Dance-party playlist: 100 greatest songs for an epic party

House party, BBQ, wedding party or just a bedroom disco, we have the party playlist you need to get the place moving.

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100

"Got to Give It Up" by Marvin Gaye

A boisterous, presumably bell-bottomed crowd, gyrating on the dance floor of your imagination, can be heard high in the mix. Take their whoops as your cue: Marvin Gaye supplies the cool falsetto and someone can be heard rocking the cowbell, but the prime directive here is to dance. When Paul Thomas Anderson needed a backdrop for Dirk Diggler’s glory days in Boogie Nights, this is what he chose.—Joshua Rothkopf

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99

"Treasure" by Bruno Mars

We’re the first to admit that when a song borrows heavily from great hits of the past, it’s usually not as good as its forebears. But “Treasure” by Bruno Mars is an absolute gem in and of itself, a joyful amalgam of the best of disco-era MJ with something quintessentially Bruno Mars. No wonder it’s one of the big hits of summer 2013. Top marks for the deliciously retro video, too.—Sophie Harris

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98

"Rock the Casbah" by the Clash

This funky hit from the Clash’s Combat Rock LP was an anomaly—honestly, the erstwhile punk godfathers had pumped out an even more propulsive bassline for “The Magnificent Seven” on its previous album, Sandinista!… only nobody heard that sprawling three-LP farrago, whereas “Rock the Casbah,” with its whiff of topical exotica, was inescapable thanks to MTV.—Steve Smith

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97

"Super Freak" by Rick James

What is a party if not an excuse to unleash your inner freak? Rick James’s 1981 hit won’t just get people on the dance floor; it will have them bouncing off the walls. With one of the catchiest basslines of all time, an irresistible vocal hook (“She’s a very freaky girl”) and killer backup vocals from the Temptations, “Super Freak” will have the entire party on the ground trying to break-dance in no time.—Derek Schwartz

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96

"All Night Long" by Lionel Richie

“Tam bo li de say de moi ya!” Do you know what that means? Of course not! Will that stop you from singing along and following up with a joyous “Hey jambo jumbo!” in the middle-eight section of this ecstatic party anthem? Oh hell no! The Commodores singer with the voice as smooth as an eel in oil released “All Night Long” in 1983, and it still sounds perfectly crisp. And who cares what all the words mean? Watch Richie’s face light up in the video as he sings, “Fiesta, forever,” and you’ll know exactly what to do.—Sophie Harris

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95

"Rock Your Baby" by George McCrae

Behind every great song, a great story. In the case of this 1974 disco essential, legend has it that KC and the Sunshine Band approached young singer McRae (who was about to go back to college) and asked him to sing on a track with his wife because the high notes were too much for the KC crew. McRae’s wife couldn’t make the session, so George sang it on his own, and “Rock Your Baby” went on to sell 11 million copies around the world—none of which you need to know to enjoy the whispered “sexy woman” at the beginning of the song, nor the drum-machine beats, nor those delicious high notes.—Sophie Harris

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94

"Teach Me How to Dougie" by Cali Swag District

When the cha-cha slide and the cotton-eye Joe just weren’t cutting it anymore, Cali Swag District stepped up to the plate and gave the people exactly what they needed: a choreographed dance that wasn’t vomit-inducing. With its minimalist beat and oh-so-fly rhymes, “Teach Me How to Dougie” quickly became a staple of any successful dance party. Even if the Dougie was just a little too complicated for most people to master, that didn’t stop anybody from proudly screaming, “All my bitches love me / All my all my bitches love me,” and feeling like a player every time the chorus rolled around.—Derek Schwartz

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93

"Maneater" by Hall & Oates

A No. 1 hit in 1982 for the genre-bending Philadelphia “rock & soul” duo Hall & Oates, “Maneater” offers a warning against a predatory femme fatale, set against a vaguely new wave and faintly ominous landscape of saxophone, drums and synthesizer. (The music video features multiple shots of a jaguar on the prowl.) Put the song on a party mix and there’s a good chance that at least one lady in attendance will start vamping it up like a Catwoman on Halloween.—Adam Feldman

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92

"Heart of Glass" by Blondie

“‘Heart of Glass’ was one of the first songs Blondie wrote,” Debbie Harry has been quoted as saying, “but it was years before we recorded it properly. We’d tried it as a ballad, as reggae, but it never quite worked.” As a machine-tooled disco ode to lost love, featuring crystalline synths, a throbbing rhythm section and, floating above it all, Harry’s icy-cool teen-dream vocals, the 1978 cut more than worked—it slayed. And it still does.—Bruce Tantum

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91

"Funkytown" by Lipps Inc.

Composed by Minnesota’s Steven Greenberg for his jokily named studio band, Lipps Inc., “Funkytown” expresses a simple, repetitive yearning for the pulse of a bigger city, goosed by a killer ten-note synth riff. “Gotta make a move to a town that’s right for me,” sings Cynthia Johnson in a robotic, vocoderized voice (a precursor to the Auto-Tune sound) before busting out an unmodified, soulful wail, pleading for a trip to the party destination of her dreams. Released in 1980, “Funkytown” came late to the disco party, but gave it a jolt of electricity.—Adam Feldman

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1 comments
Pam
Pam

What? No Talking Heads??? No Aretha? Come on!