Dance in Music Videos


Cheryl Cornetet

When VH1 got a panel of “music industry experts” together to decide on a list of the greatest music videos ever, it was Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice” that was the video of choice. Close behind on the list were videos for songs such as Madonna’s “Vogue” and Jackson’s “Thriller.” It seems to me that there is a significant theme all of these videos share…DANCE!

Berkeley had it right. If you want a song to catch on, put it with a moving body. And if the body happens to be the king or queen of pop, that doesn’t hurt. So what if the dancer is a certain Hollywood bad boy wearing TAP SHOES?

The equation between Walken and Fatboy Slim’s song results in one of the most thought provoking and fresh musical video ideas ever. There is such a strong power that lies within the combination of the music and dance, especially when it is caught artistically within the eye of a camera.

The “Weapon of Choice” video begins with a normal middle-aged man, Walken, sitting in a hotel lobby. Once the music fades in, the scene comes to life with motion. From then on all rules of expectation are broken. As Michael Abernethy notes, “It is a fantasy many of us have had, to dance abandon in an environment that screams for civilized behavior”(1). This scene, although not impossible in our everyday lives, is very rare. Once Walken takes his hoofing steps right on out to the balcony and into mid-air this is when the camera begins to works its magic. The camera enables the character to bound across the screen and back again, which gives Walken an unexpected power. The simple concept of fantastically and unexpectedly losing control in a civilized environment is shown in a complex and artistic manner.

So, you see, dance choreographed for the camera is a powerful form of expression. The choreography in this video is credited for much of its success. The casting of an Oscar-winning actor in an unpredictable role, the brilliant direction of Spike Jonze, and the compositional genius of Fatboy Slim’s Norman Cook also contribute to the video’s artistic achievement. The “Weapon of Choice” piece was one of the most beautiful collaborations in the history of music videos, or at least the experts at VH1 thought so.