Sep 11

SNAP – “Rhythm Is A Dancer”

Popular88 comments • 7,586 views

#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.



  1. 1
    MarkG on 13 Sep 2011 #

    I don’t think there’s ever been a vibe-killing line like “I’m serious as Cancer when I say Rhythm is a Dancer”. Suddenly the good-time audience are thinking of departed relatives….

  2. 2
    Jimmy the Swede on 13 Sep 2011 #

    And the good time Rafa Nadal must also be feeling like he’s caught something terminal having been demolished by Novak Djokovic again, this time in the US Open final..

    Sorry, but as Popular’s tennis correspondent I had to slip that in somewhere. What an astonishing year Djokovic has had (3 Slams out 4) even if he STILL has a head like a f’king lavatory brush.

  3. 3
    Kat but logged out innit on 13 Sep 2011 #

    I loved this record at the time. So did our music teacher, a young bespectacled lass with short hair who would come and see us on Monday mornings and attempt to teach thirty Year 6 kids about crotchets and quavers. We didn’t mind her as she was much less strict than our normal teacher, but it was pretty dull stuff. One day, Miss came in looking a bit dishevelled, but smiling. “I’ve got a treat for you all! We’re going to listen to something from the charts!” 30 pleased-but-baffled faces watched her put the tape on the stereo, grinning and clapping along to it. “That’s a 4/4 beat! And listen to the lyrics – he’s talking about rhythm, and that’s what a 4/4 beat is! Do you see? Isn’t it great? The beat is so strong!” It was totally lost on us, as was the fact that she’d clearly been out ‘aving it at the weekend.

  4. 4
    Steve Mannion on 13 Sep 2011 #

    To clarify, the “serious as cancer” reference does appear in the rap on the 1991 single “My Love” by Collapse (an Italo-house collective including Gianfranco Bortolotti of Cappella fame) but I don’t know who performs that vocal (as ever they at least sound American). For all I know Turbob (as I now call him by his name) did write it and was gazumped by another opportunistic rent-a-mic.

    As with ‘The Power’ I expected a much higher score. This is Snap’s finest package with the piano melody in the unexpected middle eight preceding Turbo’s serviceable rap as much a factor as the industrious synths and Penny Ford. If Eurodance was ever a definitive genre I happily consider this a high watermark.

  5. 5
    Steve Mannion on 13 Sep 2011 #

    I’ve already changed my mind and prefer ‘The Power’ again… At least Chris De Burgh never covered this (“subtle joek”).

  6. 6
    Pete on 13 Sep 2011 #

    The real problem with the cancer line is not so much the presence of cancer, its that he then has to say Dancer like he is not a US accented Euro-rapper but a Mancunian to make it rhyme.

  7. 7
    Steve Mannion on 13 Sep 2011 #

    He doesn’t really tho does he? It sounds like “cayrncer” and “dayrncer” to me ie still American-y. Mancunian would be more abrupt (“dan-sa”).

  8. 8
    Tom on 13 Sep 2011 #

    I was too harsh on The Power for sure but this is just a lot slower and feebler than I remember it.

  9. 9
    coda on 13 Sep 2011 #

    It’s Eric B & Rakim – I Ain’t No Joke. “I got a question, it’s serious as cancer/Who can keep the average dancer/Hyper as a heart attack.”

    Two fatal maladies for the price of one.

  10. 10
    Matt DC on 13 Sep 2011 #

    I’m pretty sure this is the first time I actually cared what was at #1 in the charts. From the following week that cemented me as a regular follower for… all of two years.

  11. 11
    Tom on 13 Sep 2011 #

    Awesome none-more-1992 sleeve on this one.

  12. 12
    lonepilgrim on 13 Sep 2011 #

    according to wiki Turbo D was unhappy about the cancer line but was over ruled.
    I prefer the spacious feel of the production on this to that for ‘The Power’ but it still feels a bit generic and the video is reminiscent of Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation.

