Top 25 Dance Pop Songs of All Time

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Dance Music. Photo by Michele Palazzo / Getty Images
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Gloria Gaynor - "Never Can Say Goodbye" (1974)

Gloria Gaynor Never Can Say Goodbye
Gloria Gaynor - "Never Can Say Goodbye". Courtesy MGM

"Never Can Say Goodbye" was written by Clifton Davis, part of Motown's team of songwriters, and it was first recorded by the Jackson 5 in 1970. They took the song all the way to #2 on the US pop chart. In 1974, the song was reworked as a disco record for rising R&B vocalist Gloria Gaynor. Her recording of "Never Can Say Goodbye" was part of a 19-minute-long disco suite on the first side of the album of the same name. It was a groundbreaking extended mix that would lay the groundwork for later 12-inch single remixes used in dance clubs.

"Never Can Say Goodbye" hit the top 10 on the US pop chart and soared all the way to #1 on the fledgling disco chart. It was a landmark that paved the way for the disco revolution. Gloria Gaynor returned in 1978 with another career-defining disco hit "I Will Survive" which became a #1 pop smash.

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Bee Gees - "You Should Be Dancing" (1976)

Bee Gees You Should Be Dancing
Bee Gees - "You Should Be Dancing". Courtesy RSO

The three #1 pop hit songs that the Bee Gees wrote and recorded specifically for the soundtrack for the hit film Saturday Night Fever helped bring disco squarely into the pop mainstream. "Staying Alive," "Night Fever," and "How Deep Is Your Love" are legendary pop hits of the era. However, the trio's best and most complete disco record "You Should Be Dancing" was released a year earlier. It was incorporated into the Saturday Night Fever film soundtrack for key dance scenes.

"You Should Be Dancing" remains the only Bee Gees record to hit #1 on the disco chart where it stayed for seven weeks. It also spent a week at the top of the pop chart. Among the studio musicians appearing on the record are Stephen Stills on the drums. He was at the same studio as the Bee Gees recording the Stills-Young Band album Long May You Run.


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Vicki Sue Robinson - "Turn the Beat Around" (1976)

Vicki Sue Robinson Turn the Beat Around
Vicki Sue Robinson - "Turn the Beat Around". Courtesy RCA

Vicki Sue Robinson's early performing career consisted of being mostly a bit player in Broadway shows and films. She first appeared on a pop record as a backup vocalist for Todd Rundgren's 1972 hit album Something / Anything? RCA producer Warren Schatz was impressed enough with Vicki Sue Robinson's voice that he thought she could be a disco star. One of the first songs she recorded was "Turn the Beat Around," written by the brothers Gerald and Peter Jackson. They were connected with the vocalist via engineer Al Garrison, Vicki Sue Robinson's boyfriend.

The heavily percussive "Turn the Beat Around" quickly became a disco smash. It went all the way to #1 on the disco chart for a month and broke into the pop top 10. The orchestral arrangement with a dense percussion breakdown is emblematic of many early disco hits. Gloria Estefan returned the song to #1 on the dance chart in 1994 with her cover version.

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Thelma Houston - "Don't Leave Me This Way" (1977)

Thelma Houston Don't Leave Me This Way
Thelma Houston - "Don't Leave Me This Way". Courtesy Motown

Co-written by the legendary Philadelphia soul team Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, "Don't Leave Me This Way" was first recorded by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes for their 1975 album Wake Up Everybody. It was never released as an official single in the US, but it reached #3 on the US disco chart after Thelma Houston's  cover version of the song became a legendary smash.

"Don't Leave Me This Way" was originally assigned to Diana Ross as a follow-up to her disco hit "Love Hangover." However, that recording never came to fruition and instead Thelma Houston, newly signed to Motown, was offered the song. Her elegant performance entranced club audiences, and soon it was a #1 disco smash and also topped the pop chart. It earned Thelma Houston a Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal. The song was later identified as a key anthem for the gay community in its battles agains the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and 1990s.

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Donna Summer - "I Feel Love" (1977)

Donna Summer I Feel Love
Donna Summer - "I Feel Love". Courtesy Casablanca

Co-produced by Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, "I Feel Love" is one of the most influential songs of all time. Prior to its release, most disco records were recorded with acoustic orchestras. Moroder and Bellotte used an entirely electronic backing track featuring a Moog synthesizer. The impact was a futuristic sound that heavily influenced the development of synth pop and techno. With Donna Summer's breathy, erotic vocals, the recording was highly praised by critics.

"I Feel Love" reached #6 on the pop chart. In 1978, a fifteen-minute remix of "I Feel Love" by San Francisco DJ Patrick Cowley became an underground hit. In 1995, Donna Summer hit the top 10 on the dance chart with a new remix of "I Feel Love."

