Home Music Music Lists

200 Greatest Dance Songs of All Time

From Chic to Skrillex, from Chicago house classics to festival rave anthems, from songs that filled the floor at the Loft and the Warehouse to ones that blew up on TikTok.

Daft Punk

What do we mean by “dance songs”? Good question. In a sense, any song that ever got any one person moving in any perceptible direction is a dance song. The Beatles made great dance songs — as did Slayer. Nearly all the hip-hop and reggae ever made is great dance music. But to make our list of The 200 Greatest Dance Songs of All Time, a song had to be part of “dance music culture.” It’s a more specific world, but an enormous one too, going back nearly fifty years and eternally evolving right up to today and into the future.

After paying homage to the godfather of the extended groove, Mr. James Brown, our story of dance music begins in the mid-1970s with disco, and moves into early Eighties club sounds like electro and Latin freestyle. It gets born again when disco is re-engineered as house music in Chicago and techno in Detroit, and mutates with almost comic velocity into the Nineties rave explosion that produced everything from jungle to trance to gabba to garage, and eventually the EDM and dubstep bonanzas of the 2000s. These sounds all had peak moments of exposure, but they never fade away: drum ”n’ bass is having a new moment right now, and there are house songs here from the past few years.

The list doesn’t attempt to incorporate every ripple in this oceanic confluence of sub-genres. We were looking for tracks that seemed to transcend and feel more universally canonical, and we were especially mindful of the moments where dance music has intersected with the wider musical world– with synth-pop, hip-hop, funk, Miami bass, R&B, indie-rock, Latin music and pop. That’s why you’ll see Prince, Robyn, Britney Spears, Shakira, and Justin Bieber in here bumping up against Adonis, Frankie Knuckles, Moodymann, Goldie, and SOPHIE.

If you’re wondering how we got to a summer where Drake and Beyonce are suddenly releasing house records, this is that story — or, at least, our version of it.

Video Editor, Brian Lynch for Rolling Stone

Visual Credits (in order of appearance): Kylie Minogue – Can’t Get You Out of My Head, Crystal Waters – Gypsy Woman, Beyonce – Blow, Corona – The Rhythm of the Night, Madonna – Sorry, Britney – Till the World Ends, Madonna – Vogue, Daft Punk – Get Lucky, Robyn – Dancing on my Own, Joey Beltram – Energy Flash, Azealia Banks – 212, Rihanna & Calvin Harris – We Found Love, DJ Snake & Lil Jon – Turn Down for What, Sylvester – You Make Me Feel, Piri – Soft Spot, Chic – Le Freak, Dee-Lite – Groove is in the Heart, Donna Summer – I Feel Love, Prince – When Doves Cry, Erik B & Rakim – Paid in Full, First Choice – Let No Man Asunder, Michael Jackson – Don’t Stop ’Til you get Enough, A Guy Called Gerald – Voodoo Ray, Grace Jones – Bumper, Marshall – Move Your Body, Internet sensation kid 1997 in Berlin, Whitney Houston – It’s Not Right. Licensed Tracks/SFX (in order): Biodynamic modulated stutter riser, Dance like crazy – Ikoliks, Our Vibe – Superlative, Dance Out There – Alejandro Molinari, Pineapple Disco – Audiopanther, Bring It – Naems, Blurry Stars – Nbdy Nprtnt, Dark Future – Skygaze, Taika Promo (Rolling Stone VO). Song Samples (in order): Erik B & Rakim – Paid in Full, Dee-Lite – Groove is in the Heart, Madonna – Vogue, Azealia Banks – 212, Sylvester – You Make Me Feel, Michael Jackson – Don’t Stop ’Til you get Enough, Marshall Jefferson – Move Your Body, DJ Snake ft. Lil Jon – Turn Down for What, Dee-Lite – Groove is in the Heart, Whitney Houston – It’s Not Right

From Rolling Stone US


Chic, ‘Good Times’ (1979)

Disco’s greatest party anthem still gets anyone and everyone out on the floor. Chic’s 1979 classic instantly connects on every level — a lyric whose euphoria consistently undercuts itself, never becoming bland; wire-taut strings that give wings to Raymond Jones’ celebratory piano and Nile Rodgers’ jangling funk strut; and the bass line of all bass lines. Bernard Edwards’ low end is a crawling king snake that darts and slithers through the metronomic beat — and it gets an extended showcase. “What we do is we break it down to almost nothing, and then we rebuild the track in the listeners’ ears. You hear one instrument coming in at a time,” Rodgers said years later, adding: “You really hear us take it to a higher art form in the song ‘Good Times.’” The string slices over Edwards’ extended bass solo made it irresistible to DJs (start with Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” and “The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel”), rockers (Queen’s outright rip-off “Another One Bites the Dust”), and everybody else — numerous other tracks rewrote that bass line throughout the early Eighties. The early Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis catalog is heavy on Chic rewrites. May the “Good Times” never end.–M.M.


Daft Punk, ‘One More Time’ (2000)

Daft Punk showed that house and techno could have elastic pop appeal with their classic 1997 debut, Homework, still the greatest dance-music album ever made. When Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo returned, they raised the stakes even higher with 2001’s Discovery and its rapturous lead single, “One More Time.” It’s their most beloved track, piloting the filter-house thump of their previous music into a whole new stratosphere or triumphal pop excess and eventually becoming a platinum single in the U.S . For the song’s vocal, the duo turned to New Jersey house music artist Romanthony, drenching his impassioned performance in Auto-Tune in a bold, somewhat contrary move that would end up having an enormous influence on the next couple of decades of pop music. “One More Time” felt euphoric but elegiac, a reassuring disco classic for a weird new century, and it helped turn the French robots into two of the most unlikely stars in music history. —J.D.


Donna Summer, ‘I Feel Love’ (1977)

The impetus was simple: For their fourth collaboration, Donna Summer and her producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Belotte were making I Remember Yesterday, a pastiche of past musical styles, so to finish it off, they needed a track that would signify the future. Moroder decided to create every instrument using a Moog synthesizer, and he brought in an engineer named Robbie Wedel to generate each individual sound, from bass to hi-hat. Summer, too, got into the robotic swing of things, stretching her long vowels around the pulsating track, until “I Feel Love” ignited. It’s simply impossible to imagine the future sound of dance music without it. “This is it — look no further,” Brian Eno said as he thrust this seven-inch single into David Bowie’s hand while they were working in Berlin in 1977. “This single is going to change the sound of club music for the next 15 years.” More like all of pop, forever.–M.M.