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Lose Yourself to Dance: How Songs with Signature Moves Drive Sales, Streaming and Airplay

4 minute read | April 2014

The dance craze has arguably been around as long as people have been going to parties. Each generation has its own style, from Chuck Berry’s “The Twist” in the 1950s to PSY’s 2013 chart-topper “Gangnam Style.” However, these songs—and dances—are more than just passing fads. When we take a closer look at this phenomenon over the last few decades, associated dances’ effect on sales, streaming, and (sometimes) airplay is apparent.  


These tunes have danced their way into pop culture history. These songs have been continually resurrected over time through beer commercials, adorable family animated films, TV tributes and most likely on the dance floor at the latest family wedding. 

Pre-2000 Hits and Their Dances

Dance Song’s Reach
Y.M.C.A. Released by the Village People in 1978, “Y.M.C.A.” remains prominent at weddings, sporting events and more. Digitally, it has sold over 823,000 tracks in the last decade and has been streamed over 3.3* million times to date, still a clear favorite for fans. And a new generation is learning to love the song: In the 2013 blockbuster kids’ movie, Despicable Me 2, the minions recorded their own version for the soundtrack (which has sold over 34,000 tracks to date).
Macarena Los Del Rio’s “Macarena” originally began as a Spanish dance song, but the Bayside Boys’ English remix in 1994 became an international hit for several years. The song’s popularity built slowly, taking over half a year (33 weeks) from the time it charted on Billboard’s Hot 100 before it hit the top spot. However, the infectious dance track has sold over 306,000 tracks and has been streamed over 1.2 million times to date.
Thriller Although Michael Jackson was one of pop music’s best performers, his music video for “Thriller” got audiences on their feet, mimicking his moves. The song has been downloaded over 3.5 million times, spun on radio over 227,500 times and streamed over 40 million times since its release.
Electric Boogie (Electric Slide) Although Marcia Griffiths’ “Electric Boogie” was a hit recording in Jamaica in 1982, it wasn’t until 1989 that its remix and re-release took America by storm. The song has sold over 187,000 tracks and has been streamed 1.3 million times since release.
Source: Nielsen


With the onset of digital music streaming services and social media, today’s dance crazes can reach consumers in more ways than ever before. Embraced by both fans and the famous, dances today can go viral, from Will Smith’s “Evolution of Hip Hop” with Jimmy Fallon to thousands of YouTube remakes of Baauer’s “Harlem Shake.”

Post-2000 Hits and Their Dances

Dance Song’s Reach
The Cupid Shuffle Cupid’s “Cupid Shuffle,” released in 2007, has sold over 3 million tracks and has been streamed over 18 million times. When Cupid made an appearance on U.S. music competition show The Voice in 2012, and performed his signature dance track, it resulted in nearly 18,000 track downloads the week after, a 143 percent increase from the previous week. The song continues to sell thousands of tracks each week despite its 2007 release date.
Single Ladies Female empowerment anthem “Single Ladies” made its debut on Beyonce’s 2008 album I Am…Sasha Fierce. The song has sold over 5.3 million tracks to date and has been streamed over 48 million times. The music video not only got women moving on the dance floor, but was also parodied by Justin Timberlake and the Saturday Night Live cast later that year. The episode was viewed by an average of 7.3 million viewers who watched live or via timeshifted viewing within the same day.
The Dougie The Dougie is another dance that has evolved over the decades. Cali Swag District recorded the song “Teach Me How To Dougie” in 2004 and has since become a viral hit on YouTube and among celebrities (including the First Lady Michelle Obama). The song has sold over 2.7 million digital tracks and has been streamed over 38 million times to date.
The Superman Soulja Boy’s “Crank That” quickly gained popularity along with its accompanying Superman dance, climbing to the top spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart in 2007. It has sold over 5 million tracks and has been streamed over 18 million times to date.
Source: Nielsen


No matter the genre, time period or artist’s popularity, it is undeniable that a song with an associated dance can increase exposure and sales for musicians. For each of the artists mentioned, the dance-craze titles were the artist’s most successful in terms of digital song sales (release to date). In fact, we see a variance of as much as 2 million units when comparing these artists’ dance-craze title to their second-ranked hit. So get up, turn on the tunes and get down to your favorites!

*Does not include Pandora. Streaming reporters include: AOL, Cricket, Medianet, rdio, Rhapsody, Slacker, Spotify, Zune and YouTube/VEVO data (2013-present).

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