Artist-to-Watch: Nicotine Dolls’ “Should Have Danced” Is a Hopeful & Inspiring Fever Dream

Nicotine Dolls’ fourth single “Should Have Danced” is an impassioned fever dream full of hope, longing, and electric energy that asserts them as one of the best up-and-coming acts in New York City.




The song is always meant to leave you with hope; with the yearning to go after that thing or person or life you want. It’s always been about hope.

Atwood Magazine artist-to-watch Nicotine Dolls have once again delivered a song that will stun you, inspire you, and take your breath away: The band’s dynamic fourth single “Should Have Danced” is an impassioned fever dream full of hope, longing, and electric energy. As emotional and moody as it is delightfully infectious, the song captures the magic of this fresh-faced quartet and reasserts them as one of the best up-and-coming acts in New York City.

Best of all, it’s a reminder to live each day to the fullest – to trust in our gut when it tells us to jump.

Should Have Danced - Nicotine Dolls

Should Have Danced – Nicotine Dolls

I collapsed in front of beautiful
I relapsed into unusual
Parts of my past
Like an unsigned cast
I should have asked to dance
I’m focused in on the possible
The probability improbable
Wonts better than can’t
It’s impossible to stand
I should of asked you to dance

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “Should Have Danced,” Nicotine Dolls’ first single of 2020 and their fourth overall release since debuting just over a year ago with the song “Fake.” Fronted by charismatic singer/songwriter Sam Cieri alongside guitarist John Hays, bassist John Merritt, and drummer Abel Tabares, Nicotine Dolls make catchy alternative and indie rock music that comes from, and speaks to the soul.

The band burst onto our radar with their sophomore single “The Madness,” which Atwood Magazine praised as a “frenetic fever dream ready to jilt us out of our collective funk,” further calling the music “an intensely magnetizing musical rendering of the emotional impact of anxiety, PTSD, and panic attacks on an individual.” Their third single, “Burning a Good Thing,” was made an Atwood Editor’s Pick and described as “the musical manifestation of emotional turmoil.. Taking cues from acts like The 1975 and The Killers, Nicotine Dolls blaze a path that is unequivocally their own.”

Working with producers Greg Giorgio and Eric Sanderson, Nicotine Dolls have managed to pack a breathtaking amount of raw power into each and every one of their songs, and “Should Have Danced” is no exception. The group’s unassuming, tactile verses slowly build up toward turbulent outpourings of pop/rock ecstasy; muted guitars ultimately thrash around Sam Cieri’s cool, controlled voice as he spills his soul in an upheaval of timely regret:

Every time it happens
I have a heart attack in the same spot
It’s not a lack of passion
just a bad reaction to what I lost

How I miss the romance another hand in my hand
I should’ve asked you to dance
Nicotine Dolls © Tucker Mitchell

Nicotine Dolls © Tucker Mitchell



Speaking to Atwood Magazine, frontman Sam Cieri explains the sincerity and emotion driving Nicotine Dolls’ new song. “I was working as a photographer for a friends dance event about two years ago. At some point into the night I found myself sitting on the floor next to this beautiful girl,” Cieri recalls. “The music was blaring but I pulled and scraped all the confidence I had and yelled over the music to her “Do you want to dance?”. She didn’t hear me and gestured “What?”, at which point all confidence had left my body so I just shook my head and left the dance. I got on the subway and wrote “Should Have Danced.” We usually close our sets with this song under a pretense of hope. The lyrics are about missed opportunity but music is full big cinematic motivation. The song is always meant to leave you with hope; with the yearning to go after that thing or person or life you want. It’s always been about hope.”

A self-described perfectionist, Cieri admits to spending hours and hours tweaking “Should Have Danced” until it was exactly as he had imagined it in his head – making it a true labor of love.

“The recording process took over a year. This song was too important for the people I knew needed to hear it. We had to get it right and luckily we had our dynamic duo in Eric Sanderson (Producer) and Greg Giorgio (Engineer, Mixer) who always kept us focused and on track with the core of the song. The first time I heard it completely I cried. I don’t think I knew how much I needed to hear it too.”

