December 8, 2019

As MeToo dies, look for reincarnation of "Don't Wanna Fall in Love" by Jane Child

An earlier post looked at key songs that heralded the end of the vulnerable, refractory phase of the 15-year cultural excitement cycle, going back to the late 1950s, as it transitioned into the restless, warm-up phase when people start to come out of their shells and mix it up together again.

The song featured from the current vulnerable phase was "Sweet But Psycho," which brought to mind "Buffalo Stance" from the end of the late '80s vulnerable phase. Turns out they're both in the same key -- D-flat major. The major key is a crucial detail, since dance music during the vulnerable phase tends to be overwhelmingly dissonant and minor-key.

There's an even better example of the cusp of the late '80s / early '90s transition, though I didn't realize since it was released as a single in April 1990, despite being released on the album in September 1989. (I go by first release in any format.) It was also a dance hit, and as it turns out, also composed in D-flat major.

It's far more upbeat than the late '80s freestyle sound, although it's still a bit ambivalent about coming out of one's shell. She's scared of letting go and just connecting with somebody, but it's thrilling at the same time -- a clear signal that the refractory phase was ending.

And the rhythm is more simplified, not as start-and-stop or herky-jerky as the freestyle sound was -- something that anyone can get out and dance to without fear of looking awkward. Reminder from the original post on the warm-up phase that simplified dance crazes are hallmarks of the phase, making it easy for everyone to come out of their shells and interact playfully with the opposite sex.

"Don't Wanna Fall in Love" by Jane Child (1989)

Now that the current vulnerable phase is ending, look for the reincarnation of this song in the post-MeToo era. It could have already been released on an album last fall, but just hasn't come out as a single because they're afraid it's too upbeat and socially connecting, putting it out of place among its emo "let me hide under a pile of blankets" peer songs. Musicians have been mining the late '80s more than the early 2000s for recent vulnerable-phase influences to channel, so it may sound more similar to Jane Child than you'd think.


  1. Cool... If vulnerable, defractory music tends to be in minor key, and warmup and manic music is in major key, how can we make a further distinction between warmup vs. manic?

  2. It's not that warm-up phase music is mainly major key, only that they're willing to use either one. There's still a lot of early '90s and late 2000s dance music that is minor-key. But there are at least a handful of dance anthems that are unabashedly major key, showing that they're just coming out of their shells (not totally out and comfortable just yet).

    "Dancing Queen" from the late '70s, "Show Me Love" from the early '90s, "Hot n Cold" or "Waking Up in Vegas" from the late 2000s, and who knows what's coming up next.

  3. Manic phase is when major key surges. "Situation," "Just Can't Get Enough," "Hungry Like the Wolf," "Mickey," "Goodbye to You," "In a Big Country," "I Want Candy," "Karma Chameleon," "Tenderness," "Vacation," "Dancing with Myself," "New Song," "Girls Just Want To Have Fun," "The Safety Dance," "I Melt with You"...

    On and on and on.

    For new wave, minor key was in the minority.

  4. Did New Order write a single song in a minor key? They're the most upbeat bouncy depressives ever!

    "Blue Monday," "Age of Consent," "Temptation," "Bizarre Love Triangle," "The Perfect Kiss" -- all major.

    Only major hit that was minor-key was "True Faith".

    Even "Love Will Tear Us Apart" by Joy Division was major-key.

    You depressive cerebrals out there don't need meds -- you just need to take your New Order pills from the dance club hospital!


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