There’s a special ingredient that will turn the dullest of shindigs into a raging dance party: the perfect playlist. Some songs simply demand that you get out of your seat or peel yourself off the wall and hit the dance floor. Unfortunately, I will be on the west coast during Sparklecorn tomorrow, but after four years at MamaPop, I’m here to tell you that Sparklecorn isn’t a place, it’s a state of mind, and I aim to boogie along my comrades in spirit. So, whether you’re partying at Sparklecorn or simply throwing your own personal dance party at home, here are some tunes you simply must put into the mix:
1. It Takes Two – Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock
It’s just as effective today as it was at your high school dance. Whether you’re an accomplished breaker or, like me, your greatest move is the White Girl Shuffle, you always feel kind of awesome dancing to this track.
2. Empire State of Mind – Alicia Keys and Jay-Z
This is one of those songs that make you hit the dance floor so you can stand in a circle with your friends and sing it into each other’s faces. Even if you’re not a New Yorker, you can’t help but feel Big Apple pride when it comes over the speakers. When this played at the second-annual Sparklecorn, kdiddy and I got down.
Honorable mention: Basically every Jay-Z song you know – Big Pimpin’, Dirt Off Your Shoulder, Hard Knock Life. You name it, I’ll dance to it.
3. Thriller – Michael Jackson
Obviously, it helps if you’ve memorized the dance number by watching the video obsessively (or by watching 13 Going on 30 an embarrassing number of times), but you don’t have to perfect a zombie shuffle to love dancing to “Thriller”. Basically the party hasn’t actually started yet until the DJ plays it, unless they decided to start with “P.Y.T.” instead, which is also my jam.
4. Groove Is In The Heart – Deee-Lite
Not only is this one of the best dance tracks ever, it’s the only song where I can dance just like the babe in the video – thanks for keeping those moves simple, Lady Miss Kier.
5. Hey Ya! Outkast
You think you’re sick of this song and never want to hear it again, but I guarantee if I put it on, you’re screaming “ICE COLD!” at me about two minutes and 20 seconds later.
6. The Clap – Infant Sorrow
Many of us here at MamaPop are huge fans of Get Him to the Greek. The best part of the movie, other than an amazing appearance by Puff Daddy/P Diddy/Sean Combs, is the soundtrack, which heavily features music by fictional recording artists Infant Sorrow/Aldous Snow and Jackie Q. The songs are hilarious but they’re also legitimately fun to listen to. I recommend “The Clap”, but I have also been known to get down to Jackie Q’s “Supertight.” I believe it goes without saying, but this video is superNSFW.
7. Any Way You Want It – Journey
You can have your “Don’t Stop Believin”, Glee. Gimme this one. It gets right down to business, unlike a lot of 80s hair rock that makes you spend a good 45 seconds trying to figure out whether it’s Foreigner or Styx.
8. 1999 – Prince
Remember when this song was about the future? Even though it’s pretty far in the rear view now, this track is still legit. However, it almost didn’t make the list because it’s nearly impossible to find a Prince video online that doesn’t have the audio removed or replaced, which is why there’s no video above.
9. I Feel Love – Donna Summer
RIP, Donna. I personally like a lot of disco music without shame, but I don’t think you have to be a fan of the genre to appreciate this song, whether you’re dancing in platforms or roller skates.
10. Baby Got Back – Sir Mix-a-Lot
The only rap song everybody and their grandma knows the lyrics to, this song makes the list for that reason as well as the liberating spirit it bestows upon women who usually spend a night at the club obsessing about what their thighs look like.
I could go on and on, but I’m more interested in knowing what your must-have songs are for a really good dance party?