If you enjoy dancing, you’ll want to get up and boogie to this 20-song collection that includes some of the most dance-tastic tunes ever recorded.1. “Smooth” by Santana featuring Rob Thomas. It only took about 20 years between notable hits, but this mega mix by Santana made up for two decades of lost time. And talk about danceablilty. It’s one of those unique, timeless creations that one never tires of hearing, or dancing to. This verdict was confirmed at the 2000 Grammy Awards, when Santana danced away with “Song of the Year,” among other impressive awards for giving the world such a silky “smooth” dance-dictating hit.2. “Lady Marmalade” by LaBelle. This dance-provoking smash hit struck gold for the first time in 1975. Musically speaking, LaBelle featured a trio of talented female vocalists singing the mirky tale of a john-seeking prostitute in New Orleans. When its popularity was at its peak in the mid-70s, LaBelle sang this strongly suggestive song on TV’s “Midnight Special.” Viewers were shocked by Labelle’s metallic Martian-esque costumes of a flashy, fleshy, futuristic nature.
“Lady Marmalade” was propelled into the dancemosphere for a second time in 2001, when it was revived by Christina Aguilara, Lil’ Kim, Mya and Pink. Both colorful versions are irresistable pieces of dance floor candy.
3. “Thriller” by Michael Jackson. “Thriller” is still named as the best-selling album of all time, and the title cut has been bringing dancing zombies to their curled up toes since its release in 1982. In fact, “Thriller’s” stomping zombie boogie has spawned its own line dance, while showing the world that a music video can truly be an art form of magnificent dimensions.
All things considered, one question arises like a dance-driven zombie on a moonlit night: Which came first? The line dancing craze or Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video? By the way, anyone who has never seen this incredible music video adventure should scare themselves into doing so.
4. “Funkytown” by Lipps Inc. If we rewind the disco tape back to 1980, we shake our way back to disco’s favorite place, Funkytown. This one-hit wonder nominee never fails to bring dancers of all ages to their feet to glide across the dance floor to the song’s relentless rhythm. You know a song has reached a remarkable level of fame when it is covered by the Alvin and the Chipmonks 27 years after its release.
5. “U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer. Wearing oversized clothes and performing high impact aerobics, this dance leader’s new style of performing left an imprint with his energetic fusion of funk and rock in the early 1990s. Often still, 20 years later, if people get “hammered” enough, they find themselves stepping lively to the compelling groove this tune provides. Of course, we could consider that the background rhythms and riffs for “U Can’t Touch This” were creatively recycled from Rick James’ “Superfreak,” but this fact opens up a whole new can of funkified worms.
6.”Brick House” by The Commodores. This feisty slice of funk still evokes boogieing with the same zest as it did in 1977 when it was released. It crosses musical genre lines, and has been heard at country western dance events, weddings, high school dances, and disco clubs across the world. Maybe it has something to do with the voluptious woman, or “brick house” interpretation. A more likely story behind this solid song’s undying popularity is thanks to a combination of gravelly lyrics set to serious funk via bass and drums.
7. “Macarena” by Los del Rio – This list would not be complete without “Macarena,” one of the best dance workout tunes ever written. This danceaholic ditty from the mid-1990s constantly prompts arms to flail and hips to sail when dance lovers dash haphazardly to the dance floor at the first hint of this song’s presence. It is a Spanish song about a woman named “Macarena,” and it earned the impressive title as the top “Greatest One-Hit Wonder of All Time,” in 2002 as deemed by VH1.
8. “Beat It” by Michael Jackson. In 1983, “back in the day” when MTV actually showed music videos, millions were mesmerized by Michael Jackson’s dynamic “Beat It” video. This musical masterpiece featured Jackson making some of his best ultra-sharp moves, accompanied by a bevy of sexy gang members all gyrating to the beat, maneuvering their masculinity across the back alley set. This West-Side-Story-Gone-Wild dramatic dance scene has inspired millions since its debut, and will undoubtedly continue to do so for another musical millinneum or two.
9. “I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred. This 1992 dance-inducing favorite exemplifies the true meaning of “one-hit wonder.” Right Said Fred hit the dance nail squarely on its pulsating head with “I’m Too Sexy,” a tender little tune about amazing your cat with your sexiness while parading and prancing down the all-important cat-walk. Ultimately, Right Said Fred’s male vocalist ends up too sexy for himself, which might explain why he was never able to get liftoff clearance for ensuing musical flights.
10. “Shake Your Bootie” by KC and the Sunshine Band. The same boogiefied command that prompted stampedes to the dance floor in 1976 still sizzles today. The song’s shake appeal is obviously how it cooked its way to the Billboard Hot 100 because the lyrics don’t offer a whole lot of emotional depth: “Shake shake shake — shake shake shake — shake your booty — shake your booty…”
All lyrical interpretations aside, this KC and the Sunshine Band classic has prompted the masses to shake their booties for 34 years and counting.
