Time Out's top 100 party songs: 20-1

Party hard with our selection of guaranteed floorfillers

1/20

'Rock With You' – Michael Jackson

MJ’s hits grew increasingly shrill and even aggro as he entered the ‘Bad’ zone, but earlier triumphs – like this ‘Off the Wall’ masterpiece – still feel almost impossibly cushy, like easing onto the plushest sofa imaginable. It’s a safe bet that Daft Punk had the ultra-luxurious disco groove of ‘Rock With You’ in mind when they crafted ‘Get Lucky’: strings, horns, that perfectly calibrated tempo and those irresistible come-ons from the future King of Pop. This one is pure class. Hank Shteamer





2/20

'Single Ladies' – Beyoncé

Sure, it’s responsible for one of the most irritating dance moves of recent times (no one should ever do that ridiculous flippy hand thing in public. Or in private. Just stop). However, it’s testament to how much of an impact this minimal, stark, melodically-ambiguous pop hit is. Made up almost entirely of drums, vocals and atonal synths it shouldn’t work, but it’s somehow totally addictive. Eddy Frankel





3/20

'You Got The Love' – The Source featuring Candi Staton

Sometimes, Candi Staton feels like throwing her hands up in the air, as she says in the first line of this 1991 dance anthem. And the minute it kicks in, you feel exactly the same way. That’s the power of brilliant pop music. Eddy Frankel





4/20

'1 Thing' – Amerie

A tiny, ten second sample of an obscure funk track (‘Oh, Calcutta!’ by The Meters) and one hell of a hook is all it took to make one of the most original, unforgettable and groovetastic R&B songs in living memory. Amerie’s dizzy, lovelorn wailing, combined with the sparsest of beats, makes for a totally killer dancefloor-filler. Eddy Frankel





5/20

'Good Times' – Chic

Nile Rodgers pops up on this list yet again, this time with his own band of disco dominators, Chic. His choppy and melodic guitar work is all up at the front with handclaps and big group vocals celebrating just how damn good life can be. It’s also the sample for one the earliest hip hop classics, The Sugarhill Gang’s ‘Rapper’s Delight’ (featuring at number 40). Eddy Frankel





6/20

'No Diggity' – Blackstreet featuring Dr Dre

It’s a fact that no one on earth, save for the members of Blackstreet (who guard the secret tightly), actually knows what ‘no diggity’ means. It’s one of the great mysteries of our time, like who built the pyramids or how magnets work. All that aside, there’s something hypnotic about the fusion of low piano stabs, huge beats and the super smooth harmonies that only Blackstreet can kick out. You wanna know how good this song really is? It knocked the ‘Macarena’ off the top of the charts. That’s how good it is. Eddy Frankel





7/20

'Crazy in Love' – Beyonce

From the funky-ass cowbell breakdown to the frenetic way the former Destiny’s Child frontwoman chants the phrase 'craaazy right now' against the beat, Queen B’s first big solo hit is engineered to make the most inhibited listener lose their mind. And that’s before the song’s inspiration – famous beau Jay Z – drops by for a white-hot verse about being ‘in the Range, / crazy and deranged’; after that, resistance is simply futile. David Fear





8/20

'Push It' – Salt-N-Pepa

You’re not just encouraged to dance during this jam, one of the all-lady rap crew’s first and biggest hits; you’re actually ordered to hit the dancefloor and work up a sweat. Given the song’s thumping beats, it’s pretty much impossible to ignore that request. (We’ll ignore the ruling from Hurby ‘Luv Bug’ Azor, who guests on the song, that pushing it is ‘only [for] the sexy people’). Amy Plitt





9/20

'I Feel Love' - Donna Summer

Sometimes a song comes along that’s so innovative that it changes the shape of the musical landscape for decades, whilst also getting you to shake yo bootay. This timeless, Giorgio Moroder-produced disco anthem from 1977 did exactly that, becoming the first purely electronic jam to make it big and pretty much inventing dance music in the process. Eddy Frankel





