You Can Dance

This article is about the album by Madonna. For the television franchise, see So You Think You Can Dance. For the video game, see ABBA: You Can Dance.
You Can Dance
Madonna with short, blond hair, wearing a black dress, with her hands folded against her breasts and standing in front of a red background. She has a Spanish hat attached to her neck.
Remix album by Madonna
Released November 17, 1987
Recorded 1982–87
Genre Dance
Length 68:38
Madonna chronology
Who's That Girl
You Can Dance
Like a Prayer
Singles from You Can Dance
  1. "Spotlight"
    Released: April 25, 1988

You Can Dance is the first remix album by American singer-songwriter Madonna. It was released on November 17, 1987, by Sire Records. The album contains remixes of tracks from her first three studio albums—Madonna (1983), Like a Virgin (1984) and True Blue (1986)— and a new track, "Spotlight". In the 1980s, remixing was still a new concept and technology, by which a particular vocal phrase could be endlessly copied, repeated, chopped up, transposed up and down in pitch and give them more echo, reverberation, treble or bass. Madonna became interested in the concept, noting that she hated when others remixed her songs and wanted to do it by herself.

Madonna turned to her old friend and producer John "Jellybean" Benitez to help her remix the songs, and also enlisted the help of Patrick Leonard, the producer of True Blue. The mixes on You Can Dance exhibited a number of typical mixing techniques. Instrumental passages were lengthened to increase the time for dancing, which undermined the tighter structure of the original pop song. Vocal phrases were repeated and subjected to multiple echoes, panned across the stereophonic sound outlets. At certain points, almost no music is heard except the drums and at other times, the drums are removed with only the hi-hat left to keep time. The album cover denoted Madonna's continuous fascination with Hispanic culture.

After its release, You Can Dance received generally positive reviews from critics, some of whom noted how the already known songs appeared to them in a complete new structure, calling it an essential album to be played at parties. You Can Dance was a commercial success, earning a platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipment of a million copies, and reaching the top twenty of the Billboard 200. It reached the top ten of the album charts of France, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom, and went on to sell five million copies worldwide, making it the second best-selling remix album of all time, behind only Blood on the Dance Floor from Michael Jackson. "Spotlight" was the only single released from the album in Japan, but charted on the airplay charts of Billboard due to radio play.


In November 1987, Warner Bros. Records commissioned the release of You Can Dance—Madonna's first retrospective—which was aimed at the dance segment of her audience.[1] It was an album containing seven of Madonna's songs in remixed format, which was still a revolutionary concept in the 1980s.[1] By the mid-eighties, post-disco dance music was extremely popular and the concept of remix was widely regarded as a new direction of music. Several artists were remixing their tracks and compiling them to create new albums.[1] Mixing was an interpretative process, where the artist was usually involved, but the development was generally looked after the record producer. The different parts of a song, including the lead vocals, background vocals, guitars, bass, synths, drum machine—all went through the process of mixing to sound considerably different from their original counterpart. Mixing determined how loud these instruments were going to sound in relation to each other and what particular sound effects should be added to each instrument.[2] Improvements in studio technologies meant the possibility of shaping the sound of a song in any way, after it has been recorded. The arrangements were itself created at the mixing stage, rather than being created previously. A particular vocal phrase could be endlessly copied, repeated, chopped up, transposed up and down in pitch and give them more echo, reverberation, treble or bass.[2]

It was this concept which intrigued Madonna, while she was developing her third studio album True Blue (1986). She said, "I hate it when people do master mixes of my records. I don't want to hear my songs changed like that. I don't know that I like it, people screwing with my records. The jury is out on it for me. But the fans like it, and really, this one was for the fans, for the kids in the clubs who wanted to hear these songs in a fresh new way."[2] She went to Warner with the idea of releasing her songs by remixing them in a complete dance tune.[1] From Warner's point of view, the rise of remix was a commercial boon, because it meant making more money out of the same piece of music.[3] Instead of paying Madonna to go to studio and record different tracks, they found that allowing her to record the same tracks in different formats was much less costly.[1] Hence they decided to release the album, but gave full freedom to Madonna to choose the producers with whom she wanted to develop the remixes.[4]


"Remixing is a form of secondary creativity. Dance music elevates the DJ and the mixer to being almost on a level with the musician. In my opinion this is false. Manipulation of pre-recorded sound sources may be creative in a secondary sense, and may be valid in its own field, but it is pseudo musicianship. That's why we tried to have a fresh approach to the songs for You Can Dance, as if we were developing and composing them for the first time.