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Chic - "Le Freak" (1978)

Chic Le Freak
Chic - "Le Freak". Courtesy Atlantic

Guitar player Nile Rodgers and bass player Bernard Edwards put together the band Chic in 1976. It was primarily a studio outfit, and they scored a major disco hit with their first release "Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)." However, it was the follow-up "Le Freak" that became the biggest disco classic. The song is a tribute to the glory days of the Studio 54 disco club in New York City.

With its signature scratchy guitar and rubbery bass line, "Le Freak" became the first song to hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 three different times. Combined with the tracks "I Want Your Love" and "Chic Cheer," "Le Freak" also topped the disco chart. 

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Lipps Inc. - "Funkytown" (1980)

Lipps Inc Funkytown
Lipps Inc. - "Funkytown". Courtesy Casablanca

By 1980, the peak of disco's presence on the mainstream pop chart was over. Dance music itself was beginning to go underground as new wave synthpop, power ballads, and pop-oriented R&B were taking over the mainstream charts. "Funkytown" came out of left field put together by Minneapolis-based producer Steven Greenberg. He recruited the 1976 Miss Black Minnesota, Cynthia Johnson, to deliver the distinctive lead vocal. "Funkytown" was a smash hit spending four weeks at #1 on the mainstream pop chart and topping the disco chart. Its use of electronic sound effects influenced later dance recordings.

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Yaz - "Situation" (1982)

Yaz Situation
Yaz - "Situation". Courtesy Sire

The synth pop duo of Depeche Mode founder Vince Clarke and vocalist Alison Moyet recorded as Yazoo in Europe, but, for legal reasons, released their music under the name Yaz in the US. The pair recorded two legendary synth pop albums before an acrimonious breakup. The first Upstairs at Eric's included two #1 dance hits in the US "Don't Go" and "Situation." The album barely broke into the top 100 in the US but was ultimately certified platinum for sales. 

In addition to Alison Moyet's deeply soulful vocals, "Situation" includes her laugh. That snippet has been used many other times as a sample for other recordings. In 1999 a series of remixes brought "Situation" back to #1 on the US dance chart.

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Shannon - "Let the Music Play" (1983)

Shannon Let the Music Play
Shannon - "Let the Music Play". Courtesy Atlantic

"Let the Music Play," the debut single from singer Shannon, is considered a landmark in the development of both dance pop and the more specific sub-genre high energy. Producer Chris Barbosa, a key figure in the development of freestyle dance music, is given primary credit for the unique sound of the rhythm track on "Let the Music Play."

By 1983, much of dance music had been driven underground, but the bubbling rhythm line of "Let the Music Play" sounded different to audiences and returned dance music to the pop mainstream. The song hit #8 on the US pop chart and became the first of four #1 dance hits by Shannon.

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Pet Shop Boys - "West End Girls" (1984)

Pet Shop Boys West End Girls
Pet Shop Boys - "West End Girls". Courtesy EMI

"West End Girls," the debut single from Pet Shop Boys, was released twice. The first time it was produced by dance music veteran Bobby Orlando. The track earned positive attention from dance clubs. In 1985, it was re-recorded with producer Stephen Hague for the debut Pet Shop Boys album Please. This version became a #1 pop hit in both the US and the UK. 

Following the success of "West End Girls," the Pet Shop Boys, consisting of the duo Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, became one of the most successful dance music acts of all time. Their combination of electronic tracks with Neil Tennant's highly stylized and literate lyrics defined their role in the development of dance music. 

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Herbie Hancock - "Rockit" (1983)

Herbie Hancock Rockit
Herbie Hancock - "Rockit". Courtesy Columbia

"Rockit," by legendary jazz pianist Herbie Hancock, is a landmark in the development of dance music for its use of scratching and other turntabling techniques performed by GrandMixer D.ST. It was also celebrated for the accompanying music video. The clip was directed by Kevin Godley and Lol Creme, originally of the pop group 10CC. It includes the movement of various kinetic sculptures by artist Jim Whiting in time to the music. The song was included on Herbie Hancock's album Future Shock, a groundbreaking collaboration with avant-garde bass player and producer Bill Laswell. "Rockit" topped the dance chart and hit the top 10 on the R&B singles chart.

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Michael Jackson - "Billie Jean" (1983)

Michael Jackson Billie Jean
Michael Jackson - "Billie Jean". Courtesy Epic

"Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson is one of the top landmark pop records of the second half of the 20th century. It was also a major dance hit. Many observers referred to it as a post-disco record with a sound that pointed forward to the future. "Billie Jean" was a #1 pop smash for seven weeks while also topping the dance chart.

