You Can Dance is the first remix album by American singer-songwriter Madonna. It was released on November 17, 1987, by Sire Records. The album contains remixes of tracks from her first three studio albums Madonna, Like a Virgin and True Blue and a new track, "Spotlight". In the 1980s, remixing was still a new concept and technology, by which a particular vocal phrase could be endlessly copied, repeated, chopped up, transposed up and down in pitch and give them more echo, reverberation, treble or bass. Madonna became interested in the concept, noting that she hated when others remixed her songs and wanted to do it by herself.
Madonna turned to her old friend and producer John "Jellybean" Benitez to help her remix the songs, and also enlisted the help of Patrick Leonard, the producer of True Blue. The mixes on You Can Dance exhibited a number of typical mixing techniques. Instrumental passages were lengthened to increase the time for dancing, which undermined the tighter structure of the original pop song. Vocal phrases were repeated and subjected to multiple echoes, panned across the stereophonic sound outlets. At certain points, almost no music is heard except the drums and at other times, the drums are removed with only the hi-hat left to keep time. The album cover denoted Madonna's continuous fascination with Hispanic culture.
After its release, You Can Dance received generally mixed reviews from critics, some of whom noted how the already known songs appeared to them in a complete new structure, calling it an essential album to be played at parties. You Can Dance was a commercial success, earning a platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipment of a million copies, and reaching the top twenty of the Billboard 200. It reached the top ten of the album charts of France, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom, and went on to sell five million copies worldwide, making it the second best-selling remix album of all time, behind only Blood on the Dance Floor from Michael Jackson. "Spotlight" was the only single released from the album in Japan, but charted on the airplay charts ofBillboard due to radio play.
In November 1987, Warner Bros. Records commissioned the release of You Can Dance—Madonna's first retrospective which was aimed at the dance segment of her audience. It was an album containing seven of Madonna's songs in remixed format, which was still a revolutionary concept in the 1980s. By the mid-eighties, post-disco dance music was extremely popular and the concept of remix was widely regarded as a new direction of music. Several artists were remixing their tracks and compiling them to create new albums. Mixing was an interpretative process, where the artist was usually involved, but the development was generally looked after the record producer. The different parts of a song, including the lead vocals, background vocals, guitars, bass, synths, drum machine all went through the process of mixing to sound considerably different from their original counterpart. Mixing determined how loud these instruments were going to sound in relation to each other and what particular sound effects should be added to each instrument.Improvements in studio technologies meant the possibility of shaping the sound of a song in any way, after it has been recorded. The arrangements were itself created at the mixing stage, rather than being created previously. A particular vocal phrase could be endlessly copied, repeated, chopped up, transposed up and down in pitch and give them more echo, reverberation, treble or bass.
It was this concept which intrigued Madonna, while she was developing her third studio album True Blue. She said, "I hate it when people do master mixes of my records. I don't want to hear my songs changed like that. I don't know that I like it, people screwing with my records. The jury is out on it for me. But the fans like it, and really, this one was for the fans, for the kids in the clubs who wanted to hear these songs in a fresh new way." She went to Warner with the idea of releasing her songs by remixing them in a complete dance tune. From Warner's point of view, the rise of remix was a commercial boon, because it meant making more money out of the same piece of music. Instead of paying Madonna to go to studio and record different tracks, they found that allowing her to record the same tracks in different formats was much less costly. Hence they decided to release the album, but gave full freedom to Madonna to choose the producers with whom she wanted to develop the remixes.