Patrick Leonard talking about working on the album.[4]

Madonna turned to her old friend and producer John "Jellybean" Benitez to help her remixing the songs, and also enlisted the help of Patrick Leonard, the producer of True Blue. Together they chose six of Madonna's old songs and decided to give it a remixed form. The songs chosen were "Holiday", "Everybody" and "Physical Attraction" from Madonna (1983), "Into the Groove" and "Over and Over" from Like a Virgin (1984), and lastly, "Where's the Party" from True Blue.[4] Along with the pre-released tracks, a never-before released song called "Spotlight" was included as a bonus. Madonna said that she was inspired by the song "Everybody Is a Star" (1970), by American rock band Sly and the Family Stone.[5] Written by Madonna, Stephen Bray and Curtis Hudson, "Spotlight" was originally recorded during the True Blue recording sessions. It was omitted from the album because Madonna felt that it was similar in composition and structure to "Holiday".[1]

After the remixing of the songs started, Benitez noted, "We decided on basic questions like 'How loud should the drums be? How much should the vocals stand out?' These are creative decisions which will change the finished piece of music." Shep Pettibone, one of the producers of the album commented that "normally, without some music to work on, the remixer has nothing. But we already had Madonna's catalogue of danceable songs which was enough material for lifetime."[6] The mixes on You Can Dance exhibited a number of typical mixing techniques. Instrumental passages were lengthened to increase the time for dancing, which undermined the tighter structure of the original pop song.[3] Vocal phrases were repeated and subjected to multiple echoes, panned across the stereophonic sound outlets. At certain points, almost no music is heard except the drums and at others, the drums are removed with only the hi-hat left to keep time.[3]

The album cover denoted Madonna's continued fascination with Spanish culture and fashion.[7] She wore a female toreador outfit with a lacy bustier, embroidered bolero jacket and a cummerbund with a flouncy bustle.[7] Jeri Heiden, who had worked on the cover art for True Blue, was given the task of editing the photos and making them compatible for appearance in an album cover.[8] Shot by Herb Ritts, the cover showed Madonna again as a platinum blond. Heiden explained in an interview with Aperture magazine in October 2006 that the cover was not meant to be a tie-in with the True Blue cover. "It was just Madonna's look at the time – Platinum Blond. And of course the handwriting reappears on that album."[8] The album sleeve included a free poster and the gold wrap-around liner notes contained approximate running time to indicate the difference between the length of the remix and the original track. Brian Chin, a Rolling Stone journalist, wrote the liner notes for the album, explaining the process of remix and why the seven songs were chosen for the track list.[9]


A 20 second sample of "Spotlight", featuring the chorus with Madonna singing the line "Spotlight, open up your eyes and see".

Problems playing this file? See media help.

According to Rikky Rooksby, author of The Complete Guide to the Music of Madonna, "Improvements in studio technology meant that possibilities for shaping the sound after it has been recorded are almost limitless."[2] Such possibility were applied in the song composition and the remixes present in You Can Dance. Previously to change the sound of an instrument, or to jump from one sound to another, recordings used to stop playing the instrument and the drums at that point. But for the remixes on You Can Dance, the fade engineering technology was applied to the songs, wherein the fader was simply pulled down, and was pushed up again when the sound of the instruments were made to come up to the surface.[2] The first song on the album is "Spotlight" which begins with the sound of drums, bass synths and handclaps, followed by Madonna uttering the words "Spotlight, shine bright". After the first verse, the sound of keyboard is heard during the chorus.[10] It continues like this through the second verse, which is followed by an interlude featuring vocal echoes, a piano segment and violin phrases. Madonna follows the music played by the piano and utters the words "Pa-da-pa-da-pappa pappa pa pa" in the same melody.[10] The lyrics deal with Madonna making the listener remember that "everybody is a star" and that if one wants to be famous and be under the "spotlight", the person should sing about it and reality may catch up with him or her.[10] According to the sheet music published at, the song is set in the time signature of common time, with a tempo of 100 beats per minute. It is set in the key of F major with Madonna's voice spanning from the notes of C5 to B5. "Spotlight" has a basic sequence of Am–C–Am–C–G–F as its chord progression.[11]