"Billie Jean" earned Grammy Awards for Best R&B Male Vocal and Best R&B Song. It is also frequently included on lists of the greatest pop hit singles of all time.

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M/A/R/R/S - "Pump Up the Volume" (1987)

MARRS Pump Up the Volume
M/A/R/R/S - "Pump Up the Volume". Courtesy Island

"Pump Up the Volume" first came about as an uneasy collaboration between electronic music group Colourbox and alternative rock band A R Kane. The connection was suggested by 4AD label head Ivo Watts-Russell after each act expressed interest in exploring the rising house music genre. The original version of "Pump Up the Volume" came from Colourbox and was a highly percussive nearly instrumental song. A R Kane added additional guitar, and then the samples and scratch mixing of DJs Chris "C.J." Macintosh and Dave Dorrell made it shine. 

"Pump Up the Volume" paved the way for the development of British acid house music and the use of sampling in major recordings. The recording topped the US dance chart and climbed to #13 on the mainstream pop chart.

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C+C Music Factory - "Gonna Make You Sweat" (1990)

C&C Music Factory Gonna Make You Sweat
C+C Music Factory - "Gonna Make You Sweat". Courtesy Columbia

Dance music production and songwriting duo David Cole and Robert Clivilles put together the act C+C Music Company in 1989. "Gonna Make You Sweat" was their first single. After storming to the top of both dance and pop charts, the recording ran into legal troubles for excluding vocalist Martha Wash from both the credits and the music video. Ultimately, an out-of-court settlement was reached. The song is a defining record of early 1990s dance music introducing an athletic style to the music. David Cole died tragically as a victim of AIDS at the age of 32 in 1995.

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Deee-Lite - "Groove Is In the Heart" (1990)

Deee-LIte Groove Is In the Heart
Deee-Lite - "Groove Is In the Heart". Courtesy Elektra

"Groove Is In the Heart" was written in the late 1980s and performed live as early as 1989, but it wasn't recorded until 1990. It was built around a range of samples and released as the debut record from the trio Deee-Lite. The group consisted of two DJs Dmitry and Towa Tei as well as vocalist Lady Miss Kier. The legendary Bootsy Collins, bass player for Funkadelic, appears on the record and is a featured guest vocalist. A guest rap from Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest is also included.

"Groove Is In the Heart" hit #1 on the dance chart and reached #4 on the pop chart. It was the first of a string of major dance hits from Deee-Lite.

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RuPaul - "Supermodel (You Better Work)" (1993)

Rupaul Supermodel
Rupaul - "Supermodel (You Better Work)". Courtesy Tommy Boy

RuPaul was a pioneer introducing drag culture into the mainstream and bringing respectful attention to individuals who choose to step outside of traditional gender roles in their lives. He first had national exposure after appearing in the 1989 music video for the B-52's hit "Love Shack." In 1993 he recorded his debut album Supermodel Of the World.

The major label debut single "Supermodel (You Better Work)" first gained popularity in underground gay dance clubs, but then it broke into the mainstream. The music video received strong support from MTV and an unlikely endorsement by Nirvana's Kurt Cobain. "Supermodel (You Better Work)" went to #2 on the dance chart and broke into the pop chart at #45.

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Toni Braxton - "Un-Break My Heart" (1996)

Toni Braxton Un-Break My Heart
Toni Braxton - "Un-Break My Heart". Courtesy LaFace

"Un-Break My Heart" is one of the best examples of using remixing techniques to turn a ballad hit into a riveting dancefloor smash. House music remixes of "Un-Break My Heart" brought Toni Braxton's powerful vocals to clubs. The result was a towering #1 dance hit. 

The original pop-R&B recording was also a massive success. It went to #1 on the pop chart and earned a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal. The versatility of the vocal allowed the song to have the rare achievement of reaching #1 or #2 across the pop, dance, R&B, and adult contemporary charts.


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Madonna - "Ray Of Light" (1998)

Madonna Ray Of Light
Madonna - "Ray Of Light". Courtesy Warner Bros.

Madonna is easily the most successful dance music artist of all-time hitting #1 on the dance chart more than 45 times. In 1998 she collaborated with electronic music artist William Orbit. Influenced by her growing interest in Eastern mysticism, "Ray Of Light" is an upbeat look at female power. The song received some of the strongest critical reviews of Madonna's career. It was nominated for three Grammy Awards including Record of the Year. It won the Best Dance Recording Grammy.

"Ray Of Light" soared to the top of the dance chart and reached #5 on the pop chart. The accompanying music video, influenced by the experimental film Koyaanisqatsi and directed by Jonas Akerlund, won the MTV Video Music Award for Video Of the Year.

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Cher - "Believe" (1998)

Cher Believe
Cher - "Believe". Courtesy Warner Bros.

