I Can't Dance

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"I Can't Dance"
I can't dance.jpg
Single by Genesis
from the album We Can't Dance
B-side"On the Shoreline"
Released30 December 1991[1]
RecordedMarch 1991 – September 1991
StudioThe Farm, Surrey
GenreBlues rock[2]
Length4:04
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
Genesis singles chronology
"No Son of Mine"
(1991)
"I Can't Dance"
(1991)
"Hold on My Heart"
(1992)
Music video
"I Can't Dance" on YouTube

"I Can't Dance" is the fourth track from the Genesis album We Can't Dance and was the second single from the album. The lyrics were written by drummer Phil Collins and the music was written by the whole band. The song peaked at number seven on both the US Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Singles Chart and received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals in 1993. The song also reached number one in Belgium and the Netherlands while peaking within the top five in Austria, Canada, Germany, and Portugal.

Background[edit]

During one recording session, Mike Rutherford first created the main riff of the song he called "Heavy A Flat", to which Phil Collins suddenly improvised "I Can't Dance!". The riff was actually inspired by a Levi Strauss & Co. TV commercial (in the studio, the song was created under the working title "Blue Jeans") using The Clash song "Should I Stay or Should I Go". Originally the band did not think of it as anything more than a joke, because the song was too simple, too bluesy and completely unlike Genesis' style. Tony Banks said in an interview "It was one of those bits you thought was going to go nowhere. It sounded fun, but wasn't really special".

It was not until Banks added the keyboard sound effects that the song took on a whole different feeling—with a slight edge of humour in it—which made the band decide to record it.

Banks also said in an interview that it showed a kind of direction Genesis could have gone in. Opposite to what Genesis has done as general practice, which is taking an idea and turning it into a long or complex composition, it was just taking an idea, and leaving it alone.[3]

Critical reception[edit]

The Daily Vault's Christopher Thelen said that "I Can't Dance" is "a goofy number that features Genesis mocking themselves for being un-hip. (Best line from this song: "Ooh, she's got a body under that shirt"—dirty old man alert!)" He added, "If you ever get a chance to view the video, watch it; it's hysterical."[4] People Magazine described it as a "melodically fetching, radio-ready track", and "a simple slammer with an arrangement that shows off the group’s remarkable facility for aural atmospherics."[5]

Music video[edit]

The music video (directed by frequent collaborator Jim Yukich) illustrates the artifice and false glamour of television advertisements. Collins commented that the video was designed to poke fun at the models in jeans commercials, and each verse refers to things that models in these commercials do. It begins with Collins (in blue jeans and T-shirt) hitchhiking on a remote dusty road (in Hi Vista, California) when a speeding Porsche 911 goes by, it then reverses and the attractive woman inside lets in a lizard instead, leaving Collins standing there. The ending is a parody of the video for Michael Jackson's "Black or White", depicting Collins imitating the 'panther ending' in which Jackson dances erratically. Banks and Rutherford eventually arrive to escort Collins off the set, at which point he goes limp and they have to drag him away.

"Weird Al" Yankovic created a parody of the video for "I Can't Dance" for his series Al TV, in which he appeared alongside the band. He added shots of himself to several of the band shots.

The song created the 'I Can't Dance dance' (a series of stiff, stylised motions). Collins explained in an interview that when he was at stage school, he would see kids that would always use the same hand and the same foot when they were tap dancing, meaning they could not co-ordinate. He then copied their movements and the 'dance' was born.

Collins told Rolling Stone that the music video and the song were a joke about male models in jeans commercials who could not dance or talk, but could only walk in their jeans. He also said the audience was confused and could not figure out the joke because clearly Phil Collins can dance, as he dances at the end of the video.[6]

Release[edit]

Single releases contained an extended remix entitled "Sex Mix". This was later released on the Genesis Archive 2: 1976–1992 box set retitled as the "12" Mix". The remixers were brothers Howard Gray and Trevor Gray of Apollo 440.

The B-side, "On the Shoreline", was also included on Genesis Archive 2: 1976–1992. The song features a sample of guitarist Mike Rutherford's guitar playing that was captured by Tony Banks during a jam session. The peculiar sound (dubbed "elephantus" by the band) was also used in the song "No Son of Mine." Several chord passages also appeared in "Living Forever." Rolling Stone commented that "On the Shoreline" is "enjoyable in an un-ironic way. Here, as usual, Phil Collins sounds most comfortable at the raspy apex of his vocal range, pushing his voice to the breaking point as Tony Banks' synths drift through like mists."[7]

The "Jesus He Knows Me" CD single also included a version titled "I Can't Dance (the other mix)" with a running length of 5:59.