The second track is "Holiday", which Benitez said that he always wanted to remix, commenting "There are new sounds on the 1987 remix [of 'Holiday'], but it had a groove that needed no improvement." The sound of the guitar is brought to the front in the remix, with a piano break and a middle section consisting of drum beats.[10] The mix for "Everybody" starts with four repetitions of the vocal hook and then moves into a rhythm centered arrangement. Like "Holiday", the middle section of "Everybody" features a drum break, with a synth tune backing it up. The word "dance" is echoed and slowed-down continuously through the break, gradually changing into the intermedia verse. At the very end, the drums are pulled out, leaving Madonna repeating the "get up and do your thing" phrase, which hovers over to the intro of the next song "Physical Attraction".[10] It begins with the arrangement of the original song, until the middle eight, where the composition is varied. A disconcerting sound is present at the end of the track, which, after sometime increases in volume until then next track "Over and Over" begins.[10] In the "Into the Groove" remix, overdubs are present with the continuous repetition of the phrase "c'mon". The first verse does not start until about ninety seconds into the remix. After the first "Now I know you're mine" line is sung, there is a percussion break, and repetition of the phrases "step to the beat" and "c'mon". The last verse incorporates echoing on the vocals, causing overlap of the phrases. The remix ends with instrumentation from congas, whistles and timbales, giving it a Mexican ending.[12]

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
Los Angeles Times[14]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[15]
The Village VoiceA–[16]

Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic said that "[You Can Dance] keeps the spotlight on her first record, adding non-LP singles like 'Into the Groove' for good measure, along with a bonus track of 'Where's the Party'. Since it is a dance album, it doesn't matter that 'Holiday' and 'Into the Groove' are here twice, once each in dub versions, because the essential grooves and music are quite different in each incarnation. It is true that some of this now sounds dated—these are quite clearly extended mixes from the mid 80s—but that's part of its charm, and it all holds together quite well. Not essential, but fun."[13] In The Village Voice, Robert Christgau considered that "the effects, repeats, breaks, and segues added by a star crew of remixers [...] amount to new music—this time the songs don't surface, they reach out and grab you". He also argued that You Can Dance reminded the audience that before MTV, they "loved the way she sounded".[16] Author J. Randy Taraborrelli noted that "You Can Dance made one point clear about Madonna. While she was evolving into a serious pop star, musically she still knew how to host the best party." He complimented the remixed versions of "Holiday", "Everybody", "Physical Attraction" and "Into the Groove".[1]

Timothy Green from The Miami Herald said that "[The album has] got a good beat and you can dance to it. Madonna's new album isn't really new, but rather a collection of danceable hits, remixed by club deejays masterful at that peculiar art of taking the artists' work, track by track, and reconstructing it. Most such remixes become 12-inch dance singles, and You Can Dance, is basically a compilation of these. The remixes sound fresh and gives a new outlook on the already famous and popular songs."[17] However, Daniel Brogan from the same newspaper praised the album, saying that "Madonna has brought a new joy to the people buying gifts for Christmas, as You Can Dance is a fun-filled, fast-paced retrospective that will burn the dance floor till New Year."[18] Richard Harrington from The Washington Post called the album "an energetic collection of extended dance remixes, that will surely be the highlight of the party crowds flocking around the town."[19] John Milward from USA Today felt that "although the remixes sound a little exhaustive, its nevertheless party time with Madonna's album."[20] Jan DeKnock from the Chicago Tribune was not impressed with the album, calling it calculative.[21]

Commercial performance

In the United States, the album was released on November 18, 1987, and reached a peak of number 14 on the Billboard 200.[22] The LP cuts debuted at number 41 on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart, and moved up to number 17 the next week.[23] An extended series of remixes called "You Can Dance – LP Cuts" was serviced to the dance radio stations later.[24] The LP cuts ultimately topped the Dance chart, becoming Madonna's seventh number one on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart.[25] The album was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipment of one million copies across United States.[26] In Canada, the album debuted at number 55 on the RPM Albums Chart on December 5, 1987.[27] After five weeks, it reached a peak of number 11 on the chart.[28] It was present for a total of 21 weeks on the chart.[29]

