Time Out's top 100 party songs: the ultimate dance playlist

Party hard with our selection of guaranteed floorfillers



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You’re having a party, you say? Not sure what to cue up on your iPhone? Rest assured, we've got you covered. In fact, we’re worried that our playlist of the 100 greatest party songs may actually cause your dancefloor to spontaneously combust in an explosion of pure joy and body-moving ecstasy. That’s how good we think is.

Have we missed out your favourite party tune? Do you think our Number One song deserves to be at the top? Tell us what you think in the comments box below or tweet us at @TimeOutMusic.

Our top 100 party songs: 40-21


'Rapper’s Delight' – The Sugarhill Gang

Back in the days when sampling wasn't such a legal quagmire, having a colour TV was something to boast about and rappers had names like Hank, New Jersey’s Sugarhill Gang were the first group to show that a rap track could also be mega-hit. The 14 minutes, 35 seconds-long full-length version had to be edited down a little, however, before ‘Rapper’s Delight’ could break into the charts. The track works silky rhymes and elements of Chic’s ‘Good Times’ into an epic and (by today’s standards) very modest picture of hip hop excess. A Holiday Inn, you say? How swanky. Jonny Ensall

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Rapper's Delight' video


'Together in Electric Dreams' – Philip Oakey and Giorgio Moroder

What a team! Phil ‘Don’t You Want Me?’ Oakey and Giorgio ‘I Feel Love’ Moroder! Together, they were bound to create some magical moment of pure pop innovation that would change the course of music forever and get booties shakin’ all over the globe! Nah, not really, but they did manage a top notch ’80s pop gem. Just a shame they didn’t call themselves ‘Moroakey’. Eddy Frankel

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Together In Electric Dreams' video


'Toxic' – Britney Spears

The main lesson to take from the video to Britney’s eastern-tinged 2003 mega-hit is that she would make a truly terrible stewardess. And also that her skin is in fact diamond-encrusted, which is actually pretty awesome. She can also dance her way through laser sensors, and will kill you. All that aside, however, pop hits don’t get much bigger than this. It really is Britney at her best. Eddy Frankel

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Toxic' video


'212' – Azealia Banks

With a beat that’s bouncier than flubber and a ridiculous collision of rapid-fire, ultra-offensive rap verses and super poppy, husky-voiced lyricism, ‘212’ was a pretty incredible way for Banks to announce herself to the world back in 2011. The number of C-bombs she drops means this isn’t for the faint of heart, but then neither is getting wild in a club, amirite? Eddy Frankel

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the '212' video


'This Charming Man' – The Smiths

Guaranteed to blow the roof off any indie disco between John O’ Groats and Land’s End, ‘This Charming Man’ is kicked off by Johnny Marr’s jangly, drawn-out guitar line. It’s the funk-trained rhythm section of Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke, however, which keeps it pogoing along relentlessly. When the chorus hits, you’ll be hard pressed not to swing your gladioli and belt it out in your best Moz voice. James Manning

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'This Charming Man' video


'SexyBack' – Justin Timberlake

‘I’m bringing sexy back,’ former Mouseketeer and boy band escapee Justin Timberlake declares at the start of his 2006 single, making the case that he’d grown up more bluntly than a you-know-what in a box. Add Timbaland’s slinky groove to Timberlake’s come-hither ’tude, and your post-dancefloor destiny is unquestionably horizontal. Steve Smith

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'SexyBack' video


'Common People' – Pulp

Only the English could turn class struggle into one of the greatest moments in modern pop history. Cocker and co’s cutting critique of British society is propelled along by tinny Casio keyboard sounds and a pile-driving 4/4 beat, all coupled with lyrics that you can’t help but shout along to. Eddy Frankel

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Common People'


'Superstition' – Stevie Wonder

Pop music may not be the obvious place to call out phoney beliefs, but in the hands of Stevie Wonder and his crunchy funk jam, it just works. Superstition ain’t the way, people – Stevie said so. And when rock-hard riffs are doused in Clavinet keyboard flourishes and horn section licks, it’s hard not to agree. Eddy Frankel

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Superstition' video


'Kiss' – Prince

The omnisexual twirls and splits Prince busts in the official video for this sleek 1986 jam might convert the most hardened disbeliever, but honestly, he had us at the tingly guitar licks, the tighter-than-a-duck’s-arse beat and the instantly memorable chorus: ‘You don’t have to be rich to be my girl / You don’t have to be cool to rule my world.’ You don’t believe him, of course – but you want to. Steve Smith

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Kiss' video


'Born Slippy (Nuxx)' – Underworld

If any lyric better sums up British joie de vivre than ‘Shouting lager, lager, lager, lager,’ we have yet to hear it. After being featured in the ‘Trainspotting’ soundtrack of 1996, this relentless techno assault became as much a part of the British cultural landscape as the Queen and Marmite. Eddy Frankel

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Born Slippy' video


'Two Can Play that Game' – Bobby Brown

We don’t know who the harlot was that broke Bobby’s heart, but we’re glad she did. In cooking up a dish of sweet revenge, Boston’s Robert Brown unwittingly created one of the biggest party tunes of all time. The track may have started out as a smooth R&B gem, but less than a year after its release it was transformed by Welsh producers K-Klass into the piano house banger we’ve all been doing the running man to ever since. Danielle Goldstein