  13. 13
    23 Daves on 13 Sep 2011 #

    Back when I was a self-conscious teenager who was desperate to do and say the right things, this single was actually a guilty pleasure of mine. What I loved about it was the shifts in tempo and the spaciousness Tom refers to, and the throbbing, doomy bass synth lines which in places actually sound very early eighties (akin, in fact, to a lot of Depeche Mode’s early work). It seemed to nod towards retro stylings before anyone was seriously attempting retro electronic music – so it felt like there was a lot going on to get your teeth into, a complexity to it that most Euro-house wasn’t coming remotely close to.

    The last week this was number one I was finally outed whilst drunk around a friend’s house and watching MTV (a sign I hadn’t tired of it despite its constant radio and TV presence). “This is really good, isn’t it?” I said, and one by one everyone in the room agreed with me, to both my shock and my relief. I do need to go back and listen to it again – I’m at work at the moment, so I can’t – as I’m interested to hear how well it’s stood up to my original view of it.

    It’s also interesting to note that Turbo B appeared on the KLF’s unofficial website (klf.de) six or seven years ago talking about how he regarded them as his “peers”, or the only band of the era who could compare with Snap’s output. This is probably the only single of theirs which really comes close to the scope of the KLF’s work in my view, but he may have other ideas of his own.

  14. 14
    Cumbrian on 13 Sep 2011 #

    Maybe it’s just me (it probably IS just me) but I think the “serious as cancer” line, whilst notorious, is a pretty great simile. If rap music in some contexts is about hyperbole and inflation of the self, this tells you how serious the rapper is (and given my family’s experiences with cancer, I’m aware that he’s pretty serious indeed), which only adds to my impression of the rapper as someone who is not to be taken lightly.

    Whether Turbo D uses it well, or whether it works in this context, is another matter. I can see it being a decent line coming from Eric B and Rakim for instance (so I should probably check that track @ 9 out, as I don’t remember having heard it – though I may well have done).

    Otherwise this is alright if hardly shattering. Mind you, it filled the floor at the wedding I was at on the weekend (as did a bunnyable #1 by a Dutch duo), so at least it works (worked?) on that level. Was definitely a bit weird hearing the cancer line at a wedding though, I must admit.

  15. 15
    LondonLee on 13 Sep 2011 #

    I have very fond memories of this, heard it a lot on holiday in Cyprus that summer (my last one in England before I left the country) so maybe I’m looking at it through rosy glasses but I think it’s worth well more than 5. Being too old to seriously get into the heavier end of Rave music I loved this more poppy/commercial take on that spacey and trippy vibe (along with ‘Everybody’s Free’ and ‘Barefoot In The Head’).

    The rap is a bit ropey though, I agree.

  16. 16
    thefatgit on 13 Sep 2011 #

    There’s a lot going for RIAD, maybe more so than “The Power”, and “serious as cancer” is really only a buzzkill if you allow it to be.My only problem with the rap is it’s pretty unnecessary, but when you have a rapper in your group, you might as well give him something to do. However, in shoehorning the rap into the song, the change of tempo threatens the balance and vibe, moving away from spacey euphoria into something more Earthbound and concrete. If the dancer is floating above us, Turbo B is determined to anchor the poor thing to the ground…and stifle it. Putting the genie back in the bottle, if you like.

  17. 17
    23 Daves on 13 Sep 2011 #

    Listened again, and this is a 6 for me, and would have been a 7 were it not for the rap. I stand by my original assessment.

    For some reason, though, Depeche Mode’s obscure early B-side “Ice Machine” came into my head whilst thinking about this record (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_aN21BT4Li4) but I’m too tired to think of any reasons why my brain would regard them as similar. For as respected as Depeche were on the continent, I highly doubt Turbo B lifted any ideas from them at all.

  18. 18
    anto on 13 Sep 2011 #

    No attachment to this whatsoever. Although it does prove that one act can fluke number one twice.

