“Neutron Dance” by The Pointer Sisters
Songs centered on the narrator’s personal problems are like a dime a dozen. But every once in a while we come across one that is really real. And such is the case with what is being expressed in “Neutron Dance”. The vocalist doesn’t come off as someone who is just depressed for depression’s sake. Instead there are a number of matters weighing heavy on her brain.
For instance, she is overworked yet still beset with financial issues. One of the reasons this is so is because a man she fell in love with ‘robbed her blind’. And the way these monetary issues are manifest, for example, is via the narrator having housing problems.
On top of that, her “brand-new Chevrolet” was stolen. And being a conscious human being, her mind is also concerned about the deteriorating state of the natural environment. Or simply put, she is demoralized concerning the future. And honestly speaking, this disposition has evolved primarily from an economic standpoint.
Her optimism for financial prosperity, indeed even happiness, has been destroyed. So now she is contemplating doing something grimy in the name of generating income. And the reason this narrative may seem relatable is because they were reflective of lyric writer Allee Willis’s own personal disposition at the time. And what she was particularly cheesed off during that stage of her life was the fact that she lacked artistic freedom in her songwriting career.
But then that, dear reader, is where the “neutron dance” comes in. This isn’t an actual dance like, say, the Electric Slide. Rather it is a mode of thinking and a course of action.
Said thinking would be of the positive variety, going against whatever types of negativity may be manifested in one’s life – as illustrated above via the narrator’s own story. And the course of action would be instantly going about affecting such change. So yes, in the name of achieving this goal some people may actually go about dancing.
But edifying one’s life would require a different course of action based on the perspective and circumstances of different individuals.
So the intended purpose of this track is to serve a role akin to the Nike slogan – “Just Do It”. Or more precisely, the narrator recognizes that in the here and now, the financial reality of her life is disheartening. However, she believes that things can get better. And she has decided to conduct herself based on that belief as opposed to resigning to the notion that things will never change.
Who wrote “Neutron Dance”?
This song was written by two late, accomplished musicians:
- Daniel Sembello (1963-2015)
- Allee Willis (1947-2019)
It is largely associated with the soundtrack to Eddie Murphy’s “Beverly Hills Cop” (1984), playing an important role on its playlist. However, interesting to note is that it was actually written for another, obscure movie you likely never even heard of, “Streets of Fire” (1984) co-starring Willem Dafoe.
Allee Willis had many interesting things to say concerning the creation and blowing up of this track. For instance, she never really wanted to do it. And concerning that line in the song about the singer’s Chevrolet being stolen, that was derived from the fact that when they were in the studio recording this tune, she actually witnessed some dude stealing her “brand-new Chevrolet”.
It should also be pointed out that this song came out during a high-tension juncture in the Cold War between the United States and Russia, the world’s foremost superpowers. And there is an actual devastating nuclear weapon known as the neutron bomb. In fact, it would appear that the Russian powers that be actually thought The Pointer Sisters were saying ‘Neutron Bomb’ instead of “Neutron Dance”. And this resulted in Allee Willis, as well as presumably others associated, being red-listed by the Russian government.
Success of “Neutron Dance”
Well the track still proved to be a notable hit, even if not in Russia. For instance, the song reached sixth place on the Billboard Hot 100 and fourth on Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Play chart. Moreover it achieved number-one status on Canada Top Singles and made it onto the top 40 of the UK Singles Chart. And overall 10 countries around the world favorably received it.
When was “Neutron Dance” released?
In addition to being featured on the soundtrack to Beverly Hills Cop, “Neutron Dance” also made an appearance on The Pointer Sisters’ own album entitled “Break Out” (1983). In the former case it was the project’s third single and in the latter its fifth. And the official release date of the song, through RCA Records, was on 6 November 1983.
The Pointer Sisters
The Pointer Sisters are a classic African-American act that has been around since 1970. At the time “Break Out” was released, the group consisted of elder sister Ruth Pointer alongside her younger siblings Anita and June (1953-2006), all of whom were vocalists.
Ruth Pointer still remains a member of the group as at 2020, though in more recent times she has been joined by her daughter Issa and granddaughter, Sadako.
And to note, out of the 16 studio albums the group had dropped between 1973 and 2008, “Break Out” proved to be the most-successful. And that is because it features other Pointer Sisters’ classics such as “Jump (For My Love)” and “I’m So Excited”.
Does Young M.A’s “OOOUUU” sound similar to “Neutron Dance”?
Yes. The refrain in “Neutron Dance” sounds very similar to the “OOOUUU” sound repeated throughout Young M.A.’s “OOOUUU“. And since “OOOUUU” came out in 2016, it is beyond obvious M.A. received inspiration from “Neutron Dance”.