30 Day Song Challenge, Day 6 – “Finally” by CeCe Peniston

The subject for Day 6 of my 30 Day Song Challenge is “A song that makes you want to dance.” This was a tough one for me, as there are literally hundreds upon hundreds of songs that make me want to dance. I considered some great dance songs by the likes of Donna Summer, Madonna, Janet Jackson and Dua Lipa, among others, but when I walked into my local Trader Joe’s last evening and heard the CeCe Peniston classic “Finally” playing on their sound system, I immediately had my song pick for Day 6. I’ve always loved the song, with its infectious throbbing bass drum-driven dance groove and her euphoric soulful and sexy vocals.

First, a bit of background on CeCe: Born Cecilia Veronica “CeCe” Peniston in Dayton, Ohio in 1969, she moved with her family to Phoenix at the age of nine. She attended high school there, and sang at church and performed in plays and musicals in middle and high school, as well as local theater groups. After graduating from high school, she studied liberal arts at Phoenix College, where she got involved in athletics, and entered beauty pageants. She was crowned Miss Black Arizona in 1989.

Her music career began in January 1991, when Felipe “DJ Wax Dawg” Delgado, a record producer and friend also based in Phoenix, asked Peniston to record back-up vocals for Tonya Davis, a rapper known as Overweight Pooch. Though Overweight Pooch’s album was a commercial flop, another DJ and producer Manny Lehman had taken notice of Peniston’s powerful backing vocals. He offered Delgado a chance to produce a track for Peniston to cultivate her potential as a solo artist. Delgado called hometown friend and music producer, Rodney K. Jackson, to help co-produce Peniston’s first single, which would become “Finally”.

Peniston began writing pop songs while in school, and initially wrote the words to “Finally” as a poem during a chemistry class, while thinking about dating and how she hadn’t yet found her Mr. Right. She was 21 years old when “Finally” was released in September 1991, and it became an instant dance hit, reaching #1 only a month later on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart. The song went on to peak at #5 on the Hot 100 in January 1992, and #2 in the UK that March.

It’s major impact on the dance music genre has been recognized by numerous publications. VH1 ranked “Finally” at #29 in their list of the “100 Greatest Dance Songs” in 2000. MTV Dance ranked it #28 in their list of “The 100 Biggest ’90s Dance Anthems of All Time” in 2011. Heart TV ranked it #3 in their list of “55 Biggest ’90s Club Classics” in March 2017. Also in 2017, BuzzFeed placed it at #1 in their list of “The 101 Greatest Dance Songs of the ’90s”, noting “When it comes to ‘90s dance songs, you’d be hard-pressed to find another song that so perfectly incorporates other music genres that made the decade so great — i.e., R&B, house, and pop — which is what makes “Finally” the quintessential ‘90s dance song.” And last, but not least, Slant Magazine ranked it #37 in their list of “The 100 Best Dance Songs of All Time” in 2020. (Wikipedia)

“Finally” was featured in the 1994 Australian film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, a hilarious road comedy written and directed by Stephan Elliott. The film portrays the misadventures of two drag queens, played by Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce, and a transgender woman, brilliantly played by Terence Stamp, as they journey across the Australian Outback from Sydney to Alice Springs in a tour bus that they’ve named “Priscilla”, encountering various groups and colorful individuals along the way. Here’s a clip of the trio’s over the top drag performance to the song:

12 thoughts on “30 Day Song Challenge, Day 6 – “Finally” by CeCe Peniston

  1. Both the artist and the song title didn’t ring a bell, but when I started playing the clip, I recognized the tune right away – definitely a dance tune!

    If you had asked me to pick a dance song, I probably would have have gone with something by Earth Wind & Fire like “September”, Bee Gees, such as “Night Fever” or Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive”. Or perhaps a groovy reggae song like Bob Marley’s “Could You Be Loved”.

    Or The Beatles’ “I’m Happy Just to Dance With You” – just kidding! But you’re right, the choices are endless when it comes to dance tunes.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. You mentioned Priscilla, Wueen of the Desert and the air on my arms stood up, but in a good way. I haven’t thought of that movie in years. It was my best friend (ever) Mikey’s favorite movie. Probably why I love sequins, shiny things and disco balls.

    Liked by 1 person

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