Live performances[edit]

"I Can't Dance" was played live during The Way We Walk,[8] Calling All Stations[9] (with Ray Wilson on vocals), and Turn It On Again[10] tours. On the band's Turn It On Again Tour, it was included as an encore. During live performances, the song was transposed to a lower key to accommodate Collins' deepening voice.

A live version appears on their albums The Way We Walk, Volume One: The Shorts, and Live over Europe 2007, as well as on their DVDs The Way We Walk - Live in Concert and When in Rome 2007.

Rutherford and Daryl Stuermer accompanied Collins doing the walk across the stage.

Ray Wilson continued to cover the song on his solo live album after his departure from Genesis. His version is a bluesier rendition, closer to the original.

Track listings[edit]

Personnel[edit]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Covers[edit]

In 2007, German death metal group Debauchery recorded "I Can't Dance" and released it on their fourth album, Back in Blood.

In 2014, Finnish metal band Sonata Arctica released a cover of "I Can't Dance" as a bonus track on their album Ecliptica: Revisited; 15th Anniversary Edition. The band made a promotional video which features all of the band members dancing in cities that they visited during their Pariah's Child tour.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Official Genesis Website". Genesis-music.com. Archived from the original on 20 February 2012. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
  2. ^ Reed, Ryan (10 October 2014). "20 Insanely Great Genesis Songs Only Hardcore Fans Know". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  3. ^ Banks, Tony. "Interview from The Way We Walk – Live in Concert DVD" (Interview).
  4. ^ Thelen, Christopher (21 December 1998). "We Can't Dance – Genesis". The Daily Vault. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  5. ^ "Picks and Pans Review: We Can't Dance". People. 2 December 1991. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
  6. ^ "I Can't Dance Song Facts". Song Facts. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  7. ^ Reed, Ryan (10 October 2014). "20 Insanely Great Genesis Songs Only Hardcore Fans Know". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  8. ^ [1][dead link]
  9. ^ "Genesis - The Movement - Gig Guide". Genesis-movement.org. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  10. ^ "Genesis - The Movement - Gig Guide". Genesis-movement.org. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  11. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Genesis – I Can't Dance". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  12. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Genesis – I Can't Dance" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  13. ^ "Ultratop.be – Genesis – I Can't Dance" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  14. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 2072." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  15. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 9 no. 9. 29 February 1992. p. 37. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  16. ^ "Lescharts.com – Genesis – I Can't Dance" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  17. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Genesis – I Can't Dance" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  18. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – I Can't Dance". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  19. ^ "Top 10 Sales in Europe" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 9 no. 11. 14 March 1992. p. 22. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  20. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 10, 1992" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40 Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  21. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Genesis – I Can't Dance" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  22. ^ "Charts.nz – Genesis – I Can't Dance". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  23. ^ "Top 10 Sales in Europe" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 9 no. 15. 11 April 1992. p. 25. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  24. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Genesis – I Can't Dance". Singles Top 100. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  25. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Genesis – I Can't Dance". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  26. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  27. ^ "Genesis Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 25 February 2020.
  28. ^ "Genesis Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard. Retrieved 25 February 2020.
  29. ^ "Genesis Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved 25 February 2020.
  30. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
  31. ^ "Jahreshitparade Singles 1992" (in German). Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  32. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 1992" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  33. ^ "The RPM Top 100 Hit Tracks of 1992" (PDF). RPM. Vol. 56 no. 25. 19 December 1992. p. 8. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  34. ^ "1992 Year-End Sales Charts" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 9 no. 51/52. 19 December 1992. p. 17. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  35. ^ "Top 100 Singles–Jahrescharts 1992" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  36. ^ "Single top 100 over 1992" (PDF) (in Dutch). Top40. Retrieved 14 April 2010.
  37. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1992" (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  38. ^ "Swiss Year-End Charts 1992" (in German). Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  39. ^ "Year End Charts: Top Singles". Music Week. 16 January 1993. p. 8.
  40. ^ "Billboard Top 100 – 1992". Archived from the original on 17 January 2010. Retrieved 30 July 2010.
  41. ^ "1992 Year-End". Retrieved 9 November 2019.
  42. ^ "Austrian single certifications – Genesis – I Can't Dance" (in German). IFPI Austria. Retrieved 5 April 2019.

External links[edit]