Sep 11

SNAP – “Rhythm Is A Dancer”

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#679, 8th August 1992

If you were to make a Eurodance drinking game, “Rhythm Is A Dancer” would have you under the table in one track. There’s Turbo B making a ninny of himself, of course, but also the wordless chanting, the house piano break, the echoed disco drums, the garbled english on the chorus, the vague mysticism, and most of all the general stateliness and spaciousness of it. Some dance music – the following Number One, for instance – sounded congested, like a party you’re having to shoulder your way through. But Eurodance always carried a sense of enormous vaulting spaces, the club as cathedral. That was the case in the Italo era – where the sparsity and echo in the track were often the source of cosmic or sci-fi metaphors – and it carried over into the lusher likes of Robert Miles. House music was just another ripple in that continuum of kitschy vastness.

The upshot is that “Rhythm” isn’t nearly as vulgar as I remember it – it’s higher minded, more spiritual, and being honest rather duller than I hoped it was. A lot of the memory of brashness comes from Turbo B and the – now notorious – “serious as cancer” lyric. It’s not a good line (according to a passing Steve M he nicked it off a US rapper anyway) but it’s certainly not helped by B’s delivery, hammering down the emphasis on “CAN-cer” as he’s running out of breath and room for the line. Terrible Euro-rap doesn’t always hurt a track – it can easily amp up the energy levels and make a song far more endearing – but Turbo B is too severe for that here. Even if he had hit on a good metaphor, serious is the last thing this record needs more of.



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  1. 76
    pink champale on 21 Sep 2011 #

    i was actually woken up this morning by a brief (glorious) snatch of higher state of consciousness, played as part of a medley of house hits on radio 5. i think something to do with the ministry of sound’s 20th birthday. nicky c declared they were all ‘sounding a bit dated’ (!).

    he later concluded an interview with some swampy character who’s living in a historical tree to stop it being chopped down by reciting the lyrics of strawberry fields forever in that peculiar tone of voice he adopts whenever making some really obvious point about the beatles. even by campbell standards this was a higher state of partridgeness.

  2. 77
    chelovek na lune on 21 Sep 2011 #

    This track clearly still has something – have just heard (on spotify) the “Thriller Jill `Rhythm Is A Dancer'” mash-up of Nicola Robert’s rather lovely new single, “Lucky Day” which places her vocals over Snap!’s keyboards.

    Does it work? Not entirely sure yet, although on the dancefloor it might. It’s certainly done cleverly and showing sensitivity towards both tracks.

  3. 78
    punctum on 22 Sep 2011 #

    “Lucky Day”’s one of my favourite singles of 2011 thus far – love Nicola’s voice, the way it seems to channel the spirit of Billy Mackenzie into Clare Grogan. Won’t get anywhere of course because it’s not a Club Banger but it deserves not to be lost; looking forward to the album next week.

  4. 79
    Chris Gilmour on 22 Sep 2011 #

    For me this is still breathtaking; a handful of simple elements tightly combining the uplifting and the melancholy like all brilliant dance music should, my favourite being that lovely update of the clumpy, stompy Technotronic synth sound to used underpin it (‘Love that bass line’ copyright Tony Dortie, TOTP, 1992). As much as I loved the torrent of glorious Euro-pop-rave this helped spawn, I actually think this is still the best, perhaps along with a number one from the next year which builds on the ideas and sounds of RIAD verrry closely. This also sound tracked my first visits to gay clubs, so brings back many happy memories of getting dressed up, putting too much Lynx on and being very excited by dry ice. You may like to know that the original 12″ version of this gently extends the radio version but drops the rap altogether! A nine, but if I was listening to it now, I’d get all excited and give it a ten.

  5. 80
    MarkG on 29 Sep 2011 #

    What’s that massive great blue button there for?

  6. 81
    Alan not logged in on 29 Sep 2011 #

    er yeah, sorry. i’ll try to get rid of the ‘default gravatar’ blue button.

  7. 82
    Patrick Mexico on 19 Feb 2014 #

    It may have been released last October but Bastille’s cover of this and The Rhythm of the Night still induces vitriolic rage in me not seen since the days of Genghis Khan.

    I don’t expect White Riot from any of that media-trained, beige drama school lot but holy mackerel, it’s like having your favourite childhood dessert melted down 20 years later and turned into cabbage soup. Hospital cabbage soup.

  8. 83
    Mark G on 20 Feb 2014 #

    You(re) gonna/must love their Earthsong/Common People medley then..

  9. 84
    mapman132 on 6 Sep 2014 #

    I really liked this at the time, but notably I never noticed the infamous “cancer” line until many years later. Digging out one of my 20-year-old off-the-radio tapes I confirmed what I suspected: the version played on US radio in 1992, at least the stations I listened to, was missing the rap entirely – just a long instrumental over that section. Explains why I liked it (I hated rap at the time) as well as why it sounded so different from “The Power” just two years prior. I find the cancer line jarring – for shock value it might work in some contexts, but to punctuate the assertion that “rhythm is a dancer” (whatever that means), it sounds kind of ridiculous.

  10. 85
    Patrick Mexico on 12 Nov 2014 #

    Rhythm is a Dancer meets Neil Young – Heart of Gold. No, really. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMvxGJYqJM4

  11. 86
    glue_factory on 12 Feb 2015 #

    Just catching up. What was “The record … (that) outsold Snap by the end of 1992, and outsold it again in 1993” ? Whitney Houston?

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