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Shoulda been huge: ‘Heartbreak (Make Me a Dancer)’

By Nick Levine


Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s latest album, Wanderlust, is a lovely collection of Russian-tinged folk-pop songs, but for me, and I suspect many of you, Bexo is at her best when she’s belting out a banger.

In 2009, she teamed up with Brighton-based dance duo the Freemasons for a banger of massive proportions: Heartbreak (Make Me a Dancer). Everything about this title points to pop genius – it combines dancing, sadness, brackets and an imperative only an idiot would try to defy – and the song itself makes good on that promise.

After the track begins with a loping, almost melancholy guitar line, Sophie reels us in straight away. “I’ve tried to hold myself together, tried to forget you’ve gone away,” she sings, her classy voice laced with gin and regret. “The tears I’ve cried, they won’t subside, unless the music starts to play.”

Subside? Who else would use that word in a pop song?

Then comes the engulfing urgency of the chorus, on which Bexo is at first pleading (“DJ give me the answer, answer”), then a bit giddy (“Keep my heart beating faster, faster”) but ultimately resilient: “I could do it alone, do it alone.” If this chorus doesn’t make you want to get your back up off the wall and dance defiantly, you’ve clearly never dated a dickhead, but the track’s pinnacle is definitely its middle 8: a thrilling collision of quickening beats and staccato strings that leads to the ecstatic release of the final chorus. The single edit of Heartbreak (Make Me A Dancer) feels epic but is in fact a pretty standard length for a pop tune – a testament to the Freemasons’ production, which is as tight as Joan Rivers’ face.

Heartbreak (Make Me a Dancer) wasn’t a total disaster on the charts – it peaked at number 13, and bopped around the Top 40 for a very respectable eight weeks – but it deserved to do better, and probably would have done so if it hadn’t been given the cold shoulder by Radio 1. Maybe nobody there had ever dated a dickhead?

No biggie, though. Hearbreak (Make Me a Dancer) lives on in gay bars and on our pre-drinks Spotify playlists. If the music’s pumping, it will give you new life, someone very clever once said. Heartbreak (Make Me a Dancer) proves this is true even when you’ve caught the love of your life with doing something filthy with your best friend.

More Shoulda Been Huge:
> Shoulda been huge: Kesha’s flop second album ‘Warrior’
> Shoulda been huge: Spice Girls’ third album ‘Forever’
> Shoulda been huge: Madonna’s ‘Girl Gone Wild’