  19. 19
    chelovek na lune on 13 Sep 2011 #

    #17 My God, “Ice Machine” is fantastic. Never heard that before, I love DM, but usually more so post-Vince Clarke’s departure.

    The key thing about “Rhythm Is A Dancer” is surely how the sound was imitated, if not blatantly ripped off, by so many other artists: this track essentially provided a template, much imitated, rarely equalled (certainly not by one number one in 1993 that we’ll discuss in due course) for Eurodisco- and when that bunnied act had previously been more credible and, well, scary, with “Der Erdbeermund” – or, anything by erm, Corona, for starters. Even later on, the likes of La Bouche or the Real McCoy were surely nodding in this direction.

    I can’t help thinking that Snap! hung around far longer than they ought to – they never seemed to be off the airwaves for a time when I was a sixth former (1991-93) – yet looking through their list of hits, well there’s a lot of …well dross would be too harsh…(the worst? hmm maybe Mary Had A Little Boy, but Oops Up must also be in the running) but unremarkable stuff there. A producer’s project that overstayed its welcome. And I never even liked “The Power”.

    Here, though, yes, it all came together well. It certainly would have been better if that line hadn’t been in the rap. But damnit it’s good.

  20. 20
    Erithian on 13 Sep 2011 #

    This is truly mediocre, isn’t it? I had plenty of time for “The Power” but this one trades on a couple of ideas that aren’t as good as the ones they had earlier and goes nowhere with them. I did find the rap a bit more interesting, in particular the way Turbob starts each line with the word that finishes the sentence – but that’s not saying a great deal.

    Oh, and the vast majority of similes in rap I find HUGELY unimpressive. The Message and White Lines being honourable exceptions.

  21. 21
    Jonathan Bogart on 13 Sep 2011 #

    Surprised to learn that “I Ain’t No Joke” is so relatively unknown here — I’d thought it was an acknowledged classic.

  22. 22
    Tom on 13 Sep 2011 #

    #19 not that you’d know it from this review, but Eurodance is one of my favourite pop styles – I think an awful lot of what came after RITD is much better than it (including the bunnyable song in question? wait and see – but definitely including Corona’s “Rhythm Of The Night”, which has a much more earthly vigour and ache than this)

  23. 23
    hardtogethits on 14 Sep 2011 #

    I’m conflicted about this one.

    A great deal of the crowd’s memory is of the “serious as cancer” remark. To me, the greatest issue with focussing on the one line (or couplet) is that it draws one’s attention to the fact that the record has a lyric, and yet moves away from the awful lyrical gibberish in every other line. I don’t mean to be pithy, but the “serious as cancer” line is the song’s most direct line.

    However, the record’s vibe, its appeal, was surely never going to be down to its lyric, was it? I can’t imagine the song does well on Karaoke nights, and nor should it have to.

    If it moves people’s feet, creates some positive feeling, and it feels like generally, genuinely it means something musically, then we can forget about what’s being sung. Consider it a wailing, whirling, meaningless sequence of buzzwords that have found a natural home, and you’re laughing. 7.

  24. 24
    swanstep on 14 Sep 2011 #

    Depeche’s early Leave In Silence had a cancer lyric and its 12″ version is kind of a knockout.

    Anyhow, I too find RIAD less fun now than I remember it as being. The vid helps fill up the track’s space a bit I find but listened to by itself I get bored. Good intro which I’ve never forgotten (so it must have something), but falls a bit flat after that. Could probably use a little more Turbo B (I guess I’m asking for The Power aren’t I?!):
    4 or 5

  25. 25
    AndyPandy on 14 Sep 2011 #

    re 18: “fluke number 1”? I believe this was number 1 for a few weeks and although I’m not that keen (much prefer ‘The Power’) if anything both of Snap’s chart-toppers were ‘genuine’ number 1s of he kind that from about here get steadily less common ie everyone knew then, were pretty inescapable anywhere you went.

