Monday, May 3, 2021

Musical Monday - Dancing in the Dark by Bruce Springstein


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: June 30, 1984 through July 7, 1984.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: Never.

Dancing in the Dark is Springstein's most commercially successful song, reaching number one in more than one country and hitting the top ten in several more. The song also won Springstein a Grammy Award. Despite this, if I were making a list of Springstein's ten greatest songs, Dancing in the Dark would not be on it. Nor would it be on my list of his twenty greatest songs. Or even his thirty greatest songs. I suspect that I am not alone in this assessment. While Dancing in the Dark isn't a bad song, it just doesn't hit home the way Springstein's better songs do - I'd even rank several of the other songs on the Born in the U.S.A. album more highly than this one.

This fact seems to me to highlight one of the truths of pop music: The biggest hits scored by many artists are not their best songs. Dancing in the Dark was likely hugely successful because it has a danceable beat and lyrics that more or less don't get in the way of that (although they are kind of world-weary and mildly bitter). Unlike his better songs, Dancing in the Dark is mostly bland and inoffensive, providing what seems like a fun good time for the listener, a fact reflected in the happy and upbeat music video - although to be fair, Bruce's dancing in the video seems at times to be forced and awkward, as if he were trying to project a persona that doesn't quite fit him.

Now I'm going to go listen to The River and Downbound Train instead.

Previous Musical Monday: Two Tribes by Frankie Goes to Hollywood
Subsequent Musical Monday: When Doves Cry by Prince

Previous #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: The Reflex by Duran Duran
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: When Doves Cry by Prince

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

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