What are the best party songs of all time?
Whether you’re a professional DJ or a music enthusiast, you’re going to need to have the best party songs if you’re hosting a party!
Not sure where to begin? No worries. We’ll help you put together a stellar playlist of classic party songs everyone knows. We’ll even help compile songs for weddings and toss in some nostalgic hits, too.
But who determines what the best party songs of all time are, and which ones are are good songs to dance to?
To prepare our list, we used several web resources to ensure it was thorough and cataloged the songs that best represented the different popular styles at each point in time.
The Best Party Songs Of All Time
As a DJ, having the best party songs is a given. But there’s more to being a DJ than just compiling playlists and cranking out music.
Top DJs are savvy business people, know how to read a crowd, and are quick-witted when the dance energy and mood shift.
We’ll discuss these in more detail later, so for now, let’s get back to the music! We believe one of the first steps to success as a DJ is compiling a variety of dance party songs.
Having an arsenal of hits at your fingertips allows you the freedom to change genres on the fly should a particular hit not energize the crowd.
We’ve listed our party songs chronologically and by era, so without further ado, here’s our list of the best party songs of all time:
Best 80s Party Songs
The 80s! Maybe you weren’t born yet, but we certainly remember this era! Big hair, parachute pants, and some of the best dance songs for parties!
The 80s were a boom time for many individuals, and excess and materialism ruled the day.
Nightclubs became the social hub where money, success, and fame partied all night long.
TV shows like “Miami Vice” capitalized on this lavish lifestyle in the scripts.
Even the show’s theme song by Jan Hammer became popular at dance clubs around the world.
Here’s our list of the best 80s party songs:
- David Bowie-Let’s Dance
- Cyndi Lauper-Girls Just Want To Have Fun
- Michael Jackson-Billie Jean
- Bryan Adams-Summer of ’69
- Miami Sound Machine-Conga
- Rick James-Super Freak Part I
- Journey-Don’t Stop Believin’
- Salt-N-Pepa-Push It
- AC/DC-You Shook Me All Night Long
- Daryl Hall & John Oates-You Make My Dreams Come True
- Wham!-Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go
- A-ha-Take On Me
- Madonna-Into the Groove
- Queen-Another One Bites the Dust
- Whitney Houston-I Wanna Dance With Somebody
- B-52s-Love Shack
- Starship-We Built This City
- Laura Branigan-Gloria
- Bon Jovi-Livin’ On A Prayer
Our Favorite 80s Party Song
With so many great hits from the 80s, it was challenging to whittle it down to only one.
In the end, we opted for the Purple Pop Maestro himself, Prince, with his hit: 1999.
With its iconic opening synths and the hypnotic drum groove, this happy song screams, “get up and dance!” Or at least party like it’s 1999!
Listen to the music on YouTube and see if you disagree with us.
Best 90s Party Songs
Like most music, art, and fashion trends, what follows one era is usually a rebellion against the previous years.
Such were the 90s. Grunge fashion, primarily from thrift stores, was countercultural to the excessiveness of the 80s.
Music rebelled with such abandon of styles that many experts hail it as the decade full of boundary-breaking, counterculture artists.
There were so many musical styles in the 90s that it’s almost impossible to pin down one genre that best represents the era.
Garth Brooks was the king of country music, Nirvana attracted the counter culture, Guns N’ Roses appealed to rockers young and old, and Sheryl Crow was pop’s poster child.
Toss in Beck, who dominated the indie market and the boy band, New Kids on the Block, and you realize the diversity of this musical decade.
Here is our list of the best 90s party songs:
- MC Hammer-U Can’t Touch This
- Spice Girls-Wannabe
- Metallica-Enter Sandman
- Nirvana-Smells Like Teen Spirit
- Brooks & Dunn-Book Scootin’ Boogie
- Will Smith-Gettin’ Jiggy With It
- Sir Mix-A-Lot-Baby Got Back
- Kris Kross-Jump
- Tag Team-Whoomp! There it Is
- Right Said Fred-I’m Too Sexy
- DR Dre-Next Episode
- Jay Z-Hark Knock Life
- Vanilla Ice-Ice Ice Baby
- Boyz II Men-Motownphilly
- Montell Jordan-This Is How We Do It
- Guns N’ Roses-Welcome To The Jungle
- C+C Music Factory-Gonna Make You Sweat
- Garth Brooks-Friends in Low Places
Our Favorite 90s Party Song
With so many great artists and styles to select from, we knew we had to zero in on one type in particular.
And since our focus is on dancing and party songs, we settled for C+C Music Factory’s smash, “Gonna Make You Sweat.”