  26. 26
    swanstep on 14 Sep 2011 #

    @25, andypandy. According to chartstats, RIAD had 6 weeks at #1 (and was #2 for 2 weeks before that run), so it was indeed a massive summer hit.

  27. 27
    MarkG on 14 Sep 2011 #

    A fluke inasmuch as they made a record that people liked.

    I’d forgotten “Mary had a little boy” and so on, I thought that pretty good too…

  28. 28
    Tim Byron on 14 Sep 2011 #

    I totally agree with #19 that this is a song that is more influential than good on its own – it really did seem to set the template for dance pop after this (I spent a night a few months ago trying to figure out what the earliest pop-song-with-a-rap-in-the-middle was, and while there are earlier ones, this song really did seem to be the template that was used later.)

    It was a #3 single in Australia, and I paid relatively uncritical attention to the charts in ’92, but I don’t think this one ever really got into my brain in any big way – it was only having friends in the early 2000s with an absurdist taste for this kind of cheese that alerted me to this song’s existence.

  29. 29
    ace inhibitor on 14 Sep 2011 #

    hardto@23 – I like the phrase ‘I don’t mean to get pithy’ (a much better line than ‘serious as cancer’)

  30. 30
    MarkG on 14 Sep 2011 #

    #28, I believe we worked out the first ‘rap’ number one was “Candy Girl”, that’s a song with a rap middle.

    I take it Elvis’ “Are you lonesome tonight” is too ‘old-school’ a rap style?

  31. 31
    will on 14 Sep 2011 #

    I’ve never understood why people had a problem with the cancer line. It made me laugh out loud at the time, which is never a bad sign. And how else could Turbo B have underlined the seriousness of his important message? Not ‘I’m serious as nuclear war.’ (Too 80s), nor ‘I’m serious as the break up of the Soviet Union’ (too much of a mouthful). Cancer was universal, easy to understand and, crucially, rhymed with ‘dancer’.

  32. 32
    Steve Mannion on 14 Sep 2011 #

    I preferred my Eurodance to include some sense of drama and menace (whether through oppressive chords or a gruff monotone rap) and so the likes of RIAD made quite a satisfying bridge between your ‘Rhythm Of The Night’s and your ‘Last Train To Trancentral’s. Dr. Alban’s ‘It’s My Life’ is probably the second biggest example from this year (arguably a ropier rap but so not a problem).

    Funny (not ha ha) to think how close their next darker single ‘Exterminate’ also came to topping the charts just after Christmas (iirc), and at a point where, just as people were forgetting about Iraq, the Balkan crisis was escalating severely. Also the second single with that title that year, alongside the actual Dalek-sampling effort by DMS (also one of at least two tracks that year shamelessly sampling ‘Strings Of Life’, after Altern 8’s ‘Evapor-8’ – sorry I’ll stop now).

    RIAD was the biggest selling single of 1992 if that wasn’t already mentioned.

  33. 33
    Mark M on 14 Sep 2011 #

    Re 21: Well… I Ain’t A Joke wasn’t a hit here, unlike I Know You Got Soul and Paid In Full (the Coldcut remix), both of which made the Top 20. But also, the “serious as cancer” line doesn’t leap out at you (it’s not like “It’s been a long time/I shouldn’t have left you…” or indeed “fish/which is my favorite dish”) – you could have heard the track dozens of times without noticing it, whereas in Rhythm Is A Dancer, it’s something of a punchline (not to mention just a lot clunkier).

  34. 34
    enitharmon on 14 Sep 2011 #

    will @ 32

    “Cancer was universal, easy to understand and, crucially, rhymed with ‘dancer’”

    It’s not a very good rhyme, is it? Hardly Keatsean.

    As for insensitivity: how many pop lyrics include ‘heart attack’? I lost my dad and a couple of friends to heart attacks, but I don’t take it personally.

