Sophie Ellis-Bextor is still making sense of how “Murder on the Dancefloor,” a poppy disco song she released in 2001, has become a viral hit thanks to its inclusion in the movie Saltburn. The track plays during the final scene of the movie in which its star, Barry Keoghan, dances nude — a visual that has inspired a trend on TikTok, helping propel the song onto Billboard’s charts.
“It actually feels really magical, and if I’m honest, I don’t think I’ve completely processed it really,” she recently told the BBC. “It’s extraordinary. It’s a song I’ve been singing for over 20 years. I still love singing it. I love the way people react when I do it live. But for new people to be discovering it, for it to be making new memories with people is kind of beautiful.”
Ellis-Bextor recreated Keoghan’s dance on TikTok in a rainbow-sequined outfit and an antlers headpiece, and Paris Hilton used the song in a TikTok about her pregnancy. The BBC reports that the song has amassed 40 million views on the app, and that the tune got 1.5 million streams on Spotify on New Year’s Eve.
The song currently sits at Number 3 on Billboard’s Dance/Electronic Song Sales chart, seven on its Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart, 19 on its Dance/Electronic Streaming Songs, and Number 32 on the TikTok Billboard Top 50. Previously, the tune made it up to Number 26 on Billboard’s Dance Club Songs chart in 2002.
The singer told the BBC that when she granted filmmaker Emerald Fennell use of the song, she couldn’t have imagined it would become a hit again. “One of the things I never prepared for is the fact that when you release anything into the world, any new music, it goes off and has its own journey,” she said. “And you’re along for the ride a bit, it also goes places you’re not expecting to go. So what’s happened with the song and how it’s got new people who weren’t even alive the first time it came out listening to it, it’s just spectacular.”
The song continues a trend in recent years of older tracks growing popular again. Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” became ubiquitous four decades after its release thanks to Stranger Things, and Matchbox Twenty’s “Push” enjoyed the Barbie bump last year, close to a quarter of a century after it came out.
Previously, Ellis-Bextor said she found the Saltburn script intriguing and decided to license the song with perverse curiosity. “This little synopsis described how the character would be dancing, but I didn’t have any context,” she told People. “I’ve got quite a quirky sense of humor anyway, so I was like, ‘I think I have to see how this plays out.’”
She told the BBC that some of the scenes that pushed the envelope made for uncomfortable viewing with her mother and 19-year-old son but that, ultimately, the family enjoyed watching it. “I wasn’t worried about my mum, I was worried about how my son was feeling about being between his mum and his grandma while he’s watching all these scenes,” she said. “But he was fine. He was like, ‘That was in my top 10 favorite films I’ve ever seen.’”