25 Dance Records That Gave Us Life In 2013
“Hold On” has all the requisite elements of a standard electro hit — swooping synths and dizzying builds — but it’s the details that really make this track pop. The Australian production duo (and twins!) bulk up the track with backing drums and vocals, and play with panning between channels to mesmerizing effect. — Aylin Zafar
24. Knife Party, “Power Glove”
Knife Party is amazing in part because you don’t need to actually pop any pills to feel like you’re totally rolling. “Power Glove” samples a Nintendo commerical — “Now, you’re playing with power!” — and does actually make you feel a little bit like the world around you is one giant obstacle course with the song as a soundtrack. — A.Z.
23. Kaskade, Atmosphere
Kaskade’s 8th album is a reminder of why the DJ and producer has enjoyed such a fruitful career: there’s a little something for everyone. There’s deep house minimalism — from the jazzy “Take Your Mind Off” to “SFO to ORD” — as well as a few bigger, pummeling anthems, like “Last Chance” and “Atmosphere.” The album is mostly mellow, though, and a good reminder that not every dance song has to be all about ~the drop~. — A.Z.
The Juan Maclean returned from a long absence this year with two of the best singles of their career – the moody “You Are My Destiny” and the joyful “Feel Like Movin’”. Nancy Whang’s cool yet highly expressive vocals really push both cuts over the top, making them two of the most exquisite dance tracks to ever come out on the DFA label. – Matthew Perpetua
21. Hardwell x Dyro, featuring Bright Lights, “Never Say Goodbye”
Dutch producer Hardwell is currently ranked number one in the world in DJ Magazine’s annual Top 100 DJs poll, and it’s not hard to see why. His songs are massive, and “Never Say Goodbye” is a larger-than-life, thumping song with all the right builds and come-downs. — A.Z.
20. Avicii, featuring Aloe Blacc, “Wake Me Up!”
When everyone first hears this song, they’re like, “WAIT. This kind of sounds like country music?!” And they are correct! But that also makes this the rare song that feels as appropriate to blast while driving down some rural highway with the windows down as it would in a nightclub with smoke machines. — Hillary Reinsberg
The title track of Burial’s surprise late-year EP moves in fits and starts, but it’s mostly an epic of thumping beats, aloof vocals, and gloriously ugly digital noise. It’s a grim piece of music, but there’s no denying the power of the beat every time it kicks back in. – M.P.
18. Major Lazer featuring Bruno Mars, 2 Chainz, Tyga & Mystic, “Bubble Butt”
Major Lazer served us THE ass-rumping anthem of the year. But more importantly, the electronic production was supported by rap verses from Bruno Mars, Tyga, Mystic and 2 Chainz, which proved how perfectly these genres could marry. As silly as the track may seem, its catchy two-word hook against a buoyant beat is highly-contagious and will never fail to incite instant butt bouncing. — Tanya Chen
17. Pryda (Eric Prydz), “Power Drive”
“Power Drive” is progressive house at its best. Swedish DJ/producer Eric Prydz released the complex, intricate track under his Pryda alias in April, and it’s steadily gained momentum through the year. This isn’t fist-pumping music. Clocking in at nearly nine minutes, Prydz expertly layers various chord progressions, orchestral strings, and enough “woo!”s to make you feel like you’re running a marathon. — A.Z.
16. Ellie Goulding, “Burn”
Ellie Goulding’s “Burn” is the kind of hypnotic song that’s almost impossible to get out of your head once you’ve heard it. The hook and chorus are insanely catchy (“‘Cause we’ve got the fire, fire, fire / Yeah we got that fire, fire, fire / And we’re gonna let it burn, burn, burn”), helping make it radio-friendly enough to garner the singer her first No. 1 hit in the UK. It’s a celebratory song about living like there’s no tomorrow, but without being too cheesy or over-the-top. Goulding can turn up the power of her voice but knows how to scale back when she needs to, and “Burn” strikes just the right balance. — A.Z.
Childhood friends Tyler Blake and Michael David have made Classixx a feel-good tribute to their favorite strains of dance music — elastic funk, melodic house and disco. “Holding On” is unabashedly California, the production gleaming and glittering with crisp hi-hats, sprightly piano and a perfectly buoyant lead bassline. You can almost feel the track smiling and beckoning you for a hi-five. — Alex Naidus
14. Calvin Harris, featuring Ellie Goulding, “I Need Your Love”
Calvin Harris songs are, in general, great for dancing around in your underwear (and probably also for, I don’t know, dancing on a beach in Ibiza? Something like that). Other songs on Harris’ album 18 Months feature vocals from Rihanna, Florence Welch, and Kelis — and objectively, they are all quite fun to listen to. But Ellie Goulding’s collaboration on “I Need Your Love” is the best — probably because her voice sounds like a fairy’s. After watching the song’s video, in which Goulding and Harris act like gushy lovebirds on jetskis, people were quite sad to learn that the pair isn’t actually a real-life couple, taking it almost personally. But that’s a testament to their talent — they’re very convincing. — H.R.
13. Basement Jaxx, “Back 2 The Wild”
Miss Emma Lee and Baby Chay’s vocals on this stand-alone Basement Jaxx single are gleeful, child-like, and silly to the point that they’re practically daring you to find it annoying. But that’s perfect for the song, which is basically an invitation to the best party ever, and everything in the track is tugging on you and begging until you finally just give in. — M.P.
