The lead single from Talking Is Hard, the song is dedicated to a "discotheque Juliet teenage dream."
The song originated when vocalist Nicholas Petricca went to a Los Angeles dance club to blow off some steam. When he started complaining when it was taking forever to get drinks at the bar, a girl came up to him and said, "Just shut up and dance with me!'"
Petricca took her up on the offer and the two hit it off. He says the song is not so much about his personal experience, but about living in the moment.
The video was directed by Josh Forbes, who has also shot clips directed videos for the likes of The Fray, Sara Bareilles, Good Charlotte, Coheed and Cambria, Barenaked Ladies and Ingrid Michaelson. The visual finds lead singer Nicholas Petricca meeting the woman of his dreams on a dance floor. "We kind of wanted to write a dork rock anthem for all of those poor souls like us," Petricca told MTV News. "So it's about letting go, it's about not being in your head. It's about choosing to be in the moment."
Petricca told American Songwriter magazine the story of the song: "Well, (Guitarist) Eli Maiman and I were working on something that's now the verse. And it had this great feeling that we couldn't stop playing over and over. We didn't have a chorus and we didn't have a subject or a lyric."
"So over the next weekend, I went to this awesome party they have at The Echo in Echo Park, Los Angeles, called Funky Soul Saturday. The story of 'Shut Up and Dance' is based on a true story of hanging out there with my friends… this girl actually told me to shut up and dance with her. We took it back to the studio and it spun out very quickly after that."
It was only later that Petricca realized he could use the girl's comment as a song lyric. "At the time, I was in my head and not with it," he said. "She's one of my best friends and pulled me out into the moment, and that really became the subject of the song. Encouraging people to let go of whatever it is that's bothering you and get into your body and out of your head. Coming home and working on the song I thought, this is it. This is totally it."
The first time Walk The Moon played the track was during a gig at St. Louis University. Petricca recalled to American Songwriter: "We had just learned the song and no one had ever heard it, so we thought we'd try it out for these kids. From moment one, it was obvious there was something about the song. The kids were even singing along with the chorus the second time around. We tried to capture that energy on the record."
The band wanted to capture an '80s pop/rock vibe and often took breaks to listen to classic tunes from the era, namely Pat Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot
," Tina Turner's "What's Love Got To Do With It
," The Cars' "Just What I Needed
," and Rick Springfield's "Jessie's Girl
." Walk the Moon guitarist Eli Maiman told Idolator
: "Then we deconstruct it, figure out how it works and how we can incorporate those elements into what we do."
The Cars' influence is particularly evident in the third - and longest - instrumental break, which features a synth solo.
The throwback feel not only gives us a glimpse into the band's influences, but it broadens the song's demographic to include adults who grew up on a diet of '80s hits.
Plenty of genre elements come into play, including new wave, pop, rock, dance, funk... and country? Petricca adds a bit of Southern twang to the line "Awww, come on girl" as a lead-in to the synth instrumental break.
This spent 27 weeks atop Billboard's Hot Rock Songs, breaking that chart's longevity record. Both Hozier's "Take Me to Church
," and Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive
" had previously led for 23 weeks.