“You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” is a song by English pop band Dead or Alive, featured on their 2nd album, Youthquake (1985). Released as a single in November 1984, it reached #1 in the UK in March 1985, taking 17 weeks to top the charts. It was the 1st UK #1 hit by the Stock Aitken Waterman production trio. On the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, it reached #11 on 17 August of that year. In 2003, Q ranked the song at #981 in their list of the “1001 Best Songs Ever”, Blender listed it at #289 on its ranking of “Greatest Songs Since You Were Born” in 2005 and in 2015, it was voted by the British public as the nation’s 17th favorite 80s #1 in a poll for ITV. “You spin me round like a record” also reached #1 in Switzerland, Ireland and Canada, #2 in Italy and West Germany.
The accompanying music video, which features a disco ball, waving gold flags and an evocation of the six-armed deity Vishnu, was directed by Vaughan Arnell and Anthea Benton.
Dead or Alive’s singer Pete Burns stated in his autobiography that he composed “You Spin Me Round” by using two existing songs as inspiration for creating something new:
How did I write “Spin Me”? I listened to Luther Vandross’s ‘I Wanted Your Love’. It’s not the same chord structure, but then that’s the way I make music – I hear something and I sing another tune over it. I didn’t sit and study the Luther Vandross album – I heard the song and it locked. […] I’m trying to structure the music and I know what I want. […] It’s like do this, do this, do this – and suddenly it hits. I don’t want to do Luther Vandross’s song, but I can still sing the same pattern over it. And there was another record, by Little Nell, called “See You ‘Round Like a Record”. […] So I had those two, Van Dross [sic] and Little Nell and – bingo! – done deal.
— Pete Burns, Freak Unique (2007)
Desiring to move on from the sound of the Dead or Alive’s 1st album, Sophisticated Boom Boom (1984), Pete Burns wanted “You Spin Me Round” to be produced by the then little-known production team Stock Aitken Waterman, in the Hi-NRG style of their 1984 UK hits “You Think You’re a Man” by Divine, and “Whatever I Do (Wherever I Go)” by Hazell Dean.
Burns claimed the song was “completed” by the time the producers were then chosen to work on it, stating that “the record companies don’t trust a band to go into the studio without a producer”. According to Burns, the record company was unenthusiastic about “You Spin Me Round” to such an extent that Burns had to take out a £2,500 loan to record it. After it was recorded, he recalled, “the record company said it was awful” and the band had to fund production of the song’s video themselves.
Interviewed for BBC Radio 4’s The Reunion: The Hit Factory, in April 2015, Burns said that a confrontational attitude between the producers and band led to “quite a bad vibe” during production and “a time of intense friction”. Engineer Phil Harding, who mixed the track, said tensions were running so high between the band members and producers Mike Stock and Matt Aitken during mixing, that it almost escalated to violence. Stock has disputed the seriousness of studio tensions, alleging that Burns, Harding and Pete Waterman have all “exaggerated” what happened in their recounting of events.
The song has been re-released 3 times since its original release in 1984. Each time of its release, it achieved success, but failed to match the success of the original. However, after lead-singer Pete Burns’s appearance on Celebrity Big Brother, the single was re-released and managed a Top 5 peak on the UK Singles Chart in 2006.
According to Burns, 12-inch singles comprised over 70% of the original sales of “You Spin Me Round”, and because these were regarded by the record label as promotional tools rather than sales, the band had to threaten legal action against the label before they received the royalties on them.
After the death of Burns in 2016, musician and actor Gary Kemp described the song as “one of the best white dance records of all time.”
In 2020, The Guardian ranked the song number five in their list of “The 100 Greatest UK No 1s”.
In 2021, Classic Pop ranked it number-one in their list of “Top 40 Stock Aitken Waterman songs”.