In Australia, You Can Dance debuted at number 15 on the Kent Music Report albums chart, and peaked at number 13.[30] It was certified platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) for shipment of 70,000 copies of the album.[30] You Can Dance reached a peak of number four in New Zealand.[31] In the United Kingdom, You Can Dance was released on November 28, 1987 and entered the UK Albums Chart and peaked at number five.[32] It was Madonna's fifth top-ten album there[33] present for a total of 16 weeks on the chart, and was certified platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for shipment of 300,000 copies of the album.[33][34] The album re-entered the chart at number 69, on March 4, 1995, after being released in mid-price in United Kingdom.[35] Across Europe, the album reached number six on the European Top 100 Albums chart,[23] and the top five in Norway and Spain, while charting within the top twenty of Austria, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland.[31][36] You Can Dance also reached number two in France and topped the charts in Italy.[37][38] Worldwide, it went on to sell five million copies, becoming the second best-selling remix album of all time.[39]


"Spotlight" was released as the only single from the album in Japan on April 25, 1988. Dennis Hunt from Los Angeles Times commented that "Spotlight" was "lost in the dazzling collection of the extended remixes of her best dance tunes."[40] "Spotlight" was not officially released as a single in the United States, therefore it was not eligible at the time to appear on Billboard's Hot 100. Even so, radio stations started to play the song unofficially and it managed to garner enough airplay to appear on the Hot 100 Airplay chart of Billboard in early 1988.[24] It debuted on the Airplay chart at 37 on the issue dated January 16, 1988, and was the highest debut of the week.[41] After three weeks, "Spotlight" reached a peak of 32 on the chart, but fell to 40 the next week, before being sent for recurrent rotation.[24] It also charted on the Hot Crossover Singles chart, reaching a peak of 15 on January 9, 1988.[24] The song was released commercially in Japan on April 25, 1988.[42] "Spotlight" peaked at number 68 on the Oricon weekly singles chart, remaining on the chart for five weeks.[42] It also charted on the Oricon international singles chart, reaching a peak of three on May 19, 1988, staying on the chart for ten weeks.[43]

Track listing

LP edition
No. TitleWriter(s)Producer(s) Length
1. "Spotlight"   6:23
2. "Holiday"  
Benitez 6:32
3. "Everybody"  Madonna
4. "Physical Attraction"  Reggie Lucas
  • Lucas
5. "Over and Over"  
  • Madonna
  • Bray
6. "Into the Groove"  
  • Madonna
  • Bray
7. "Where's the Party"  
  • Madonna
  • Leonard
  • Bray
  • Pettibone[a]


Credits adapted as per the You Can Dance LP liner notes.[9]

Chart positions

Chart Peak
Australian Kent Music Report[30] 13
Austrian Albums Chart[31] 13
Canadian RPM Albums Chart[28] 11
Dutch Albums Chart[44] 6
European Top 100 Albums[23] 6
Finnish Albums Chart[45] 6
French Albums Chart[37] 2
German Albums Chart[36] 13
Italian Albums Chart[38] 1
Japanese Albums Chart[46] 5
New Zealand Albums Chart[31] 4
Norwegian Albums Chart[31] 5
Spanish Albums Chart[47] 16
Swedish Albums Chart[31] 10
Swiss Albums Chart[31] 11
UK Albums Chart[32] 5
US Billboard 200[22] 14
US Hot Dance Music/Club Play[25] 1