  35. 35
    Steve Mannion on 14 Sep 2011 #

    I’m serious as Keats when I say rock the funky beats. I’m serious as Shelley when I say DJ give it some welly.

  36. 36
    hardtogethits on 14 Sep 2011 #

    #32. Being baited? I’ve become aware that some websites promulgate the notion that RIAD was the UK’s best selling single of 1992 (they would say that wouldn’t they). It wasn’t, it finished in 2nd place. Can’t go into further detail – bunny / rules.

  37. 37
    pink champale on 14 Sep 2011 #

    @34 must we once again rehearse the tired old ‘is turbo b better than keats’ debate?

  38. 38
    Tom on 14 Sep 2011 #

    Can’t remember whether Keats/beats is bunnyable or not.

    I honestly love Dr Alban’s rapping, I could and have listened to whole LPs of it: he is endlessly mild-mannered, the pioneer of “reasonable rap” (OK, maybe that was Prince Be). There’s a little of Dr Alban in Wiley I always think.

  39. 39
    Steve Mannion on 14 Sep 2011 #

    #36 Ah is this just the difference between something being the year best seller by 31st December and the overall sales of the #1 single at that time (including into the new year)? Or maybe the song in question had already surpassed Snap by that point.

    #38 Surely Alban’s Nigerian accent helped here (if only for the relative novelty of this in the charts). His “everyone’s getting tired of you” is so matter-of-fact and emotionally distant without actually sounding lazy or disinterested and it was an unusual great effect.

  40. 40
    chelovek na lune on 14 Sep 2011 #

    Not to knock Dr Alban (where did he get his doctorate?), I tend to think of MC Buzz B (and the Ruthless Rap Assassins) as being the pioneers of “reasonable rap”, to a greater extent.

    (Being ripped off years later by whichever far more commercially successful, and vulgar, and violent, rapper it was that also based a big hit around Bruce Hornsby’s “The Way It Is” has to count in MC Buzz B’s favour too).

  41. 41
    Erithian on 14 Sep 2011 #

    Rosie #34: as I mentioned in the “House of Fun” thread, Madness’ “Cardiac Arrest” entered the chart the day after my dad died of a heart attack – I’ve never quite reconciled myself with it and am quite glad it’s not a song that gets onto the greatest hits collections. Any other timing, though, and I’d probably have recognized the no doubt valid points it was making about modern life. Never had a problem with “Sheer Heart Attack” the Queen album or the line in “Up Town Top Ranking”.

    Clunkiest rhyme with “dancer” has to go to the Killers’ “Human”, surely? Clunky rhyme AND nonsense too.

  42. 42
    hardtogethits on 14 Sep 2011 #

    #39. Valid question. The record in question had outsold Snap by the end of 1992, and outsold it again in 1993, and has a comfy lead over it in all-time sales.

  43. 43
    Steve Mannion on 14 Sep 2011 #

    Booooooo (thanks)

  44. 44
    MarkG on 14 Sep 2011 #

    #41, I’d say Dancer rhymes with Answer, no matter which accent you use they both change the same way.

  45. 45
    thefatgit on 14 Sep 2011 #

    Reg Dwight (or should I say Bernie) doesn’t bother rhyming “dancer” with anything.

  46. 46
    Erithian on 14 Sep 2011 #

    Being from Manchester, dancer=cancer=answer, no problem. I mean “clunky” in the sense that it’s just a rubbish line!

  47. 47
    Pete on 14 Sep 2011 #

    @40: Its unclear where the good Doctor got his doctorate (in Sweden somewhere), but there is this terrific book about Swedish Dentists which has him at the top of the list.


  48. 48
    wichita lineman on 14 Sep 2011 #

    Ooh, ooh, Exterminate… my favourite Snap single, as electric and immediate as RIAD is snooty and silly. Lovely warm underststed keyboard riff and a neatly rhythmic verse vocal that kinda anticipates Xenomania.