12. Saint Pepsi, Hit Vibes
Ryan DeRobertis, the producer known as Saint Pepsi, released a ton of material this year, but his free album Hit Vibes is the best introduction to his aesthetic. All through the record he blends vaguely familiar ’70s and ’80s pop and funk sounds into groovy disco tracks designed to max out your pleasure centers. –M.P.
11. Icona Pop, featuring Charli XCX, “I Love It”
“I crashed my car into the bridge / I don’t care, I love it.” Personally, if I crashed my car into the bridge, I would probably a) care a lot, and b) not love it at all! That aside, this is a song about ridding your life of someone who sucks, and how good it feels to shout and pump your fists about it afterwards. If nothing else, “I Love It” has given a current crop of college party girls the perfect rallying cry: “I’m a ’90s bitch!” — H.R.
10. Sophie, “Bipp”
Sophie is an extremely mysterious artist, to the point that it’s unclear whether the producer is male or female. But one thing is certain: “Bipp” is one of the boldest, most exciting debut dance singles in years. It’s essentially a straight-up R&B pop tune, but the track is striking and surreal, like a song being pulled and stretched as though it’s made out of rubber. –M.P.
9. Seven Lions x Myon & Shane 54, featuring Tove Lo, “Strangers”
Swedish pop star Tove Lo’s voice absolutely shines on “Strangers,” which boasts a gritty, dizzying beat. California-bred DJ and producer Seven Lions and Hungarian production duo Myon & Shane 54 create a six-minute warbly, dubsteppy track that’s filled with all kinds of surprises (there’s even some growling at one point?) and make way for Lo’s voice to soar sweetly over their glitchy, rapid-changing production. (Pro tip: It’s also a lot of fun to jump up and down to.) — A.Z.
DJ Snake’s “Bird Machine” has a lot going on — rainforest sounds, bird calls, wobbles, claps and snaps, hi-hats, thumping bass, whistles — and then all of a sudden it doesn’t. The French producer plays with sounds, adding layers until you feel dizzy, and then drops them all off, only to bring them back in again, slowly. It’s a gem. But if I’m totally honest, the “Jingle Bells” version may be even better. So when your friend tries to put on Michael Bublé’s Christmas album at your holiday party, you can now thankfully steer them away to something, you know, better, and also still festive! — A.Z.
7. Duke Dumont featuring A.M.E., “Need U (100%)”
A smash single in the UK, “100%” was arguably the leading light in a year that saw a slew of British producers revive the spirit (and production techniques) of ’90s vocal house and garage. A wickedly catchy pop song in house music clothing, it’s an irresistible dance floor singalong.
6. Diplo x GTA, “Boy Oh Boy”
Do you love to dance? Do you love Missy Elliott? Does “Work It” make you feel all kinds of sexy? Could you imagine it being any more of a banger than it already is? Well, Diplo and GTA found a way, and their song “Boy Oh Boy” reenvisions the Missy classic into a pounding, bass-heavy, moombahton jam that’s pretty much impossible not to work up a sweat to. Careful on the treadmill, though, lest your involuntary twerking gets the best of you. — A.Z.
5. Lana Del Rey vs. Cedric Gervais, “Summertime Sadness” remix
Lana Del Rey released “Summertime Sadness” last year, and it was an okay enough song. But this year, thanks to a remix by Cedric Gervais, it was everywhere and effectively became a bit of, well, a summertime hit. Gervais transformed the song into a full-on dance banger, and LDR actually has just the perfect kind of languishing, syrupy voice that’s tailor-made for sweeping rave anthems. — A.Z.
4. Martin Garrix, “Animals”
17-year-old Martin Garrix made a huge splash this year with “Animals,” a song that’s downright dirty in all the right ways, with grimy synths, minimal beats, and an epic drop featuring a sample from Busta Rhymes’ “What It Is.” The song features no vocals save for the drop and a few beast-like growls and screams, but is all the more powerful for it. — A.Z.
3. Zedd, featuring Foxes, “Clarity”
“Clarity” was a monster hit this year, climbing to No. 2 on the Billboard Dance/Electronic charts and all over the radio through summer. It makes sense — this song is made for blasting in your car during a joyride, windows down (or better yet, in a convertible), one hand doing the wave-y thing in the wind, your crush sitting next to you in the passenger seat. Cheesy? Yeah. But it’s absolutely ecstatic, and a perfect example of how powerful and heart-bursting a voice like Foxes’ can be on pounding, monstrous EDM anthem. — A.Z.
2. Daft Punk, Random Access Memories
For fans yearning for another Human After All, Daft Punk’s return to music may not have been all that satisfying. Random Access Memories — the French duo’s first album since 2005 — is made not for a rave arena, but a disco floor. Though Daft Punk (and their 2006 Coachella set) is largely to thank for the recent EDM takeover in mainstream pop, the group goes back in time a bit for an album that’s a groovy, smooth, feel-good reinterpretation of ’70s funk. And depending on who you ask, “Get Lucky” was the official Song Of Summer, proving today’s youth are capable of loving the good stuff, too. — A.Z.
1. Disclosure, Settle
Disclosure’s debut album is so packed with outstanding songs that if the British duo only released any one of the tracks as the only thing they did all year, they’d probably still be at the top of this list. It’s hard to pick favorites on a record this great and varied – some days it might be the acid house gospel cut “When A Fire Starts to Burn,” others it could be the ecstatic ballad “Latch” or the extremely chill “Defeated No More,” or the immaculate deep house of “White Noise.” It’s a staggering achievement, especially for artists so young, and it’s undoubtedly the most consistently thrilling dance album since the early ’00s glory days of Daft Punk and Basement Jaxx. –M.P.