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Argentina (CAPIF)[48] Gold 30,000*
Australia (ARIA)[30] Platinum 70,000^
Brazil (ABPD)[49] Gold 100,000*
France (SNEP)[50] Platinum 400,000*
Germany (BVMI)[51] Gold 250,000^
Hong Kong (IFPI Hong Kong)[52] Platinum 20,000*
Netherlands (NVPI)[53] Gold 50,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[54] Platinum 15,000^
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[47] Platinum 100,000^
Sweden (GLF)[55] Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[34] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[26] Platinum 1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Taraborrelli 2002, p. 129
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Rooksby 2004, p. 26
  3. 1 2 3 Rooksby 2004, p. 27
  4. 1 2 3 Morton 2002, p. 37
  5. Rooksby 2004, p. 28
  6. Bego 2000, p. 86
  7. 1 2 Voller 1999, p. 29
  8. 1 2 Lewis, Julia (October 15, 2006). "True Blue's first twenties". Aperture. Aperture Foundation: 71.
  9. 1 2 Chin, Brian (1987). You Can Dance (Liner notes). Madonna. Warner Bros. Records. 9255352-2.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Rooksby 2004, p. 29
  11. "Digital Sheet Music – Madonna – "Spotlight"".
  12. Rooksby 2004, p. 30
  13. 1 2 Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (November 12, 1987). "allmusic ((( You Can Dance > Overview )))". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved March 6, 2010.
  14. Hunt, Dennis (November 29, 1987). "Madonna's Mixology". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 24, 2015.
  15. DeCurtis, Anthony; Henke, James; George-Warren, Holly, eds. (1992). "Madonna". The Rolling Stone Album Guide (3rd ed.). Random House. p. 442. ISBN 0679737294.
  16. 1 2 Christgau, Robert (December 29, 1987). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved September 24, 2015.
  17. Green, Timothy (March 4, 1988). "Madonna's New LP Is Mostly Old Madonna". The Miami Herald. Retrieved September 16, 2010.
  18. Brogan, Daniel (November 27, 1987). "Big Names Make 'Very Special Christmas' Memorable". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 16, 2010.
  19. Harrington, Richard (November 25, 1987). "Prince's `Sign' Language". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 16, 2010.
  20. Milward, John (December 3, 1987). "Popular Releases in the Fourth Quarter". USA Today. Retrieved September 16, 2010.
  21. DeKnock, Jan (November 20, 1987). "Another Shondells Remake Takes Over As The No. 1 Single". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 16, 2010.
  22. 1 2 Caulfield, Keith (August 16, 2005). "Ask Billboard: Virginity or Prayers?". Billboard. Retrieved September 16, 2010.
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  24. 1 2 3 4 Feldman 2000, p. 211
  25. 1 2 Trust, Gary (August 15, 2009). "'Celebration': Madonna's 40 Most Impressive Instants". Billboard. Retrieved September 16, 2010.
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  29. "Top Albums/CDs – Volume 48, No. 3, May 07 1988". RPM. RPM Library Archives. May 7, 1988. Retrieved September 17, 2010.
  30. 1 2 3 4 Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (doc). Australian Chart Book, St Ives, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6
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  33. 1 2 "OCC Artist: Madonna Album Chart history". Official Charts Company. Retrieved September 17, 2010.
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  35. "Album Chart For Week Ending 1995/03/04". Official Charts Company. March 4, 1995. Retrieved September 17, 2010.
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  39. " – You Can Dance". Icon: Official Madonna website, Retrieved September 17, 2010.
  40. Hunt, Dennis (November 29, 1987). "Great Balls of Fire – Good Vibrations – Maybe Baby Running on Empty Madonna's Mixology". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 20, 2010.
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  42. 1 2 スポットライト (in Japanese). Oricon. April 25, 1988. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
  43. Schilling 1997, p. 149
  44. "Decenniumlijst Jaren '80 (1–1000)" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. November 28, 1987. Retrieved July 10, 2010.
  45. Pennanen, Timo (2006). Sisältää hitin. Keuruu: Otava. p. 201. ISBN 951-1-21053-X.
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  47. 1 2 Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  48. "Argentinian album certifications – Madonna – You Can Dance". Argentine Chamber of Phonograms and Videograms Producers. Retrieved January 9, 2015.
  49. "Brazilian album certifications – Madonna – You Can Dance" (in Portuguese). Associação Brasileira dos Produtores de Discos. Retrieved January 9, 2015.
  50. "French album certifications – Madonna – You Can Dance" (in French). InfoDisc. Retrieved January 9, 2015. Select MADONNA and click OK
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  52. "IFPIHK Gold Disc Award − 1988". IFPI Hong Kong. Retrieved January 9, 2015.
  53. "Dutch album certifications – Madonna – You Can Dance" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. Retrieved January 9, 2015.
  54. Scapolo, Dean (2007). The Complete New Zealand Music Charts 1966–2006 (Illustrated ed.). Maurienne House. ISBN 978-1-877443-00-8.
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External links

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