Just after the turn of the century, Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo marked the history of music. While digging into a crate, they unearthed a 1979 record by then little-known funk musician Edwin Birdsong. Inspired, they took a bouncing keyboard sample from his track ‘Cola Bottle Baby’ and built a song around it. To finish, the duo added crisp, vocoder-filtered vocals that repeated and fragmented a few lines over and over: “Work harder, do it better / Do it faster, make us stronger.”
21 years after Daft Punk released this immortal track, a new generation of listeners halfway around the world were enjoying it. During Sydney’s qualifying for Red Bull Dance Your Style 2022, his instantly recognizable riff rang out over the speakers. Immediately, the entrant on stage had to move to the beat of the music, doing freestyle dance moves in front of a crowd.
Red Bull Dance Your Style is a competition to find the best freestyle dancers in the world, including here in Australia. It’s a question of improvisation: no one knows until the moment a piece starts playing what it’s going to dance to. The thrill and excitement of competition comes from its spontaneity. Each dancer must follow their instincts and rhythm to scorch the floor in a way that suits them. It’s challenging, but designed to elevate true dance talent.
“Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” was just one of the classic hits that Red Bull Dance Your Style asked dancers to respond to. Other times it was Grandmaster Flash’s ‘The Message’ on the speakers, Busta Rhymes’ 90s hit ‘Touch It’ or CHIC’s ‘Le Freak’ – the track that made Nile Rodgers a star a few decades before he broke out on rhythm guitar to work with Daft Punk on Random Access Memories. Depending on your age, these tracks are either a trip down memory lane or vital musical education.
This year’s Red Bull Dance Your Style qualifiers also played 2000s favorites like “Move Your Feet”, a hit wonder that blew up the charts in 2002, bringing Danish duo Junior Senior a short burst of fame from the overnight before they more or less collapse. in darkness. Timbaland popped up with “The Way I Are,” and another low-profile French duo, Justice, made their mark with “DANCE.” , will.i.am, John Legend, Kanye West in 2008 (and featuring bars from Ye himself in the sunglasses era). Most of the musical selections are songs that you will know immediately. Others are undeniable bangers that you may have forgotten about but want to revisit.
For music curators Red Bull Dance Your Style, the competition isn’t just a chance to showcase great dancers and entertain a crowd – it’s also a way to bring the most iconic hits to life. music history. Because if the event is above all dance, there is no movement without music.
The best improv dancer is someone who connects to the music and is able to express it very freely
“There’s a difference when you look at a dancer and you’re like, ‘Oh, he’s thinking about the beats, he’s thinking about what move to launch next’, as opposed to someone who’s just in the moment and just , ‘Oh, they just kind of hit the beat really well,’ and you know it wasn’t premeditated or anything, it just came from that feeling.
But having killer tracks is essential for a good dance. A propelling bass line or rhythmic drumming gives the dancer something to tap into. It’s all the better if the track is a hit they already know, love and feel in their bones – something like Prince’s ‘When Doves Cry’, Kendrick Lamar’s ‘King Kunta’ or ‘She Wants To Move” by NERD, a relic of a time before Pharrell was a solo artist.
Of course, there are also plenty of contemporary hits in the mix. At this year’s state qualifier, Beyonce’s instant classic “Break My Soul” along with recent cuts from local heroes like OneFour, Tasman Keith, Genesis Owusu and Gold Fang all graced the speakers. (And if you’re in the crowd and don’t know all the songs, there can’t be a better introduction to the best hip-hop and electronic music songs.)
We don’t yet know which songs will be on the speakers at the Red Bull Dance Your Style National Final at Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal on Saturday 10 September – but we can bet they’ll be some icy classics. . Prepare your Shazam.