Dance in the Dark
|"Dance in the Dark"|
|Single by Lady Gaga|
|from the album The Fame Monster|
|Released||November 9, 2009|
|Recorded||2009; Metropolis Studios, London, England|
|Lady Gaga singles chronology|
"Dance in the Dark" is a song by American recording artist Lady Gaga, from her third EP, The Fame Monster. Inspired by Gaga's "Fear of Self Monster", the song deals with the intimate experience between two people alone in a bedroom. According to Gaga, the record is about a girl who likes to have sex with the lights off because she is embarrassed about her body. She explained that she came across such women while working on the MAC AIDS Fund, and that the song is not about freedom, but rather the assurance that Gaga understood their feelings. The song was initially planned to be released after "Telephone", but due to a dispute between Gaga and her record company, "Alejandro" was released instead. It was later released as a digital download and radio-only single in Australia, Belgium, and France.
"Dance in the Dark" contains retro and new wave music influences, and begins with a stuttering introduction. It includes a spoken interlude, where Gaga says the names of famous people whose lives ended tragically. The song has received critical acclaim from music critics. It charted on the UK Singles Chart and Billboard's Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart, while reaching the top-thirty in Australia and the top-ten in Slovakia, Hungary and Czech Republic.
Gaga performed "Dance in the Dark" as the opening song of The Monster Ball Tour. In the first leg of the tour, she appeared behind a scrim-lit screen to perform the song, while in the revamped shows, Gaga performs it on a set reminiscent of a New York City night scene. The song was also performed at the 2010 BRIT Awards, where Gaga dedicated it to her close friend, Alexander McQueen, who had committed suicide a few days earlier. It was nominated for Best Dance Recording at the 53rd Grammy Awards, but lost to Rihanna's "Only Girl (In the World)".
Writing and inspiration
Gaga told Los Angeles Times that the inspiration behind "Dance in the Dark" as being the intimate experience taking place between two people alone in a bedroom, the fear of Sex Monster. According to her, the record is about a girl who likes to have sex with the lights off, because she is embarrassed about her body. "She doesn't want her man to see her naked. She will be free, and she will let her inner animal out, but only when the lights are out," Gaga explained. She added that like the song, she has to struggle with issues of body image and self-doubt in her own life. While working on the MAC AIDS Fund, she realized that women of her age do not speak their mind, in fear that their boyfriends would not love them if they did so.
"All of these new things entering my life are changing the way I view my purpose, but 'Dance in the Dark' in particular is about me wanting to live—but also, the song isn't called 'Dance in the Light'. I'm not a gospel singer trying to cross people over. What I'm saying is, 'I get it. I feel you, I feel the same way, and it's OK.'
"I hope and pray that I can inspire some sort of change in people subliminally through the show. They're singing 'Dance in the Dark,' but they're dancing and they're free, they're letting it out. But the songs are not about freedom, they're about [the fact that] I get it. I feel the way you feel."
According to MTV, the song was initially planned to be released after "Telephone", but due to a dispute between Gaga and her record company, "Alejandro" was released instead. The song was released to Belgian iTunes on November 9, 2009.
Recording and composition
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"Dance in the Dark" infuses influences of retro and new wave music in its composition. Michael Hubbard from musicOMH wrote that the song begins with a stuttering introduction and orgasmic groans, followed by Gaga singing the song. According to the sheet music published at Musicnotes.com by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, "Dance in The Dark" was written in the time signature of common time, with a tempo of 121 beats per minute. It is composed in the key of D minor with Gaga's vocal range spanning from B♭3 to D5. It follows a basic sequence of Am–Dm/A–F/A–G as its chord progression. A spoken interlude is also present.
The lyrics of the song refer to vampires and werewolves: "Run run her kiss is a vampire grin/The moon lights her way while she's howlin' at him". Gaga explained that the lines were means of expressing how people rely on external motivations to cope with internal anxiety. "She doesn't feel free without the moon," Gaga said. "These lyrics are a way for me to talk about how I believe women and some men feel innately insecure about themselves all the time. It's not sometimes, it's not in adolescence, it's always." The spoken interlude refers to famous people who met with a tragic end of their lives, namely Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Sylvia Plath, JonBenét Ramsey, Liberace, Jesus Christ, Stanley Kubrick, and Princess Diana.
The song has received critical acclaim from music critics, with many citing it as a highlight of the album. Paul Lester from BBC felt that the song was "generic machine RnB". Evan Sawdey from PopMatters commented that "Dance in the Dark", along with "Monster" are a "delightfully dirty retro workout ..... to make for one surprisingly effective pop cocktail." Scott Plagenhoef from Pitchfork Media felt that Gaga had morphed into Madonna on the song. Nick Levine from Digital Spy commented that "'Dance in the Dark' is the sort of song that, well, makes you want to dance with your top off in a grotty German bondage basement." Edna Gunderson from USA Today called the song "campy".
Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine commented that "'Bad Romance' and 'Dance in the Dark' are stacked with towering new-wave synths and seemingly endless hooks; if melodies could be time-stamped, these would have "'80s" branded on their asses. [...] The song isn't a cautionary tale per say [sic], but a call to arms to misfits everywhere." She went on to declare the song as one of the highlights of The Fame Monster but added that "After a stuttering intro of orgasmic groans it becomes a little bit Gaga-by-numbers, which is a shame given the standard of the early tracks". Ben Patashnik from NME felt that "Dance in the Dark", along with another song "Monster", was "slightly disposable". Michael Hubbard from MusicOMH complimented the song for its "monumental chorus and some Madonna-esque spoken-word moments, including this shout out to a lost Royal: 'You will never fall apart Diana, you're still in our hearts / Never let you fall apart / Together we'll dance in the dark.'"
In Hungary, the song debuted on the Mahasz Single Top 10 lista chart at number nine on November 30, 2009 but fell off the chart the next week. In the United Kingdom, "Dance in the Dark" debuted on the UK Singles Chart at number 89 on December 12, 2009, but was present on the chart for one week. In Canada, the song charted on the Canadian Hot 100 at number 88 on the issue dated November 11, 2009. "Dance in the Dark" debuted at number 93 on the Australian Singles Chart, after it was released to Australian radio, moving to number 43 and then to a peak of number 24 in the following weeks. In France, the song entered the French Digital Singles Chart at forty and has thus far reached a peak of thirty. On the Billboard issue dated August 21, 2010, "Dance in the Dark" debuted on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart at number 22, and on the Hot Dance/Electronic Digital Songs at number nine, on the issue dated October 9, 2010. As of September 2010, "Dance in the Dark" has sold 120,000 digital downloads in the United States, according to Nielsen Soundscan.
Gaga performed "Dance in the Dark" as the opening song of The Monster Ball Tour. The show began with Gaga appearing behind a giant, green laser lit video screen featuring scrim lights, in a futuristic silver jewelled jumpsuit with bulbs on it. She had matching eye makeup and wore a mask, beginning to sing "Dance in the Dark", "while dancers dressed in white balaclavas and white jumpsuits moved around her." The scrim resembled an electric math grid which was lifted during the performance. Jane Stevenson from Toronto Sun felt that it was not until Gaga had moved on to the next song after "Dance in the Dark", that the Monster Ball "was alive". In the revamped 2010-11 shows of The Monster Ball tour, the song was once again added as the opening song of the setlist, as a part of the segment titled "City". Gaga performed it in a set, reminiscent of New York City night scene, with flickering neon signs displaying the words "Ugly", "Sexy" and "Liquor", fire escape stairwells and a broken yellow taxi.
Gaga performed "Dance in the Dark" at the BRIT Awards on February 16, 2010, at Earls Court Exhibition Centre. The performance was inspired by the recent death of her friend, fashion designer Alexander McQueen. Initially she had planned a different version of the performance, but changed the concept at the last minute, since she wanted to pay tribute to McQueen. Hence she chose acoustic versions of her songs "Telephone" and "Dance in the Dark". She started the performance by sitting in front of a piano and announcing "This is for Alexander McQueen." The whole performance was low-key compared to her previous ones. The stage was decked out in white, and perched on a pedestal was a statue of Gaga wearing a piano skirt and the lobster-claw heels she wore in her "Bad Romance" music video. After finishing an acoustic performance of "Telephone", she got up from her piano as the disco groove of "Dance in the Dark" was heard throughout the room. She wore a lace bodysuit and a large bouffant wig, took to a giant keytar and performed a techno rendition of the track. After the show, she posted a message on her Twitter account: "Tonight's performance is inspired by our friend. Mask by Phillip Treacy, Sculpture by Nick Knight, Music by Lady Gaga. We miss you."
- Digital download
- "Dance in the Dark" – 4:49
Credits and personnel
- Lady Gaga – vocals, songwriter, co-producer, additional instrumentation and arrangement
- Fernando Garibay – songwriter, producer, instrumentation, programming and arrangement
- Jonas Westling – recording and tracking engineer
- Dan Parry – recording and tracking engineer
- Christian Delano – recording and tracking engineer
- Recorded at Metropolis Studios, London, England
- Tracked at Paradise Studios, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California
- Robert Orton – audio mixing at Sarm Studios, London, England
- Gene Grimaldi – audio mastering at Oasis Mastering, Burbank, California
Credits adapted from The Fame Monster album liner notes.
|Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)||33|
|Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)||48|
|Canada (Canadian Hot 100)||88|
|Czech Republic (Rádio Top 100)||10|
|France Digital (SNEP)||30|
|Hungary (Single Top 40)||9|
|Poland (Dance Top 50)||38|
|Slovakia (Rádio Top 100)||6|
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||89|
|US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)||22|
|US Dance/Electronic Digital Songs (Billboard)||9|
|Belgium||November 9, 2009||Digital download|||
|Australia||July 26, 2010||Contemporary hit radio|||
|France||August 25, 2010||Mainstream airplay|||
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