April 2013 saw the release of my new singing call “The Way” based on a 1998 hit by the band “Fastball”. It’s a song that been calling me to make for a while but kind of pushed it on the back burner. The problem is the song is not from the 80’s nor is it brand new. To me the 90's, especially the late 90's, is a “black hole” in music as for as square dancing goes.
The truth is the demographics are not in favor for a 1998 song, even one that was number one for seven weeks, to be recognizable with our current dancer population. Most people relate best to the music they grew up with, the music of your teens to early adulthood. In my case that was music of the late 70’s to mid 80’s I would expect this would also go for most people in that are, like me, in their late 40’s. Songs from the 90s would be hitting people in their late 20’s to mid 30’s which regrettably is most likely the worst demographic for a square dancer. At the same time newer music is heard not just on the radio but in movies, TV shows (American Idol, AGT, The Voice) and even commercials so people out of that younger demographic are hearing it too.
So yes, it was a bit of a “leap of faith” to come out with a singing call based on a 1998 hit, but my argument is this; if it is good music there is no reason why it should not be made. I look at other singing calls that are “big” hits and I put them to this test: Does the dancer know the original song it came from? The answer for most is a simple no.
Not many people can tell you that the original “Rocking in Rosalee's Boat” was recorded by Nick Nixon 1976 and made it no higher than 28 on the Billboard charts or that “Summer Sounds” is a 1965 song by Robert Goulet that never got higher than number 58 but both are now widely considered square dance classics. I am not saying the “The Way” is going to become a classic (I can hope though) but what I am saying is people respond to good square dance music no matter how popular (or not) the song was originally.
When I debut “The Way” at a recent workshop I got a genuine positive response, people liked it and I saw some people even singing along by the third figure. The reason Is simple, people like good music with a catchy tune and to my surprise a couple of people even knew the original song.
UPDATE: It's 4 years after I wrote this post and has sold better than I thought it would especially in Europe so here is to more 90's music.