David Bowie invites the world to dance in 1983 when he tops the charts with the single “Let’s Dance”

The popular song became one of his best selling singles

David Bowie invites the world to dance in 1983 when he tops the charts with the single “Let’s Dance”

Released as the first single from Bowie’s new album with the same title, “Let’s Dance” become one of his biggest-selling tracks. Despite his already established career as one of the most popular Rock and Pop Stars in the world, this was David Bowie’s second and last single to reach number-one in the U.S. By 1983, Bowie, who had created trends throughout the 1970’s, felt creatively blocked with the new emerging 1980’s Pop scene filled with newcomers, most of them, influenced by Bowie. For the first time in years, he aimed at a commercially successful album, and he asked Niles Rodgers (from Chic) to help him achieve it with “Let’s Dance”. Featuring some notable musicians such as Stevie Ray Vaughan who plays the guitar solo at the end of the “Let’s Dance” song, the results of Bowie and Rodgers collaboration were the best and both the single and the album topped the charts worldwide. The song was best described by David Quantick from BBC who 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” The song introduced Bowie to a new, younger audience oblivious to his former career in the 1970’s. 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. After “Let’s Dance” for the first time, David Bowie felt “lost” on which musical direction to take, the rest of the 1980’s decade it’s still regarded as his creatively weakest period. The famous music video for “Let’s Dance” was made in March 1983 by David Mallet (who made several of Bowie’s music videos since the 1970’s) on location in Australia, 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 understand who David is nor what the take is all about, hence their behavior towards the couple as seen in the video is real. The red shoes mentioned in the song’s lyrics appear in several contexts. The iconic music video was pivotal in introducing Bowie to the recently created MTV generation. On April 9, 1983, “Let’s Dance” reached No.1 on the UK singles charts and on May 21 of the same year it topped the U.S singles charts.

Watch the 1985 iconic music video for “Let’s Dance” by David Bowie



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