Have you seen the new TV series World of Dance? If you have any appreciation of dance you should really run – not walk – to your nearest available device and watch it. Even if you don’t have any interest in the competitive/reality show aspect of this kind of programming it is 100% worth it to just see the amazing performances. I had to scrape my jaw off the floor after watching the first episode.
They also have a whole lot of online content and an extensive blog, so I’ll definitely lose some hours immersed in that. But before diving in, I decided to look up how the WOD judges are represented in the music4dance catalog. They all are. Jennifer Lopez and Ne-Yo because their music has inspired many to dance and Derek Hough because I’ve been cataloging DWTS choreography over the last several seasons. Click on the links above to see which of their songs are in the catalog or just type their names into the search box on the song page (for Derek you’ll have to use just his first name since that’s how I cataloged the DWTS choreographers).
Are there J-Lo or Ne-Yo song that you love to dance to that I haven’t identified yet? Let me know by commenting on this post or sending private feedback and I’d be happy to add them. If you would prefer to add them yourself, let me know that too – I’m working on a feature for that and it won’t take that much of a nudge for me to give you access to that as a beta tester.
One of the things I enjoy most about the musci4dance project is when I get feedback from people who have found the site useful. I’m especially happy when it comes from a direction that I don’t expect. It’s exactly that kind of feedback that I received from Mister “D” (David Simmerly) – a musician who performs for Ballroom clubs and weddings and was looking to expand his repertoire with music that would be well received in those contexts.
I asked Dave to expand a little on how he used music4dance and (paraphrasing) here are a few of the things that he came back with:
The first and second points led to an extended discussion about songs that are listed as Waltzes but are not in 3/4 time – check out my blog post on “Fake” Waltzes for more on that.
But there is a more general point that I would like to make here with respect to “correctness” of music for dance. I’ve compiled this catalog with an eye for finding music that inspires dancers to dance. This makes for a very loose definition of what songs “work” to dance a particular dance to. In a setting where a dancer is choreographing to a specific piece of music, even when that choreography is a traditional ballroom dance like in Dancing With the Stars, there is quite a bit of latitude in what music will “work”. Whereas in a social situation the dancers are more dependent on the beat and feel of the music to enjoy the experience of partnering in a specific dance style. And then of course when one is dancing competition rounds, there are even stricter rules about tempo.
In any case, I hope that many of the songs in the music4dance catalog fall into the category (as Mr. “D” says) of “making your pants want to get up and dance.” In the future, I hope to do a better job of tagging dances in a way that separates the strictly ballroom from the fun to choreograph to from the great songs for social dancing. The system is at least theoretically set up to do this since I’ve enabled arbitrary tagging of songs. It’s a big project to go through each song in an 11,000+ song catalog and make the kind of distinction I’m talking about here. On the other hand, it is exactly the kind of thing that works well when others jump in to add their own ideas to the mix.
As always, I welcome your feedback and participation. Thanks to David Simmerly for permission to use his name and information in this post. If you’re in the midwest and are looking for a great solo entertainer for your Ballroom Club, Wedding Reception or another occasion, you can find him on gigsalad.com.
I recently heard from a customer that he was searching for “Oh, These Dark Eyes“ on the site and this is what he saw:
In fact, “Oh, These Dark Eyes” by Tango No. 9 is in the music4dance catalog, but it wasn’t even showing up on the first page. That seems crazy. And wrong.
After a little digging, I discovered my mistake. When I merged the Search Like Google feature into the default search I left the default sort set to “most recent”. So when you search for anything with a bunch of words in it, there will be a whole lot of results (in this case 464) and if I sort by anything other than closest match what I’m really looking for is likely to get lost like a needle in a haystack.
This should now be fixed. When you search by default you’ll get the most relevant results at the top of the page (just like a normal search engine). I’ve also added a “Closest Match” button to the search order possibilities on the Advanced Search Page which is the default.
So hopefully there will be less searching for needles in haystacks.