    RIAD is gibberish, but it masquerades as something a lot grander, I think that’s why the cancer line jumps out. By that point I just roll my eyes.

    I have a cold. Does this make any sense?

  49. 49
    wichita lineman on 14 Sep 2011 #

    Tom – “reasonable rap”. I like that.

  50. 50
    DietMondrian on 14 Sep 2011 #

    I’d argue that “heart attack” is probably OK in a pop song as it’s a well-used way of describing being surprised or shocked – it’s an exaggeration of the heart skipping a beat – whereas “I’m as serious as cancer” doesn’t work as a simile. Turbob means to say he’s “very earnest”, not “slowly, painfully destroying life”, so the line really sticks out as thoughtless, and tasteless.

    (I’ve written the above, and stared at it for five minutes, and I’m not sure I agree with it. I don’t mind the use of “heart attack” in a lyric, despite losing my dad to a series of strokes and heart attacks, but if others feels differently, I completely accept that.)

  51. 51
    chelovek na lune on 14 Sep 2011 #

    @47 Goodness, that’s amazing. Thanks for bringing that to light; there as me thinking he was as qualified for his title as Professor Green.

    Hmm, Guru Josh was another raving dentist (a raving Thatcherite as well, if I remember rightly. Hmm, he should get down to Southend, where for the next month there’s a public artwork on the railway bridge over the high street depecting a massive image of Mrs T’s eyes…). I just hope both of them had stable hands when they were wielding a drill…

    A digression, somewhat.

  52. 52
    hardtogethits on 14 Sep 2011 #

    When I read Wichita at 48, (“gibberish, but it masquerades as something a lot grander”) I thought, “Yeah, like ‘Higher State of Consciousness’ by blooming Guru Josh.” Up pops Guru Josh’s name (at #51) and then I think “Actually it was Josh Wink, wasn’t it? Not Guru Josh”. I can’t work out whether I care or not, and I think this says quite a bit about the stage I’ve reached in my life. I can still tell Fearne Cotton and Fern Britton apart, though.

  53. 53
    Tom on 14 Sep 2011 #

    ISTR “Higher State Of Consciousness” is pretty straightforward lyrically!

  54. 54
    hardtogethits on 15 Sep 2011 #

    Interesting. I’ve listened again to confirm my view on “Higher State”. To me, its lyric has three parts, covering two different types of unintelligible. Parts one and two are indeed straightforward. I can work out the words but it’s got no real meaning – just the right kind of words for the type of record (a la RIAD). Part three, I simply can’t hear what they’re saying (tsk, kids these days).

    Part One: the “conscious / consciousness” stuff
    Part Two: a trite list (I think “in my mind, in my soul, in my blood, in my bones” – that kind of thing anyway).
    Part Three: Nope, never could work out what’s being mumbled but there’s definitely still something being said / sung.

    I can’t find anything on google to confirm the whole official lyric. Anyone?

    I’m not decrying the record – just as I wasn’t with RIAD. I think it’s alright. However, I think its title promises something it doesn’t come close to delivering. Hence “gibberish, but it masquerades as something a lot grander”.

  55. 55
    hardtogethits on 15 Sep 2011 #

    …which was of course Wichita’s comment on this no.1 – that phrase, though, made me think of “Higher State”.

  56. 56
    AndyPandy on 15 Sep 2011 #

    The legendary Guru Josh – named himself after his (and my) favourite Indian dish and whose ominpresence at the big parties is guaranteed to make the average ex-raver from back in the day feel nostalgic today. Sort of projected himself as a larger than life legendary figure even before he’d done anything and in some ways succeeded.
    Didn’t take himself too seriously and he was always one of my favourite characters from the whole scene back then.

  57. 57
    Steve Mannion on 15 Sep 2011 #

    #54 Those part 2 lyrics you mention only appear on the Jules & Skins mix of Higher State don’t they? That version is pure pants and not as well known as either the Tweekin’ Acid Funk mix or the Dex & Jonesey mix which are thankfully almost entirely devoid of lyrical content.