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Two Can Play That Game' video


'Superfreak' – 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 dancefloor; 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, ‘Superfreak’ will have the entire party on the ground trying to break-dance in no time. Derek Schwartz

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Superfreak' video


'Pump Up the Jam' – Technotronic

Incessant use of the word ‘booty’, a driving four-on-the-floor drumbeat and a psychedelic music video featuring divas in neon spandex suits spinning like propellers. It’s no wonder 'Pump Up the Jam' became a massive hit in 1989, pretty much kickstarting the mainstream hip-house movement. Who could resist those insouciant vocals (supposedly uttered by Congolese model Felly Kilingi), littered with slang phrases that you haven’t heard in at least 15 years? Also note: ‘pump up the jam’ became a slang term for masturbation in Flemish. The more you know, people. Derek Schwartz

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Pump Up The Jam' video


'Twist and Shout' – The Beatles

This rock ’n’ roll song had been recorded at least four times before The Beatles got their hands on it, but it’s their version that has become definitive. They cut it in a single take at the very end of a 12-hour recording session, with John Lennon suffering from a bad cold and stripped to the waist. ‘That last song nearly killed me,’ he said afterwards – but his hoarse, frantic vocals and the rest of the band's intense, spot-on performance make ‘Twist and Shout’ The Beatles’ most dependable roof-raiser. (Oh, and thanks to John Hughes and Ferris Bueller, a new generation of kids picked up on the song as an anti-school soundtrack, 20 years later). James Manning

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch The Beatles perform 'Twist And Shout'


'Mr Brightside' – The Killers

The soundtrack to a thousand student night trysts, The Killers’ debut single is the quintessential mid-noughties indie anthem. Few tracks better encapsulate the guyliner-and-winklepicker-driven sound of the forlorn, romantic, pop-rockin’ mid-2000s. Eddy Frankel

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Mr Brightside' video


'Like a Prayer' – Madonna

A truly great party has to have drama, and who better to provide this than the Queen of Pop, Madonna? Indeed, there was drama around ‘Like a Prayer’ even before the single came out in 1989 – remember that Pepsi ad campaign? And then there’s the song itself: jags of electric guitar followed by a huge, cavernous drum thwack. A waft of angelic choir singing. Then: ‘Life is a mystery / Everyone must stand alone / I hear you call my name / And it feels like…’ – wait for it – ‘…home.’ And lo, the drumbeat kicks in and we’re thrust right into the chorus. ‘Like a Prayer’ is a crazy, outlandish, imaginative, absurd song, which makes its success as a dancefloor-filler all the more ridiculous and wonderful. Add in a dollop of worldwide scandal, objections from the Vatican and the sickest gospel coda ever to feature in a pop song – and you have one of the greatest party songs ever recorded. Sophie Harris

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Like A Prayer' video


'This Is How We Do It' – Montell Jordan

If ever a song was guaranteed to make you break a hip while doing the running-man on a booze-drenched dancefloor, Montell’s 1995 new jack swing classic is the one. We all know what he’s on about: it’s Friday night, you feel alright, you reach for the 40, the party is up on the west side – it’s the universality of the lyrics, and that big ol’ bouncy groove, that makes this such a disco destroyer. Eddy Frankel

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'This Is How We Do It' video


'Groove Is in the Heart' – Deee-Lite

In this tale of New York’s anything-is-possible East Village of the late ’80s, a trio of candy-coloured club kids – Super DJ Dmitri, Lady Miss Kier and Towa Tei – decide to form a band. The threesome (with a little help from ringers Q-Tip, Maceo Parker and Bootsy Collins) come up with ‘Groove Is in the Heart’, a sweetly innocent percolator of a tune that, against all odds, becomes the worldwide club smash of 1990. True story! Bruce Tantum

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Groove Is In The Heart' video


'Modern Love' – David Bowie

Before Nile Rodgers was bopping around with Daft Punk on ‘Get Lucky’, he produced this gem from 1983’s ‘Let’s Dance’. Long a favorite on dusty jukeboxes, ‘Modern Love’ has seen a resurgence as of late – its jumpy rhythms make an appearance in Noah Baumbach’s heralded film (and its trailer), ‘Frances Ha’. Bowie opens the tune with spoken word before hitting his unmistakable highs, singing of the concept at hand: ‘Terrifies me / Makes me party / Puts my trust in God and man.’ Colin St. John

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Modern Love' video


'Regulate' – Warren G and Nate Dogg

Recite the lyrics from this summer-of-’94 masterpiece and you’ll be crowned an instant playa. Or so we’d like to imagine. Originally released for the soundtrack of basketball movie ‘Above the Rim’, the track features Warren G flossing gangsterisms above a groovy beat that samples – gasp! – the perennially uncool Michael McDonald. Nate Dogg’s deadpan sideman verses complete the epic tale and are the highlight of a tune that turns triumphant toward the end. The next stop is the Eastside Motel. Colin St. John

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Regulate' video

Countdown 20-1 >>

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