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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50

"Beat It" by Michael Jackson

Few songs are as immediately recognizable as Michael Jackson’s 1983 smash “Beat It.” Those 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.” “Beat It” 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

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49

"Express Yourself" by Madonna

No song captures the essence of Madonna’s iconography quite like “Express Yourself,” a girl-power pep talk delivered in an amped-up version of funky 1970s soul. Its unprecedentedly lavish video—directed by a pre-Seven David Fincher in an appropriately Expressionist style—embodies Madonna’s defining persona as a fiercely sexual chameleon. One minute she’s the boss lady in a power suit and a monocle, grabbing her crotch like a butcher version of Michael Jackson; the next, she’s crawling on all fours and lapping a bowl of milk. Even when she’s literally in chains, neither the video nor the singer leaves any doubt as to who’s in charge.—Adam Feldman

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48

"Celebration" by Kool and the Gang

As long as the good times keep going, so will the party, and nothing lights up a dance floor quite like a little disco (mirror ball included). So find yourself a drink and a partner—or rather, bring your laughter, too—and toast the good times with this 1980 megahit.—Derek Schwartz

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47

"Get Lucky" by 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 cowritten by) Chic star and producer Nile Rodgers, and 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 dance-floor phenom, the song also inspired Durex to produce its own line of “Get Lucky” condoms.—Sophie Harris

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46

"Give Up the Funk" by Parliament

Where to start among the booty-bumpers and rump-shakers bequeathed upon a grateful nation by Parliament-Funkadelic acid-funk overlord George “Uncle Jam” Clinton? “Flash Light,” “Bop Gun,” “One Nation Under a Groove”—we’re spoiled for choice. This laid-back cut gets the nod for its mantralike vocals: When “we want the funk” rubs against “turn this mother out,” the result is groove nirvana.—Steve Smith

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45

"Ain’t Too Proud to Beg" by the Temptations

We’re don’t want her to leave either, dudes. The Temptations’ 1966 Motown staple boasts a two-chord chorus that’s ridiculously snapworthy. And David Ruffins’s tortured-yet-sweet lead-vocal verses are perfectly suited for drunken sing-alongs.—Tim Lowery

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44

"What’d I Say" by 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.” Check the live video here for evidence.—Sophie Harris

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43

"Do You Love Me" by the Contours

Ah, the sweet ecstasy of raw ’60s soul music, as perfected on this 1962 hit, written and produced by Motown mastermind Berry Gordy. There are so many things to love, from the spoken-word intro—“You broke my heart / ’Cause I couldn’t dance”—to the explosive groove that hits as our narrator shows off his newfound dance-floor destroying skills: “I can mashed potato! I can do the twist! Now tell me baby, do you like it like this?” You want more? How about a false ending and surprise return? And of course, the song features in Dirty Dancing; “Do You Love Me” is the number that’s playing when Baby carries a watermelon across a writhing dance floor. Writhe on, kids!—Sophie Harris

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42

"I Got You (I Feel Good)" by James Brown

James Brown may not have had the most graceful offstage persona, but the hardest working man in showbiz was a one-man party-starter. “I Feel Good” is dance-floor dynamite, with its tight, funky groove, grin-inducing chorus and that killer saxophone riff by Maceo Parker. Boom!—Derek Schwartz

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41

"Rehab" by Amy Winehouse

This 2006 single found the late, great British soul singer Amy Winehouse at the peak of her talents, even as she sang about the depths of her despair. For her Back to Black album, producer Mark Ronson teamed Winehouse with Brooklyn funk musicians the Dap-Kings, resulting in songs that are as groovy as they are dark. “Rehab” became Winehouse’s signature single, finding the tiny vocalist defiant to the end.—Sophie Harris

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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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