At WSUM, we love to dance and we want everyone to dance with us. Here are our favorite dance jams for you to enjoy.
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Lorenza Zebell – SpaceCase
“Temptation” by New Order – Up down turn around, please don’t let me hit the ground This was in Trainspotting, one of the best movies ever.
“Don’t Leave Me This Way” by Thelma Houston – Disco never died.
“Any Which Way” by Scissor Sisters – The Scissor Sisters have the most bouncy, giddy dance music. This is song you can reaaaaally get down to.
“Fineshrine” by Purity Ring – This song is for when I want to dance like a wood nymph. Or a mermaid. Lots of close-eyed spinning and belly-dancer arms going on.
“Que Veux-Tu” by Yelle – It’s French! So fun. When I dance to this there’s a lot of head boppin’ and snapping.
Antipop – A-Side/B-Side
“Speaking in Tongues” by Eagles of Death Metal – The fact that this song has been used in macro-brew commercials cannot diminish my love for its slinky groove. I could have used any number of EoDM songs in this list, but “Speaking in Tongues” has the tightest groove that gets you going.
“I Can Change” by LCD Soundsystem – “Dance Yrself Clean” might be This is Happening’s more obvious dance song, but I’d argue that “Change” is superior. The main strength is that when you play it in a bar it doesn’t take a year to get to the good stuff, while delivering a more head-nodding beat.
“Blue Monday” by New Order – I truly believe that this may be the greatest dance song of all time. From the famously (but perfectly) messed up drum machine intro all the way to the end, this song’s infectiously bouncy beat can get anyone dancing, even with the vaguely goth lyrics.
“Move” by Q-Tip – Built around a J-Dilla beat that samples “Dancing Machine” by the Jackson 5, you know this song is built for the dance floor. A low-key affair around, but with some intriguing horn drones, this one is perfect for people who don’t like to have their moves dictated to them.
“Over and Over” by Hot Chip – This one reminds me of KWUR’s basement parties during my WashU days. Every so often, we would throw these parties and our DJs would spin sets throughout the night. For about a year and a half, this song was always on someone’s playlist. Many a night were spent cutting the concrete to this song.
Andrew Schneider – Verb the Noun, Live@WSUM
“Polyrhythm” by Perfume – Perfume is a J-pop group with Yasutaka Nakata as their producer and main songwriter. Naturally, they are just about the catchiest group around. This song is taken from their breakout 2008 album GAME, and despite being an amazing pop song, the bridge is quite musically complicated, with four different time signatures being utilized at once to create the titular polyrhythm. You won’t notice, though; you’ll be dancing too much.
“Candy Candy” by Kyary Pamyu Pamyu – Another Yasutaka Nakata production, this is early Kyary at its finest. The song is ridiculously sweet while still maintaining a sense of darkness that J-pop is not traditionally known for. Also, the dance from the video isn’t that hard to learn, and I’d recommend you get on that if you want to enjoy this song to the fullest.
“Robot Lover” by Mitsuki Aira – Released in 2008, this song still sounds like it could be playing in some sort of strange Decora club today. Utilizing a disparate, yet somehow perfect combination of 8-bit style synths and distorted electric guitars, the song is a love song written from the perspective of a robot, and I predict you’ll fall in love with this song as fast as I did.
“Japan Air” by Anamanaguchi – While not technically a J-pop band, Anamanaguchi certainly owes a big debt to the shiny, major-key stylings of J-pop, and this tribute to the kind of DDR-style anthemic J-pop is just as danceable as the real thing. Even the vocals provided be m33sh are spot-on with their contemporaries, and for a traditionally instrumental band like Anamanaguchi, that’s a big accomplishment.
“CONTROL” by Capsule – On Capsule’s 14th studio album, CAPS LOCK, the group decided to do things a little differently. They split from their label, wrote a bunch of songs inspired by computers, used a bunch of vocal manipulation in order to prevent the songs from being played live, and refused to use any of them in advertisements. Despite all of this, the songs are still as danceable as ever, with CONTROL starting off by laying down a beat using keyboard sounds and transitioning into a spiraling piano line that will be in your head all day.