Thanks to the gentle customer that pointed out my mistake. I’m always looking for ways to improve the site so please feel free to send me feedback if anything looks like it’s not working the way you suspect. Even if it’s not an outright bug (like this one was), I’m happy to take feedback and see if I can make music4dance a more useful resource for you and others.
And lest you think I’ve dropped my head completely back into code and failed to continue to improve the content, I’ve added some more DWTS songs this week as well as digging up and integrating some fresh lists of ballroom music, including some fun new Cha-Cha, Rumba, and Tango songs. You can still find the most recent changes to the catalog by sorting by modified date. That’s the little pencil icon right below the “Advanced Search” text on any search results. Or if you want to get tricky and just find the songs that have been most recently added, you can go to the Advanced Search Page and choose “When Added” in the “Sort By” field.
Dancing With The Stars Season 23 is in full swing here in the US, and very entertaining as always. Although I’m a bit disappointed that they appear to have stopped showing quick glimpses of the pros dancing the show back in after commercial – that was a lot of fun.
As I’ve talked about before, I use this show and others as a source for new music for the catalog. But that definitely biases things towards performance pieces and less traditional songs. What do you think, should I continue to do this, or should I concentrate on more traditional music?
What better than a top 100 list to end the year? Since music4dance is about the intersection of music and dance, I’ve taken the Spotify top 100 songs of 2015 (for the USA) and cross referenced it with the music4dance catalog.
About of a third of the songs were already in the music4dance catalog and had been matched to dance styles. Most of the others were songs that I could imagine partner dancing to, although some were a stretch. I made a lot of use of the “Unconventional” tag to try to show that many of these songs don’t exhibit all of the traditional attributes of the music that these dances grew up with. But that’s part of the fun of this project, and dancing in general – testing the limits of how music and dance fit together.
And of course, not all music is particularly suited to dancing of any kind. So my version of Spotify’s top 100 list ended up being only 87 songs because those were the songs that I could match any kind of partner dance, even stretching the traditional definitions.
Here’s a link to that list. You can build this link yourself (and try some variations) by going to the Advanced Search Form, clicking on the brown pencil (other) tag button in the “include tags” row of the form. Then choose tags to include – in this case I chose “2015” and “Top 100“. Clicking the search button will show the first page of the top 100 (errrr 87) songs and what dances I and others have matched with those songs. Check out the documentation for more details.
One fun variation on this search is to add the tag DWTS (for Dancing With The Stars) to this search. You end up with 21 songs that were both used in the last couple of seasons of DWTS and are on the Spotify Top 100 list for 2015. Another fun thing to do is to add your favorite style of dance to the search, if I added West Coast Swing to the Top 100 list, I’d end up with these 25 songs. (at least today – if other’s vote up songs as West Coast Swing, that number may change),
Do you disagree with my choice of dances for any of these songs? I would love to see what you have to say. Please feel free to comment on this post, or sign up or sign in to start tagging and voting on songs yourself.
Next year I expect that we’ll have enough activity to generate a top 100 list directly from the songs that you’ve chosen.
I learned to dance in part because Dirty Dancing made me want to be Johnny Castle. Or at least dance like him. And my first dance partner was similarly moved by Strictly Ballroom. These days So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With the Stars are both inspiration for aspiring dancers.
Since one of my goals with the music4dance project is to build a catalog of music that inspires you to dance, it seems appropriate to make sure I’m folding in the songs that the choreographers from these shows have found inspiring. I’ve started by adding in the songs from (season 20) of Dancing with the Stars since that is currently airing.
All of the Dancing with the Stars songs that I’ve cataloged can be found at this link. You can refine your search to a particular episode by clicking on the episode number and choosing to include that episode.
One fun side effect of this is that you can click play on the Spotify Player at the bottom of the page and play all of the songs from an episode (or you can follow the individual links to iTunes or Amazon to purchase the songs). Here’s an example of the spotify player for DWTS Season 20, Episode 1:
What other movies and shows have inspired you to dance? Did they include specific songs that really make you want to get up and move?
Before you go, I’m continuing to gather data on how people group dance styles and would appreciate your input. More information about that is available in this post. Or just go directly to the survey.