The 40 Best Dance Songs of 2015 So Far
Jack Ür Body
30. KiNK, “Cloud Generator” (Running Back)
Sometimes it feels like there are no small KiNK tunes — he can only aim for the back of stadiums, both when producing music and performing his infectious live shows. “Cloud Generator” is the latest anthem from the Bulgarian producer, one whose sizzling main motif and whirling arpeggios have conquered clubs and festival stages since landing earlier this year. It may border on the cheesy, but flirting with that line is what makes it so easy to turn up when it’s blasting from speaker rigs. —STEVE MIZEK
29. Nero, “The Thrill” (Porter Robinson Remix) (MTA)
Nero’s original synth-rock power-ballad was already plenty weepy without Porter Robinson coming around to wind down its verses to a slow-motion sob. But North Carolina’s emo-est of super producers compensates for the drowsiness by subtly building to a (somehow totally unexpected) detonation of synth fireworks on the chorus, allowing “The Thrill” to realize the full potential of its title. —A.U.
28. Green Velvet & Carl Craig, “Party” (Relief)
Earlier this year Green Velvet and Carl Craig reminded audiences that you don’t have to be Drake or Beyoncé to drop a surprise album. The Midwestern dance music heavyweights released the seven-track Unity album with zero promotion, letting tracks like “Party” speak for themselves. Its rolling groove studded with cowbells is aimed straight at dance floors, with instructive vocals (“party all day”), wild synth leads, and rushing climaxes keeping dancers locked in. The two veterans still have some potent tricks up their sleeves. —S.M.
27. Kornél Kovács, “Utopia, Ohio” (Studio Barnhus)
Kornél Kovács and his associates at Studio Barnhus have a knack for the dreamy and slightly surreal. In kind, “Utopia, Ohio” does no less than imagine traipsing through a gorgeous, verdant land, all scored by glorious harp melodies, thumping drums, and orchestral swells as refreshing as a garden breeze. Whether the real midwest Utopia is this idyllic remains a mystery, but you’ll want to go wherever Kovacs had in mind while writing this tune. —S.M.
26. Jack Ü feat. AlunaGeorge, “To Ü” (OWSLA / Mad Decent)
Take two of America’s monsters of EDM and add a willowy British vocalist, then what do you have? “To Ü” is a gloriously confused collection of stuttered handclaps, cooed platitudes, and breathless synth runs — the sound of Diplo, Skrillex, and AlunaGeorge’s would-be Cerberus trying run all three directions at once. But there’s undeniable beauty in that tension. —C.J.
25. Le Youth, “T O U C H” (OWSLA / Mad Decent)
Los Angeles producer Le Youth masterfully whips up recognizable R&B samples into frothy dance jams, tickling with his balance of the familiar and the exotic. This particular gem pitch-shifts the chorus of Mary J. Blige’s “I Am” into a slightly richer register more reminiscent of old-school house vocals, especially with the simply repetitive piano verses throughout. “Touch” very nearly upstages the Mary J. original with such a clean, classic four-to-the-floor bass line. —H.B.
24. Joel Alter, “Everlasting” (Uncanny Valley)
“I want nothing new! I want something true!” These lyrics, which make up the refrain of Joel Alter’s “Everlasting,” cut to the core of what makes his debut album, Heart, such an inviting listen. Sung by the Swedish producer himself and accompanied by tart piano chords, the relatively simple cut prioritizes intimate performances and emotional resonance over flashy effects. It’s hugely satisfying to hear a producer put themselves out there for all to see and remain just as moving. Like the title suggests, you wish the track would just go on forever. —S.M.
23. Jose Padilla, “Day One” (International Feel)
These days, Ibiza tends to conjure images of bikini-clad ladies and bro’d-out EDM DJs, but the tiny Spanish island was once home to a classier brand of electronic music. Jose Padilla certainly remembers that time, as he’s lived in Ibiza since 1975 and has held an influential residency at Café del Mar since 1991. Celebrated for his Balearic sunset mixes and his work pioneering the chillout sound, Padilla switched things up a bit on his latest album, So Many Colours, which inches Padilla closer to the dancefloor. “Day One” was co-written and co-produced by Telephones, and pairs swirling patterns of chime-like synths with echoes of reverbed guitar riffs, all laid out over a steppy house beat. —S.R.
22. Motez, “One 2″ (Sweat It Out!)
In 2015 dance music, nothing lands harder than a soft drop. After over a minute of slowly building with layered synth wails, booming bass and clicking castanets — seriously, where have those been lately? — seemingly leading to the most head-rushing of plummets, Motez instead parachutes you down with a muted bass throb, the lightest of drum pulses and some background snickering. Not every big EDM number needs to be a rollercoaster; Ferris wheels can be pretty dope too. —A.U.
21. DJ Koze, “XTC” (Pampa)
DJ Koze has set the bar so high with his eccentric albums and singles it seems nearly impossible to surpass himself. Then along comes “XTC,” which is poised to dwarf them all. He envelopes listeners in an euphoric, glowing atmosphere with an insistent pulse pushing them onwards, as if a pill is starting to ramp up. But it’s the spoken vocals pondering the benefits of the drug that take the tune to a transcendent place. Sharing this sublime moment with a full dance floor emulates the sense of serotonin-induced community in a way few tracks can manage — a feat of songwriting and sound design genius. —S.M.