Dean Knetter – The Roots & The Fruits
“Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” by James Brown – It might be an obvious choice, but this one is a fixture on my dish-washing dance party playlists. The main riff is irresistible, and Maceo Parker’s sax solo has to be among the all time greats. It’s one of the cornerstones of funk and never fails to get me moving across the dance floor… or kitchen floor.
“99 Lbs.” by Ann Peebles – You could probably power a whole party with Ann Peebles jams. The Memphis soul woman was backed by one of the tightest rhythm sections of 60s and 70s at Hi Records. Her voice is the perfect accent to this sassy groove!
“Something’s Got a Hold On Me” by Leela James – Sometimes I am actually hip to the music of my own generation, and lately Leela James has been getting me dancing. I especially like her cover of this Etta James song, which is a pretty old-fashioned tune to begin with. But her version comes out smooth, sexy, and infectious to any would be wallflowers.
“Baby, Don’t You Weep” by Luther Ingram – This rare northern soul number, from early in Ingram’s career, has a feel-good Motown vibe, but is a bit more raw than what Hitsville would have turned out. The groove is hard driving and totally unique, accompanied by an exhilarating vocal. The song has plenty of stops, starts, and pockets for you and your dance partner to break out your best old school moves!
“Alaskan Pipeline” by Gladys Knight & The Pips – This song was the theme for a 1976 movie starring Gladys Knight called “Pipe Dreams”, which looks like a truly awful film. However, the harmonies of the Pips and Knight’s voice make this a jam that demands to be blasted at full volume. A song about the oil industry has no business being so fun and funky.
“Feel Again” by OneRepublic – It’s the spacebar resistant indie-pop standbys at their finest and most uplifting. Hard not to get movin’ to a song that is the antithesis of (and perhaps even a direct rebuttal to) Linkin Park’s dirge-y “Numb”…am I right?!
“Dysfunctional” by Tech N9ne – We’ve all felt the way Mr. N9ne feels in “Dysfunctional”, a rap ditty inspired by an intro psychology class that hip hop’s bad boy sat in on at Providence College in early 2008. Sometimes the best way to overcome the kinds of everyday troubles Tech and (at some point or another) all of us has gone through is to simply dance it all away. This appears to be the clear message of the song which makes it, in some ways, even more inspirational than the previous one on this list.
“Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out” by The Antlers – This song effectively marries the worlds of hardcore and heart-on-sleeve balladry, and the lovechild of said marriage is the panicked urge to dance. Two bad decisions may not divide to cancel out, but if you’re ever looking to spend one dumb night this summer out dancing to pure pop goodness with your closest gal (or guy) pals, this song is a necessary inclusion.
“Build God, Then We’ll Talk” by Panic! At The Disco – Talk about panicked urges! This album-closing perennial from emo-rock legends, Panic! At The Disco (exclamation point still intact) is not only a highly danceable track, it is also a layered and deeply disturbing song about lust, loss, and lawyers—something only the most astute of listeners will pick up on. An absolute tour de force from a band that was never afraid to take a lesson from Maria Von Trapp—chicken soup for the dancer’s soul.
“Ultraviolence” by Lana Del Ray – I knew a guy named Jim in high school who used to call me DN but rather than “Deadly Nightshade”, it stood for “Dancing Neptune” because we were in AP Astronomy together. LDR’s smooth and melancholy delivery of lyrics like “he hit me and it felt like a kiss” are sure to get you on your feet and swaying with passionate angst. If there’s any summer dance jam that will make you feel blessed with beauty and rage, it’s definitely this one.
Wiigy – Wiigy’s Audio Dreamsicle, The Artscast, Wisconsin Student Radio Players
Any song by Moon Hooch – If you haven’t seen their NPR Tiny Desk Concert, I’ll give you a moment to do that before you continue reading. Crazy, right? The best way to describe them is acoustic dubstep but in a way that actually sounds like the best dance music possible because Moon Hooch is that. With two saxophones and a drum kit, they make a sound that’ll make you groove and move that way the First Lady would want you to.
