The 40 Best Dance Songs of 2015 So Far
Jack Ür Body
Unearthed turn-of-the-century pop oddities, lively debates between woodwind instruments, and DJs in glass cities throwing house parties — our list of the best dance songs of 2015 so far encompasses every corner of the wide, weird world of beats. Spread it like peanut butter jelly over the rest of your calendar year.
40. Disclosure feat. Gregory Porter, “Holding On” (Island)
“Holding On” begins with a sustained, indiscernible howl, like a shofar or a foghorn — some epically evocative sound announcing an incoming religious experience or approaching mammoth object. For a Disclosure song, that comparison isn’t far off: The advance single from their upcoming Caracal LP wisely sticks to the tried-and-true formula of ceiling-flaking bass, shuffling snares, and a soulful vocalist (American jazz man Gregory Porter) that richly colors between the UK garage revivalist duo’s signature visual facial lines. —HARLEY BROWN
39. Samo Sound Boy, “You Come For Me” (BODY HIGH)
Drawing inspiration from the dissolution of a long-term relationship, Samo Sound Boy envisioned “You Come for Me” as a melancholy but hopeful song, the kind of track that wistfully looks back at what’s been lost while taking comfort in the knowledge that better things will be waiting on the road ahead. That may sound overly complex for the average piece of electronic music, but the Los Angeles producer pulls it off by balancing a potent array of vocal samples with spiraling percussion, subtly swelling chords, and a crescendo of twinkling synth sounds. It’s a bit over the top, but that’s the idea — few things are capable of tugging at our heartstrings like a breakup and its aftermath; Samo Sound Boy simply moved the healing process to the dance floor. —SHAWN REYNALDO
38. Dude Energy, “Renee Running” (Animals Dancing)
Most people know LA producer Diego Herrera for his work as Suzanne Kraft, but it’s possible that “Renee Running” might be the most effective dance floor creation he’s ever made. While his previous output is rooted in disco and tends to drift toward more ambient pastures, “Renee Running,” the lead track on his first EP as Dude Energy, is a no-bulls—t piece of upbeat, percussion-driven dance music. The drums do most of the heavy lifting here, moving things forever forward as Herrera gradually brings in some vaguely Middle Eastern synth riffs and some thick ’80s basslines. It’s one of those tunes where all of the elements fit together perfectly. —S.R.
37. JLin feat. Holly Herndon, “Expand” (Planet Mu)
Indiana producer Jlin’s jittery, mechanistic take on footwork explores the genre’s darkest sides on “Expand” — and who better than Holly Herndon, with her own digital surveillance fascinations, to lend the track its anxious atmospherics? Her spittle and vocal debris only makes Jlin’s post-apocalyptic dancescapes that much grittier. —COLIN JOYCE
36. Dusky, “Jilted” (17 Steps)
The title “Jilted” serves a dual purpose: Dusky’s punishing entry for club track of the summer froths with the rage of a lover who’s been spurned, and ceaselessly pounding low-end will jolt the dancing shoes right off your feet. Just when you think the red alarm-level blasts and wrenching synths can’t get any harder, the song climaxes with just enough of a vocal sample to take you there, and keep you there, through six minutes of peaks and valleys. Or at least when the sun starts to rise. —H.B.
35. Bushido, “Stay Golden” (Astral Black)
There’s not that much about Bushido online except that he belongs to Glasgow label-to-watch Astral Black, currently boasting the city’s cream of the crop of rising producers. “Stay Golden” flips the beat from Nelly Furtado and Timbaland’s “Say It Right,” decorating it with twinkling bells and whistles befitting Gold Panda without losing any of its drop-top drive. It’s perfect for both the turn-up and the comedown. —H.B.
34. MCFERRDOG, “Lawd Forgive Me” (1080p)
Forget happy hardcore: New York DJ Max McFerren’s take on rave structures is far more giggly and ecstatic. The title track and closer from January’s Lawd Forgive Me could be MCFERRDOG’s finest and sunniest moment, a deep breath of Air France-flavored oxygen after a long night in a stuffy club. —C.J.
33. Oliver Dollar, “Shout Away” (Industry Standard)
Remarkably, the only sound bleed at this year’s Movement Festival in Detroit appeared to happen behind the scenes: “Shout Away” is the result of a collaboration between Berlin producer Oliver Dollar and the Motor City’s Chuck Daniels, who punched it out together during the techno festival. Who knew the rip-roaring yowls of the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” sounded so damn good over a straight warehouse thump? —H.B.
32. Bicep, “Just” (Aus Music)
Following the release of 2012’s gleefully upbeat “Vision of Love,” the hardworking Belfast-via-London duo Bicep has been on something of a tear, touring constantly and issuing a steady stream of 12-inches in the process. “Just” leads off the pair’s latest EP, combining a playfully infectious melody with soaring synth flourishes and a deceptively mellow breakbeat. The song’s recurring vocal refrain says, “It’s just the same” again and again, but this is something new from Bicep — it might be the duo’s most pop moment to date. —S.R.
31. SNBRN & Kaleena Zanders, “California” (Chris Lake & Matroda Remix) (Rising Music)
Once a generation, the people need to be reminded — via Ronnie Hudson interpolation — that California still knows how to party. Chris Lake and Matroda’s remix of SNBRN and Kaleena’s ode to the Best Side might not get anyone playing Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome in their backyard, but it takes an already soaring diva-house throwback and grimes it up for 2015, with bass fat enough to soundtrack a montage of Project X idiocy. —ANDREW UNTERBERGER