|B-side "Pink Cadillac"|
Format 7" single 12" single
|Released May 3, 1984|
Recorded March 1984
"Dancing in the Dark" is a song written and performed by American rock singer Bruce Springsteen. With added uptempo synthesizer riffs and some syncopation to his sound for the first time, the song spent four weeks at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and eventually sold over one million singles in the U.S. alone. As the first single released from his 1984 album, Born in the U.S.A., it became his biggest hit and propelled the album to become the best-selling one of his career.
The song is written in the key of B major with a tempo of 149 beats per minute in common time. Springsteen's vocals span from G♯4 to G♯5.
In a first-for-Springsteen effort to gain dance and club play for his music, Arthur Baker created the 12-inch "Blaster Mix" of "Dancing in the Dark", wherein he reworked the album version. The remix was released on July 2, 1984. The result generated a lot of media buzz for Springsteen, as well as actual club play; the remix went to #7 on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart, and had the most sales of any 12-inch single in the United States in 1984.
Live performance history
On the 2009 Working on a Dream Tour, the song appeared intermittently during the encores. However, Springsteen for the first time played a number of music festivals during the routing, and "Dancing in the Dark" closed all of them: Pinkpop Festival, Bonnaroo Music Festival, Glastonbury Festival, and Hard Rock Calling. When played live in recent years, the song features a harder, guitar-driven sound, with the distinctive synthesizer riff being supplied by Soozie Tyrell's violin.
During the 2012 tour the song again became a regular at live shows with audience members selected to dance not just with Bruce, but with other band members too, especially new band member Jake Clemons. Springsteen family members appeared on stage for this song on occasion, with mother Adele doing the 'Courteney Cox' dance at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia at the start of the tour, and daughter Jessica dancing on stage with Bruce in Paris on 5 July.
Directed by Brian De Palma, the video was shot at the Saint Paul Civic Center in Saint Paul, Minnesota on 28 and 29 June 1984. The first night was a pure video shot, the second was on the opening date of the Born in the U.S.A. Tour. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performed the song twice during that show to allow Brian De Palma to get all the footage he needed. The video is a straight performance video, with Springsteen not playing a guitar, allowing him to invite a young woman from the audience, performed by Courteney Cox, to dance along with him on the stage at the end. In September 1985, the video won the MTV Video Music Award for Best Stage Performance.
Released as a single prior to the album's release, the song spent four weeks at #2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart (his highest charting song to date) in June–July 1984 (it was kept off the #1 spot by Duran Duran's "The Reflex" and that year's song of the summer, Prince's "When Doves Cry"). It did reach #1 on the Cash Box Top 100 Singles chart. It was also the first of a record-tying seven top 10 hit singles to be released from Born in the U.S.A. "Dancing in the Dark" also held the #1 spot for six weeks on Billboard's Top Tracks chart. On the Radio & Records CHR/Pop Airplay Chart the song debuted at #25 on the May 25, 1985 issue, after four weeks on June 29, 1984 it reached #1 staying on the top of the chart for one week, the single was on the top 10 of the chart for seven weeks and remained on it for twelve weeks.
In the UK, "Dancing in the Dark" originally reached number 28 in the UK Singles Chart when released in May 1984. However, the song re-entered the chart in January 1985 and subsequently reached number 4, becoming the 29th best-selling single of the year.
The recording also won Springsteen his first Grammy Award, picking up the prize for Best Rock Vocal Performance in 1985. In the 1984 Rolling Stone readers poll, "Dancing in the Dark" was voted "Single of the Year". The track has since gone on to earn further recognition and is as such listed one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
7": Columbia / 38-04463
- "Dancing in the Dark" - 3:59
- "Pink Cadillac" - 3:33
12": Columbia / 44-05028
- "Dancing in the Dark" (Blaster Mix) - 6:09
- "Dancing in the Dark" (Radio) - 4:50
- "Dancing in the Dark" (Dub) - 5:30
12": Epic / TA4436
- "Dancing in the Dark" (Extended Remix) - 6:09
- "Pink Cadillac" - 3:33