Written by Irving Berlin, this was introduced by Fred Astaire in the 1936 film Follow The Fleet. Astaire plays a Navy sailor who tries rekindle a romance with his former dance partner, played by Ginger Rogers. "Let's Face The Music And Dance" soundtracks a memorable scene in the film as Astaire uses the cautionary love song to woo Rogers into an elegant dance routine. He convinces her to give into the passion of the present moment in the face of an uncertain future, singing:
There may be trouble ahead
But while there's moonlight and music
And love and romance
Let's face the music and dance
This was a #3 hit for Astaire in 1936. That same year, a version by Ted Fio Rito & His Orchestra (with singer Stanley Hickman) peaked at #9.
Follow The Fleet yielded two other hit singles written by Berlin: "Let Yourself Go" (#3) and "I'm Putting All My Eggs In One Basket" (#2).
Several artists have recorded this, including Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Mel Tormé, Doris Day, Diahann Carroll, Sammy Davis Jr., Rosemary Clooney, Diana Krall, and Willie Nelson, among others. Tony Bennett also recorded the tune a few times in his career, including a 2014 version with Lady Gaga for their duets album Cheek To Cheek. In 2019, Jeff Goldblum released it as the first single from his jazz album I Shouldn't Be Telling You This, featuring vocalist Sharon Van Etten.
This was featured in the 1981 musical drama Pennies From Heaven, starring Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters as Depression-era lovers. At one point, they go to the movies to see Follow The Fleet and imitate the Astaire/Rogers dance number, with Martin lip-synching to Astaire's vocal.
Nat King Cole's version (recorded in 1961 for his 1964 album Let's Face The Music!
received a lot of attention in the '90s when it was featured in a popular commercial
for the British insurance company Allied Dunbar and was used by ice dancers Torvill and Dean in the 1994 Winter Olympics. As a result, the re-issued single peaked at #30 in the UK in 1994.
Cole's rendition was also used in a 2020 advert for Amazon Prime's two-hour grocery delivery. The ad, titled "Trouble Ahead
," shows folks who could benefit from the speedy service in the midst of their culinary mishaps.
In 2018, a duet version by jazz singers Todd Gordon and Sunny Kim was used on the TV series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel in the episode "Let's Face The Music And Dance."
This was used in several movies, including Sing (2016), The Tailor of Panama (2001), Love's Labour's Lost (2000), Meet Joe Black (1998), Faithful (1996), Forget Paris (1995), and Radioland Murders (1994).