Yoko Ono's Surprise Rebirth as a Dance Music Icon - Rolling Stone
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Yoko Ono’s Surprise Rebirth as a Dance Music Icon

The 78-year-old artist has had six consecutive Number One dance hits

A quick glance at Billboard’s Dance/Club Play Songs chart shows many unsurprising names: Britney Spears, Rihanna, Taio Cruz, Kylie Minogue and Florence + The Machine. Up above all of them, at the Number One spot, is Yoko Ono with a dance remix of her super obscure 1972 album track “Move On Fast.” It’s her sixth consecutive Number One dance hit. “Those are all incredibly creative people on the chart with me,” Ono tells Rolling Stone. “I respect Lady Gaga very much. I feel a touch guilty that I’m up there. But it’s all right, that happens.”

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Producers have been remixing tracks from Ono’s deep catalog of avant-garde music for the past decade. “At first I was prejudiced against the idea,” she says. “I had the pride of a rocker. People can get very elitist very quickly, and that’s how I was.” When she was first approached about remixing “Walking On Thin Ice” she was especially resistant because that was the song John Lennon was working on when he died. “I was like, ‘No, never! Don’t change anything!'” she says. “It was a very sensitive subject for me.”

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About 10 years ago she relented and allowed a variety of artists – from Pet Shop Boys to Basement Jaxx to Felix Da Housecat – to create dance remixes of her work for the albums Open Your Box and Yes, I’m A Witch. “When I first heard the songs I cried they was so beautiful,” she says. “I was so dumb to be against it. Musically, it was as very, very rich experience for me to hear it.”

The album was a critical and commercial success, leading to the release of Move On Fast (The Remixes), which hits shelves on March 12th. The set features remixes of her catalog by Richard Morel, Digital Dog, Wawa, Chris The Greek and many more. “I never thought I would go into the dance charts,” says Yoko. “I respect these producers so much now. I think one day the dance field is going to be very important musically. I mean, it’s a high art now…I just feel great that people are dancing. I great and I feel it.”

Ono rarely steps foot into a dance club, even though many of them now regularly play her music. “I did go to a few clubs just so people can be like, ‘Yes, Yoko was there!” she says. “But it does get a bit nerve wracking to go to those places. I would love to be dancing every night until dawn, but somehow it’s not conducive for my life right now.”

In This Article: Yoko Ono


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