The 40 Best Dance Songs of 2015 So Far
Jack Ür Body
20. Violet feat. A.M.O.R., Nancy Whang, Mamacita, and Coco Solid, “Transition” (Self-Released)
An all-female All-Star reimagination — in honor of International Women’s Day — of Underground Resistance’s ’90s house classic “Transition,” imbuing it with a brand new sense of purpose and urgency (and pinball synth hooks) and making it all the more potent a manifesto in the process. “This song is dedicated to women everywhere, regardless of color, religion, sexuality or what sex they were born with — make it happen.” It almost feels cheap to call anything else in dance this year an “anthem.” —A.U.
19. Tensnake, “Keep on Talking” (True Romance)[/videoembed]
Ironically, the titular words uttered on “Keep on Talking” cavernously echo almost beyond recognition; rather, Hamburg beatmaster Tensnake focuses on layering rhythmic elements. He starts with bongos before two-stepping into muffled but insistent thuds, filling the pockets of air between with hissing snares and tambourine shakes. The whole thing is a touch obvious — there’s even a shower of fairy-dusted synth magic towards the end — but that’s what makes it so irresistible. —H.B.
18. Fit Siegel, “Carmine” (Fit)
In the grand scheme of things, Aaron Siegel’s FIT label and distribution company — an important hub of underground American dance music — tend to garner more attention than he does, but the Detroit producer and Omar-S affiliate is gradually proving himself to be a quality producer as well. “Carmine” isn’t a peak-time cut, but there’s a real charm to its subdued drum-machine rhythms, breezy melodies, and warbling bassline. —S.R.
17. Adesse Versions, “Pride” (Numbers)
“Pride” only came out a few months ago, but the track first began making waves in late 2014, especially after Glaswegian DJ extraordinaire and Numbers co-founder Jackmaster dropped it as part of a guest mix on Tim Sweeney’s long-running Beats in Space radio show. Like all Adesse Versions tracks, “Pride” is built upon a vintage sample, namely some vocal lines snatched from Rufus and Chaka Khan’s 1974 soul classic “Tell Me Something Good.” That said, UK producer Kevin Gorman’s new creation bears little resemblance to its source material, as he’s pitched up Chaka Khan’s diva calisthenics and repurposed them as part of a storming piano house cut. —S.M.
16. Galantis, “Peanut Butter Jelly” (Big Beat)[/videoembed]
One only need look at Galantis’ signature trippy cat-anemone-creature album art to know the Swedish production duo doesn’t take itself too seriously. “Peanut Butter Jelly” gloriously celebrates their penchant for ridiculous fun by slathering on the effects: helium-laced verses scrambled down to Isaac Hayes levels, air horns leading into a chorus that practically sounds like flashing lights and a shaking dance floor. And then there’s the way they say the word “money”, which makes it sound like a line from “My Neck, My Beck.” —H.B.
15. Claude VonStroke, “Big Ten” (DIRTYBIRD)
No one does booty bass quite like Claude VonStroke. The San Francisco-based Dirtybird label boss is indeed filthy when it comes to his roster’s low-end, burping out of the speakers at such a low, sustained rumble it obliterates your senses with the efficacy of a particularly rigorous head massage. “Big Ten,” the culmination of ten years of such jams — “That’s right,” intones the vocal sample, almost like a “You know you like it” — does not disappoint, dropping to the floor for six minutes of near-bliss. —H.B.
14. Martin Solveig & GTA, “Intoxicated” (Spinnin’)
“Intoxicated” is probably one of the top contenders for secret songs you’ve heard in any turnt-up DJ set that you didn’t necessarily recognize. The one-two death punch of horns and deep bass claps could smash its way through a brick wall; it’s so intense that the rest of the track — with its falsely sweet falsetto intoning “Let’s dance, no time for romance” — is almost necessary to recover from such sonic blows. —H.B.
13. Lauer feat. Ela, “Telefon” (Permanent Vacation)
“Telefon” from the Borndom LP is exemplary of refinements Phillip Lauer has made to his sound since his 2012 debut album. A more economical approach to songwriting helps his judiciously chosen elements shine, whether they’re chiming piano riffs, fizzy bass lines, or simply intoned vocals, care of Ela. If you’re needing to phone in a summer waft of air you can do no better than this Lauer gem. —S.M.
12. Eche Palante, “A Discussion Between Saxes” (Spinnin’)
Sax 1: So we’re going to the club tonight, right?
Sax 2: Are you seriously asking me that? I’m already here, been here for an hour already!
Sax 1: Oh well thanks for telling me, now I’m going to have so much catching up to do.
Sax 2: Oh right like this is my fault, you never pay attention when I’m trying to tell you…
Sax 1: Wait hold up, is that the drum break from “Funky Cold Medina”? I love that song.
Sax 2: Oh s—t, it is the “Medina” break! I f—king love that song too!
Sax 1: I love you, man.
Sax 2: Love you too, bro. Let’s boogie. —A.U.
11. Merle, “Mimi Likes to Dance” (Stripped and Chewed)
After a Kickstarter campaign to re-press former Virgo Four member Merwyn Sanders’ rare 2000 (And We’re Still Here) EP went unfulfilled, fellow Chicagoans Stripped & Chewed offered to shoulder the costs themselves. We owe them a debt of gratitude for doing so, particularly for the newly reworked and retitled cut “Mimi Likes To Dance.” Every element screams “summer anthem,” from the bountiful bass and dashing strings to the insistent EKG pulse and Sanders’ charming falsetto vocals. Unsurprisingly it’s been making the rounds through the world’s best clubs and parties since landing, finally earning the attention it deserves more than 15 years after its initial pressing.—S.M.