Cher's massive comeback hit single "Believe" was one of the first commercial recordings to use Auto-Tune sound effects extensively. The combination of the groundbreaking sound, the upbeat production, and Cher's optimistic vocals turned it into a massive worldwide hit. It became Cher's biggest pop hit of all time reaching #1 on charts around the world including in the US. It also hit the top of the dance chart becoming the first of a series of hits that made Cher one of the world's top dance artists late in her career. "Believe" won the Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording and was nominated for Record of the Year.

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Daft Punk - "One More Time" (2000)

Daft Punk One More Time
Daft Punk - "One More Time". Courtesy Virgin

French electronic music duo Daft Punk are known for their blend of house music with elements of classic disco. "One More Time" is a definitive song in their catalog. It features a vocal from American R&B singer Romanthony that is heavily altered by Auto-Tune. Dance music fans immediately embraced the record. It hit #1 on the US dance music chart and broke into the US pop chart. In the UK, "One More Time" reached #2 on the mainstream pop chart.

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Bob Sinclar featuring Steve Edwards - "World Hold On" (2006)

Bob Sinclar Steve Edwards World Hold On
Bob Sinclar featuring Steve Edwards - "World Hold On (Children Of the Sky)". Courtesy Tommy Boy

Bob Sinclar is a French DJ and producer who helped bring worldwide attention to the French house music scene. Among the key elements of his work are the use of disco strings and samples. His single "World, Hold On" became a smash in dance clubs around the world. It earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Remixed Recording. The song topped the US dance chart and reached the top 10 on pop charts across Europe. Singer Steve Edwards in a British house singer who has appeared on a wide range of dance recordings. 

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David Guetta featuring Kelly Rowland - "When Love Takes Over" (2009)

David Guetta Kelly Rowland When Love Takes Over
David Guetta featuring Kelly Rowland - "When Love Takes Over". Courtesy Virgin

"When Love Takes Over" was first conceptualized as an instrumental by French house music DJ and producer David Guetta. However, American R&B singer Kelly Rowland fell in love with the track and asked to write and record vocals for it. Prior to release of the single, David Guetta had significant pop chart success at home in France and two top 10 hits in the UK. "When Love Takes Over" sent him into the top 10 on pop charts around the world. It also appeared in the top 30 of mainstream pop radio giving American pop audiences their first real taste of the work of David Guetta. "When Love Takes Over" topped the US dance chart.

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Lady Gaga - "Bad Romance" (2009)

Lady Gaga Bad Romance
Lady Gaga - "Bad Romance". Courtesy Interscope

Lady Gaga came to prominence fully embracing dance music with her #1 smash hit "Just Dance." In late 2009 she reached an artistic peak with the grandly ambitious "Bad Romance." The song was introduced to the world as part of the soundtrack for a Paris Fashion Week runway show by designer Alexander McQueen. "Bad Romance" is a close collaboration with dance pop producer RedOne. 

"Bad Romance" was showered with critical acclaim as it hit #1 on the dance chart and #2 on the pop chart. It earned a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal an the celebrated accompanying music video earned the MTV Video Music Award for Video of the Year.

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Avicii - "Wake Me Up" (2013)

Avicii Wake Me Up
Avicii - "Wake Me Up". Courtesy Columbia

Swedish DJ Tim Bergling, aka Avicii, was one of the hottest young artists in dance music when he took the stage to play "Wake Me Up!" live at the 2013 Ultra Music Festival. His track "Levels" was a major pop and dance hit around the world in 2011. However, "Wake Me Up!" was something different with a live band, an R&B vocalist Aloe Blacc, and even influences from country music. Although some were angry with the new direction, Avicii soon won over the vast majority of fans.

"Wake Me Up!" became a huge smash hit topping the US dance chart and mainstream pop radio chart. It also hit #1 in many other countries around the world. Avicii's innovations opened up the gates for other artists to broaden the palette of their dance club sound.

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Royskopp & Robyn - "Do It Again" (2014)

Royskopp Robyn So It Again
Royskopp & Robyn - "Do It Again". Courtesy Dog Triumph

Royskopp is a Norwegian electronic music duo. They reached the top 5 on the Norwegian pop chart three times between 2005 and 2009 as well as soring a series of minor pop hits in the UK. Robyn is a Swedish pop artist who scored a series of pop hits around the world but failed to hit the US pop charts after two top 10 pop hits in 1996-1997 as a teenager. In 2014, the two Scandinavian acts joined forces. 

"Do It Again" was reportedly written by the trio after an "epic night out" in Bergen, Norway. The result was a happy accident in the studio. "Do It Again" was celebrated by critics and reached #1 on the dance chart in the US. It was one of the biggest dance hits of the year.

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