With its opening line, “Everybody dance now,” followed by the infectious synth groove, you’ll be hard-pressed not to “Get Jiggy With It.”
Take a listen and let us know what you think:
Best 2000s Party Songs
Stylistically speaking, music that dominated the charts in the 2000s was nondescript.
There was not much new regarding musical directions. Club and hip hop dominated the charts while indie acts and some rock groups still had influence.
This isn’t to say that the 2000s weren’t a creative era. The pitch-altering software Auto-Tune paved the way for artists like T-Pain, Cher, and Will.I.am.
This era saw a surge in music streaming with services like iTunes and Pandora.
Video media platforms like YouTube enabled music fans to upload videos, albums, and performances of their favorite bands and artists.
Here’s our playlist of the best 2000s party songs:
- Justin Timberlake-SexyBack
- Black Eyed Peas-Let’s Get It Started
- Nj Sync-Bye Bye Bye
- Christ Brown-Forever
- Backstreet Boys-I Want It That Way
- Ke$ha-Tik Tok
- Eminem-Without Me
- Ricky Martin-Livin’ La Vida Loca
- T-Pain-I’m Sprung
- R. Kelly-Ignition
- UNK-Walk It Out
- Poker Face-Lady Gaga
- Daft Punk-One More Time
- Modjo-Lady (Hear Me Tonight)
- Basement Jazz-Romeo
- Kanye West-God Digger
- Baby Bash-Cyclone
- Trey Songz-Bottoms Up
- Ludacris-How Low
Our Favorite 2000s Party Song
We chose “Let’s Get it Started.” This hit by the Black Eyed Peas captures the essence & energy of the club scene in the 2000s.
The song’s upbeat R&B bass line, reminiscent of something Stevie Wonder would compose, blends seamlessly with the opening rap.
And when the chorus kicks in, well, if you’re not dancing or moving to the groove, there’s something wrong with you!
Best 2010 Party Songs
This era in music saw significant changes. Rhythm and blues (R & B) made a strong resurgence with artists like Miguel and Frank Ocean.
If hip-hop artists didn’t adapt to this musical change, they lost charting prowess.
Chart giants like Mariah Carey and Christina Aguilera began losing their popularity stronghold as lower-tier artists like Katy Perry and Rihanna gained popularity.
Dance-pop songs dominated the US market while hip-hop garnered fans in a strong underground movement.
Even rock and pop artists had to learn to adapt as “Americana” and “neo-folk” made headway onto the charts.
Groups like the Lumineers and Mumford and Sons became perennial favorites as top contenders in this genre.
Here’s our list of the best party songs 2010:
- Pitbull-Don’t Stop the Party
- Katy Perry-Firework
- The Black Eyed Peas-I Gotta Feeling
- Miley Cyrus-Party In The U.S.A.
- Rihanna-We Found Love
- Taylor Swift-Shake It Off
- Flo Rida-Club Can’t Handle Me
- Justin Timberlake-Can’t Stop The Feeling
- One Direction-What Makes You Beautiful
- Shakira-Hips Don’t Lie
- Daft Punk-Get Lucky
- Lady Gaga-Born This Way
- Avicii-Wake Me Up
- The Chainsmokers-Closer
- DJ Khaled-All I Do is Win
- David Guetta-Where Them Girls At
- DJ Snake/Lil John-Turn Down For What
- Armin van Buuren-This is What It Feels Like
- Luis Fonsi-Despacito
Our Favorite 2010s Party Song
Flo Rida won us over with his smash, “Club Can’t Handle Me.”
We love how the song starts low-key, but the intensity builds like a tsunami.
And when the music hits its stride at the first chorus, the hypnotic beat, rap, and R & B vocals make it a dance party song classic.
Best Party Songs 2020
The Coronavirus will forever shroud this portion of music history.
Music was still being released, but due to COVID restrictions, clubs were closed, house parties banned, and raves monitored.
The pandemic wreaked havoc on those in the music industry: music tours were canceled, musicians sought unemployment benefits while others pursued new career paths.
As the pandemic headed into another year, the world wondered if the music business would recover or implode and disappear forever.
Fortunately, many artists took to streaming platforms to perform songs.
Bands united on Zoom to entertain fans while maintaining social distancing. Despite such devastation, we’re seeing signs of life at the time of our writing.
Now more than ever, we can help this struggling industry by attending concerts, purchasing pre-released albums, and promoting our favorites on social media.
