Let's Dance (David Bowie song)

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"Let's Dance"
LetsDance.jpg
Single by David Bowie
from the album Let's Dance
B-side "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)"
Released 17 March 1983 (1983-03-17)
Format
Recorded 1982; The Power Station
(New York City)
Genre
Length 4:08
Label EMIEA152
Writer(s) David Bowie
Producer(s) Nile Rodgers
Certification Gold (RIAA and BPI)
David Bowie singles chronology
"Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy"
(1982)
"Let's Dance"
(1983)
"China Girl"
(1983)
Let's Dance track listing
"China Girl"
(2)
"Let's Dance"
(3)
"Without You"
(4)
Music video
"Let's Dance" on YouTube

"Let's Dance" is the title song from English singer David Bowie's 1983 album of the same name. It was also released as the first single from that album in 1983, and went on to become one of his biggest-selling tracks. Stevie Ray Vaughan played the guitar solo at the end of the song.

The single was one of Bowie's fastest selling, entering the UK Singles Chart at number five on its first week of release, staying at the top of the charts for three weeks.[5] Soon afterwards, the single topped the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Bowie's second and last single to reach number 1 in the U.S. In Oceania, it narrowly missed topping the Australian charts, peaking at number two, but peaked at number one for 4 consecutive weeks in New Zealand. The single became one of the best selling of the year across North America, Central Europe and Oceania.

Music video[edit]

The music video was made in March 1983 by David Mallet on location in Australia including a bar in Carinda in New South Wales and the Warrumbungle National Park near Coonabarabran. In the beginning it featured Bowie with a double bass player inside the one-room pub at the Carinda Hotel and an Aboriginal couple 'naturally' dancing "to the song they're playin' on the radio", The couple in this scene and in the whole video is played by Terry Roberts and Joelene King, two students from Sydney's Aboriginal Islander Dance Theatre. As Bowie opted for real people, some residents of the 194-souls village of Carinda are in the pub too, watching and mocking the couple. They do not believe who David is nor what the take is all about, hence their behaviour towards the couple as seen in the video is real.[6][7][8]

The red shoes mentioned in the song's lyrics appear in several contexts. The couple wanders solemnly through the outback with some other Aboriginals, when the young woman finds a pair of mystical red pumps on a desert mountain and instantly learns to dance. Bowie's calling 'put on your red shoes' recalls Hans Christian Andersen's tale "The Red Shoes", in which the little girl was vainly tempted to wear the shoes only to find they could not be removed, separating her from God's grace - "let's dance for fear your grace should fall" [9] "The red shoes are a found symbol. They are the simplicity of the capitalist society and sort of striving for success - black music is all about 'Put on your red shoes'", as Bowie confirmed.[10]

Soon, the couple is visiting museums, enjoying candlelit dinners, and casually dropping credit cards, drunk on modernity and consumerism. During a stroll through an arcade of shops, the couple spots the same pair of red pumps for sale in a window display, their personal key to joy and freedom. They toss away the magic kicks in revulsion, stomping them into the dust, and return to the mountains, taking one final look at the city they’ve left behind.

Bowie described this video (and the video for his subsequent single, "China Girl") as "very simple, very direct" statements against racism and oppression, but also a very direct statement about integration of one culture with another. He inserted numerous references to the Stolen Generations. For example, the scene where the young woman scrubs the street on her knees in the middle of a busy street refers to Aboriginal children that were trained as domestic servants before being sent to white homes.[6][7]

Track listing[edit]

7": EMI America / EA 152 (UK)[edit]

  1. "Let's Dance" (Single Version) (Bowie) – 4:07
  2. "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)" (Bowie, Moroder) – 5:09

12": EMI America / 12EA 152 (UK)[edit]

  1. "Let's Dance" (Bowie) – 7:38
  2. "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)" (Bowie, Moroder) – 5:09

Reception and legacy[edit]

"Let's Dance" was described by Ed Power in the Irish Examiner as "a decent chunk of funk-rock".[4] Writing for the BBC, David Quantick said "the combination of Bowie and Rodgers on the title track was perfect – Bowie’s epic lyric about dancing under 'serious moonlight' and the brilliant filching of the crescendo 'ahh!'s from the Beatles' version of the Isley Brothers' 'Twist and Shout' were masterstrokes, each welded to a loud, stadium-ised drum and bass sound".[11]

The song introduced Bowie to a new, younger audience oblivious to his former career in the 1970s. Although the track was his most popular to date, its very success had the incongruous effect of distancing Bowie from his new fans, with Bowie saying he did not know who they were or what they wanted.[12] His next two albums, made as an attempt to cater to his new-found audience, suffered creatively as a result and Bowie cited them as the albums he was least satisfied with in his career.[13]

In 2007, Bowie gave R&B singer Craig David permission to sample the song for his single "Hot Stuff (Let's Dance)".[14]

The song was also covered by M. Ward in 2007.

