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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Which Lionel Richie Song Was Replaced?

My previous article titled The Song "The Time of My Life" by Franke Previte, Part 2, included the following passages:
When I [Franke Previte] met Patrick [Swayze] at the Oscars [in 1988], he told me:

"You have no idea what this song ["The Time of My Life"] did for this movie. We filmed the movie out of sequence so the last scene was the first one filmed. We listened to 149 songs and hated them. We rehearsed every day to a Lionel Richie track. Good song but it wasn’t our song. We all felt the ending wasn’t happening and the movie was going to bomb."

"Then your cassette with you and Rachele Cappelli singing 'Time of My Life' came in. We filmed to that, and at the end of the day we all looked at each other and said "Wow, what just happened? This ending is awesome! Let’s go make this movie!"

It changed everything for them for the better. The camaraderie that wasn’t there was now there.
This song had to fit some specific criteria for the movie: it had to start slow, finish fast, and have a mambo beat. ... The scene was seven minutes long. They needed the song to be just as long. So we started the track with the chorus up front in half time to create a slow mood before the downbeat of the verse.
I searched the Internet to identify the Lionel Richie song but did not succeed. Therefore I will have to identify the song by reasoning.


Which Lionel Richie song satisfies the following requirements?
* Became available in 1986, when Dirty Dancing was filmed?

* Starts slow and finishes fast?

* Has a mambo beat?

* Is at least seven-minutes long?

Lionel Richie's discography include the following series of albums:
* Can't Slow Down, released in October 1983

* Dancing on the Ceiling, released in July 1986

* Louder Than Words, released in April 1996
Richie did not release any albums in the intervals -- during the years 1984-1985 or 1987-1995.

Richie's discography includes also the following singles in 1986:
** Dancing on the Ceiling, released in July 1986

** Love Will Conquer All, released in July 1986

** Ballerina Girl, released in December 1986

The Dancing on the Ceiling album, released in July 1986, comprises the following songs:
1. "Dancing on the Ceiling" -- 4:30 minutes

2. "Se La" -- 5:22 minutes

3. "Ballerina Girl" -- 3:38 minutes

4. "Don't Stop" -- 7:43 minutes

5. "Deep River Woman" -- 4:35 minutes

6. "Love Will Conquer All"  -- 5:40 minutes

7. "Tonight Will Be Alright" -- 5:06 minutes

8. "Say You, Say Me" -- 4:00 minutes

9. "Night Train (Smooth Alligator)" -- 4:59 minutes
The only song longer than seven minutes is "Don't Stop", but it is not a mambo that starts slow and finishes fast.

Of course, any of the album's songs could have been lengthened for the movie.


Two of the three singles released in 1986 are NOT mambos that start slow and finish fast. If you want to verify, watch the YouTube videos of  Ballerina Girl and Love Will Conquer All.


Although "Dancing on the Ceiling" lasts only 4:30 minutes on the 1986 album, it has been released in an "extended" version that lasts 7:10 minutes.

I don't know enough about dance music to say whether it is a mambo, but I would not say that it starts slow and finishes fast.


I speculate as follows.

The producers originally intended to use the song "Dancing on the Ceiling", and the movie's final scene was rehearsed with that song. The rehearsals demonstrated that the song did not fit the scene well. The dance had been choreographed much earlier and lasted seven minutes. The song could not be adjusted to accompany the dance.

An additional problem that arose was that the producers had not budgeted to buy the rights for the song "Love Is Strange".  My previous article Eleanor Bergstein's Letter About Her Script tells about that problem in Bergstein's own words:
Love is Strange. The script says "Baby is teaching Johnny to dance." Kenny [Ortega] and I worked out the routine in my motel room the night before. The executives came running onto the set after it was shot -- the song was not listed on the carefully calibrated chart of songs we could afford. There was no budget for it -- and worst of all -- we'd had the actors "lip synch," meaning we couldn't replace it with a cheaper song and might have to scrap the whole scene. Luckily everyone agreed after they saw it the scene was to good to scrap. You do what you have to do.
What the producers had to do (I speculate) was to escape from their commitment to buy the rights to "Dancing on the Ceiling" and to use the saved money to buy the rights to "Love Is Strange" and to a much cheaper song for the final scene. The escape from Richie's probably cost a lot of money, and a strict non-disclosure agreement had to be signed. (That agreement is the reason why the name of the rejected song cannot be identified anywhere on the Internet.)

After Richie was compensated and after the rights to "Love Is Strange" were purchased, not much money was left in the movie's music budget to buy the rights to a song for the final scene. The movie's music producer, Jimmy Ienner, was compelled to beg former collaborators to provide the replacement song urgently. At this point, however, Ienner was able to specify his requirements of seven minutes and of "starts slow and finishes fast".

Although Ienner's remaining budget allowed him to offer only $1,000 for the song rights, many songwriters did submit proposals. Ienner ultimately selected "The Time of My Life", a song submitted by Franke Previte, who had collaborated with Ienner on an album in the early 1980s. Because Ienner was so desperate and behind schedule, Previte was able to bargain Ienner up to $3,500 -- and Ienner was compelled to allow Previte to retain the song's copyright.

However, since the final dance already had been rehearsed for a considerable time with Richie's song, Previte now understood well --while he was selecting the replacement song -- what kind of song was needed. Ienner gave Previte good advice and guidance for writing a song that would fit the final scene, and then Ienner recognized that Previte's submitted song indeed did fit the scene the best.


The Wikipedia article about Richie's song Dancing on the Ceiling includes the following passages:
"Dancing on the Ceiling" is a song by American recording artist Lionel Richie. It was written by Richie, Mike Frenchik, and Carlos Rios for his third studio album of the same name (1986) ...

Released as the album's leading single, it became a worldwide top ten hit, reaching the top five in ... the United States ... Despite some negative views expressed since its release, the song remains a regular addition to 80's music nights at clubs and bars.

The music video was directed by Stanley Donen .... Shooting took place during three days at Laird Studios in Culver City and one day on location at the LeMondrian Hotel in West Hollywood. The video reportedly cost somewhere ... around $400,000), making it the most expensive short-form music video production at the time.

In the video, which premiered on September 8, 1986, Richie and friends attend a party and dance on the ceiling reminiscent of Fred Astaire's routine in Donen's 1951 film Royal Wedding. ....

In the fall of 1986 HBO aired a half-hour TV special, Lionel Richie: The Making of Dancing on the Ceiling, ... which takes a look at behind the scenes of the music video shoot. This documentary was also released on VHS and later as a hidden extra on Richie's The Definitive Collection DVD.
Below is the video of Richie's song "Dancing on the Ceiling".

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