Tones and I
Tones and I. Courtesy of Warner Chappell Music.

Dance Monkey

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I didn’t know what they were talking about.

Everybody in Australia was asking me about Tones And I. Why hadn’t she broken in America. After all, she had a billion streams!

It became relentless. To the point where when I finally played the track I was unimpressed, just another poppy dance tune, another confection, meaningless, here today and gone tomorrow.

So there’s a conference circuit. You go anywhere in the world and you see the same people. Actually, that’s Millie’s job. She works for Sounds Australia (https://bit.ly/2Ov2zcC). Which is funded by APRA AMCOS and the government. I could go deeper, but I stopped listening when Millie explained it at dinner.

Actually, I didn’t recognize her. She’s lost in the neighborhood of a hundred pounds. Her mother sent her a fat picture and that was it, Millie fired up a calorie counting app and shed the weight. But her face was familiar and then I remembered that conversation we’d had in Barcelona, just before I flew home, even though she thought I was bluffing.

So Millie’s been working for the organization for ten years, which is kind of surprising, because in the U.S. you get blown out, it’s someone else’s job. Also, who wants to be on the road that much?

So since I’ve been home Millie keeps e-mailing me info about “Dance Monkey.”

And then I got another e-mail today.

Doing my Sirius show earlier, I debated whether I was gonna have to tell Millie to cool it. These relentless naggers bug me. Especially those who send PR notices whom I don’t even know. No wonder everybody’s moved on from e-mail, you just can’t keep your inbox clean.


But just now I decided to tackle the mail, and when I got to Millie’s missive I clicked through to see an article from Down Under saying Tones And I got a standing ovation on Fallon.

Yeah, right.

I’m glad Jimmy’s tanked in the ratings, his show has no edge, trying to please everybody he’s pleasing almost nobody. Furthermore, the applause is always phony, you’ve been to a TV taping, the light goes on and you light up, the person who warms you up tells you to. You feel privileged to be in the belly of the beast, so you act like a trained seal.

In other words, a standing ovation on television means nothing to me. And you no longer break acts on late night TV, no one is watching, certainly not the younger demo that spreads the word.

But when I looked at the video…

Tones And I (Toni Watson) looked completely different from my mental image. Like Billie Eilish, her frame was swathed in clothing so you couldn’t see her body. As for the puffer vest…is that hip anywhere? And I say that as someone who wears a vest in the winter, love those pockets!

And the sweatshirt and…she starts to play. That’s right, she’s actually PLAYING! Got to give props to those Australians, they’ve got the chops!

But this is not the record, which hops from the beginning, rather the playing is slow and meaningful, closer to Laura Nyro than Mariah Carey.

AND BOY CAN SHE SING!


Everybody’s been faking it for so long that we no longer believe anything is real. Come on, photos, videos, even an elementary school kid has the skills to compile fakes.

And we’ve got all these singing competition shows, but they evidence skill and no talent. You see talent is in-born, you can’t teach it to someone, not in art. You develop your voice because you have something to express.

And in the old days, prior to Pro Tools, prior to comping, you had to be able to sing to make it.

No more.

So Tones And I is a revelation!

They say you’ve got to see the acts live.

But today most of ’em, at least the pop ones, those in the Spotify Top 50, can’t perform. It’s all on hard drive.

But Toni Watson’s voice is so pure your eyes bug out. You mean someone really has a voice like that?

Then Toni gets up from the piano and…the hard drive goes wild and she starts to move and sing and it’s not quite the same dramatic effect, but one thing’s for sure, she can most definitely sing and emote and just like that old Kiki Dee song says, she’s definitely got the music in her.


She’s moving to the music, your skin starts to tingle you’re privileged to be experiencing this, a star is being born right in front of your very eyes.

Now I must say I went back to the record and I didn’t quite get the same feeling, and what about those lame lyrics? But I went to Genius (https://genius.com/Tones-and-i-dance-monkey-lyrics) and it turns out there’s a story behind “Dance Monkey,” it’s not mindless at all. It’s the story of Toni busking, and feeling the need to perform for the short attention span audience.

Now “Dance Monkey” is #22 on the Mediabase Top 40, the only radio chart that counts. And it’s stalled at that number to boot.

But it’s #11 on the Spotify United States Top 50. With an upward green arrow, just two spots behind Lewis Capaldi’s “Someone You Loved.”

Capaldi is #3 on Mediabase.

Lewis is #1 on “Billboard”‘s Hot 100.

“Dance Monkey” is #23 and holding on the Hot 100.

So, maybe “Dance Monkey” just ain’t gonna make it in the United States. Yup, we’re the defining factor, we rule.

NO!

“Dance Monkey” has gone to #1 in 27 countries!

Sure, it made it to the top of the chart in Poland and Slovakia, but it also went to #1 in France, Germany and the U.K! It seems like we’re the only country left out, hell, it’s even #2 in Canada!

Something is wrong with our system. “Dance Monkey” is an undeniable hit, but it’s stalling here.

Then again, after this video…

P.S. Toni Watson learned to play in school. If only we had money for music classes in the United States.

P.P.S. Tones And I is getting 714,993 daily plays on Spotify in the U.S. “Dance Monkey” is #1 on the Spotify Global Top 50 with 5,721,918 streams a day. The Spotify cume is 515,652,626. The official video has 198,038,725 views on YouTube.

P.P.P.S. Maybe we need a Millie Millgate for American music.

P.P.P.P.S. There’s no 808!!

https://bit.ly/35cKhDI

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