11. “Love Shack” by The B-52s. Eternal rockers, The B-52s, burst onto the unsuspecting dance scene in 1989 with “Love Shack.” This Cadillac-driven song’s surreal location is a swinging place where “Everybody’s movin’, everybody’s groovin’.” After the band’s 1976 formation in Athens, GA, The B-52s’ music metamorphasized from edgy punk tinged with dissonance to major danceable mainstream.
12. “Mambo No. 5” by Lou Bega. One can only wonder if “Mambo No. 5” was such a runaway hit because massive multiple copies were purchased by women named Jessica, Erica, Angela, Sandra, Pamela, Monica, Rita and Tina. This mammoth mambo-themed 1999 super song also fed dancing appetites with a solid dance beat, flavored with a dash of Latino liveliness and a smidgeon of big-band boldness. An all-around excellent choice for dance stimulation, “Mambo No. 5” truly is a great dance “number.”
13. “Love to Love Ya Baby” by Donna Summer. The best parts of this 1975 disco-ball bearing dance floor classic are the rhythm combined with Ms. Summer’s unfaltering vocal delivery. The inviting, irrelevant lyrics blend deliciously with the song’s repetitious, unfaltering beat. The end result is a melodic mixture that evokes a timeless dance trance.
14. “Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks. Here’s a familiar country classic that sprouts line dancers like bean shoots whenever and wherever its crooner’s dirty laundry is aired. This 1990 low-glowing boast is so danceable that folks will even scoot and toot when karoake slaughterers are mutilitating its saggy braggy lyrcs. All kidding aside, in the genre of country music, this time-weathered tune measures big on the danceometer scale, and most likely will continue to do so for a month of leap years.
15. “Let The Music Play” by Shannon. Outstanding, lively percussion lines underscoring Shannon’s powerful vocals cause this dance-inducing melody to liven up the dance floor. Categorized as Latin freestyle, “Let The Music Play” broke into first place on the U.S. Dance Chart in 1983. Even though this dancesterpiece missed the heavy-duty disco age by a year or two, it still manages to cause major ripples across dance pools decades later.
16. “Hollaback Girl” by Gwen Stefani and Pharrell. This 2005 hit thumps and bumps its way into your psyche. Stefani’s “attitude” song from her first solo album, this urban-laced lament was sparked by a spunky comment made by Courtney Love in which she referred to Stefani as a “cheerleader.”
The dance world is deeply grateful to Love for acting as the underlying catalyst for such an electrifying work of rhythmic art. Billboard ranks it as number 41 in its list of most popular songs of the decade. In this writer’s book, “Hollaback Girl” wins the #1 slot for most creative use of a marching band drumline.
17. “Ring My Bell” by Anita Ward. “Ring My Bell” consistently strikes a serious dance nerve. It was released during disco’s burning inferno peak in 1979, and its mindless, repetitious lyrics are almost soothing to those swooning to the song’s full 8 minutes: “Well lay back and relax while I put away the dishes — Then you and me can rock a bell — You can ring my be-eh-ell, ring my bell…”
18. “White Wedding” by Billy Idol. We find a catchy, foot-stomping musical hook amid a curious meandering of dark innuendoes in this 1982 punked-out classic. Who hasn’t clapped and/or stomped during the five accented beats in the song’s chorus? Sparking a desire to dance whenever it’s heard, “White Wedding” probably isn’t on most family-friendlly wedding songlists.
As a bit of “Idolized” trivia, the bride featured in this borderline-brutal gothic wedding video was named Perri Lister, Idol’s girlfriend at the time.
19. “Don’t You Want Me” by The Human League. It’s difficult to avoid groaning inwardly at the thought of this sappy singing duo spilling their guts about their sexual insecurities. However, beneath their melodic paranoia lies a disco poppy techno-beat that makes one’s feet latch onto the song’s rhythm regardless of the tune’s cocktail waitress’ inquiry. Let’s not overlook how popular this number is when two people want to sing a karaoke calamity to each other as a duet. Regardless of the details, this 1982 classic still works on the dance floor.
20. “Here Comes The Rain Again” by The Eurythmics. This curious duo of interesting-looking human beings produced a pair of beautiful, haunting dance hits with a keyboard/drum machine combo and a woman’s husky, melifluous voice. Transforming the musical category from discotheque to technodisc, “Here Comes The Rain Again” has flooded the dance floor more often than not since its 1984 splash onto the music scene. The Eurythmics’ other hit was “Sweet Dreams.”
Now that you’ve danced down Disco Lane, it’s time to Get Up And Boogie!