With the opening of BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE today (3.25.16), I am reminded of “Batdance,” Prince’s No. 1 hit from the first BATMAN film, directed by Tim Burton and starring Jack Nicholson as The Joker and Michael Keaton as the Caped Crusader.
“Batdance” was Prince’s fourth of 5 No. 1 songs (so far), and it has the weird distinction of being his most-forgotten No. 1 hit, but not by me. In the Summer of 1989, though, much like the film BATMAN, “Batdance” was hot.
With BATMAN being released by Warner Bros. Pictures, an accompanying soundtrack would be released on Warner Bros. Records, and Warner Bros. music powerhouse Prince had already done 2 soundtracks in the 80s, led by 1984’s monster PURPLE RAIN soundtrack. So, it was a natural decision to have Prince do the BATMAN soundtrack. And it paid off. The soundtrack was No. 1 for 6 consecutive weeks in the Summer of 1989, selling over 2 million copies in the U.S. alone and 11 million copies worldwide.
It took just 8 weeks for the “Batdance” single to reach No. 1 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, spending a week on top in early August 1989, and a total of 18 weeks on the chart. Despite being on the chart for a relatively short time for a No. 1 hit, “Batdance” managed to go platinum in America.
“Batdance” was a huge global hit as well, reaching No. 1 in Canada, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, plus Top 10 rankings in the U.K., Australia, Germany, Holland, Ireland and Sweden.
Both “Batdance” and parent soundtrack album BATMAN were nominated for Grammy Awards, and “Batdance” was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award for Best Video from a Film.
While many folks may have forgotten about this No. 1 gem by Prince, I think musically it’s an amazing performance. Not only did he play all of the instruments on the song, the guitar solo on the album version is one of the best I’ve ever heard.
Prince is very protective of his videos on the Interweb, so I don’t know how long the attached video link will last, but it’s worth watching the brilliant (then-just-31 year-old) Prince Rogers Nelson at work, a music superhero in support of my favorite comic book superhero…