Walk the Moon - "Shut Up and Dance"

Walk the Moon Shut Up and Dance
Walk the Moon - "Shut Up and Dance". Courtesy RCA

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Written by Ben Berger, Ryan McMahon, Eli Maiman, Kevin Ray, Nicholas Petricca, and Sean Waugaman

Produced by Tim Pagnotta

Released September 2014 by RCA

Pros

  • Irresistible melody and power pop guitar

  • Intelligent lyrics of seduction on the dance floor

  • Air of engaging fun

Cons

  • No significant negatives here

Review

Cincinnati band Walk the Moon rolled into the top 20 of the alternative radio chart with two songs from their self-titled album released in 2012.

However, mainstream pop success eluded them. For their current album Talking Is Hard the group turned to producer Tim Pagnotta, best known for his work with Neon Trees. The sound got tightened, brightened and now "Shut Up and Dance" has turned into a major mainstream pop breakthrough for the band and for good reason. The song is a tightly constructed classic power pop song that you will still sing along with 20 years from now.

The ringing guitar that kicks off "Shut Up and Dance" could have been copped from U2, but it is not long before lead vocalist Nicholas Petricca kicks in with a melodious intro. A hand clapping beat helps the song keep building and in less than a minute "Shut Up and Dance" breaks into a chorus that will make pop fans smile. The overall sound reaches back to the 80s power pop of bands like The Romantics or Tommy Tutone. Like many great power pop songs, "Shut Up and Dance" gives us a pleasing instrumental break before roaring back into a new verse.

The melody line is irresistible here with plenty of opportunities to sing along. It's a perfect sound for upcoming summer party playlists.

For those who wish to dig a little deeper into the words, the song is a smart tale of seduction on the dance floor. The male protagonist is helpless in the face of a "discotheque Juliet teenage dream" who commands him to "shut up and dance with me!" Ultimately all seems well because, "This woman is my destiny." The song unfolds with an energetic, romantic heart.

"Shut Up and Dance" was first released back in September of 2014. It was followed in late November by the album Talking Is Hard. While it took it some time to reach mainstream pop radio, "Shut Up and Dance" has topped the alternative radio chart while reaching the top 5 at rock radio as well. It did not get to the top of those charts quickly either. "Shut Up and Dance" first topped the alternative songs chart at the end of February this year. This is familiar territory for producer Tim Pagnotta. All of his hits working with Neon Trees such as "Animal" and "Everybody Talks" have been slow climbers on the charts.

Guitar pop is currently fairly rare on the mainstream pop singles chart. However, last year the band 5 Seconds of Summer introduced a new pre-teen generation to the fun of guitar-based pop-rock songs. They even released a cover of The Romantics classic "What I Like About You." Time is going to tell whether Walk the Moon's "Shut Up and Dance" is the isolated power pop hit, or it as at the beginning of a wave moving on to the mainstream pop charts. For now, simply enjoy, dance and sing along. Pick out your favorite face from the crowd and command them to "shut up and dance with me!"

Legacy

"Shut Up and Dance" became one of the biggest hit singles of 2015. It peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 while soaring to #1 across multiple radio genres including rock, adult contemporary, alternative, and adult pop. It even broke into the top 30 on the dance chart. 

Walk the Moon performed "Shut Up and Dance" on multiple TV shows including The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Good Morning America, and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. The band were also invited to perform the song at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards, the 43rd American Music Awards, and the 2016 NBA All-Star Game. At the American Music Awards, Walk the Moon earned nominations for New Artist of the Year, Favorite Pop/Rock Band, Duo, or Group, and Favorite Alternative Rock Artist.

In interviews, Walk the Moon lead vocalist Nicholas Petricca credited the Cars' "Just What I Needed," Pat Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot," and Rick Springfield's "Jessie's Girl" as primary influences in writing "Shut Up and Dance."

"Shut Up and Dance" helped the album Talking Is Hard peak at #14 on the album chart and earn a gold certification for sales. The follow up single "Different Colors" climbed to #7 on the alternative radio chart, but it failed to cross over to pop charts in a significant fashion.