Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.
A poll taken late in the summer of 2020 showed that three in five Americans were boosting their moods after spending so much time at home due to lockdowns by hosting indoor dance parties. The study of 2,000 Americans examined the important role music plays and found that 38% threw a dance party with friends via video chat.
Given that a fair amount of folks are still living in COVID fear who knows if these dance parties are still being held and to what extent.
This week some interesting views expressed in that poll with noteworthy dance music popular from the past several decades.
Let’s get started by traveling way back to 1914 and a dance craze that reached its popularity in the 1930s.
The Foxtrot is a smooth dance where the dancers travel across the dance floor using long walking movements. There’s actually a combination of slow and quick steps. The slow steps take up two beats of the music, and the quick steps take up one beat.
In the 1970s record producers all over the world began remaking classic music into a contemporary style. Session ensemble “Tuxedo Junction” capitalized on the style, a trio of female vocalists harmonizing a la the Andrew Sisters over horn-laden big band arrangements boosted by strong rhythms.
Here’s the group’s rendition of the theme song from the 1976 film “Foxtrot” that starred Peter O’Toole and Max Von Sydow.
How did the Foxtrot get its name? No one knows for sure.
One explanation gives credit to comedian Harry Fox who appeared onstage with scantily clad women. During his act Fox performed a fast, comical dance to 4/4 ragtime music from one woman to the next where he would deliver his jokes.
Back to the poll: The survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Ultimate Ears found that when it comes to their taste in music, many think of themselves as tastemakers. Three in five Americans think “good taste” in music is a talent they’re born with. Music preferences can even have an impact on the dating game with two-thirds saying bad taste in music is a romantic buzzkill.
NEXT, the boogie-woogie, a blues piano style where the right hand plays riffs against a driving pattern of repetitive bass notes. Boogie-woogie was played in honky-tonks and rent parties on the South Side of Chicago before becoming a national sensation the 30s and 40s.
Turns out Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts was a boogie-woogie aficionado. Watts called boogie-woogie the root of popular music. Here Watts appears with three piano players on “Later,” a contemporary British music television show hosted by Jools Holland in December 2009.
Watts died in August of this year. He was 80.
More from the poll: One in two were embarrassed by their own music taste with some respondents even hiding their guilty pleasure preferences from a date: Three in ten confessed to lying to a partner about their love for a song or artist.
Now we move to the 1950s.
This dance craze has been referred to as “an elaborate version of patty cake.” Quite simple. Anyone can do it.
Freelance photographer Ken Russel stumbled upon the dance in 1957 when he recorded a group of teenagers in the basement of The Cat’s Whisker coffee bar in London. Because the small basement was too crowded the teens were unable to get up and dance. So they improvised with hand moves and claps.
A popular 1978 movie immortalized the routine.
Film critic and entertainment journalist Todd Gilchrist called the “Born to Hand Jive” segment the “most exhilarating sequence” in the film.
“’Hand Jive’ has a vitality, an anarchic energy that for me transcends the rest of the movie; it makes me want to be there, in the crowd, trying to watch, or maybe keep up, with these astounding, fearless ‘teenage’ dancers,” wrote Gilchrist.
Again from the poll: Half of the respondents like “everything” when it comes to music while 15% classify their tastes as “eclectic.”
On to the 1960s. All kinds of dances.
The Mashed Potato.
Our next dance never really caught on, but it’s so 60s in its sound and perfect for this Elvis beach party movie from 1965.
The King and his bandmates are hired by a Chicago nightclub owner to go down to Fort Lauderdale on spring break to keep an eye on his daughter so she stays out of trouble. Problems arise when Italian exchange student Romano makes a play for Valerie (Shelley Fabares). To the rescue.
“Do The Clam” did fine on the Billboard chart, peaking at #21.
Right after the above scene Elvis walks Fabares back to her motel room and serenades her with “Puppet on a String” which made it to #14.
Finally from the poll: Music came only second to drinks on a list of elements for a successful event, with food rounding out the top three. 78% of respondents said there are certain songs guaranteed to make people move and groove during a party—and here are their top 40 favorites:
- I Wanna Dance with Somebody – Whitney Houston
- Bille Jean – Michael Jackson
- Stayin’ Alive – The Bee Gees
- Uptown Funk – Bruno Mars
- Dancing Queen – ABBA
- Just Dance – Lady Gaga
- Hey Ya! – Outkast
- Get Lucky – Daft Punk
- Work – Rihanna ft. Drake
- Shake it Off – Taylor Swift
- Yeah! – Usher
- Crazy in Love – Beyonce
- I Gotta Feeling – The Black Eyed Peas
- SexyBack – Justin Timberlake
- One Dance – Drake
- Girls Just Want to Have Fun – Cyndi Lauper
- Jump Around – House of Pain
- Everybody – Backstreet Boys
- Old Town Road – Lil Nas ft. Billy Ray Cyrus
- Wannabe – Spice Girls
- Sorry – Justin Bieber
- TiK ToK – Ke$ha
- Bad guy – Billie Eilish
- Twist & Shout – The Beatles
- Party Rock Anthem – LMFAO
- Toxic – Britney Spears
- Get Busy – Sean Paul
- Pump up the Jam – Technotronic
- Thank you, next – Ariana Grande
- I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor
- September – Earth, Wind, & Fire
- Senorita – Shawn Mendes and Camilla Cabello
- Footloose – Kenny Loggins
- Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond
- I Love It – Icona Pop ft. Charlie XCX
- Dance Monkey – Tones and I
- Truth Hurts – Lizzo
- The Twist – Chubby Checker
- Vogue – Madonna
- Don’t Start Now – Dua Lipa
That’s it for this week.
Have a great weekend.
There’s absolutely no way of knowing how big Van McCoy would have been had he not died so young. For the short time McCoy did entertain us he was a giant in the music industry.
McCoy gave the world “The Hustle” in 1975, a Grammy award winner. The record, which sold over 1 million copies is regarded as a landmark in the disco movement.
One year later McCoy told the Washington Post “I don’t think any of us were aware at the time we went in to cut ‘The Hustle’ that it was going to be as big as it was. I suppose I thought it would be a good album to cut because the dance was just beginning in the discotheques just starting to catch on. It wasn’t as big as The Bump, but it was something people were starting to get into to get involved in.”
“The Hustle” was so huge McCoy could never match the magnitude of its popularity.