  58. 58
    wichita lineman on 15 Sep 2011 #

    Josh Wink’s Don’t Laugh has one of the most disturbing “lyrics” ever recorded. Terrifying.

    I once sat next to his aunt on a flight from New York to LA. She was a teacher in Raleigh and very sweet.

  59. 59

    How on earth did you discover whose aunt she was?

  60. 60
    MarkG on 15 Sep 2011 #

    Josh Wink was sitting in the window seat.

  61. 61
    wichita lineman on 15 Sep 2011 #

    Arf. No, she asked what I did for a “living”, and then said “ooh my nephew’s a dj…”

    What’s the consensus on Don’t Laugh? Heck, I even named a club after it.

  62. 62
    El boludo on 15 Sep 2011 #

    @51 why would they need stable hands? Are they raving horse dentists?

    …Anyway, I like this one! It sounded better in my head though. I’d give it a 6. “Rhythm Of The Night”, on the other hand, is great and would get at least an 8 from me.

    @32 There’s been a lot of Dr Who talk round here lately! I’m afraid Dr Who never meant shit to me (never seen any of the classic stuff, couldn’t sit through David Tennant’s mugging for more than a couple of minutes) but all this gives me an excuse to link to another Who-sampling track called “Exterminate”, by the amazing Lady Leshurr:


  63. 63
    weej on 15 Sep 2011 #

    Bit late to this one. In short, yes, “doomy synths” = great, vocals (apparently not Penny Ford but Thea Austin) = passable, rap = ruins the whole thing, even before the ‘cancer’ line. A five seems very fair. Did Snap! really have NINE top ten hits? How? Why?

    Just listened to ‘Don’t Laugh’ for the first time, not sure what to say apart from ‘thanks, not going to sleep now’

  64. 64
    Steve Mannion on 15 Sep 2011 #

    Still don’t see what’s so bad about the rap – seems standard Eurodance quality (my only gripe is that MCs often struggled to fit lines within the higher tempo very well, TurBoB certainly not the worst offender here). And if you don’t like this Snap you should never hear ‘Welcome To Tomorrow’.

    #61 I never liked ‘Don’t Laugh’ but MTV used to air this weird edit of it that only lasted about a minute. Size 9 ‘I’m Ready’ was alright tho.

  65. 65
    Ben Cook on 15 Sep 2011 #

    I’m sorry but this is an utter MASTERPIECE. Sounds as fresh now as they day it was recorded. The most epicly amazing record continental Europe has ever produced.

  66. 66
    Ben Cook on 15 Sep 2011 #

    I am slightly too young to remember when this was in the charts, but this must have sounded innovative (if cheesy) at the time? It’s a world away from the heavy rave stuff that had been dominating up until around the time this came out.

    If anything, did this song kill rave as a mainstream genre? By the start of 1993 all the dance music in the charts was far more commercial and hooky.

    “Welcome To Tomorrow” from 1994 was another favourite of mine. Compared to some other eurodance acts who stuck to the same formula, at least Snap! did experiment a little bit. They never tried to do another song that sounded the same as this.

    By the way the singer on this record is Thea Austin not Penny Ford, and was sadly the only single she did with Snap!

