The new issue of Rolling Stone has Deadmau5 on the cover, so we figured this was a good time to poll our readers and make a list of their favorite dance songs. Turns out, you guys like to kick things a little more old-school than Deadmau5. In fact, not a single song from the EDM era made your list; the newest selection was "Groove Is in the Heart" by Deee-Lite. Click through to see the rest of the results.
"The Twist" was written and recorded by Hank Ballard in 1959. The next year, Chubby Checker sang it on Dick Clark's American Bandstand, kicking off a national dance craze that lasted for two years. He followed it up with "Let's Twist Again" in 1961 and "Slow Twistin'" in 1962. That year, the Twist dance spread into nightclubs like New York's Peppermint Lounge and the charts were full of Twist songs, including Sam Cooke's "Twistin' the Night Away," the Isley Brothers' "Twist and Shout" and the Marvelettes' "Twistin' Postman." Checker remains a regular presence on the oldies circuit.
When New York dance quartet Deee-Lite released their debut single "Groove Is in the Heart," they couldn't have known it would quickly become a huge pop hit around the world. The song samples everything from Billy Preston's "Uptight" to the Headhunters' "God Made Me Funky" to the theme song to Green Acres. It's a crazy hodgepodge of sounds (featuring a rap by Q-Tip) that all comes together in a brilliant way. They never had a single nearly as big again, but it really didn't matter. The song continues to pop up in movies, TV shows and a wide variety of dance video games.
The most version famous version of "Twist and Shout" is the 1964 cover by the Beatles, but the song (originally called "Shake It Up, Babe") was first recorded by the über-obscure band the Top Notes in 1961. A young Phil Spector produced that song, but it completely flopped. The next year, the Isley Brothers had a go at the song and brought it into the Billboard Hot 100. It's been covered countless times since by everybody from 'NSync to Bruce Springsteen to Alvin and the Chipmunks.
"Into the Groove" first appeared in Madonna's 1985 movie Desperately Seeking Susan, but the dance song didn't appear on the actual soundtrack; she held it back for a re-release of her breakthrough album Like A Virgin later that year. It became one of her biggest hits, though she doesn't like it much these days. "I feel retarded singing that song," she told Rolling Stone in 20o9. "But everybody seems to like it."
Michael Jackson was extremely famous before he released "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough," but that song launched him into the stratosphere. It was the first single from his 1979 LP Off the Wall, and it hit Number One on the Billboard Hot 100. The track was produced by Quincy Jones, who would go on to craft Thriller with Jackson a few years later. In 1979, every disco in the country was blasting "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough."
If "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" made Michael Jackson one of the biggest stars in music, "Thriller" made Michael Jackson one of the biggest stars in the world. The song – written by Rod Temperton – was the seventh single from the Thriller album, and they decided to go all out for the music video, bringing in director John Landis and shelling out an unheard-of $500,000. The 14-minute mini-movie made every video that came before it seem completely amateur. The song is also great for dancing and was perhaps best used in the original Revenge of the Nerds during Lambda Lambda Lambda's big fraternity party.
Kool and the Gang's 1980 hit "Celebration" has become an all-purpose party song over the past 30 years, played at countless weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, sporting events and election victory parties. It's Kool and the Gang's only Number One hit, though they came pretty close with "Ladies' Night," "Get Down on It," "Jungle Boogie" and "Cherish." The group tours heavily and this past year even opened up for Van Halen.
In March of 1983, Michael Jackson played "Billie Jean" at Motown's 25th Anniversary Concerts. Near the end, he moonwalked in public for the first time and within seconds, people across the country were trying to imitate the move. It remains the most iconic moment of Michael Jackson's entire career. The song "Billie Jean" was inspired by the many groupies whom Michael saw his brothers interact with during the Jackson 5's numerous tours in the 1970s. It was the second single off Thriller and spent eight weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100.
Madonna spoke to Rolling Stone in 2009 about the making of her 1990 song "Vogue." "I wrote it when I was making Dick Tracy," she said. "After we shot the movie, [then-boyfriend] Warren Beatty asked me if I could write a song that would fit my character's point of view, that she could have conjured up. She was obsessed with speakeasies and movie stars and things like that. The idea for the lyrics came through that request. Coincidentally, I was going to Sound Factory and checking out these dancers who were all doing this new style of dancing called vogueing. And Shep Pettibone, who co-produced 'Vogue' with me, used to DJ there. That's how it grew together."
In 1977, the Bee Gees were asked to write a few songs for a new movie about New York's disco scene. They had found success two years earlier with the disco songs "Jive Talkin'" and "Nights on Broadway," so they seemed like the perfect band for the project. Their song "Stayin' Alive" opened up Saturday Night Fever and became the most famous cut on a monster soundtrack full of hits. "Stayin' Alive" spent four weeks on the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and is arguably the single most famous song of the entire disco era. In fact, the song became so big that the Bee Gees spent the next three decades of their career struggling to step out of the shadow of their disco work.