Who would have thought that floors were so popular in the realm of music? From pop songs to rock anthems, it’s natural that the dance floor would inspire some of the greatest hits of the last century and indeed the 21st century as well.
But in the case of British institutions like Magazine and American singer Chris Whitley, floors are used to pay homage to literature and even take on a more poetic meaning. If you’re unfamiliar with some of the best floor-inspired lyrics out there, here’s a quick rundown of the top ten.
Killing Floor – Howlin’ Wolf
The 60s original has been covered by the illustrious likes of the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Led Zeppelin, but it was blues musician Howlin’ Wolf who first made it a classic.
Chester Arthur Burnett, as he was otherwise known, recorded the song and its now-iconic riff back in 1964 with guitarist Hubert Sumlin, who claimed the lyrics described the sometimes destructive relationships between men and women.
The Damned – Under The Floor Again
The Damned began recording together at the height of the British punk movement in 1976, but it was not until the early 80s and their fifth studio album that this low-key song came about.
Never released as a single, it remains a favourite if a little obscure – track with the legions of Damned fans for its lyrical meanderings and the slightly Eastern vibe of the music.
A Song From under the Floorboards – Magazine
Magazine are another UK band to have proved their longevity, albeit at the expense of a near-twenty-year split from 1981 to 2009.
The 1980 single ‘A Song from under the Floorboards’ didn’t make much of an impression in sales but has come to be one of the group’s most memorable, not least because of its re-telling of Notes from Underground by Russian writer Dostoyevsky.
Floorshow – The Sisters of Mercy
The Sisters of Mercy may have a forgiving name but the 80s rock trio have been through their fair share of band members and break-ups. Formed in Leeds, they’d been going a full decade before releasing this Goth rock anthem in 1990.
Going beyond the dance floor into the murky world of the strip club, the album of the same name was the band’s last official release, though they’re still touring today.
Blood on the Dance Floor – Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson’s 1997 track was originally written six years earlier for the album ‘Dangerous’ but only released as part of the remix collection ‘Blood on the Dance Floor: History in the Mix’.
The dark story of a murderess called Susie who stalks the night clubs with a knife at the ready was put to a snappy beat and aggressive rhythm by producer Teddy Riley.
Though its release was delayed, the song ended up a no.1 hit in the UK and charted in the top ten in 15 countries worldwide.
I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor – The Arctic Monkeys
The Arctic Monkeys stormed the charts back in 2005 with the stomping dance floor hit that both made their debut and quickly stamped their name all over the UK indie scene.
The album from which the song was taken ‘Whatever they say I am, that’s what I’m not’ made record history by outselling Oasis and taking the title of fastest selling musical debut in Britain.
The Golden Floor – Snow Patrol
SnoW Patrol have enjoyed enduring success throughout the past decade and the Irish/Scottish five-piece continued their popular brand of melodic indie-rock with this gentle offering from the album ‘A Hundred Million Suns’ in 2008.
More than a little different to the usual up-tempo dance floor tunes, the song instead enacts a private dance by the fireside.
Dirt Floor – Chris Whitley
For something still more alternative, ‘Dirt Floor’ was a late-90s song and album by Texas singer-songwriter Chris Whitley.
The album received critical acclaim and the track is a typical example of Whitley’s sincere, blues-influenced style. Here, the floor is simply a reference to how all lives end, without being overly maudlin in its lyrics or attitude.
Take Me on the Floor – The Veronicas
The Australian duo The Veronicas took on the dance floor anthem with this 2009 release and saw the song used for reality TV show ‘Dancing with the Stars’. Some controversy over its potentially bisexual lyrics was brushed aside by the twins Lisa and Jessica Origliasso, who wrote the tune along with Toby Gad.
Whether it’s just about the fun of a night out or something more, it was a commercial hit.
On the Floor – Jennifer Lopez
We come bang up-to-date with Jennifer Lopez’s 2011 dance hit ‘On the Floor’, recorded with rapper Pitbull and drawing from both the singer’s Latina roots and modern electro-pop music.
Sampling the ever-popular ‘Lambada’ by Kaoma, it was a commercial success worldwide and proved yet again, the ingenuity of the dance floor concept in song.
Whether it’s a party tune to get the toes tapping, or a more personal offering about romance, regret or even death, the floor has proved itself a worthy lyrical device. So next time you’re stuck for inspiration, it’s comforting to know that some of the best and most popular musical ideas have come from the most basic and humble of human needs.
- License: Creative Commons image source
This guest post was contributed by COBA Europe; One of the UK’s leading suppliers of Anti-Fatigue Matting, Entrance Matting and Rubber Flooring.