"The Loco-Motion" is notable for appearing in the American Top 5 three times, each time in a different decade: in 1962 by the American pop singer Little Eva, in 1974 by American band Grand Funk Railroad and finally by Australian singer Kylie Minogue in 1988.
The song is a popular and enduring example of the dance-song genre: much of the lyrics are devoted to a description of the dance itself, usually done as a type of line dance. However, the song came before the dance.
"The Loco-Motion" Myth
The widely believed story of how the song "The Loco-Motion" came to be is that Carole King was playing music at home and Eva Boyd was doing some chores and started dancing to it; the dance The Loco-Motion was born. However, this is not true. Eva Boyd was introduced to Goffin and King and they realized she had a good singing voice, so they had her record "The Loco-Motion". Carole King stated this during an interview on National Public Radio (NPR) shortly after Little Eva died.
As the song came before the dance, there was no dance when the song was originally written. When the song became a smash hit, Eva Boyd ended up having to create a dance to go along with the song. Carole King stated this in her "One to One" concert video. In live performances of the song, Little Eva can be seen doing her version of the dance.
The 1988 release of the song in the United Kingdom debuted at No. 2 on the singles chart — the highest entry on the UK singles charts by a female artist — due to strong 7" single sales and radio airplay. It remained in the number two position for four weeks before falling to number three. With sales of 440,000 it was the 11th best selling single of the year. The song became Minogue's third top five rated single in the UK and remains one of her most successful single releases to date.
During late 1988, Minogue traveled to the United States to promote "The Loco-Motion", where she did many interviews and performances on American television. The song was also used in the hit film around the world at the time, Arthur 2: On the Rocks starring Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli. "The Loco-Motion" debuted at No. 80 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and later climbed to No. 3 for two weeks. The song was Minogue's second single to chart in the U.S., but her first to reach the top ten. To this day, the song remains as her highest charting single in the United States; however, her second overall and most recent song to reach the top ten was 2002's "Can't Get You Out of My Head", which reached No. 7 on the chart, and ended up outselling "The Loco-Motion". In Canada, the song also reached the top spot in the pop sales charts.