My Favorite Music Videos, Part Sixteen: Genesis’ ‘I Can’t Dance’

Today’s Favorite Video offering is Genesis’ 1991 song “I Can’t Dance.”

The original band known as Genesis was started in 1967–Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks are the only founding members remaining, Phil Collins having joined in 1970. In the early years “their concerts became theatrical experiences with innovative stage design, pyrotechnics, extravagant costumes and on-stage stories,” according to Wikipedia. Peter Gabriel was the lead singer, with Anthony Phillips and Chris Stewart rounding out the band.

By 1979 Genesis had been reduced to Rutherford, Banks and Collins. Gradually the band moved from the progressive rock sound and performances for which they were previously well known to the more mainstream pop sound that made them a success in the 1980s.

In 1986 Genesis released the album “invisible Touch.” By now the band’s videos had become an amusing assortment of parodies, self-deprecating humor and political satire. This last genre was evident in the video for the album’s “Land of Confusion” track, which featured puppets made popular by the 80s British TV show Spitting Image. The story goes that Collins had seen a caricatured image of himself on the show, and was so amused that he asked the show’s creators to make similar puppets of the entire band. The video also features political leaders and well-known singers, musicians and personalities, all of whom appear in a feverish Ronald Reagan-styled puppet’s nightmare.

Here is that video:

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However, in my opinion the band’s music videos peaked with “I Can’t Dance,” from the 1991 album We Can’t Dance. I believe this by far is the most humorous of all of them. Collins’ self-deprecating performance as the hapless loser who thinks he’s cool, along with the band’s “synchronized walk” schtick and Collins’ Michael Jackson parody at the clip’s end, is fun from start to finish.

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From the Wikipedia entry for “I Can’t Dance”:

The humorous music video (directed by Jim Yukich) illustrates the artifice and false glamour of television advertisementsPhil Collins comments that the video was designed to poke fun of the models in jeans commercials, and each verse refers to things that models in these commercials do. The ending is a parody to the “Black or White” music video, depicting Collins parodying the “Panther ending” in which Michael Jackson dances erratically. Banks and Rutherford eventually arrive to escort Collins off the set, at which point he goes limp and they have to drag him away.

The song created the “I Can’t Dance dance” (a series of stiff, stylized motions). Collins explained in an interview that when he was at stage school, that he would see kids that would always use the same hand and the same foot when they were tap dancing, meaning they could not coordinate. He then copied their movements and the “dance” was born.

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