Live performances[edit]

The track was a regular on the Serious Moonlight Tour (the name derived from a lyric in "Let's Dance"), and was released on the 1983 concert video Serious Moonlight. The song was also performed live on Bowie's 1987 Glass Spider Tour (and released on 1988's Glass Spider), and on his 1990 Sound+Vision Tour, and it was then reworked semi-acoustically for tours in 2000 and later. A live recording from 27 June 2000 was released on BBC Radio Theatre, London, June 27, 2000, a bonus disc accompanying the first release of Bowie at the Beeb in 2000.

Charts[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1983) Rank
Australia (Kent Music Report)[46] 24
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[47] 16
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[48] 2
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[49] 3
France (IFOP)[50] 10
Germany (Official German Charts)[51] 19
Italy (FIMI)[52] 19
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[53] 10
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[54] 14
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[55] 2
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[56] 10
US Billboard Hot 100[57] 18

Chart succession[edit]

Preceded by
"99 Luftballons" by Nena
Ultratop 50 Flanders number-one single
7 May 1983 – 14 May 1983
Succeeded by
"Beat It" by Michael Jackson
Preceded by
"She Blinded Me with Science" by Thomas Dolby
Canadian "RPM" Singles Chart number-one single
7 May 1983
Preceded by
"Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler
Irish Singles Chart number-one single
9 April 1983 – 16 April 1983
Succeeded by
"Words" by F.R. David
Preceded by
"99 Luftballons" by Nena
Dutch Top 40 number-one single
7 May 1983 – 14 May 1983
Succeeded by
"Beat It" by Michael Jackson
Single Top 100 number-one single
23 April 1983 – 30 April 1983
Preceded by
"Twisting by the Pool" by Dire Straits
New Zealand Singles Chart number one single
24 April 1983 – 20 May 1983
Preceded by
"Save Your Love" by Renée and Renato
VG-lista number-one single
9 April 1983 – 14 May 1983
Succeeded by
"Främling" by Carola Häggkvist
Preceded by
"Young Guns (Go for It)" by Wham!
Sverigetopplistan number-one single
5 April 1983 – 31 May 1983
Succeeded by
"The Heat Is On" by Agnetha Fältskog
Preceded by
"Billy Jean" by Michael Jackson
Schweizer Hitparade number-one single
8 May 1983 – 15 May 1983
Succeeded by
"Bruttosozialprodukt" by Geier Sturzflug
Preceded by
"Is There Something I Should Know" by Duran Duran
UK Singles Chart number-one single
9 April 1983 – 23 April 1983
Succeeded by
"True" by Spandau Ballet
Preceded by
"Beat It" by Michael Jackson
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
21 May 1983
Succeeded by
"Flashdance... What a Feeling" by Irene Cara
Preceded by
"Angel Man (G.A.)" by Rhetta Hughes
Billboard Hot Dance Club Play number-one single
30 April 1983 – 4 June 1983

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada)[58] Platinum 100,000^
France (SNEP)[59] Gold 873,000[60]
United Kingdom (BPI)[61] Gold 905,029[62]
United States (RIAA)[63] Gold 1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Production credits[edit]

