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Prince - Batdance (1989)

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  • 80's Score80's Score80's Score 80's score: 2.63
  • Find this song on: Music Stack

“Batdance” is a song by American musician Prince, from the 1989 Batman soundtrack. Helped by the film’s ...

“Batdance” is a song by American musician Prince, from the 1989 Batman soundtrack. Helped by the film’s popularity, the song reached number one in the US, becoming Prince’s fourth American number-one single and his first number-one hit since Kiss.

“Batdance” was a last-minute replacement for a brooding track titled “Dance with the Devil”, which Prince felt was too dark. Incidentally, although “Dance with the Devil” remains unreleased, some of the lyrics appear in the album’s liner notes.

“Batdance” is almost two songs in one—a chaotic, mechanical dance beat that changes gears into a slinky, funky groove before changing back for the song’s conclusion (except on the single version in which it eliminates the guitar solo before the middle section, then goes straight to the mechanical Joker laughter from the end of the movie and an earlier movie soundbyte of Michael Keaton saying “Stop”). The track is an amalgam of many musical ideas of Prince’s at the time. Elements from at least seven songs (some unreleased) were incorporated into “Batdance”: “200 Balloons”, “We Got the Power”, “House in Order”, “Rave Unto the Joy Fantastic” (later released on the album Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic), “The Future”, and “Electric Chair”. Some of these were mere snippets, and other segments showed up only in remixes of the track. The song was also loaded with dialog samples from the film.

The song’s music video, directed by Albert Magnoli and choreographed by Barry Lather, featured dancers costumed as multiple Batmen, Jokers and Vicki Vales. Prince appears as a costumed character in face paint known as “Gemini”, with one side of his face representing the Joker (evil) and the other, Batman (good). The Batman and Jokers alternate dance sections, while Prince (as both himself and Gemini) sings. The video ends with Gemini hitting a detonator, exploding an electric chair (referenced in the song), and Prince (actually Michael Keaton’s voice) saying “Stop” as the video abruptly ends. The video also features one Vicki Vale wearing a black dress with the words “All this and brains too”, a reference to The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, in which a female news presenter wears a top with the same slogan.

Gemini is Prince’s astrological sign, and is a reference to the duality in his music. “Gemini” would also make an appearance in the “Partyman” video, but this time the costume would be all-Joker. The video earned Prince a 1990 Soul Train Music Award nomination for Best R&B/Soul Music Video, and nomination for Best Video From a Film from the MTV Video Music Awards of the same year.

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