The Six Best Male Dancers in Contemporary Rock

The Six Best Male Dancers in Contemporary Rock
YouTube screengrab, Radiohead's "Lotus Flower"

If Elvis Presley taught us anything, apart from a love for peanut butter and banana sandwiches, it is that white men can dance. His successors such as Iggy pop, David Bowie, Mick Jagger, and Axl Rose are just as iconic for their showmanship as they are their music. All of these frontmen shake, sway, and groove regardless of the tempo. It's exhilarating to watch.

For whatever reason, many male rock singers today just stand there and look glum, like they're bored or stuffed full of Xanax. So we're celebrating the top five male rockers that have the balls to cut loose, highlighting their technique, rhythm, and overall creativity along the way.

6. Win Butler of Arcade Fire

The Six Best Male Dancers in Contemporary Rock

(Rating: 5 = OMG; 4 = Damn, Son!; 3 = Work It!; 2 = Don't Be Shy; 1 = Meh)

Form: 3 Creativity: 3 Intensity: 2 Sensuality: 4 Rhythm: 4

It's hard to stand out as an exemplary dancer in Arcade Fire, especially because there are so many members in the band. Frontman Win Butler didn't exhibit his dance moves on debut album Funeral in 2004. It's been a very slow progression, but it seems the more popular the band has become, the more confidence he has gained.

The music itself, as heard in their latest album, Reflektor, is also a bit more experimental than their previous releases. We believe it was the inclusion of LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy, who worked on Relektor and produced the disco-forward title track, that got Butler out of his shell.

"LCD Soundsystem to me is like New Order and the B-52s and we deeply share a lot of those influences, and we did completely different things with it," Butler told Rolling Stone."

During their Saturday Night Live performance (as seen below), Butler's movement is minimal, but there's a sincerity to it, and he even displays subtle hints of salsa. (The mariachi-type suits didn't hurt either.) Although he doesn't move in an outlandish way (or robotically, like his wife, Régine), he shows he has authentic flow. His dancing would never embarrass you at a wedding.

  5. Tunde Adebimpe of TV on the Radio

The Six Best Male Dancers in Contemporary Rock

(Rating: 5 = OMG; 4 = Damn, Son!; 3 = Work It!; 2 = Don't Be Shy; 1 = Meh)

Form: 4 Creativity: 3 Intensity: 4 Sensuality: 2 Rhythm: 3

We're not sure if David Letterman has Four Loko backstage, or if musicians are trying to impress the late night host, but they have a tendency to really let loose when they appear on the show. Case in point: Tunde Adebimpe of TV on the Radio. The frontman is all intense and manic movement, like he's throwing a sexy tantrum.

  4. Chris Martin of Coldplay

The Six Best Male Dancers in Contemporary Rock

(Rating: 5 = OMG; 4 = Damn, Son!; 3 = Work It!; 2 = Don't Be Shy; 1 = Meh) Form:4 Creativity: 3 Intensity: 3 Sensuality: 2 Rhythm: 2 Dancing isn't the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Chris Martin, but behind those blond curls and tight pants is a man who yearns to break free on the dance floor. Earlier this month, Coldplay released "Midnight," the first single from their forthcoming album Ghost Stories, and although the song itself isn't entirely spectacular, Martin certainly is.

Interestingly, the video was released before the "conscious-uncoupling" announcement, which may explain his dancing a bit. Martin's slight-yet-eager bounce, erratic arm-waving, and hand-bird gesture is a clear indication that something was amiss. No one dances like that for no reason. Also, his moves are clearly that of a former raver, but we won't judge him negatively because of it. Some of the best dancers are people who don't give a rat's ass what they look when they dance, and for that we praise Martin.

See Martin's dance moves in person when Coldplay perform at the Beacon Theatre on May 5.

  3. Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age

The Six Best Male Dancers in Contemporary Rock

(Rating: 5 = OMG; 4 = Damn, Son!; 3 = Work It!; 2 = Don't Be Shy; 1 = Meh)

Form:3 Creativity: 3 Intensity: 4 Sensuality: 5 Rhythm: 4

If anyone can hold a candle to Presley's hypnotic gyration, without a doubt it's Josh Homme, lead singer and guitarist of Queens of the Stone Age. Despite being a ginger, Homme bestows several bad boy qualities, which help him release an unflagging form of dance. His uninhibited dance moves, which involve very sensual swaying, often incorporate his guitar, almost as if the instrument is his dance partner. Homme's brooding stares, mixed with head-banging and side-to-side pelvic thrusts, are what dancing should be: enticing and sexy! This guy has hips and he isn't afraid to use them.


2. Thom Yorke of Radiohead

The Six Best Male Dancers in Contemporary Rock

(Rating: 5 = OMG; 4 = Damn, Son!; 3 = Work It!; 2 = Don't Be Shy; 1 = Meh)

Form:4 Creativity: 5 Intensity: 5 Sensuality: 3 Rhythm: 3

Thom Yorke has long been the king of moping rock stars. He's self-conscious, especially early on, and we don't fault him for that. Coming into your own takes time, especially when your every move is scrutinized. However, with age comes wisdom. Yorke honed his creative spirit and liberated it with his body. With each album the band released, Yorke's genius dance moves got more intense and wilder.

His technique fully bloomed following the release of The King of Limbs in 2011. As you can see below, there's no containing Yorke once he is fully charged with the beat. And as crazy as he may look, when it comes to dancing, letting go is the most magnificent part.

  1. Samuel T. Herring of Future Islands

The Six Best Male Dancers in Contemporary Rock

(Rating: 5 = OMG; 4 = Damn, Son!; 3 = Work It!; 2 = Don't Be Shy; 1 = Meh) Form:5 Creativity: 5 Intensity: 5 Sensuality: 4 Rhythm: 5

On March 3, something extraordinary happened on national TV. Baltimore-based synth-rock band Future Islands made their television debut on The Late Show with David Letterman and lead singer Samuel T. Herring blew everyone away, not so much with the music (though it's tops, too), but with his dancing.

During their performance of "Seasons (Waiting on You)," Herring couldn't contain his emotions. It was a thing of beauty, and the live performance (seen below) went viral.

"We were like, What the hell is going on?" Herring told the Daily Beast about his overnight notoriety. "It is cool, though. I think it's reaching people because of its simplicity and sincerity. It's one of those funny things because it's just us doing what we do, but we inject a lot of honesty in our songwriting and stay true to what we think sounds good. We try to be as unpretentious a band as possible and enjoy writing fun pop songs. We're not trying to make complicated music; we're trying to make music that makes us, and our fans, feel something."

That's exactly what dancing and music should do, and Herring's moves, which can hardly be defined, are simply raw emotion that is executed beautifully through movement.

Witness the magic of Future Islands at Webster Hall on Wednesday, April 30.

[ACruz] [@chelipj]

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