Here’s our list of the best dance party songs 2020:
- Jessie Ware-Soul Control
- Some Say-Nea
- No Doubt-Griz & Jauz
- Head and Heart-Joel Corry/MNEK
- Rain On Me-Lady Gaga
- Jayda G-Both of Us
- Madeon-The Prince
- Jamie xx-Idontknow
Our Favorite 2020s Party Song
Because we’re hoping for a better future, we opted for Baauer’s EDM hit, “reachupdontstop.”
If you still can’t get to a club due to COVID, close your eyes and let this song take you there.
The high-intensity rhythms from marching band snares to heart-pounding low-end kicks will get your feet moving.
Toss in the auto-tuned vocals, and in no time, you’ll have your hands in the air and feel the sweat rolling down your back.
Best Wedding Party Songs
Who doesn’t love a wedding?
Even the grumpiest of codgers will don a smile when he catches his first glimpse of the bride.
But when the vows are said, and the lovely couple is married, everyone’s ready to celebrate.
The challenge for you as a DJ is your playlist. This post will focus on general wedding dancing and not the classic “father-daughter” dance material.
With that in mind, how do you select songs that will appeal to a hip crowd while not neglecting the older generation?
We’ll assume that for your wedding playlist, you’ll utilize a majority of the songs listed previously and toss these gems in to appeal to the masses.
Here’s our list of the best wedding party songs:
- DJ Casper-Cha Cha Slide
- Los del Rio-Macarena
- Otis Day and the Knights-Shout
- Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars-Uptown Funk
- Kool & The Gang-Celebration
- Frank Sinatra-Come Fly With Me
- The Righteous Brothers-Unchained Melody
- Sam Smith-Stay With Me
- Justin Timberlake-Can’t Stop the Feeling
- Maroon 5-Moves Like Jagger
Our Favorite Wedding Party Song
Because a wedding has a wide range of ages and musical tastes, we chose a hit from the 70s that is guaranteed to get everyone on their feet.
The artist is Otis Day & The Knights, and the song “Shout” is from the cult classic movie Animal House.
The R & B grooves, Otis’ soulful singing, and the natural breaks in the song make this a crowd favorite dance song.
Best Country Party Songs
Being prepared for any musical shift or variance the night may throw at you is one sign of a pro DJ.
It’s for this reason why we recommend adding these classic country dance songs to your repertoire.
Most were from the 90s when country music was an international sensation.
The melodies are simple, the lyrics often tongue-in-cheek, and the grooves will get the staunchest city slickers onto the dance floor.
And if you can get them line dancing, then that’s another feather in your cap!
Here’s our list of the best classic country party songs:
- Cotton Eye Joe-Rednex
- Boot Scootin’ Boogie-Brooks & Dunn
- No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems-Kenny Chesney
- Don’t Rock the Jukebox-Alan Jackson
- Man! I Feel Like A Woman-Shania Twain
- I’ve Got Friends in Low Places-Garth Brooks
- Chicken Fried-Zac Brown Band
- Need You Now-Lady A
- Achy Breaky Heart-Billy Ray Cyrus
- One More Last Chance-Vince Gill
- Born to Boogie-Hank Williams Jr
- It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere-Alan Jackson/Jimmy Buffet
- Honky Tonk Badonkadonk-Trace Adkins
- I Like It, I Love It-Tim McGraw
- Redneck Woman-Gretchen Wilson
Our Favorite Country Party Song
Country music songs wouldn’t be complete without “Cotton Eye Joe.”
As soon as this infectious song comes on, it’s almost a given that the crows will start dancing, and it’s a classic that should always be in your country party playlist.
Best Group Dance Songs
When the night is waning, or you feel you’ve lost the audience’s attention, it’s time to play one of these hits to appeal to the masses.
These classics are our picks for adrenaline-boosting songs to get everyone out on the dance floor. These also work well with the best summer songs of all time.
What’s nice about this playlist is the diversity of styles we used.
Our only advice is to use them sparingly and scattered throughout the evening to make your pacing seamless.
Here’s our list of the best group dance songs:
- Cha Cha Slide – Harino Mix
- YMCA – Village People
- Macarena – Los Del Rio
- Cupid Shuffle – Cupid
- Crank That – Soulja Boy
- Walk It Out – UNK
- Gangnam Style – PSY
- The Hustle – Van McCoy
- Conga – Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine
- Thriller – Michael Jackson
- We Are Family – Sister Sledge
- Electric Boogie – Marcia Griffiths
- Stayin’ Alive – Bee Gees
- Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond
- Mony Mony – Billy Idol
Our Favorite Group Dance Song
There’s no denying that Soulja Boy killed it with “Crank That” back in late 2009.
The song was played everywhere, and you could bet your last dollar that you’d see people dancing to it every Friday and Saturday night in the club.
