First Hit #1: August 5, 1989
Batdance has to be one of the weirdest songs to reach the top of the charts, but it’s not especially surprising. Batman was a motion picture event, Prince was still one of the nation’s biggest pop stars, so it stands to reason a song from the Batman soundtrack was going to hit the top position. The fact that it happened to be a weird, mechanical, synth-driven song which was mostly based around the film’s vocal samples was surprising, but Batman fever was everywhere, so whatever single was released was going to be big. It’s still odd to hear what amounts to a Batman-based collage on the radio, since it doesn’t quite mesh with, well, anything. And maybe that’s why Batman is such a specifically 1989 moment that it isn’t really played much anymore. It makes a certain kind of weird sense on a soundtrack album, since it is tied so directly to the film it’s promoting. It works as a filler track. It even is kind of on trend, as sampling is beginning to make the leap to mainstream audiences. But as a single? It’s one of those things that only worked at that specific time and place.