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The American Music Awards got a blast from the ’90s on Sunday when MC Hammer made a surprise appearance with Psy at the end of the show.
Like Psy with his current hit “Gangnam Style,” Hammer sparked his own dance craze more than 20 years ago with his own smash “U Can’t Touch This.”
But they aren’t the only two to get fans moving over the years. From The Hustle to the Macarena, here are five dances that sparked pop culture crazes over the past several decades:
The first rock ‘n’ roll dance craze of the 1960s, The Twist was born of a Chubby Checker remake of the same name. The song was originally a 1959 B-side by popular R&B group Hank Ballard & The Midnighters but became a national sensation thanks to Checker’s distinctive delivery. The easy-to-learn dance cut across age, race and class and was amplified by the growing popularity of television.
A popular club favorite in the 1970s, the Hustle epitomized disco dancing — sometimes solo, sometimes couples, often in groups — and hit critical mass in 1975, when New York’s Van McCoy released a song of the same name. It reached the top of the Billboard pop singles chart three years before Saturday Night Fever became a worldwide smash.
The video for the rapper’s 1990 hit, which sampled Rick James’ “Superfreak,” featuring dancing that was so high-energy Hammer needed customized pants — his trademark Hammer pants, which were baggy up top and tapered at the ankle — to perform it. The song, a worldwide smash, won two Grammys and reached No. 1 on the Billboard hot R&B/hip-hop singles and tracks charts. James later sued Hammer for copyright infringement; the suit was settled out of court when Hammer agreed to give James a co-composer credit.
It was difficult to escape hearing Los del Rio’s song during the mid-’90s. The global hit, about a woman of the same name, also sparked an international dance craze with fairly simple choreography, focusing mostly on arm movements. The song spent 14 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 and also earned Los Del Rio the dubious honor of No. 1 greatest one-hit wonder of all time by VH1 in 2002.
Korea’s Psy has become the latest to spark an international dance craze. Everyone from Britney Spears (in September on The Ellen DeGeneres Show) and Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley (at this month’s Country Music Association Awards) to Madonna (at Madison Square Garden), Hugh Jackman (on the Wolverine set) and Homeland‘s Damian Lewis (on the U.K.’s The Jonathan Ross Show) have tried their hand at performing the moves. Even Glee covered it in an episode airing later this month. Meanwhile, the video — which won best video at this month’s MTV European Music Awards — officially has become the most popular video in history with more than 700 million views worldwide.
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