stop and get away, because I work so hard to make it every day. Really a lyric about all these things falling apart in your life, and you know what, just get it together and change your life."[1] According to Willis while working on the lyrics with Sembello she looked through a window and saw someone attempting to break into her car: while running outside to scare off the thief Willis called out to Sembello: "Someone stole my brand new Chevrolet", and the line was included in the song.[1]

The Pointer Sisters version / Beverly Hills Cop[edit]

"Neutron Dance" featuring Ruth Pointer on lead vocal was introduced on the Pointer Sisters' October 1983 album release Break Out and despite four singles being released from Breakout over the next year "Neutron Dance" was issued as a single in November 1984, a major factor in the track's single release being the placement of the song on the soundtrack of the upcoming film Beverly Hills Cop which was released December 5, 1984.

In Beverly Hills Cop, "Neutron Dance" was prominently featured during a key car chase sequence with whose action the song proved musically and lyrically compatible: Allee Willis would describe the experience of witnessing her composition featured in the film as "mind-boggling ... on that line, 'someone stole my brand new Chevrolet,' this cigarette truck that Eddie Murphy is locked up in the back of, screaming through the streets of Detroit, slams into this Chevrolet. And 'I'm just burning, doing the Neutron Dance,' which to me meant someone could push the button tomorrow and we could all go up in smoke, so make your change now. On that line, a car explodes. I mean, I couldn't have written a better song for a movie scene if my life depended on it."[1]

Concurrent with the single's release a video for "Neutron Dance" began airing on MTV, featuring the Pointer Sisters as discontented theatre ushers: the setting was a cinema where Beverly Hills Cop was screening, allowing for the promotion of the movie via many clips from it being displayed in the video.

In March 1985 "Neutron Dance" became the fourth Top Ten single issued from the Breakout album rising as high as #6 and consolidating the career zenith of the Pointer Sisters who prior to the success of "Jump (for My Love)" subsequent to that of "Automatic" - the second and third singles from Breakout - had never had back-to-back Top 20 singles. "Neutron Dance" would prove to be the group's final Top Ten hit: after a sixth single release from Breakout: "Baby Come & Get It", fell short of the Top 40, "Dare Me", the lead single from the followup album to Breakout: Contact, stalled at #11 and the group's sole further Top 40 charting: "Goldmine" (1986), rose no higher than #33. The Pointer Sisters did just miss the Top 40 with "Be There", a track in the vein of "Neutron Dance" - being co-written by Allee Willis with Franne Golde and featuring Ruth Pointer on lead - for the soundtrack of Beverly Hills Cop II, "Be There"'s peak being #42.

Released at the height of the Cold War, "Neutron Dance" was misinterpreted by the Russian Government as a song about nuclear war.[2]

Personnel[edit]

Track listings[edit]

7" single

  1. Neutron Dance 3:53
  2. Telegraph Your Love 4:02

Chart[edit]

Chart (1984/85) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 6
U.S. Billboard Hot R&B Songs 13
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks 23
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play 4
UK Singles Chart 31
Canadian Singles Chart 1
German Singles Chart 18
Austrian Singles Chart 19
Swiss Singles Chart 14[3]
Dutch Top 40 21
Swedish Singles Chart 7
New Zealand Singles Chart 17
Australian Singles Chart 4
Preceded by
"I Want to Know What Love Is" by Foreigner
Canadian RPM number-one single
March 16, 1985
Succeeded by
"One More Night" by Phil Collins

Popular culture[edit]

  • The popular Canadian teen drama Degrassi: The Next Generation, which is known for naming each episode after an '80s hit song, named an episode after this song.
  • In the 30 Rock episode "Black Tie", the party's chamber orchestra plays an instrumental version of the song as Jenna performs a rapid series of dances for the party's host.
  • In The Golden Girls episode "You Gotta Have Hope", the song is performed by The Del Rubio Triplets as "The Donnatello Triplets", a trio of gold-clad, guitar-playing, country singing sisters while auditioning for a talent show that Dorothy Zbornak, Rose Nylund and Blanche Devereaux are organizing. The Del Rubio Triplets recorded their cover of "Neutron Dance" for their 1988 album Three Gals, Three Guitars.
  • The Pointer Sisters appeared lip-syncing to the song and dancing with the Main Street Electrical Parade floats and performers during Disneyland's 30th Anniversary Celebration television special in 1985.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Allee Willis: Boogie Wonderland, Friends theme". Songfacts.com. Retrieved July 4, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Neutron Dance Songfacts". Songfacts. Retrieved 2008-10-09. 
  3. ^ hitparade.ch

2. Referenced in P.M. Dawn's 1991 single Set Adrift On Memory Bliss