"I Can't Dance" is the fourth track from the Genesis album We Can't Dance and was the second single from the album ("No Son of Mine" being the first). The song peaked at number seven on both the US Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Singles Chart[2] and received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals in 1993.


 [hide*1 Background


During one recording session, Mike Rutherford first created the main riff of the song he called "Heavy A Flat", to which Phil Collins suddenly improvised "I Can't Dance!". The riff was actually inspired by a Levi Strauss & Co. TV commercial using The Clash song "Should I Stay Or Should I Go". Originally the band did not think of it as anything more than a joke, because the song was too simple, too bluesy and completely unlike Genesis' style. Tony Banks said in an interview "It was one of those bits you thought was going to go nowhere. It sounded fun, but wasn't really special".

It was not until Banks added the keyboard sound effects that the song took on a whole different feeling—with a slight edge of humour in it—which made the band decide to record it.

Banks also said in an interview that it showed a kind of direction Genesis could have gone in. Opposite to what Genesis has done as general practice, which is taking an idea and turning it into a long or complex composition, it was just taking an idea, and leaving it alone.[3]

Music video[edit]Edit

The humorous music video (directed by Jim Yukich) illustrates the artifice and false glamour of television advertisements. Phil Collins comments that the video was designed to poke fun of the models injeans 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.

"Weird Al" Yankovic also created a parody of the "I Can't Dance" video in which he appears alongside the band. Mismatched lighting suggests his shots were separate from the others.

The song created the "I Can't Dance dance" (a series of stiff, stylised 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 co-ordinate. He then copied their movements and the "dance" was born.


Single releases contained an extended remix entitled the "Sex Mix". This was later released on the Genesis Archive 2: 1976-1992 box set retitled as the "12" Mix". The remixers were brothers Howard Gray and Trevor Gray of Apollo 440.

The B-side, "On the Shoreline", was also included on Genesis Archive 2: 1976–1992. The song features a sample of guitarist Mike Rutherford's guitar playing that was captured by keyboard player Tony Banks during a jam session. The peculiar sound (Called "elephantus" by the band) was also used in the song "No Son of Mine" (another song from We Can't Dance). It's also notable that a section of the song has the same chords as "Living Forever", another song from We Can't Dance, so it may have been developed from "On the Shoreline".

The "Jesus He Knows Me" cd single also included a version titled "I Can't Dance (the other mix)" with a running length of 5:59.

Live performances[edit]Edit

"I Can't Dance" was played live during The Way We Walk,[4] Calling All Stations[5] (with Ray Wilson on vocals), and Turn It On Again[6] tours. On the band's Turn It On Again Tour, it was included as an encore. During live performances, the song was transposed to a lower key to accommodate Collins' deepening voice.

A live version appears on their albums The Way We Walk, Volume One: The Shorts, and Live Over Europe 2007, as well as on their DVDs The Way We Walk - Live in Concert and When in Rome 2007.

Rutherford and Daryl Stuermer accompanied Collins doing the walk across the stage.

Ray Wilson continued to cover the song on his solo live album after his departure from Genesis. His version is a bluesier rendition, closer to the original.

Track listings[edit]Edit

CD maxi – Europe
  1. "I Can't Dance" – 4:02
  2. "On the Shoreline" – 4:47
  3. "In Too Deep" (live) – 5:28
  4. "That's All" (live) – 4:54
CD maxi – U.S.
  1. "I Can't Dance" (LP version) – 4:00
  2. "On the Shoreline" – 4:45
  3. "In Too Deep" (live) – 5:28
  4. "That's All" (live) – 4:54
  5. "I Can't Dance" (sex mix) – 6:59
7" single
  1. "I Can't Dance" – 4:01
  2. "On the Shoreline" – 4:46
12" maxi
  1. "I Can't Dance" – 4:02
  2. "On the Shoreline" – 4:47
  3. "I Can't Dance" (sex mix) – 6:59


Peak positions[edit]Edit

Chart (1992) Peak


Australian ARIA Singles Chart[7] 7
Austrian Singles Chart[7] 2
Dutch Top 40[8] 1
French SNEP Singles Chart[7] 9
German Singles Chart[9] 4
Irish Singles Chart[10] 7
New Zealand RIANZ Singles Chart[7] 10
Swedish Singles Chart[7] 13
Swiss Singles Chart[7] 8
UK Singles Chart[11] 7
US Billboard Hot 100[12] 7
US Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks[12] 26
US Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks[12] 2

End of year charts[edit]Edit

End of year chart (1992) Position
Austrian Singles Chart[13] 14
Dutch Top 40[14] 16
Swiss Singles Chart[15] 32
US Billboard Hot 100[16] 55


Country Certification Date Sales certified
Austria[17] Gold 31 January 1992 15,000

Chart successions[edit]Edit

Preceded by

"Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" by Elton John and George Michael

Dutch Top 40 number-one single

7 March 1992 – 14 March 1992 (2 weeks)

Succeeded by

"Twilight Zone" by 2 Unlimited

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