How Saltburn is set to give this Sophie Ellis-Bextor track a chart comeback after 20 years

Barry Keoghan (left) in Saltburn and Sophie Ellis-Bextor in the music video for 'Murder on the Dancefloor'

It’s one of the greatest pop exports to come out of the UK point blank and period, and now it’s finally making a comeback: Sophie Ellis Bextor’s “Murder on the Dancefloor” is returning to the charts, thanks to Emerald Fennell’s riotous big-screen drama Saltburn.

If you’ve watched Jacob Elordi and Barry Keoghan’s semen-spiced thriller Saltburn, you’ll know exactly why Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s camp hit “Murder on the Dancefloor” is about to crash-land back into the charts.

We’ll make this a spoiler-free zone, but essentially, the camp ode to death by disco soundtracks an unlikely scene in the new queer film, which sees Keoghan dance completely nude. Yes, his penis is paraded about for all to see.

It seems that the shocking scene has sent viewers straight to Spotify, as “Murder on the Dancefloor” is now set to make a spectacular return to the UK top 40.

It might be the first time in over 22 years that the perfect pop tune has been in the charts, but let’s not forget what a monster hit it was at the time. 

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When was Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s “Murder on the Dancefloor” first released?

Picture the scene: It’s December 2001 and just over a year since a then 22-year-old Sophie Ellis Bextor famously beat Spice Girl Victoria Beckham to number one with her Spiller-assisted anthem “Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love)”.

It’s also been a few months since the release of her debut single, a cover of Cher’s “Take Me Home” which swiftly went to number two. Her debut record, Read My Lips, is also already on the shelves. Yet the album cycle is far from over.

After an initial plan to release album track “Lover” was scrapped, “Murder on the Dancefloor” was chosen as Read My Lips’ second single.

Written by Sophie Ellis Bextor herself, with a little help from New Radicals star and songwriter Gregg Alexander, “Murder on the Dancefloor” was released on 3 December 2001.

After a battle for number one against Daniel Bedingfield’s “Gotta Get Thru This”, “Murder on the Dancefloor” ultimately entered the charts at number two. However, it went on to spend six weeks inside the top ten, and 13 inside the top 40 – leaving the charts in March 2002, nearly 22 years ago.

The song has maintained a strong cultural legacy, becoming Ellis-Bextor’s best-selling single and going Platinum in both the UK and Australia. It was also reportedly the most listened to song in Europe of 2002, and remains a staple in the 44-year-old singer’s live performances.

While the song itself is indisputably one of the ‘00s very best pop moments – stealing, murdering and burning houses down just works in the context of pop music – the iconic “Murder on the Dancefloor” music video also helped to bolster the hit’s notoriety.

Created by director Sophie Muller – who is known both for her work with Kylie Minogue, Gwen Stefani, ABBA and Selena Gomez, and for being the aunt of UK Eurovision act Mae Muller – the music video features Ellis-Bextor as a dance contest entrant, who will stop at nothing to take home the prize.

Throughout the video, she starts to secretly injure all the other contestants while they dance, tripping them over, making them slip on butter, and poisoning them. Eventually, she uses her frankly iconic glittering green eye shadow to allure the head judge into giving her the win.

As Lady Gaga once put it: “I don’t believe in the glorification of murder. I do believe in the empowerment of women.”

Barry Keoghan’s nude scene in Saltburn is giving the song a renaissance

Despite what some devastating comments on TikTok might say, Sophie Ellis-Bextor is not famous because of Saltburn. She’s had seven studio albums, and has been touring like mad for two decades, particularly since her Covid-19 lockdown-inspired “Kitchen Discos” went viral.

That said, Saltburn has introduced her to a new legion of fans à la Kate Bush and her “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” revival thanks to Stranger Things

Singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor wearing a Christmas jumper with a heart on it that reads the word 'love'.
Sophie Ellis-Bextor on her love for Christmas, drag, and speaking up for what’s right. (David Reiss)

So much so that “Murder on the Dancefloor” is currently heading towards becoming a top 30 hit once again in the UK, according to the Official Charts.

During an interview with PinkNews towards the end of 2023, Ellis-Bextor said that she would be “happy to be dining out on [the song] as long as [she] can”.

“I really loved the movie. It’s funny because whenever you get asked about having a song involved in something, you always get a tiny synopsis or rough idea of placement,” she explained.

“So, I’d roughly read something about how it was going to be used – I hadn’t obviously got the full scope of the storyline up to that point.

“I just thought it was brilliant. It’s so beautifully shot. The script is bouncy and fun and sharp and witty, and then you get someone dancing full frontal nude to my song.”

The chart return of “Murder on the Dancefloor” has also led to an army of queer pop fans calling for some of Ellis-Bextor’s other bops to get their flowers, namely 2007’s “Catch You” and 2009’s “Heartbreak (Make Me a Dancer)”.

Saltburn is streaming now on Prime Video.

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