Francis and the Lights' debut album Farewell, Starlite! was released just over a year ago, which included the original version of "May I Have This Dance." This year (2017), in May, Chance The Rapper breathed some new life into a remix of the track, and its accompanying music video, in which Francis and Chance hit the dance floor.
While they make a great team, this isn't the first time Francis and the Chicago rapper have collaborated. The two have worked together on songs from Chance's Coloring Book album ("Summer Friends" and "Same Drugs"), as well as a duet for The Hamilton Mixtape called "Dear Theodosia (Reprise)." The guys also performed during the Grammy Awards, as well as toured together in 2016.
Francis and his collaborators have opened up about the making of "May I Have This Dance" and its recent remix, including producers Aaron Lammer, Benny Blanco, and producer/musical director Seb Chew.
Francis says that Chance had once asked him if "May I Have This Dance" was about marriage, to which Starlite replied "Yeah." And coincidentally enough, Aaron tells us that the week the song was written, was the week he proposed to his now-wife. He explains:
"I wrote this song with my friend Francis. The week that, we were writing 'May I Have This Dance,' was also the week that I asked my wife to marry me. I think those things may have been related. And it's been pretty great because the song has become really popular at weddings, and you can see all kinds of people do their first dance doing the 'May I Have This Dance' dance on Instagram."
Back in May of this year, the official "May I Have This Dance (Remix)" was released, along with its music video. Starring Francis and Chance the Rapper on a minimal set, the two showcase their choreography. And according to Seb, the dance moves came from the duo themselves. He tells us, "The choreography in the 'May I Have This Dance' video is a joint effort between Francis and Chance the Rapper. Work started over the phone, and then they got together in Chicago a few days before the shoot and rehearsed it for two or three days straight before filming in L.A."
Seb also calls out the similarity between the "May I Have This Dance" music video, and Francis and the Lights visual for his collaboration with Bon Iver and Kanye West, "Friends," and even calls the "May I Have This Dance" video a "Part Two." He says:
"The 'May I Have This Dance' video, to me, definitely has a similar feeling to the 'Friends' clip, and can be seen in many ways as a part two. They're both filmed in hugely minimal settings, they're both Francis and his collaborators mirroring each other's movement, and both are directed by visual director Jake Schreier."
And as Francis adds, "Did you know that Kanye West played instrumental role in the 'May I Have This Dance' remix featuring Chance the Rapper music video?"
Benny Blanco has offered his production skills to a number of hit songs over the years -- "May I Have This Dance" included. He explains how the writing/recording of the song happened. Benny recalls:
"When we first laid [down] 'May I Have This Dance,' we were actually in the middle of recording another song. Everyone went out to get a breath of fresh air, and just to walk around, and we were hitting the wall on this song. And then, I was like, 'Alright, I got to cook up something to get the energy.' So, I started making the drumbeat. And I'm like, 'What's my best fake Francis and the Lights song ... like drums I could do?' So, I started doing them. And then I'm like, 'Oh, man. I got to take off all the high end,' because usually when you take off all the high end, Francis comes back in the room and he goes, 'Woo!' And starts dancing, and knocking half the things off of the wall, and all the drinks down while still looking really cool. So, he came in [and] did exactly that. We had a keyboard loaded up. He starts playing the keyboard, and then song just fell out of us. [Aaron] Lammers and Cashmere [Cat] added all this, and it just sounded like one of those records where you're like, 'Oh my God, we got one.' And then, we put the record out."
He adds, "Then, Chance really connected with the record and he did his thing on it. And from there, it's history."