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Fionn Team Up With “Call Me Maybe” Producer Josh Ramsay for “Dirty Dancing” | American Songwriter
Today, Fionn make their 2021 debut with “Dirty Dancing,” a fiercely catchy slice of electro-pop from Vancouver twin sisters Alanna and Brianne Finn-Morris.
“‘Dirty Dancing’ was written during our second writing session with Josh,” the sisters tell American Songwriter over email. “We had really been enjoying artists like The Weeknd and Dua Lipa who were modernizing old ’70s and ’80s pop sounds, so we knew from the start that we wanted to emulate that style and make it our own. Determined to write something upbeat and fun that people could dance to, we took on the new challenge of pop songwriting as we had mainly written country, folk, and alternative songs before.”
“Dirty Dancing” starts slow, picking up around the 0:50 mark. Soon it builds to a glossy, propulsive dance number, with Fionn’s punchy melodies buoyed by shimmering synths and crisp production. Fionn credit Ramsay with steering them in this direction in the first place.
“He had come into the session with a chorus melody in mind and the idea that it would be cool to play on the fact that we’re twins, starting with a conversational verse that sounded like we were finishing each other’s sentences,” Alanna and Brianne recall. “We loved the fun nature of this sort of call-back part, and it made us think about when we used to go out on the town with our girlfriends. We started to reminisce about the excitement and the mystery of it all, how we never knew who we were going to meet or where the night would take us. The verse lyrics flowed very easily, and Josh was building the track as we were writing the song, something we had never experienced.”
The chorus, meanwhile, sounds like the sonic equivalent of the sparkles emoji plus the kiss-mark emoji: Feel the beat in your bones / like you already know, the sisters sing, if I let you in I won’t let you go / from the bed to your head / to the song in your soul / dirty dancing / like we’re moving out of control.
“We knew based on the melody that the chorus was going to be wordy, and the key was trying to find the balance between the way the words sounded and what they meant,” the duo explains. “We believe in a pop song that it’s more about how the words dance off the tongue, but as two songwriters who started in Nashville, we were struggling with our traditional country songwriter minds telling us that everything needed to make perfect sense. So we were stumped for a little bit, our logical brains overthinking every word we wrote. Josh really helped to pull us out of this headspace, and figuring out this chorus changed the way that we write in general.”
The song finally came together with some unexpected inspiration courtesy of Alanna and Brianne’s mom: “We had almost finished the chorus, but couldn’t figure out the hook,” they recall. “Luckily the stars had aligned and our mom had been watching a Netflix documentary on the movie ‘Dirty Dancing,’ so ‘Dirty Dancing’, the song, was born.”
This isn’t Ramsay’s first rodeo when it comes to fashioning high-energy pop hooks—he also helped write and produce Carly Rae Jepsen’s Grammy-nominated “Call Me Maybe,” and worked on other tracks on Jepsen’s 2012 album Kiss. So maybe we’ll see more Fionn / Ramsay collaborations in the future.
The accompanying flick—directed by Lindsey Blane—is a colorful, California-themed nod to ’80s workout videos, with Alanna and Brianne grooving in glamorous lifeguard getups.
“When figuring out a treatment for the music video, we knew immediately that we wanted to hire a choreographer,” the sisters note. “Our goal was to bring the chorus to life with a simple dance that anybody could recreate with their friends. We had so much fun learning and performing it, and feel that our genuine joy really shined throughout the video.”
“Dirty Dancing” comes after Fionn’s 2020 EP, Everyone’s a Critic, and two recent singles—“Space” and “Winter Love.” Now the sisters are working on a larger project, the details of which remain under wraps.
“2020 was a tough year for us all, but we tried to make the best of it by writing a record full of fun songs that could cheer us up when we were feeling lost,” they add. “We will be releasing singles very consistently throughout 2021, and feel optimistic about the future.”
If “Dirty Dancing” is any indication of what’s to come, we’re optimistic too.
“Dirty Dancing” is out now via 604 Records.