‘Neutron Dance’ was featured in the Eddie Murphy movie Beverly Hills Cop, but it was not written for the movie. Allee Willis, who wrote Earth, Wind & Fire’s hits “September” and “Boogie Wonderland,” wrote the lyrics for this song. She explains: “It was written for a movie called Streets of Fire. This was a movie that came and went. And we were told that there was a scene on a bus that was leaving town after there had been this nuclear holocaust, and that a ’50s doo-wop black group was going to be at the back of the bus that the lead couple was escaping on.
And so Danny Sembello and I just met that day, he was the younger brother of Michael Sembello who had a hit at that time called ‘Maniac’ (which was featured in the movie Flashdance). I was very disinterested in songwriting at that point, and I’m writing with this kid who’s never had a record before, and I just wanted to get him in and out.
And I just said, ‘Play the most common sounding old fashioned ’50s black music bass line that you can think of.’ And he just started doing the (sings rhythm for ‘Neutron Dance’). So I literally sang that melody down. And then I said, ‘Let’s just write this quick lyric.’ Because I knew everyone in town was competing to be in this movie, so I didn’t really have a lot of confidence we would get it. So I really wanted to get through this fast. I said, ‘Look, we’re taking a half an hour on the lyric, and this thing’s gonna get done.’
And it was all this stuff going on in my life: ‘I don’t want to take it anymore, I’ll just stay here locked behind the door. Just no time to stop and get away, because I work so hard to make it every day.’ Really a lyric about all these things falling apart in your life, and you know what, just get it together and change your life.
I used to have a little pink 1962 Corvair, and as we were writing this song, I look out the window, and there’s someone out in front of my house trying to jimmy open the door of the Corvair. So I race out of the studio, and as I’m running out – and I tape everything – everything – so I have this, and I’m ‘Hey!’ You hear me racing out of the room and screaming back at him, ‘Someone stole my brand new Chevrolet!’ and that was that line.
And when I saw Beverly Hills Cop – ‘Neutron Dance,’ which is the song that opens the movie, on that line, ‘someone stole my brand new Chevrolet,’ this cigarette truck that Eddie Murphy is locked up in the back of, screaming through the streets of Detroit, slams into this Chevrolet. And ‘I’m just burning, doing the Neutron Dance,’ which to me meant someone could push the button tomorrow and we could all go up in smoke, so make your change now. On that line, a car explodes. I mean, I couldn’t have written a better song for a movie scene if my life depended on it.” – Read more at songfacts.com