Monday, June 17, 2019

"Dancing on the Ceiling" by Lionel Richie

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2802
Date:  07/19/1986
Debut:  40
Peak:  2
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop, R&B, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Richie's second solo album, Can't Slow Down, was a massive success spawning five Top 10 hits and selling over ten million copies. It also snagged the Grammy for Album of the Year. Richie then had the daunting task of following up that mega hit. It took him nearly a year and a half to write and record his third album, Dancing on the Ceiling. As he was prepping the LP, he grabbed his fifth #1 single with the Oscar-winning White Nights soundtrack song "Say You, Say Me." While that tune would end up as a track on the new album, it wasn't considered the LP's first official single. This title track was promoted as such and upon release it made a splash debuting on the Pop chart in the Top 40. It easily sailed up the chart and seemed to be headed for #1, but a couple of other songs ended up blocking the top spot and Richie had to settle for a #2 hit (#3 AC/#6 R&B). The album, of course, would be immediately successful and it quickly reached #1. While it wouldn't be as popular as Can't Slow Down, it was still a big hit selling over four million copies - the same amount as his 1982 debut solo album.

ReduxReview:  Richie started to lose me a bit with "Say You, Say Me." I just didn't care for the tune and I was hoping this track would renew my interest in his music. Alas, this song didn't do it. In fact, it further distanced me from Richie. I thought it was a weak, forced attempt to recreate the magic of "All Night Long (All Night)." That song sounded free and easy, but this one seemed so stiff and staged. From Richie's weird opening "whoo!" to the near robotic crowd noises, the track felt a bit cool and calculated. I just couldn't get into it. I still can't. He certainly had a big job to try and follow up Can't Slow Down and in general he did fine as the LP was a hit. However, the weaker material never fully caught my ear. I didn't pay much attention to Richie after this.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  In 1951, Stanley Donen directed the MGM musical comedy film Royal Wedding, which starred Fred Astaire and Jane Powell. With songs by Burton Lane and Alan Jay Lerner, the film was a box office hit in MGM's long line of successful musicals. The film is perhaps best known for one of Fred Astaire's solo dance numbers. As he performs the tune "You're All the World to Me," he begins to dance up the walls and on the ceiling of a room he was in. Apparently, Astaire had been thinking of the wall/ceiling dance concept for years and was finally able to develop it for this film. A custom set was built where the room could rotate. A camera was attached to the room to provide the steady shot. As the room turned, the walls then became the floor. Same for the ceiling. Astaire could navigate his dance to the new "floor" as the room turned. The camera stayed with the room as it circled. When footage is viewed, it appeared like the room didn't move yet Astaire defy gravity and could dance up the walls and on the ceiling. It was quite the effect. For the video to "Dancing on the Ceiling," Richie hired Donen to direct and together they recreated the effect. However, this time around it wasn't a solo piece and the cast of the video had to navigate the turning room as well. It made for a fun and memorable video that went right along with the lyrics.


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