"Neutron Dance" is a song written by Allee Willis and Danny Sembello which was introduced by the Pointer Sisters on their 1983 album Break Out. The song became a Top Ten hit in 1985, its success augmented by being prominently featured on the soundtrack of motion picture Beverly Hills Cop.

"Neutron Dance"
Pointer Sisters Neutron Dance single.png
Single by The Pointer Sisters
from the album Break Out
B-side"Telegraph Your Love"
ReleasedNovember 1984 (US)
December 30, 1984 (UK)
Format7" single
Length4:12 (Album Version)
3:53 (7" Version)
4:59 (Extended Version)
LabelPlanet/RCA Records
Songwriter(s)Allee Willis, Danny Sembello
Producer(s)Richard Perry
The Pointer Sisters singles chronology
"I'm So Excited"
"Neutron Dance"
"Baby Come and Get It"


According to Allee Willis, "Neutron Dance" was written in hopes of being placed on the soundtrack of the film Streets of Fire: "We were told that there was a scene on a bus that was leaving town after there had been this nuclear holocaust, and that a '50s doo-wop black group was going to be at the back of the bus that the lead couple was escaping on ... Danny Sembello and I just met that day ... I was very disinterested in songwriting at that point, and I'm writing with this kid who's never had a record before, and I just wanted to get him in and out. He was a phenomenal keyboard player, and I just said: 'Play the most common sounding old fashioned '50s black music bass line that you can think of.' And he just started doing the [rhythm for "Neutron Dance"]. And I'm someone who could write a melody to a spoon falling on the table. So I literally sang that melody down. First time down, he just kind of followed and went to the right places. And then I said, Let's just write this quick lyric ... we're taking a half an hour on the lyric, and this thing's gonna get done."[1]

Willis adds that the lyric theme of "Neutron Dance" was due to "all this stuff going on in my life: I don't want to take it anymore, I'll just stay here locked behind the door. Just no time to stop and get away, because I work so hard to make it every day. Really a lyric about all these things falling apart in your life, and you know what, just get it together and change your life."[1] According to Willis while working on the lyrics with Sembello she looked through a window and saw someone attempting to break into her car: while running outside to scare off the thief Willis called out to Sembello: "Someone stole my brand new Chevrolet", and the line was included in the song.[1]

The Pointer Sisters version / Beverly Hills CopEdit

"Neutron Dance" featuring Ruth Pointer on lead vocal was introduced on the Pointer Sisters' October 1983 album release Break Out; Ruth Pointer would recall: "When I first heard 'Neutron Dance' I didn't want to sing it. I liked [its] rhythm and vigorous arrangement but to me the word 'neutron' had a violent connotation on account of the neutron bomb then so much in the news." Ruth Pointer recalls suggesting to Allee Willis that the song's lyric be modified: "she told me to quit overthinking it and just sing the damn song! Luckily I shut up and listened. I gave 'Neutron Dance' a gospel feel and nailed it in a few takes." [2]

Despite four singles being released from Breakout in its initial year of release "Neutron Dance" was issued as a single in November 1984, the major factor in the track's single release being the placement of the song on the soundtrack of the upcoming film Beverly Hills Cop which was released December 5, 1984. In Beverly Hills Cop, "Neutron Dance" was prominently featured during a key car chase sequence with whose action the song proved musically and lyrically compatible: Allee Willis would describe the experience of witnessing her composition featured in the film as "mind-boggling...on that line, 'someone stole my brand new Chevrolet,' this cigarette truck that Eddie Murphy is locked up in the back of, screaming through the streets of Detroit, slams into this Chevrolet. And 'I'm just burning, doing the Neutron Dance,' which to me meant someone could push the button tomorrow and we could all go up in smoke, so make your change now. On that line, a car explodes. I mean, I couldn't have written a better song for a movie scene if my life depended on it." [1] According to Ruth Pointer, although "Neutron Dance" proved effective when utilized in the rough cut of the film's car chase sequence, the producers of Beverly Hills Cop were disinclined to retain the song, instead asking Richard Perry to create a new similarly-styled track to score the car chase sequence in the completed film: however, Perry demurred opining that "Neutron Dance" was a "one in a million song." [2]

Concurrent with the single's release, a video for "Neutron Dance" began airing on MTV. The music video stars the Pointer Sisters as discontented theatre ushers, and also features future Perfect Strangers star Bronson Pinchot as their boss; the setting was a cinema where Beverly Hills Cop was screening, allowing for the promotion of the movie via many clips from it being displayed in the video. Pinchot himself plays a minor role in the film as "Serge", a salesman in Jenny Summers' art gallery.

In March 1985 "Neutron Dance" became the fourth Top Ten single issued from the Breakout album rising as high as #6 and consolidating the career zenith of the Pointer Sisters who prior to the success of "Jump (For My Love)" subsequent to that of "Automatic" - the second and third singles from Breakout - had never had back-to-back Top 20 singles. "Neutron Dance" would prove to be the group's final Top Ten hit: after a sixth single release from Breakout: "Baby Come & Get It", fell short of the Top 40, "Dare Me", the lead single from the follow-up album to Breakout: Contact, stalled at #11 and the group's sole further Top 40 charting: "Goldmine" (1986), rose no higher than #33. The Pointer Sisters did just miss the Top 40 with "Be There", a track in the vein of "Neutron Dance" - being co-written by Allee Willis with Franne Golde and featuring Ruth Pointer on lead - for the soundtrack of Beverly Hills Cop II, "Be There"'s peak being #42.

Released at the height of the Cold War, "Neutron Dance" was misinterpreted by the Russian Government as a song about nuclear war.[3]


  • Paulinho da Costa - tambourine
  • Paul Fox - E-mu Emulator
  • Reek Havok - electronic drum programming
  • Stephen Mitchell - synthesizer programming
  • Bob Mithoff - drum machine programming
  • Howie Rice - drum machine programming, guitar, percussion, synthesizer, E-mu Emulator, acoustic piano, organ

Track listingsEdit

7" single

  1. Neutron Dance 3:53
  2. Telegraph Your Love 4:02

Chart performanceEdit


  1. ^ a b c d "Allee Willis: Boogie Wonderland, Friends theme". Songfacts.com. Retrieved July 4, 2013.
  2. ^ a b Pointer, Ruth; Terrill, Marshall (2016). Still So Excited!: my life as a Pointer Sister. Chicago: Triumph Books. ISBN 9781629371450.
  3. ^ "Neutron Dance Songfacts". Songfacts. Retrieved October 9, 2008.
  4. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  5. ^ hitparade.ch
  6. ^ "CASH BOX Top 100 Singles – Week ending March 9, 1985". Archived from the original on October 1, 2012. Retrieved July 29, 2018.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)Cash Box magazine.
  7. ^ "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – 1985". Australian-charts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved April 15, 2017.
  8. ^ "RPM Magazine Year End Chart" (PDF). Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  9. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1985/Top 100 Songs of 1985". Music Outfitters. Retrieved July 29, 2018.
  10. ^ "Year-End Charts: Top 100 Pop Singles,". Cash Box. December 28, 1985. Archived from the original on October 1, 2012. Retrieved July 29, 2018.

2. Referenced in P.M. Dawn's 1991 single Set Adrift On Memory Bliss