Officially, it's the "Infernal Galop" from from Act II, Scene 2 of Jacques Offenbach
's 1858 operetta Orpheus in the Underworld.
To the rest of the world, it's simply "the cancan song." And it's usually (although not always) a cue for high-kicking Chorus Girls
to hit the stage. To that end, it's a quintessential part of the Public Domain Soundtrack
and Standard Snippet
(And if the song's already running through your head as you read this? Yeah, it's a major Earworm
Because of its high-energy, feel-good nature, its use as a trope falls under one of the following conditions:
- Type A: Accompanying a performance of the cancan dance itself.
- Type B: To underscore a comedic/slapstick action sequence.
Remember: not all performances of the cancan (dance) are set to the Cancan Song, and not all appearances of the song signal a performance of the dance.
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- The Shop Rite supermarket chain's long-running annual (and more recently, semi-annual) Can Can sale of canned goods. Type A, but with custom lyrics ("Now, Shop Rite does the cancan/Selling lots of brands of/Everything in/Cans cans!")
- Also Type A: Scottish brewer Irn-Bru set a world record in 2009 by getting 10,000 people to kick up their heels as part of their "Can Clan" campaign. Real cancan dancers were recruited to help out.
- French Cancan: Type A, and rightly so.
- Averted in both the 1952 and 2001 Moulin Rouge films, although Fatboy Slim's thumping version from the latter has become an alternate soundtrack for many dance troupes, and the pitch scene is performed to the same music.
- Also averted in the Frank Sinatra/Shirley MacLaine film of Cole Porter's Can-Can.
- Stardust has a Type B usage of the song: the (literally) closeted Captain Shakespeare minces about in his wardrobe while a sword battle rages outside his cabin.
- Looney Tunes: Back in Action: Averted in the live-action saloon scenes, but played straight as a Type A when Elmer Fudd is chasing Bugs and Daffy through the Louvre and they wind up in one of Toulouse-Lautrec's paintings.
- Peter's Friends begins with six college friends performing the Can-Can based "The Underground Song" at a school function before graduation. At the end of the movie, they sing the song together at a reunion, cementing their True Companions status.
- George of the Jungle: Type B, when George is beating the crap out of the mooks.
- Midnight in Paris: Type A, when Gil and Adriana watch a nightclub performance of the cancan.
Live Action TV
- The Benny Hill Show had at least two Type A occurences — but in these cases, they were "normal" women (e.g. policewomen, hospital nurses) inspired to kick it up when the song commenced. (Ironically, the one time the show included REAL cancan dancers, they performed to Khachaturian's "Sabre Dance.")
- The number of amateur and professional dance troupes worldwide who perform the cancan to the Infernal Galop is literally in the hundreds, if not thousands.