Nicotine Dolls

Nicotine Dolls

It’s been about a million years
But I can still taste tears
There was a life I had planned
I could’ve been a better man
I should’ve asked you to dance
You were leaning on the wall
I was sitting on the floor
There are things you’ll never know
Parts of me that i won’t show
I should’ve asked you to dance

Nicotine Dolls have made a name for themselves not only off their music, but also from their self-produced music videos that they create with their own company, OutaLine Productions. Directed by Cieri, produced by Nyssa Grant, and starring Ashley Ortiz and Maddie EasleyLine, the “Should Have Danced” music video injects additional light and levity into the “Should Have Danced” storyline – highlighting the chase in real time while singling in on that one simple, potentially life-altering action.

“Approaching the video was always something I was looking forward to the most,” Cieri says. “The song is just so cinematic and takes you on this journey, and I couldn’t wait to visualize that. We went through a few different concepts but I loved the idea of the simple, yet impossible task of just saying hi to someone; how that walk to them seems like all of time and space exists between the moment of “I’m gonna do this” and “Hi.” We spent 3 full days running around NYC with our two incredible actors Ashley Ortiz and Maddie Easley filming our romantic little epic. I take so much pride in our visuals because we always do them ourselves through our own production company we started (OutaLine Productions). Bringing the full sonic and visual story of this song to life has been something I am so proud of and something that I want to share with everyone. If there is someone, something, some kind of life you want, but find yourself too afraid to chase, don’t let the missteps and probably improbables stop you. Life isn’t built on the safety we hold, but the risk we take.”

If there is someone, something, some kind of life you want, but find yourself too afraid to chase, don’t let the missteps and probably improbables stop you. Life isn’t built on the safety we hold, but the risk we take.

Nicotine Dolls © Tucker Mitchell

Nicotine Dolls © Tucker Mitchell



Every time it happens
I have a heart attack in the same old spot
It’s not a lack of passion just
A bad reaction to what I lost

How I miss the romance another hand in my hand
I should’ve asked you to dance

“I should’ve asked you to dance”: Nicotine Dolls have taken such a simple phrase, and blown it up into this exciting, phenomenal anthem of hope and possibility.

Everyone can relate to this kind of inaction; we’ve all felt that fleeting crush we ignored out of embarrassment, timidity, or fear of rejection. We’ve all chosen to ignore our feelings, rather than follow through with them and see where they lead. These are the memories we repress; the thoughts we shove deep down because we don’t need to be reminded of a time we failed to take a risk. But how will we ever improve, if we don’t keep the past in mind? How will we ever take risks if we always play it safe? “Should Have Danced” is more than a leap of faith; it’s a charged call to action – emotional and evocative, fiery and full of what-ifs.

Nicotine Dolls © Tucker Mitchell

Nicotine Dolls © Tucker Mitchell



An Atwood Magazine artist-to-watch and one of this writer’s personal favorite new bands, Nicotine Dolls have scored yet another hit with “Should Have Danced.” A hopeful and dramatic upheaval, the song hits home with dazzling passion and intimate fury. It’s inspired, expressive, and altogether unrelenting – a track that gets stuck in the head, the heart, and ultimately the spirit.

Get up and dance as NYC’s brightest newcomers unleash a torrent of anxious, fervent energy on our ears: Stream Nicotine Dolls’ “Should Have Danced” exclusively on Atwood Magazine!

Oh there’s the instinct
Wondering what you’re thinking of
(stuck in an old empty dance hall)
Scared that if I hold you
I’ll shatter what I hold true about love
(Stuck where iIlost all the feeling)
But god I miss the romance
Another hand in my hand
I should have…
I should have asked you to dance

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“Should Have Danced” – Nicotine Dolls




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Should Have Danced - Nicotine Dolls

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Mitch Mosk

Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com