“Still Sound” by Toro Y Moi – Chillwave can be some of the best stuff to dance to and definitely this song is a prefect example to make my case. With a repetitive bass line that’s downright tangy, Chaz Bundick creates layers of drum beats and keyboard noodlings to get your toe tapping.
“Led Zeppelin” by Tame Impala – A bonus track off their Lonerism album, this song has a great downbeat-heavy drum parts and enchanting guitar riff that always get my head bobbing. If you walk down the street listening to it, you’re guaranteed to start cool strutting like you’re Barry Gibb.
“Keep Time” into “Top Bunk” by Gauntlet Hair – The first two songs off their self-titled debut album I always play in succession to get a real psychobilly freakout dance going – it’s a combination of tipping your head back, spreading your arms out like eagle’s wings, and a pogo-style hop. It is the optimal way to let the waves of shoegazy ambiance cascade over your body. It’s a shame to think this band’s with us no longer to provide some of the best alt. dance jams.
Chali Pittman – The Not-Quite-Folk Folk Hour, Live@WSUM
“Car Song (feat. Santigold)” by Spank Rock – I an unashamedly someone who loves to dance in the shower and this song off of the album Everything is Boring and Everyone is a Fucking Liar is a perfect high-energy complement to my addiction. The whole album is extremely fun, but this song stands out with a beat produced by Boys Noize & Squeak E. Clean, an infectious hook by Santigold, and explicit lyrics + puns by Spank Rock (“Now I want to go west (like Kanye?) // I was thinking more Cornell”).
With a perfect driving baseline and catchy vocals, “Stick to My Side” by Pantha du Prince off of Black Noise is an overall audio orgasm.
“Gamma Ray” by Beck off of Modern Guilt sounds is a summer surf-rock tune that you can dance with friends to.
“Delight (Original Mix)” by Jamie Berry ft. Octavia Rose is a weird fusion of electronic and swing dance music and it’s AWESOME for high-energy dancing. Try to top the guy in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bve6r9MybJM
“Shall We Dance” by the Karminsky Experience & Thievery Corporation – This track off of The Outernational Sound is a groovy acid jazz tune with really cool instruments.
Rachel Rogerson – Roger That!
“By The Throat” by CHVRCHES – This song starts out a bit slow, but once the shimmering chorus comes on, it’s hard to keep yourself from moving.
“My Number” by Foals – This is a lighthearted, bouncy track that’s perfect for those who aren’t a fan of the EDM scene.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen – Most of my friends know EVERY word to this song, get them together and it’s rock insanity.
“Tubthumping” by Chumbawumba – A total classic and throwback that every ’90s kid can relate to, interpretive dancing: optional, but recommended.
“IV. Sweatpants” by Childish Gambino – This song has a catchy and consistent beat that pairs perfectly with Gambino’s perfectly cocky rhymes.
DJ Blasphemer – The Witching Hour
“Ski Mask” by Mellow Harsher – Powerviolence/grindcore from Madison, WI. Intense, fast, and powerful. Recently kicked out of a punk and metal festival for being too real, these guys have a great reputation for blending a hilarious stage show with brutal music.
“Within my Blood” by Skeletonwitch – Blackened thrash metal from Ohio with awesome guitar riffs and a brutally fast beat. Always stirs up the pit to a frenzy, known for intense live shows.
“Villains of All Nations” by Pyroklast – Madison, Wisconsin hardcore punk with a fast beat and catchy hooks. A local classic from a long-running, now split-up band, known for up close and personal shows.
“Deadweight” by Batillus – Blackened doom metal from New York, New York. Heavy, crushing drums and guitars with guttural, screamed vocals. A band defining modern crossover and teaching doom kids to mosh.
Remember folks, moshing is just a different kind of dancing. \m/ \m/