Thursday, May 3, 1984

Bruce Springsteen released “Dancing in the Dark”

Dancing in the Dark

Bruce Springsteen

Writer(s): Bruce Springsteen (see lyrics here)

Released: May 3, 1984

First Charted: May 25, 1984

Peak: 2 US, 12 CB, 12 GR, 11 RR, 16 AR, 4 UK, 3 CN, 5 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 0.6 UK, 2.91 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 239.25 video, 380.35 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Michael Jackson paved the way for albums with multiple hit singles (seven top 10s) with 1982’s Thriller. The next artist to do so was not one most would have guessed – Bruce Springsteen. While “The Boss” had earned a reputation as a live performer and his albums had become platinum sellers, he wasn’t one to rack up top 10 hits. Prior to his 1984 Born in the U.S.A. album, he’d had six songs total hit the Billboard Hot 100, and only “Hungry Heart” made it to the top 10.

However, with Born in the U.S.A., Springsteen joined the elite club of having an album which produced seven top 10 hits. The first of them was “Dancing in the Dark,” a sort of proclamation to the masses that he was about to take the pop world by storm. The song spent four weeks at #2; three of those behind another artist who was achieving blockbuster status with a multi-hit album – Prince, with 1984’s Purple Rain and specifically the song “When Doves Cry.”

While the song didn’t make it to the top in the U.S.A., it did top the charts in Belgium and the Netherlands. In Australia, it peaked at #5 but went on to be the highest-selling single of the year. WK It also won a Grammy for Best Rock Vocal Performance and was voted Single of the Year in the Rolling Stone readers’ poll.

Humorously enough, Springsteen wrote the song when his manager, Jon Landau, wasn’t convinced the album had a single yet. Springsteen’s reaction was, “Look, I’ve written seventy songs. You want another one, you write it.” WK Despite that, he wrote the song in a single night in his hotel room. It captured the feelings frustration in trying to write a hit single. WK “The deep, philosophical message was lost on most listeners who were entranced by the catchy beat.” SF

The straight performance video for the song was shot at the Saint Paul Civic Center in Saint Paul, Minnesota, on June 28 and 29, 1984. In the video, Springsteen plucks a fan from the audience to dance with him on stage. While he’d been told who he was supposed to pick, he himself didn’t know it was professional actress Courteney Cox. She had already been in As the World Turns and went on to even greater fame on Family Ties and Friends. “Dancing in the Dark” won the MTV Video Music Award for Best Stage Performance.


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First posted 11/28/2020; last updated 12/26/2022.

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