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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90

"Maniac" by Michael Sembello

Hollywood is rife with tales of how Jennifer Beals was selected for Flashdance’s leading role (one involves studio execs asking the input of teamsters). But the story behind Michael Sembello’s dance hit—key to the movie’s sweaty vibe—is a lot more innocent: The unknown tunesmith’s wife sent in a demo tape without his knowledge. Take a listen and, inadvertently, your tush will start to jackhammer.—Joshua Rothkopf

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89

"Tainted Love" by Soft Cell

Get a huge dose of ’80s nostalgia by blasting this spiteful, synthy song, a poppy take on Gloria Jones’s upbeat, girl-groupy cut from ’65. The one-hit wonder also spawned this super creepy, ancient-Greece-set music video.—Tim Lowery

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88

"Modern Love" by David Bowie

Before Nile Rodgers was bopping around with Daft Punk on “Get Lucky,” he was producing 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. (The New York Times’ Sunday heartbreak column also shares the song’s name.) There’s a serious propulsion to it—Stevie Ray Vaughan handled guitar duties. 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

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87

"Take Me Out" by Franz Ferdinand

The stomping drumbeats and angular guitars of Franz Ferdinand’s first hit drew comparisons to postpunk 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 dance floor.—Amy Plitt

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86

"Song 2" by Blur

Britpop’s foremost ambassadors changed their tune—quite literally—with their self-titled 1997 LP, embracing the crunchy guitars and lo-fi ethos of American grunge and indie rock that frontman Damon Albarn had once railed against. Unsurprisingly, it led to the band’s biggest U.S. hit: “Song 2,” a catchy, two-minute blast of Nirvana-esque riffs that became ubiquitous at stadiums and parties across the globe. (But please, don’t refer to it as “the woo-hoo song,” we beg of you.)—Amy Plitt

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85

"Dancing in the Dark" by Bruce Springsteen

The only thing better than watching the video to this 1984 anthem—yes, starring a very dewy Courteney Cox—is dancing to the song yourself, as you belt out the lyrics with all the passion you can muster: “I ain’t nothin’ but tired / Man, I’m just tired and bored with myself!” “Dancing in the Dark” is also one of the Boss’s sexiest moments. “Hey there baby,” he sighs. “I could use just a little help.” (Use this picture to aid your imagination.) Extra points to anyone who knows what that book is that Springsteen’s sittin’ around trying to write.—Sophie Harris

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84

"American Girl" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

The not-so-fun rumor about this unquestionably fun cut was that Petty penned it about a University of Florida student who committed suicide by jumping off of her dorm-room balcony. (Gainesville’s favorite son claims that’s all hokum.) No matter; the track is an energizer at after-hours bashes, prompting any attendee with a pulse to sing along and air-guitar to the track’s awesomely simple riff.—Tim Lowery

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83

"Last Nite" by 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 & 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 hometown 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

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82

"Fell in Love with a Girl" by the White Stripes

Jack and Meg White’s 2002 hit was the first indicator that the Stripes were capable of a more polished, radio-friendly version of the raw garage-punk they’d previously perfected. (The ridiculously cool, LEGO-filled video, directed by Michel Gondry, surely helped propel its popularity.) Put this on at a party now and watch as everyone around you immediately begins to pogo.—Amy Plitt

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81

"Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana

The song that defined an era makes most statements about it seem trite. Those echoing opening chords became as familiar to the MTV generation as Pogs and Hypercolor—with a tad more shelf life. As far as partying goes, what’s in a name? “Teen Spirit” is all about anger and angst. (Kurt Cobain was only 24 at the time of the song’s release; he had a pretty good grasp on youthful malaise.) When you pop this one on at a bash, take a cue from the bros in the video’s gym audience: Bang your head.—Colin St. John

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Users say

10 comments
michaelbovh
michaelbovh

There are many good songs currently topping the charts and there will always be newer greater songs, but as the article says, house parties, weddings ect, this playlist is awesome and should be compulsory for these type of parties, since you got to remember, you are playing for a broad audience. This list garrentees a dance response from your crowd.

Jill
Jill

I don't know WHAT these other reviewers are thinking! This is the greatest list ever.... I've been dancing around the house all night to it! Yeah -- it might be a tad nostalgic but these songs have stood the test of time folks! That's the mark of a true hit. Someday you'll have your moment in the sun... why not enjoy these classics instead of whining??

Oven
Oven

This really is awful. Maybe you should have said top 100 songs for a party full of 45 year olds with kids who will have "a glass of wine" because it's Friday! Might have to push the trip to Bed, Bath and Beyond back tomorrow morning!

Ash
Ash

This music is terrible...

richard
richard

and we danced by malcamore IF YOU HANT LISTENED TO IT YOU HAVE NOT LIVED LIFE

niger
niger

terrible playlist this is retarded if your going to put something out there like this put something good

Kiriakos
Kiriakos

that was some great songs

lex
lex

This wasn't at all what I was looking for... A little disappointed :|

doug
doug

This is so pathetic! TimeOut NY - seriously - you're in the new music center of the world! Did you rip this list off of a yahoo search or something?

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