The simplistic beat, coupled with the hilarious dance moves, is what makes it our favorite group dance song.
Best Club Dance Songs
When we think of club party songs, we gravitate toward today’s electronic dance music (EDM.)
This percussion-driven electronic genre is the music of choice in clubs, raves, and festivals.
One reason for its popularity is DJs can create seamless playlists utilizing EDM styles like techno, electro, dance-pop, and house.
Fans and critics credit Daft Punk with popularizing EDM at festivals. Before this, rave events were the only event you could experience.
Here’s our list of the best club dance songs:
- Bad-David Guetta & Showtek
- Opus-Eric Prydz
- LRAD-Knife Party
- I Can’t Stop-Flux Pavilion
- Let Me Love You-DJ Snake/Justin Bieber
- Five Hours-Deorro
- Cinema-Benny Benassi
- Riverside-Sidney Samson
- Tsunami-DVBBS & Borgeous
- Ocean Drive-Duke Dumont
- Get Low-Dillon Francis/DJ Snake
- Gecko-Oliver Heldens
Our Favorite Club Dance Song
Who doesn’t love a bit of David Guetta?! This collaboration with Showtek and Vassy is an absolute club banger!
It has a great introduction, awesome builds, and devasting drops. Wack this on in the club, and the crowd will love it for sure!
How To DJ A Party
Now that you have your playlists, you’re ready to DJ, right?
That depends. If you’re a seasoned pro, then yeah, hit the road. But if this is your first gig or you’re hungry for new tips, then this next section is for you.
We’ll zero in on the basics of being a DJ and leave topics like radio editing and club mixing for later posts.
If you’re the impatient type or want to jumpstart your career as a DJ, check out this article.
Let’s stop spinning our wheels and learn how to spin some songs!
So you’ve landed your first DJ gig. Congratulations!
What we’ll cover in this section should be second nature from working other day jobs or careers.
We don’t want to insult your intelligence, but we believe these are necessary to discuss.
The gig will determine the playlist. In other words, songs for a wedding probably won’t work for a house party.
The first thing to do preparing for your gig is to get as much information from the host as possible. Here are some questions to ask:
- How many people do they expect to attend? Chances are you’re supplying your gear and sound system. If you’re hosting a small event with only a few hundred people, then your small rig will suffice. But if this is a big club with many people, you’d better know in advance if your system will work or if it can integrate with the house gear.
- What time do you start and end? Clubs and venues typically use contracts that spell out these details. Weddings and house parties, especially for friends, have more expectations, many of which never get voiced. The key here is never to assume. We all know what happens when we do!
- Is there an opening act or DJ? Again, this is standard information, but the answer determines more about your playlist than perhaps reading the crowd. If you’re the opener, your set needs to be that: an appetizer. Save the big dance hits for the main DJ. Such servitude will not only garner their praise but may land you more gigs as your “teamwork” reputation spreads.
- What is the general age of the crowd? DJing a college-age rave will require a playlist different from that of entertaining the Class Reunion of 1984.
- What styles of music should you avoid? Certain regions may not respond well to a hit song. Take the United States, for instance. If you’re the DJ for a dance party in Alabama, then “Sweet Home Alabama” would be a good song for your playlist. If you try to spin that in Seattle, chances are no one will dance, plus you may get an earful of expletives!
Before sinking a lot of money into DJ equipment, think about what style of DJing is suited for you.
Much like your playlists, equipment that works for a mobile DJ may not work for a club DJ.
We won’t go into too much detail (you guessed it! We’ll discuss this in upcoming posts!), but here are some basics to consider.
- Club DJ. Clubs typically have in-house standalone DJ controllers and DJ mixers, but you’ll also need a laptop for djing. Pioneer mixers are typically the industry standard in clubs but always double-check. Although they’re not cheap, at some point, you’ll need to invest in a quality CDJ.
- Mobile DJ. You’ll need to purchase a DJ controller that consists of a mixer and two playback decks. There are standalone DJ controllers that play music from a USB thumb drive and not a laptop.
- Scratch DJ. Scratch DJs use turntables to create the “scratch” sound that’s popular. Invest in turntables with high-end jog wheels since these do most of the work. You’ll also need a quality mixer to crossfade from mixing to scratching.
Reading A Crowd
Aside from having the best songs to dance to, DJs must have a sixth sense of what music suits their audience.
This skill is a craft that takes time to hone, so be patient. Many pros add that reading a crowd is a gut instinct.
But even as a rookie, there are some basics you can apply.
Here are some tips to help you evolve into a savvy entertainer.