10/20

'You Can Call Me Al' – Paul Simon

Sure, you can call him Al, but you’d be better off calling him one of the greatest songwriters of the past 50 years. Not just great, but adventurous too – dashing off to apartheid-era South Africa to work with a bunch of incredible township musicians and creating one of the funkiest pop opuses of recent times in the process. Plus, there’s a bass solo. A backwards one. Just think about how great that is. Eddy Frankel





11/20

'Gold Digger' – Kanye West

We want a prenup! It’s a testament to the sheer infectiousness of ‘Late Registration’s biggest hit that this funny, whip-smart and completely unromantic song was a staple at wedding receptions in the mid-noughties. Tim Lowery





12/20

'Don’t You Want Me' - The Human League

The Human League’s groundbreaking 1981 album, ‘Dare’, helped usher in the age of electro-pop – and the track most responsible for that paradigm shift was ‘Don’t You Want Me’. But despite the song’s obvious pleasures – its sauropod-size synth riffs and the chorus’s devastatingly effective vocal hook among them – it’s a bit strange that 'Don’t You Want Me' has become one of the world’s most played party tunes: lyrically, it’s the rather depressing tale of a gal who’s outgrown a guy, and a guy who implies (somewhat disturbingly) that something bad will happen if the gal doesn’t come back. Bruce Tantum





13/20

'Get Lucky' – Daft Punk

This hugely anticipated (not to mention hyped) comeback single from Daft Punk became the summer anthem of 2013. ‘Get Lucky’ finds the French duo switching its modus operandi from referencing classic disco music to actually creating it: the single features (and was co-written by) Chic star and producer Nile Rodgers (yep, him again), as well as hip hop mastermind Pharrell Williams – who, you may be interested to know, heard about the project from Daft Punk at a Madonna party. (Yeah, Pharrell, they asked us, too.) Besides becoming a dancefloor phenomenon, the song also inspired Durex to produce its own line of ‘Get Lucky’ condoms. Sophie Harris





14/20

'I Wanna Dance With Somebody' – Whitney Houston

In the wake of Houston’s tragic death, we heard this immortal jam, more than any other single by the pop queen, blasting at parties and bars, and it wasn’t hard to see why. A hit in 1987, ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ embodies Houston as we all want to remember her: carefree, upbeat and bursting with exuberant emotion. The song itself embodies all those qualities and endures as a quintessentially ’80s dancefloor masterpiece for the ages. You can’t not beam when this one’s on. Hank Shteamer





15/20

'Let’s Dance' – David Bowie

If there’s one thing this list makes crystal clear, it’s that Nile Rodgers is the undisputed god of all partying. He’s appeared on this list in a host of different ways (sampled on ‘Rapper’s Delight’, writer of Diana Ross’s ‘I’m Coming Out’) and here he is again, helping David get his groove on with this 1983 classic. A perfect hybrid of rock drums and disco bass, it’s the ideal song to keep you grooving till moonlight. Serious moonlight. Oliver Keens





16/20

'Ignition (Remix)' - R Kelly

Robert Kelly has assumed a special status in the cultural canon. Just watch his dissection by comedian Aziz Ansari for a sense of out-there the star has become.. The ‘Ignition’ lyrics are as dirty as you’d expect, but couched in a hook tailor-made for the club. Its release in 2003 saw plenty of smiling ladies dancing along to couplets like ‘I’m about to take my key / And stick it in the ignition.’ Aware of Kelly’s lecherousness or not, they were having a great time. Colin St. John





17/20

'Everywhere' - Fleetwood Mac

A sound like the tinkling of a thousand magical waterfalls ushers in the Mac’s greatest pop song. Keyboardist and singer Christine McVie’s 1988 hit is so close to perfect, so uplifting and filled with neat musical twists, that no one can resist drunkenly singing along to the near endless ‘oh-ahs’ of the chorus. Eddy Frankel





