Sophie Ellis-Bextor in the music video for her hit single Murder On The Dancefloor
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably well aware that Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s 2002 hit Murder On The Dancefloor is back in a big way.
Yes, thanks to the song featuring on the Saltburn soundtrack, Sophie’s signature tune has been racking up streams, leading to it creeping up the UK singles chart.
And the momentum is showing no signs of slowing down, with Sophie even charting in America for the first time thanks to the deluge of streams that have come in off the back of Saltburn’s success.
To celebrate the track’s truly unexpected comeback, we’ve rounded up 16 facts you probably never knew about Murder On The Dancefloor...
1. The song was written by Sophie and an unlikely collaborator
The name Gregg Alexander might not necessarily ring a bell, but you might be familiar with his work as frontman of the New Radicals, best known for their 1998 hit You Get What You Give.
Gregg Alexander performing with New Radicals in 1999
Gregg’s other work includes co-writing Texas’ Inner Smile, Ronan Keating’s Life Is A Rollercoaster and Lost Stars, a song recorded by Adam Levine for the Begin Again soundtrack, which earned an Oscar nomination in 2015.
He also worked with Sophie on a number of her other hits, including Music Gets The Best Of Me, Mixed Up World and I Won’t Change You.
2. Murder On The Dancefloor was inspired not by murder, but a stalled car
Back in 2019, Sophie recalled to Music Week that Gregg Alexander had begun work on Murder On The Dancefloor when he’d “wanted to go to a club and then his car wouldn’t start”.
“He recorded it into a cassette player and it was really loose,” she told the music outlet. “The verses weren’t really there, it was just him singing nonsense lyrics. But he had the chorus.
“I remember being in quite a high-tech studio and being played his cassette of this really rough recording. So I nurtured it and finished the lyrics – it was pretty easy and fun. It started us collaborating on quite a few things together after that.”
3. The single remains Sophie’s highest-charting solo single to date
Murder On The Dancefloor peaked at number two in the UK, where it was kept off the top spot by Daniel Bedingfield’s garage bop Gotta Get Thru this. She did previously hit number one with the Spiller collaboration Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love), though.
Daniel Bedingfield kept Sophie off the top spot first time around
In fact, Sophie was previously embroiled in one of the 2000s’ most infamous chart battles with Victoria Beckham, when they released Groovejet and Out Of Your Mind, respectively, in the same week.
4. When Saltburn revived Murder On The Dancefloor more than two decades after it release, there was a bit of a spooky coincidence
Not only did Murder On The Dancefloor match its previous chart peak, it did so in the exact same weekend, just 22 years later. This time around, it was Noah Kahn’s Stick Season that held it off the top spot, though.
5. The track charted pretty much everywhere in 2002… except the US, that is
Sophie made the top five in Australia, Canada, France, Italy, New Zealand, Ireland and The Netherlands to name but a few, although it never troubled the US charts (that is, until Saltburn came along, of course). Murder On The Dancefloor was also the most-played song on European radio in 2002.
Sophie Ellis-Bextor performing live in 2002
6. Murder On The Dancefloor was a lot of people’s introduction to Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s unique way of singing
Of performing her songs in her own distinct accent, Sophie told the Telegraph last year: “Singing as I speak felt like the only way to do it. I don’t want to be one of those singers who’s singing about being really sad with a massive grin on my face.
“Changing my accent would make the emotion feel a little bit showbiz.”
7. The song is synonymous with its iconic music video which was inspired by a classic film
“I’d just seen the movie for They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? about a dance marathon, and by the end of it they’re all absolutely out of their minds,” Sophie told Music Week in 2019.
“That kind of became the idea of maybe we do a dance competition, where I’m trying to do everything I can to win.”
Michael Sarrazin and Jane Fonda in the 1969 film They Shoot Horses, Don't They?
8. With the Murder On The Dancefloor video, Sophie deliberately wanted to set herself apart from her fellow pop stars at the time
Sophie recalled to Vulture: “I was new to the pop scene. A lot of people were being introduced to me and nobody knew much about me. I just thought, ‘Maybe I won’t tell them everything about me’.
“I thought it felt like a good juxtaposition to a lot of the smiley pop videos that were around in that era to actually just be really horrible. It was a lot of fun. And I do think with pop music, if you’re not having fun, something’s going wrong.”
