In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing. This week: What’s one of your favorite songs to dance to?
Unlike a lot of my fellow A.V. Club staffers, I love to dance, and will do so with little provocation. (A more revealing prompt might be, “What song don’t you like to dance to? Answer: Throbbing Gristle’s “Hamburger Lady.”) But I’ve never been a dancer. Following a traumatic tap-dance-recital experience when I was 5 years old, I gave up on dance classes, which I often regret. I’ve taken adult classes here and there for a lark, but I think the point in my life where I can easily absorb choreography and technique has passed, which pains me greatly—no more so than when I watch So You Think You Can Dance, one of my favorite TV shows. But while I know I’d never be able to pull off the eye-popping routines so easily deployed by the show’s cast of 19-year-old bags of muscle, I’ve absorbed more moves than I can count from the show, and incorporated them into my personal casual-dancing repertoire. It’s like taking dance class without the hassle of leaving my couch or, you know, moving.
Back in season two, So You Think You Can Dance introduced one of its most memorable group routines, choreographed by Wade Robson and set to a song that was at that point unfamiliar to most American audiences, myself included: “Ramalama (Bang Bang),” performed by Irish electro-popper Róisín Murphy.
It’s a visceral, booming song that demands movement, though amateur dancers may have a hard time aligning their hips with its clattering syncopation. But Robson’s jerky, “Thriller”-evoking choreography tunes into the song’s slightly menacing, dance-or-die aura, and provides a rough template for nerds like myself dancing along at home. For me, the song is inseparable from the dance: I can’t hear “Ramalama (Bang Bang)” without breaking out the little shoulder-shrugs and broken-marionette posing exhibited by the dancers in the video—which makes it a good thing that it isn’t often played in bars or weddings, because no one needs to see that besides me and my mirror. And though I know I’ll never look as good dancing to “Ramalama” as I see it in my mind, it’s great fun anyway—and the song itself provides good advice for timid dancers unsure of where to jump in: “And if I need a rhythm, it’s gonna be to my heart I’ll listen.”