Other releases[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Erlewine,Stephen Thomas. "David Bowie - Let's Dance review". Allmusic. Retrieved February 2, 2016. 
  2. ^ Anderman, Joan (2 March 2004). "Indie rockers revel in reinvention". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 3 May 2016. 
  3. ^ Champan, Ian (2015). Experiencing David Bowie: A Listener's Companion. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 159. ISBN 9781442237520. 
  4. ^ a b Power, Ed (1 March 2013). "David Bowie's return to the golden years?". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 17 March 2016. 
  5. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 421–2. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  6. ^ a b Loder, Kurt (12 May 1983). "David Bowie: Straight Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 13 June 2016. 
  7. ^ a b Newman, Jason (14 April 2016). "Bowie in the Outback: Inside Making of Groundbreaking 'Let's Dance' Video". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 13 June 2016. 
  8. ^ Gibbs, Ed (18 March 2014). "Let's Dance: How Bowie played the outback". BBC News Online. Retrieved 13 June 2016. 
  9. ^ Toija Cinque; Christopher Moore; Sean Redmond (18 June 2015). Enchanting David Bowie: Space/Time/Body/Memory. Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 63, 225 et sqq. ISBN 978-1-62892-304-9. 
  10. ^ Pegg, Nicholas (2 December 2011). The Complete David Bowie. Titan Books. ISBN 978-0-85768-719-7. 
  11. ^ Quantick, David. "David Bowie Let's Dance Review". BBC. Retrieved 17 March 2016. 
  12. ^ Pond, Steve (March 1997), "Beyond Bowie", Live! magazine: 38–41, 93 
  13. ^ Interview with David Bowie. Friday Night with Jonathan Ross. BBC. 5 July 2002.
  14. ^ "Craig David Thanks David Bowie For Sample". Gigwise. 22 September 2007. Retrieved 14 February 2016. 
  15. ^ "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – CHART POSITIONS PRE 1989". Australian-charts.com. Hung Medien. Archived from the original on 20 October 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
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  18. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 6281." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  19. ^ "Le Détail par Artiste". InfoDisc (in French). Select "David Bowie" from the artist drop-down menu. Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
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  26. ^ "Topp 20 Single uke 15, 1983 – VG-lista. Offisielle hitlister fra og med 1958" (in Norwegian). VG-lista. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  27. ^ "South African Rock Lists Website SA Charts 1969 – 1989 Acts (B)". The South African Rock Encyclopedia. Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
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  29. ^ a b "Swisscharts.com – David Bowie – Let's Dance". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
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  31. ^ "David Bowie – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for David Bowie. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  32. ^ Whitburn, Joel (10 June 2004). Billboard's Hot Dance/Disco 1974-2003. Record Research Inc. ISBN 0-89820-156-X. 
  33. ^ "David Bowie – Chart history" Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs for David Bowie. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  34. ^ "David Bowie - Chart History". Billboard Charts. for David Bowie. Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  35. ^ "Lescharts.com – David Bowie – Let's Dance" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  36. ^ "Chart Track: Week 2, 2016". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  37. ^ "HitParadeItalia Top100 del 16 Gennaio 2016". HitParadeItalia (in Italian). Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
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  39. ^ "Portuguesecharts - David Bowie - Let's dance". portuguesecharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  40. ^ "Spanishcharts.com – David Bowie – Let's Dance" Canciones Top 50. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
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  42. ^ "David Bowie – Chart history" Billboard Hot Rock Songs for David Bowie. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
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  46. ^ "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – Top 100 End of Year AMR Charts - 1980s". Australian-charts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 15 June 2016. 
  47. ^ "JAHRESHITPARADE SINGLES 1983". Ö3 Austria Top 40 (in German). Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  48. ^ "Ultratop Jaaroverzichten 1983". Ultratop 50 (in Dutch). Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  49. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 6699." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  50. ^ "TOP - 1983". top-france.fr (in French). Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  51. ^ "Top 100 Single-Jahrescharts 1983". GfK Entertainment Charts (in German). Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  52. ^ "Hit Parade Italia - I singoli più venduti del 1983". FIMI (in Italian). Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  53. ^ "Top 100-Jaaroverzicht van 1983". Dutch Top 40 (in Dutch). Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  54. ^ "Dutch Jaaroverzichten Single 1983". Single Top 100 (in Dutch). Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  55. ^ "Official New Zealand Music Chart - End of Year Charts 1983". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  56. ^ "Schweizer Jahreshitparade 1983". Swiss Singles Chart (in German). Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  57. ^ "Billboard Top 100 - 1983". longboredsurfer.com. Retrieved 15 June 2016. 
  58. ^ "Canadian single certifications – David Bowie – Let's Dance". Music Canada. Retrieved 27 February 2016. 
  59. ^ "French single certifications – David Bowie – Let's Dance" (in French). InfoDisc.  Select DAVID BOWIE and click OK
  60. ^ "Les Singles en Or :" (in French). Infodisc.fr. Retrieved 12 June 2013. 
  61. ^ "British single certifications – David Bowie – Let's Dance". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Let's Dance in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Select Gold in the field By Award. Click Search
  62. ^ "Official Charts Analysis: David Bowie's UK chart life". Music Week. 11 January 2016. Retrieved 30 March 2016. 
  63. ^ "American single certifications – David Bowie – Let's Dance". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 12 June 2013.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
General
  • Pegg, Nicholas, The Complete David Bowie, Reynolds & Hearn Ltd, 2000, ISBN 1-903111-14-5
  • Mojo Bowie, EMAP Performance Network Ltd, 2004

External links[edit]