I Need One Dance
14th April 2016. David Cameron was Prime Minister. Boris Johnson was Mayor of London. Roy Hodgson was England manager. Bernie Sanders was giving Hillary Clinton a run for her money in the US Presidential Primaries. Chris Evans was the presenter of Top Gear. Peggy Mitchell was the queen of the Queen Vic. Great Britain was part of the EU. And a Canadian singer called Drake reached the top of the charts with his single ‘One Dance.’
Fifteen weeks later, Drake is the only one who is still there.
If Drake remains at number one for one more week, he will have equalled the record for the longest ever Number One held by fellow Canadian Bryan Adams. Adams retained the top spot with (Everything I do) I do it for you for nearly four months in the summer of 1991, helped no doubt by the song featuring on the soundtrack for Kevin Costner’s swashbuckling romp Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. Drake has already beaten Whitney Houston’s I will always Love You (10 weeks) (which also featured in a film starring Kevin Costner), Rhianna’s Umbrella (10 weeks), Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy (9 weeks) and equalled Wet Wet Wet’s Love is all around (15 weeks).
What is the appeal of this song? Drake has had a string of hits, but none has caused quite such a storm as this. Musically, it is quite strange, a stitching-together of clipped female vocals, Bhangra samples and Drake’s smooth come-on to his girl, held together by a rim-shot dominated drum beat. There’s no rousing chorus, no soaring melody, no classic verse/chorus/middle 8 formula that served Bryan Adams and Whitney Houston so well. Lyrically it’s not particularly moving or uplifting – it neither invokes tears nor inspires joy. There is no video to watch. But perhaps therein lies its appeal: neither divisive nor controversial, it simply is a good song. It doesn’t stick obtrusively in your mind, spinning round and round annoyingly throughout the day, more, it gently sits there like a good friend. There’s nothing particularly to love, but neither is there anything to hate – these other songs tend to split audiences. I remember singing “I wish you would keep your mouth shut!” above Whitney’s warbling “I wish you love.” Even Marty Pello grew sick of his own song and withdrew the record before it became too permanent a fixture at the top of the chart.
With all the turmoil going on in the world, all the political upheaval, the uncertainty in the financial markets, perhaps we just want stability, something comforting, that doesn’t cause controversy one way or another, just a good, classy song that makes you smile each time you hear it because it’s solid and stable and, while politicians quit and establishments fall around our ears, isn’t going anywhere.