“The image of pop music was being in a club high-fiving models who were pretending to be your mates,” she previously told Music Week.
“I didn’t want that. I wanted to be a girl that’s really unpleasant, I wanted to be a villainess who’s cruel and evil!”
Sophie Ellis-Bextor in the Murder On The Dancefloor music video
9. It also marked the second collaboration between the singer and her namesake, director Sophie Muller
But it certainly wasn’t the last. The two Sophies have worked together a whopping 15 times, including the videos for Sophie’s hits Catch You, Take Me Home, Today The Sun’s On Us, Not Giving Up On Love and Hypnotized. The pair are close in real life, and the director is even godmother to one of the singer’s five sons.
Sophie Muller is also responsible for iconic videos like Annie Lennox’s Why, Gwen Stefani’s Cool and Wind It Up, Shakira’s Hips Don’t Lie, The Killers’ Mr Brightside, Lily Allen’s Smile, Mika’s Grace Kelly and, more recently, Kylie Minogue’s Padam Padam.
10. The music video features a cameo appearance from a star of The Crown
The head judge at the dance competition is played by Colin Stinton, who has also appeared in Foyle’s War, Doctor Who, The Bourne Ultimatum and Wonder Woman 1984.
Colin Stinton as seen in the Murder On The Dancefloor music video
11. No, that signature foot-stamp wasn’t actually on the original recording
If you thought it was, it’s probably because you spent most of the early 2000s watching MTV Hits and The Box, where it was on regular rotation.
The music video added a few extra details, including the aforementioned foot-stamp and the jubilant cry of “the aaaaltogether!”.
12. There’ve been some really interesting covers of Murder On The Dancefloor over the years
Among the most noteworthy of these are a version in Chinese by the singer Kelly Chen and a reworking by Swedish musician Papa Dee, who released it as Murder In The Dance Hall.
Papa Dee’s version was then used as a sample by Skepta on his song Love Me Not.
Sophie even put her own spin on the track when she recorded orchestral versions of her favourite songs for the reworked greatest hits album The Song Diaries.
Describing the 2019 version as “quite weird”, she told Music Week: “I worked with Ed Harcourt and he suggested making it Spanish, so we put in castanets.”
13. Sophie gave Murder On The Dancefloor new meaning in 2013
Just over a decade ago, Sophie took part in Strictly Come Dancing, and while her signature hit feels perfect for the show, she actually didn’t ever dance to it (notably, singers who sign up for Strictly never perform to their own music on the dance floor).
Sophie at the Strictly Come Dancing launch in 2013
In fact, there’s only ever been one routine to Murder On The Dancefloor in Strictly history, which was done by eventual champions Ellie Leach and Vito Coppola during Halloween week in 2023.
We have a feeling that could change in 2024, though, given the song’s new-found popularity…
14. Even before Saltburn, Murder On The Dancefloor had undergone a mini resurgence thanks to Sophie’s Instagram live-streams
Throughout lockdown, Sophie kept her fans entertained by putting on weekly Instagram live-streams that she referred to as “Kitchen Discos”, in which she’d perform her own songs, as well as select covers, from her family home (usually with chaotic results).
Murder On The Dancefloor was, obviously, a staple of her “Kitchen Discos”, during which she covered everything from Kids In America and Like A Prayer to Dame Vera Lynn’s We’ll Meet Again and A Spoonful Of Sugar from Mary Poppins.
15. When it came to Saltburn’s closing scene, director Emerald Fennell insisted there was never any other song in her mind
“It had to be a moment of utter jubilant triumph,” she told Entertainment.ie last year. “It had to be a moment that made us, the audience, complicit in all manner of terrible things.
“It had to have kind of post-coital joy and a sort of also little camp streak, that I think this film also doesn’t shy away from. And so it could never be anything other than Murder On The Dancefloor. It’s too good to be true.”
Emerald Fennell with Saltburn stars Jacob Elordi and Barry Keoghan at the film's premiere
16. And Murder On The Dancefloor isn’t the only song to be launched back into the top 40 thanks to Saltburn
The dance anthem that is Princess Superstar’s Perfect (Exceeder) made its way back into the UK singles chart after being used in another major Saltburn scene.