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: 60-41


'Take Me Out' – Franz Ferdinand

The stomping drumbeats and angular guitars of Franz Ferdinand’s first hit drew comparisons to post-punk forebears like Gang Of Four or Wire. But the Scottish revivalists have a much poppier sensibility, and this 2004 track is a hook-laden toe tapper, sure to entice even your snootiest ‘I don’t dance’ friend onto the dancefloor. Amy Plitt

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Take Me Out' video


'Take on Me' – A-ha

Pop-idol pin-ups they may have been, but the members of Norwegian trio A-ha also made great, genuinely inventive music in their mid-’80s heyday. The jewel in A-ha’s crown, of course, is the dazzling debut single ‘Take on Me’. This synth-pop gem is chiseled like a diamond, with a perfect keyboard riff and a melody that moves in and out of major keys just as singer Morten Harket’s voice turns from desperate to hopeful and back again. Add in the trailblazing animated video (which used rotoscoping), and ‘Take on Me’ became indelibly imprinted on the brain of anyone who saw it. Sophie Harris

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Take On Me' video


'Easy Lover' – Phil Collins and Philip Bailey

The first few seconds of Phil’s finest hour recall a military-grade dance weapon, expertly designed to get you on your feet and ready to feel the full power of his beats. His straight-up, no-BS, four-on-the-floor drums (combined with Motown hooks, twinkly synths and the additional vocals of Philip Bailey) make this one slinky dancefloor-filler. Eddy Frankel

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Easy Lover' video


'Tainted Love' – Soft Cell

Get a huge dose of ’80s nostalgia by spinning this spiteful, synthy song. It's actually a take on Gloria Jones’s more upbeat soul cut from ’65, but the warmth has been sapped from the Northern soul original, to be replaced by quintessentially New Romantic icy cool. It's still Mark Almond's finest moment. Tim Lowery

Buy this song from iTunes | Watch the 'Tainted Love' video


'Why' – Carly Simon

Remember the 1982 film ‘Soup for One’? Nope, no one does, because it was terrible and it tanked. The film’s only redeeming feature was a stunning soundtrack composed by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards of Chic. Carly Simon’s reggae-flecked ballad was the pick of the bunch. With one of the catchiest choruses in the history of catchy choruses, the only ‘why’ worth asking is ‘why does it have to stop?’ We suggest putting on the 12-inch edit and letting everyone get their groove on for as long as possible. Eddy Frankel

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


'Hypnotize' – Notorious BIG

‘Slicker than your average’. No, not Craig David, but Notorious BIG, whose defining hit proves just how well-lubricated the Brooklyn rapper’s rhymes could be. Christopher George Latore Wallace (Biggie Smalls’s less notorious real name), simply lulls the listener into a groove. Biggie was the victim of a drive-by shooting in 1997, just a year after ‘Hypnotize’ came out. In truth, party-friendly hip hop of this quality might never be heard again. Jonny Ensall

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


'Word Up' – Cameo

Sucker DJs who think they’re fly get put in their place with the title track of this trio’s best-selling album – and we grab ourselves a prime spot on the dancefloor every time this comes blaring out of our boombox. Blessed with a sleazy synth beat that’s bouncier than a rubber band and funkier than the codpiece singer Larry Blackmon is wearing in the video (no, really), this ’80s nugget still has the power to please crowds. Word. David Fear

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Word Up' video


'Rock the Casbah' – 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 their 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

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Rock the Casbah' video


'Last Nite' – The Strokes

They may have thrown us off the scent with their greaseballs-in-leather-jackets shtick, but one of The Strokes’ greatest achievements was reminding the world that rock ’n’ roll originally functioned as dance music. Few contemporary songs make us yearn for the days of the sock hop more than the single that catapulted these New York faves into the big time. Nitpick re: the ‘American Girl’ similarities all you want, but the combination of Julian’s disaffected yowl, Albert and Nick’s chirpy chords, Nikolai’s humble throb and Fab’s unflappable bounce still carries a rare boot-scootin’ charge. Hank Shteamer

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Last Nite' video


'I Wanna Be Your Lover' – Prince

You’d better be prepared because the great purple one always gets what he wants. On this 1979 disco-pop smash, he wants you to be loved, and he especially wants you to get funky. A single snare hit kicks it all in before a constant barrage of incessant funk guitars and deliciously sexy falsetto vocals take you on a groovy trip around the bedroom. Eddy Frankel

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'I Wanna Be Your Lover' video


