July 1, 2020

Must-hear dance-rock revival: "Something I Can Dance To" by Alright Years

First the song, then some remarks. Just heard this brand-new single tonight on college radio. Link to full song because it's not on YouTube, and Spotify only embeds a 30-second sample (gay).

Well well well, more signs of the dance-rock revival I've been predicting for the first half of the 2020s. We're out of the vulnerable phase of the excitement cycle (2015-'19), when energy levels are crashed into a refractory state and people just want to hide in their cocoons.

As of this year we've entered the restless warm-up phase, one of whose hallmarks is dance fever. That includes dance-rock fusion, which defined the last restless phase in the late 2000s (see here and here).

The manic phase has even crazier dance music -- early 2010s, late '90s, early '80s -- but when people are just waking up from a slumber, they need simple-step exercises to get their bodies back into the swing of things.

In "Something I Can Dance To" by Alright Years, there's another sign of the 15-year excitement cycle -- it's a nostalgia song, consciously referring back to an earlier time. And what do you know? -- it's nostalgic for the same phase of the cycle. It's out in 2020, a restless phase, and the lyrics refer to the last restless phase, the second half of the 2000s (Superbad, iPod shuffle, 2007). This is part of a consistent pattern of nostalgia songs reminiscing about the same phase of the cycle.

It would've been impossible to create this song in the late 2010s, when the mopey mood prevailed. (In fact, the hit nostalgia song of that period was "2002" by Anne-Marie, referring back to the last vulnerable phase.) But now that we've shifted into the restless phase, and energy levels have recovered to baseline, the musical mood has changed from emo to scene. It just sounds like it's from 2007 -- mainly Metro Station, with a little Panic! at the Disco in the vocal delivery of the pre-chorus.

Also worth noting that it's in a major key, unlike the nearly uniformly minor-key mood of a vulnerable phase. Nice hi-hats on the offbeat to set up the disco rhythm for dancing. Very bouncy.

All it needs is a MySpace-themed video -- if not a proper band video, then at least an animation of the original MySpace music player, with the track information and colored bars showing the volume.

It'll take a few years before it reaches peak intensity, but dance-rock fever is back baby!


  1. Listen to this over real speakers, not iPod earbuds from 2007. It's got such a big sound and soaring energy, a puny laptop speaker won't do it justice.

    If you're a normal person browsing the internet on a desktop, you should already have speakers with a sub-woofer hooked up.

    If you're a permanently distracted social media junkie, send the signal to your TV that has real speakers hooked up to it. Easiest way would be a laptop plugged into the TV via HDMI.

  2. How are you sitting still during this song?! For the cerebral readers (corporeals already know what's up), get your body back into the swing of things.

    During the super-bouncy chorus, jump off of each leg alternating, with your foot landing on each main beat. If your right foot is your dominant foot, R lands on "Can," L lands on the rest beat after, R lands on "give", L lands on the rest beat after that, etc.

    Move around the room like that in a line, after you're comfortable jumping in place. More movement if you leap a bit to the L or R instead of just coming straight down. If you're moving forward while doing that, it makes a zig-zag pattern.

    Or do kicks. Wind up L leg on "Can," kick with L on the next beat, wind up R leg on "give," kick with R on the next beat, etc. Kick as high as you can during one of the final choruses, where the energy reaches a climax.

    If you can skank, this is a perfect song for it -- ska always explodes during a restless phase, with its simple-step exercise-like dance moves.


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