Everyone on the Floor for the Top Dance Songs of 2021
It's hard to imagine a musical genre hit harder by Covid 19 than techno and its synthetic siblings. With so many bars and dance halls closed - or those slowly opening to a trickle of ravers, getting to know the top dance songs of 2021 was going to be a challenge. However, even with the occasional chain on the dance floor, it didn’t diminish the quality of some fantastic music. Without further ado here are the 13 top dance songs of 2021.
- “Green Light” by Bleu Clair, AC Slater, and Kate Wild
When one thinks a thumping house piano mix you probably wouldn’t consider a sick arrangement by a tandem of bad-ass bass mavens. But that’s exactly what the musical recipe called for with the collaborative effort known as “Green Light.” Along with up-tempo champs Bleu Clair and AC Slater, the vocal stamp of talent is provided by pop and electronic pro Kate Wild. (The singer also cracks our list of top female dance artists of 2021).
The downloaders were all over “Green Light” – as were the usual suspects of critics. According to forbes.com, “… the piano house record boasts elevated vocals, infectious bass lines, upbeat sounds and playful synths.” Aka; a great, light, bubbly, beautifully produced happy track.
- “Take You Dancing” by Jason Derulo
Few musical acts can claim more followers on TikTok than Jason Derulo. It’s been reported that Jason D. pulls upwards of $75,000 per video he throws down on the site. Circling around clever promotions to bang the word out is nothing new for this artist. This round, he initiated a dance challenge for the single and, of course, the music video for “Take You Dancing.”
Once again, the artist was able to grease the wheels of his PR machine to the tune of thousands more listeners checking out the track. It’s no wonder “Take You Dancing” lands firmly on the list of the top dance songs of 2021.
- “Interblaktic” by Muzi
In a recent interview, South African artist Muzi told Pan African Music that “….Afrofuturism has a way of cancelling dope artists… because it means we are only dope in the future.” Muzi makes no excuses: Afrofuturism is everything indigenous to his soul.
“Interblaktic,” Muzi’s entry to the top dance songs of 2021, is jamming with flavors of “Chicago House.” It’s a smoothly connected techno ride, but more so, a colorful celebration of spirit punched up by scintillating rap vocals and a nicely crafted, dulled drum track. It’s more than a song: it’s a statement steeped in art – and on a deeper note, of humanity.
- “Dopamine” by Purple Disco Machine (feat. Eyelar)
What’s taken so long to transition the term “Dopamine” into a love song? When you break it down, “…. (It’s) an important brain chemical that influences your mood and feelings of reward.” Tino Piontek aka Tino Schmidt aka Purple Disco Machine, a German disco and house music producer and DJ, scooped up the term and ran with it.
The result, along with Dutch-born crooner Eyelar (one of the top female dance artists of 2021) is a pumped-up techno valentine with lyrics to adore: You make all the dopa-dopamine/In my bloodstream the way you touch me/I'm loving the feeling of dopa-dopamine/In my bloodstream, let it control me. The combo of PDM and the London-based vocalist created a home run love letter to remember.
- “Love Tonight” by Shouse, Vintage Culture & Kiko Franco (Remix)
The repetitive intro of “All I need is your love tonight, all I need is your love tonight,” serves the song well with a vocal mix sounding like a choir a hundred folks strong. The track (a festival favorite), with its intoxicating drum flow, along with the aforementioned lyrics, rocked folks’ worlds on available dancefloors everywhere.
Shouse, an Australian/New Zealand electronic music duo consisting of Jack Madin and Ed Service, called in the talents of Vintage Culture and Kiko Franco to seal the loose ends into a dance song that pops and sizzles.
Which Dance Songs of 2021 Had the Most Airplay?
Earlier, we mentioned the trimmed down dance club experience due to the virus --- so, more than ever, the top dance songs of 2021 had to rely a lot more on radio play. With such visceral competition, not everyone got spun on the radio dial. But many did.
Here are Billboard Magazine’s Dance/Mix Show Airplay number-one hits of 2021.
- “You Broke Me First” by Tate McRae
- “You” by Troye Sivan and Tate McRae
- “Kiss Me More” by Doja Car feat. SZA
- “Bad Habits” by Ed Sheeran
- “Bed” by Joel Corry, RAYE, & David Guetta
- “Paradise” by Meduza & Dermot Kennedy
- “Goosebumps” by Travis Scott & HVME
- “Sacrifice” by Bebe Rexha
- “Nobody” by NODT & Catello
- “Levitating” by Dua Lipa & The Blessed Madonna F/ Madonna & Missy
Though not every song can benefit from the aid of radio, still, there was plenty of action to be found -- whether it was at the limited number of opened clubs or on social media. Aside from which dance songs of 2021 had the most airplay, many others battled it out for a place on our list:
- “You” by Troye Sivan and Tate McRae
Don’t be fooled by the simple title of “You.” It’s a complex track by Troye Sivan and Canadian singer Tate McRae. The song also included the house grooves of Kosovo-Albanian DJ Regard.