'Beat It' – Michael Jackson

'Beat It's haunting opening synth hits are just dissonant enough to put the listener on edge, baiting them to stay with it, like the entrance music for a professional wrestler. Then that driving guitar riff comes in like an uppercut to the jaw, followed by MJ’s opening line, ‘They told him don’t you ever come around here / Don’t wanna see your face, you better disappear’. The song has a unique aggression that not only triggers those primal, competitive instincts, but also makes you want to dance your ass off and sing at the top of your lungs. When Eddie Van Halen’s solo comes in, feel free to unleash the air-guitar hero that lives within us all. Derek Schwartz

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Beat It' video


'Love Will Tear Us Apart' – Joy Division

It’s your party, so you can cry if you want to. Dancing to ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ is about the most cathartic experience you can have without wasting two hours watching ‘The Notebook’. Recorded at the end of Joy Division’s all-too-brief career and released the month after Ian Curtis committed suicide, it’s the sound of a despairing man struggling to exorcise demons. However, the icy synths, instantly recognisable melody and thumping disco drums make it an unlikely party hit too. James Manning

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' video


'I’m Coming Out' – Diana Ross

Diana Ross’s most ebullient hit is the perfect song to turn any party from tentative into full-on fabulous. Part of its potency is that it harks back to the days when disco was taking over the world, and dancers found new acceptance and openness on the floor: ‘I'm coming out – I want the world to know, got to let it show,’ goes the chorus. Small wonder it became a gay pride anthem. This 1980 track is yet another smash that Chic’s Nile Rodgers had a hand in – the prolific sod. Jonny Ensall

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'I'm Coming Out' video


'Never Too Much' – Luther Vandross

Long before Luther’s waistline took a severe pounding from countless ‘Luther Burgers’ (a hamburger that replaces the bun with a glazed donut, whoa), he was busting out even sweeter jams like this. An incredible medium-pace groove, lush vocals and tight funk guitars all built for getting frisky at the disco. It really is never too much. Except for Luther burgers. You can probably have too much of those. Eddy Frankel

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Never Too Much' video


'What’d I Say' – Ray Charles

Yeah, yeah, it’s over 50 years old and your grandparents might’ve made out to it. But good gosh if this isn’t one of the sexiest, wildest songs on this list. It starts out pretty civilized, with that unmistakable keyboard intro, and lickety-split cymbal beats. Then Ray starts singing about lovin’ you all night long with wicked intent, the brass starts up, the backing singers join in, and you have one hot, fine mess. Note 1: Released in 1959, ‘What’d I Say’ is also widely regarded as the first ‘soul’ single. Note 2: The music-making process according to Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records: ‘We didn’t know shit about making records, but we were having fun.’ Sophie Harris

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'What'd I Say' video


'Get Up I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine' – James Brown

James Brown is a sex machine. Not in the sense of a latex gizmo you order online (and inevitably offers disappointing results), but in his sweating, grunting, thrusting human form he’s made himself a ruddy rogering robot! It's impressive to say the least. But, more than that, it provides the energy that drives this funk masterpiece, backed with taut guitar picks, undulating bass and a fantastically minimalist yet totally titillating drum break. There are other classics we could have picked to honour the Godfather of Soul, but you won't find a more pneumatically powerful example of a funky good time than this. Jonny Ensall

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Get Up I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine' video


'Funkytown' – 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

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


'1999' – Prince

‘If you didn’t come to party, don’t bother knockin’ on my door,’ the diminutive Minneapolis genius declared in one of the earliest blockbuster hits of his purple reign. Like Orwell’s ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ and Kubrick’s ‘2001’, Prince’s ‘1999’ is less a sell-by date than a declarative prediction made timeless by persuasive art. Steve Smith

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the '1999' video


'Rude Boy' – Rihanna

It may not be the Bajan darling’s biggest-charting tune (it only reached Number Two in the UK, as opposed to her six Number Ones) but ‘Rude Boy’ is the ultimate Ri-jam here at Time Out. When its throbbing beat starts pumping in a club, it offers a break from jump-around tempos and gives you a chance to seriously get your grind on. Danielle Goldstein

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Rude Boy' video


'Intergalactic' – Beastie Boys

The robot voice at the start of this unstoppable Beasties classic says it all: ‘Another dimension’ is the level these three NYC heroes like to party on. A collision of perfectly bouncy beats, posse vocals and wicked rhymes, this one never fails to get a crowd higher than the stars. Eddy Frankel

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

Countdown 40-21 >>

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