- Arrive early. This should be a given as a pro, but observing is another advantage of getting there early. What is the vibe of the room? If there’s background music, what era is it? What genre? Knowing these ahead of time will help you compile the best dance party songs right out of the gate!
- Dancing girls. Sorry, guys, but let’s face it: girls beat us to the dance floor. As a DJ, note what music got these ladies dancing, especially if they’re dancing before the gig.
- Body language. You don’t need a degree in behavioral health or psychology to pick up on these easy-to-spot signs. Are people tapping their feet, nodding their heads, or swaying to the beat? If so, these are signs you’re on the right track musically. Patrons who stand around with arms crossed, stoic stances, and avoid the dance floor are signs something isn’t right! Maybe it’s the cost of the drinks or the lighting. Even so, although those aren’t your fault, the room’s vibe has changed, and it’s your job to get things sorted out and fast!
- Audience age. This falls into the Captain Obvious category, but you’d be surprised how many DJs miss this observation. If your dance crowd is primarily 20-year-olds, then it’s doubtful they’re interested in hits from the 80s. Conversely, if your crowd has a mixture of ages, like at a wedding, then be prepared to spin hits from several eras.
Whether you’re hosting a dance party or spinning hits at a wedding, you’re responsible for controlling the event’s energy.
The buzzword amongst top DJs is “restraint.” You may be tempted to melt the faces of your first dancers with top party dance songs—bad idea.
Practice restraint and reserve them for later. Remember, you’re the events MC, creating an organic musical and energetic experience that will meld these collective souls.
Allow the evening to build, and let your music ebb and flow to create high and low energy levels.
The temptation will be to crank out adrenaline-pumping hit after hit.
Surely this will get the group dancing, correct? Perhaps initially, yes, but you’ll exhaust your dancers who may stop or leave, which would have devastating results.
Another fallout of playing nothing but high-intensity music is the crowd getting burned out from the volume and energy level.
Slowing the tempo and the intensity allows dancers and listeners time to catch their breath and re-energize.
Some pros plan their gig’s playlist down to every minute detail.
Others warn that such extreme preparation could lead to disaster.
Let’s say you launch into your “playlist to end all playlists,” but halfway through, things go amuck: dancers are disinterested or bored or leaving the club.
Now, what do you do? Stick to your plan, damn the torpedoes, and “convert” these dancers to your musical genius?
Good luck with that! Pros urge to plan ahead but always have a “Plan B” ready when the vibe, mood, or energy shifts negatively.
Other tricks of the trade are:
- Create playlists into categories. Organizing lists into groups like a warm-up, new tunes, etc., allows you to navigate the evening’s ebb and flow.
- Use effects for spontaneity. Utilizing loos, effects, EQ, and volume gives you the ability to extend sections the crowd loves. Toss in some echo to create something unique for the evening. If the group appears tired, slow things down, drop the volume until it’s time to get them raising hands and lifting off the roof.
The Art of Taking Requests
As a DJ, this is a slippery slope. On the one hand, if you hold to the “no requests for you!” stance, you could alienate your audience.
Some DJs who used this approach admitted later that it probably cost them future gigs, networking opportunities, and popularity.
The flip side is equally challenging. If you allow one person’s request to be honored, don’t you have to observe them all?
And then there’s your ego. Getting a request is akin to rejection or feeling incompetent as a DJ.
The best approach seems to be using “soft no.” Instead of gesturing to your “no requests for you!” sign by your mixer, listen to them and consider the source.
If you’re DJing a wedding and the mother-of-the-bride is making a request, you probably should try to appease her.
If the request is from someone you don’t know or recognize as being important (like the club owner!), consider these approaches:
- Be respectful. Smile and listen intently. This goes a long way in promoting goodwill with your patrons and may even lead to more work.
- If you say no, have a reason. You can’t be a jukebox so if the request isn’t feasible, decline with an explanation like: “That’s a great tune, but unfortunately, I don’t have it. I’ll keep it in mind for next time.” Or “I’d love to play that one, but it doesn’t fit right now.”
- Offer realistic expectations. One way out of this quagmire is to offer to play their request later, but you can’t make any promises. In this way, you’ve acknowledged their request but have given yourself an out should you opt not to play it. You have also given them hope that their request may get played. More importantly, this hope keeps them at the club instead of bolting for the door because you flat-out rejected them.
- Their request may be what you need. Perhaps the person making the request has insight into what song will ignite the party, so consider it.
For some additional information, check out some of our other helpful DJ tips.
We hope you enjoyed our list of the best party songs of all time.
Hopefully, you’ll be able to add some of these songs to your party playlists and use them continuously in your DJ sets throughout your career.