18/20

'All Night Long' – 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





19/20

'Don't Stop ’Til You Get Enough' – Michael Jackson

We’re not entirely convinced MJ himself quite knew what enough was; otherwise he might have stopped, eh? But it’s a damn good thing he stuck around for long enough to spread the gospel of pop with this totemic 1979 disco jam. The shakers lead you into the track with Michael muttering about how the force ‘makes me feel like… makes me feel like…. WOO!’ and the minute it kicks in, you know exactly what he’s talking about. It’s not gibberish. It’s the language of funk. And somehow, when Michael speaks it, we’re all fluent. Eddy Frankel





20/20

'Hey Ya!' – Outkast

It's official. The ‘party-o-meter’ has spoken, and ‘Hey Ya!’ is Time Out's top tune. Why? Just try not dancing to this song when it comes on. Get through the whole four minutes without as much as a toe tap, and your soul is clearly as stale and shrivelled as a weeks-old jacket potato. Produced and sung by Andre 3000 (the more flamboyant half of the Atlanta hip hop outfit), ‘Hey Ya!’ is a leftfield R&B masterpiece – on the one hand, a sexual statement of intent, and on the other a passionate lament for the death of love. But more than any of this, it's a bona fide groover that makes us asthmatic with dancefloor appreciation. Here, more specifically, are the five elements that make up ‘Hey Ya!’s mojo.


Sex
Andre takes a leaf out of Prince’s sticky book by, simply, putting it all out there. ‘Don’t want to meet your momma,’ he states. ‘Just want to make you come-ah!’ Orgasms all round!

Shaking it
Specifically in the manner of a Polaroid picture. Boringly, this won’t actually hasten the speed at which your film develops, so why not simply jiggle with your Instagram app instead?

Nonsense
A great party tune relies on the three ‘R’s: repetition, repetition and repetition. ‘Hey Ya!’ features its titular holler 25 times, as well as 19 ‘uh oh’s and 14 consecutive ‘alright’s. You just can’t argue with those numbers.

Funk
The song’s gently strummed guitar and lovelorn lyrics touch the heart. But, it’s the body-shaking, P-funk bassline which bites the booty, reminding you to ‘get on the floor’.

Audience Interaction
Hand claps; call-and-response yowling; an invitation to the neighbourly lending of sugar: ‘Hey Ya!’ is as keen as a Butlin’s Red Coat to get you involved. Even the late, great Lou Reed was a fan, calling it ‘the perfect rock ’n’ roll song’. And what Lou says, goes. Jonny Ensall





Comments

5 comments
star r
star r

A lot of good ones in 100-30, a lot of great dance songs missed too. But the top 20 is ridiculous. Some I've never heard of then Paul Simon and David Bowie are great musicians but I would never dance to them, lol! Fleetwood Mac, really?

Imho Pitbull and Boney M should be up there too.

Solomon
Solomon

Roxanne. And Gold Dust by DJ Fresh although that may be slightly on the niche side of mainstream for this list. And of course Waterfalls by TLC. Everyone loves harmonising to Waterfalls. Fantasy by Mariah Carey? And I would have expected I Need A Dollar in there at some point even though I'm glad it's not. And no party is complete without Craig David all over your....

Solomon
Solomon

Roxanne. And Gold Dust by DJ Fresh although that may be slightly on the niche side of mainstream for this list. And of course Waterfalls by TLC. Everyone loves harmonising to Waterfalls. Fantasy by Mariah Carey? And I would have expected I Need A Dollar in there at some point even though I'm glad it's not. And no party is complete without Craig David all over your....

Mia
Mia

Fact: Michael Jackson needs his own top 100 party list. Don't put him at number 2 to deprive him of the number 1 spot just because it's predictable. Give him his credit - he more than earned & deserves it. It's like when people ask who is your favourite artist & you reply Michael Jackson and they say "of course - but who out of all the others?" There is no-one else that can make people move like Michael Jackson! He is in a league of his own. The party is not a party unless at least 3 MJ tracks get played...ask the dancefloor!!!

David
David

Only a couple of absolute screamers missed here. GET LUCKY and DON'T STOP BELIEVING, CRITICIZE and ROXANNE Aside from that very very good work.