By now, most moviegoers have seen Joaquin Phoenix’s surprisingly nimble Joker Fred Astaire his way down a stairway, whether they’ve seen the movie or not. It’s in the trailer. It’s been immortalized in a deft SNL parody. It’s burrowed its way into the cinematic collective consciousness.
There’s just one problem with the otherwise beautifully rendered moment in the film that precedes its violent third act: the song choice.
Not only does archetypal jock jam “Rock and Roll Part 2” feel tonally inconsistent with what’s happening in the scene—the completion of Phoenix’s fiendish transformation—but it’s a song made by convicted pedophile Gary Glitter. If the song doesn’t briefly take viewers out of the movie with tailgate party memories, it might do it by reminding them that true villains walk among us, and they don’t all wear greasepaint.
Director Todd Phillips’s use of the song has been a sticking point for critics, some of whom were probably relieved to find out that Gary Glitter will not receive royalties from it. That hasn’t stopped the stairs-dancing sequence from becoming a bona fide pop-culture phenomenon, within the greater phenomenon of the film’s success. (It’s made nearly $750m worldwide over three weekends and is on its way to becoming the No. 1 R-rated movie of all time.)
Fortunately, the internet is undefeated in solving problems such as problematic music choices in notable movie scenes. Not only is there a Twitter account entirely devoted to scoring the scene with other songs; doing so has become a trend unto itself.
Here are some of our favorites.
Africa- Toto pic.twitter.com/dHwte8DCE2
— Joker Dancing On The Stairs To (@JokerStairs) October 18, 2019
The NBA on NBC theme song
Because the only problem with Gary Glitter’s song is that it isn’t sports-y enough.
Joker so obviously went with the wrong cheeseball sports anthem. The Joker on The NBA on NBC woulda been a slam dunk! pic.twitter.com/5Pk3Af7e9H
— Chris Cal????ger???? (@RealChrisCal) October 21, 2019
Nicki Minaj, “Super Bass”
Because Joker, canonically, has that boom badoom boom boom badoom boom bass.
joker dancing to super bass by nicki minaj pic.twitter.com/hU5fcWlkHR
— eva (@reygadot) October 15, 2019
Aurora, “Apple Tree”
Because in his own way, Joker is just a boy. Whether we should let him save the world is up for debate.
— ???? CarolinE ◟̽◞̽ (@aheartinonehome) October 19, 2019
Powerline, “Stand Out”
Because of course someone named “Joker” would appreciate music from A Goofy Movie.
the dance of freedom. the death bells. the rising of the joker.
one of the most magnificent, sublime, monumental, extraordinary scenes in cinema history pic.twitter.com/awKQIcnFEt
— No Dana only Zuul (@DanaSchwartzzz) October 21, 2019
Supertramp, “Goodbye Stranger”
Because this song actually does kind of work in the scene and is period-appropriate and is a funny substitute.
Joker dancing to Goodbye Stranger pic.twitter.com/t7vhXkCB3M
— DEJ (@DawsonEJoyce) October 13, 2019
And though we may not yet have the inevitable Joker-dancing-to-the-Rocky-theme mashup, this image will have to suffice for now.
Joker dancing at the top of the staircase at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, popularly known as the 'Rocky Steps' pic.twitter.com/nDZQTCA717
— Joker Dancing in Random Locations (@JokerIsAnywhere) October 21, 2019