There are two types of musicians: the ones who can dance, and the ones who can't.
The ones who can dance know who they are. Michael Jackson, James Brown, Usher, Prince. They're the ones who often earn the moniker "entertainer." These are people who we'd want to see on a stage or on a dance floor.
The ones who can't dance are generally rock stars with two problems: they can't dance, and they don't know they can't dance. And even if deep down they suspect their dance moves aren't so hot, because they're rock stars, they think that they can somehow get away with it.
Still, it's an embarrassing sight. Someone who loves them needs to tell them the truth. A dancing intervention, if you will. Since all relatives and friends refused my calls, I'm forced to do the dirty work.
Here are 10 rock-star dance interventions that need to happen immediately before someone gets hurt. Or laughed at (again).
1. Bruce Springsteen
The Boss is a model of musical catharsis. His songs of the American dream, hope, and redemption inspire millions. His dancing, on the other hand, is right out of a bad bar mitzvah reception. You'd think he would have stopped after his "Dancing in the Dark" video, where he pulls an unknown Courteney Cox onstage to do a frat-boy boogie. But more than 20 years later, Bruce is still doing his electric boogaloo, even sliding on his knees during this year's Super Bowl (right into a cameraman who probably won't be dancing anytime soon).
He's been the Fly. He's been the Mirror Ball Man. He's been Mr. MacPhisto. Throughout a 30-plus-year career, U2's lead singer has developed a number of alter-egos, a catalog of anthemic songs, and a singular quest to save the world. There's nothing Bono can't do — except dance. His moves seem meant to emulate an epileptic who's been subjected to electroshock treatment, with legs jerking up in the air like a Frankenstein monster. The women go crazy, but I bet none of them would want to be on the dance floor with him. Ben Stiller does a great parody of him. I bet Ben Stiller can dance.
3. Michael Stipe
Fans of the R.E.M. frontman will claim that his moves are "performance art." I say performance art is just another way of saying a dude can't dance.
4. Mick Jagger
Jagger's been doing his rooster strut for more than 40 years now. He's said that he was inspired by James Brown and watched his shows for hours on end. Mr. Jagger, I knew James Brown, and you, sir, are no James Brown. Although now you're starting to look like a rooster as well as move like one.
5. David Byrne
Talking Heads' classic 1984 film, "Stop Making Sense," rewrote the rules for concert movies. From the lack of audience shots to the visual minimalism, director Jonathan Demme presented the band in a revolutionary new light. Most importantly, "Stop Making Sense" introduced the world to Byrne's "big suit," inspired by Japanese Noh theatre. It was a genius visual stroke, and it brilliantly diverted attention away from the fact that Byrne can't dance.
6. Peter Gabriel
Gabriel has built a reputation for melding sounds and rhythms from the far reaches of the world. He's a one-man global village, and he's not afraid to mash it up with a South African vocal group or a bunch of Senegalese drummers. I wish he'd be a little afraid to dance with them, though. Gabriel is just a step above George Bush dancing with those African dudes during his farewell tour.
7. Chris Martin
Coldplay is often compared to U2. The anthemic songs, chiming guitars and earnestness all make them somewhat interchangeable (unless, of course, you're fan of one and not the other). However, Martin's stage-loping is right out of Bono's dance playbook. They both could have the first dance at the Goofy Rocker Ball.
8. Thom Yorke
While Radiohead is the very model of boundary-pushing rock, Mr. Yorke is the epitome of a rock dude who can't dance. He's like an unshaven, lazy-eyed belly dancer without a pole. Kinda sexy, if your girlfriend has left you and you've got a few beers in you, but otherwise...
How bad of a dancer is the Go-Go's queen bee? She was the first to be kicked off "Dancing with the Stars." She was kicked off before Apple computer cofounder Steve Wozniak. Think about that. Belinda Carlisle has less rhythm than a computer geek. Wasn't the Go-Go's big hit "We Got the Beat"?
10. Rod Stewart
Rod the Mod falls into that category of rockers who think that twirling a mic stand around constitutes some kind of ballroom dancing. Note to all of you: a mic stand is not a tango partner.