  67. 67
    punctum on 15 Sep 2011 #

    Best remembered for Turbo B’s preposterous proclamation that “I’m as serious as cancer when I say rhythm is a dancer,” Snap!’s second number one was significantly less powerful but sold substantially more than their first. Removing all traces of echt-rebellion, they gambled on the likelihood of the public not knowing or remembering “Auto-Man,” a long-lost B-side by early eighties electro pioneers Newcleus, by using it as the basis of a not very elevating would-be Eurotechno anthem. While it set the template for scores of middleground Eurodance pop crossovers to come – Urban Cookie Collective, Haddaway, Dr Alban and Corona being just four of the temporary beneficiaries – “Rhythm Is A Dancer” is markedly less interesting than any of those; in a way it does look forward to the megaclubs with their endlessly and seamlessly escalating trance sets, but completely lacks the unutterable transcendence that the latter were, at their best, capable of producing or inducing. Thea Austin’s vocal is competent but uninvolving, the production is one-dimensional – there is no sense of development or climax – and the fairly pompous, Jean-Michel Jarre-echoing keyboards suggest prog-rockers trying to get in via the tradesman’s entrance. Yet in the 1992 of “The Drowners,” “Out Of Space,” “Popscene,” “Creep,” “Everybody Hurts,” “Constant Craving,” “Middle Of The Road,” “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg” and “The Blue Room” it was number one in Britain for six weeks – but then the Britain of 1992 was the make-do-and-mend/settle-for-what-you-know/rock-not-the-boat Britain which elected John Major back into alleged power for another half-decade.

  68. 68
    lonepilgrim on 15 Sep 2011 #

    I just realised that this was number 1 on the day Mrs Pilgrim and I got married

  69. 69
    Steve Mannion on 16 Sep 2011 #

    #66 If anything killed rave, or rather caused the fragmentation of it – from a creative perspective rather than a political one (CJA), it was more directly the likes of the kids TV-sampling hits mentioned on the Jimmy Nail thread.

  70. 70
    Ben Cook on 16 Sep 2011 #

    67 – I cannot understand how anyone could not think this wasn’t, even if not their cup of tea, one of the finest examples of commercial dance music ever. How can you say it’s not interesting?

  71. 71
    El boludo on 16 Sep 2011 #

    @70, I think he articulated it pretty well in his comment, to be fair, even if you disagree. It’s not like there’s some objective measure of worth for “commercial dance music”! For what it’s worth, I don’t think it’s anywhere near the finest examples of the genre, although as I said above I have a lot of goodwill towards it.

  72. 72
    Ben Cook on 18 Sep 2011 #

    Articulate but wrong. It didn’t spend 6 weeks at number one for nothing. It still fills dancefloors to this day. It must have something going for it.

  73. 73
    punctum on 19 Sep 2011 #

    Not “wrong” but “a different opinion.” What you have to understand is that other people are not you.

  74. 74
    Jimmy the Swede on 19 Sep 2011 #

    #73 – Exactly right. There’s no such thing as “wrong” when discussing opinions. For my part, the ravy davy gravy period passed me by without the slightest microspeck of interest, quite possibly because I was into my thirties by then, although I don’t think I would have seen the point of it as a twenty year old, to be honest. Even though I saw no merit in it at all, I would never be arrogant enough to sneer at those of you who have discussed this genre so enthusiastically.

  75. 75
    Alan Connor on 20 Sep 2011 #

    Higher State of Consciousness is precisely three minutes in, I think, its single edit. We used to use it to time Boggle games.

  76. 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.

  77. 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.

  78. 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.

  79. 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.

  80. 80
    MarkG on 29 Sep 2011 #

    What’s that massive great blue button there for?

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

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

  82. 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.

  83. 83
    Mark G on 20 Feb 2014 #

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

  84. 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.

  85. 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

  86. 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?

  87. 87
    Gareth Parker on 29 Apr 2021 #

    Dodgy lyrics aside, I still feel this worth an 8. It gets me pumped up anyway!

  88. 88
    23 Daves on 19 Mar 2022 #

    This is currently hogging a lot of time on the #totp repeats on BBC4, and I must admit I think my “6” mark for it was a bit harsh (Turbo B’s rubbishness aside). I still find it quite bewitching now.

    Someone tweeted me yesterday to point out the incredible resemblance of the central riff to the 1984 track Automan by Newcleus, and lo and behold, they’re right – although it’s slowed down. https://youtu.be/1iF7eZO_Xqk Does that mean it deserves greater criticism? I doubt it.

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