Sivan posted a TikTok vid of himself and McRae dancing and harmonizing in April of 2021. It was then that Sivan “teased” some new work “on the horizon.” After DJ Regard uploaded a 30-second embryonic version of the song on YouTube, this was considered the official birth of the song.
- “Tell Me Something Good” by Ewan McVicar
Scottish DJ Ewan McVicar hit the jackpot with a “re-do” of "Tell Me Something Good," a 1974 recording sung by Rufus and Chaka Khan and written by the stupendous Stevie Wonder. The song drums up memories of pukka shell necklaces, bell bottom jeans, and disco balls.
Remember those lyrics? Tell me something good/Mmm/Tell me that you like it, yeah. It’s as singable now as it was then. According to McVicar’s website, “… His gold selling ‘Tell Me Something Good’ brought wins for two awards in 2021 including ‘Track of the Year’ for DJ Mag Best of British – and - Radio 1’s ‘Electronic Track of the Year.” In the equation of which dance songs of 2021 had the most airplay, this offering must be included.
- “Bad Habits” by Ed Sheeran
Each time I hear a slick Ed Sheeran dance track, I have to ask myself: Is the guy really this good? The answer is yes. With a long-running stable of profound ballads such as “Shape of You,” “Photograph,” and (most tender of all) “Perfect,” Sheeran exemplifies the aura of crossover power like none other.
Add a killer drum track to his great lyrics and serviceable singing, “Bad Habits,” has dance and pop hit written all over it. Born in Halifax, West Yorkshire and raised in Framlingham, Suffolk, Sheeran has become a radio-ready phenomenon not only here in the States, but the world over, plus the idol of every redhead out there.
What are the Best Nightclubs in the World?
A dance track with no club is like a race car with no track. Without putting the pedal to the metal, you can’t really feel the action. Thankfully, by winter of 2021, light began to shine on the dance floors of nightclubs and pubs throughout the world.
With 62,647 bars and nightclubs in the US alone, you can imagine the vast choices out there when those lighted floors are opened at full tilt. According to luxatic.com, here – 20 to one – are the best nightclubs in the world. (Note: U.S. dance spots making the list are in bold):
- The Warehouse Project, Manchester
- Trouw, Amsterdam
- The Bank, Las Vegas
- Privilege, Ibaza
- Womb, Tokyo
- Sirena, Maresias
- LIV, Miami Beach
- XS, Las Vegas
- Ministry of Sound, London
- Octagon, Seoul
- Cavo Paradiso, Mykonos
- Marquee, Las Vegas
- Fabric, London
- BCM Dance Palace, Mallorca
- Zouk, Singapore
- Pacha, Ibiza
- Green Valley, Camboriu
- Hakkasan, Las Vegas
- Space, Ibzaza
Top DJs of 2021
The one constant factor of all the above clubs is the all-important presence of its DJs. All of them have terrific examples of those front men and women who can get the crowd roaring with the push of a button. But-- there can only be “one” best. Below is a partial list of the DJ Mag Top 100 DJs Award for 2021:
David Guetta Martin Garrix Armin Van Buuren Alok Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike Afrojack Don Diablo Oliver Heldens Timmy Trumpet Steve Aoki
From DJ’s who spin the wax to artists who create the song, let’s return to our countdown of the best dance songs from 2021.
- “Every Song” by Duvall (feat. bshp)
Duvall, probably best known as a founding member of Disciples, dropped a summer smash for the ages with “Every Song,” a fun and delightfully hypnotic dance number with the groovy vocals style of up-and-comer bshp.
The track, which easily grabbed the attention of the Duvall faithful, is in the wheelhouse of today’s menu of pop and up-tempo house sounds. A mere one project between these two artists isn’t nearly enough. We want more.
- “A Drug From God” by Chris Lake
This song harkens back to 1983 when pop star Huey Lewis dropped a tongue in cheek hit called “I Want a New Drug.” The censors’ ears perked until they discovered the “drug” he was referring to was a woman’s love. Controversy over.
That same kind of vibe circled “A Drug From God” from UK-born, LA-based artist Chris Lake. Here, however, the tone is darker than Lewis’s MTV-friendly version. Lake’s reference to “love” borders on hedonism; the lyrics aren’t what you’d call “fun.” Money, power, beauty, fame / Choose your weapon to beat the game / Money is power, and art is fraud and love is just a drug from God. To each his own, I suppose, when mixing art, love, and religion.
- “Moth to a Flame” by Swedish House Mafia & The Weeknd
It’s hardly a surprise to see The Weeknd’s name multiple times on a list like this. He’s the perfect example of an iconic superstar. “Moth to a Flame” saw two crossover heavyweights dance their way through this stellar production.
A slick move by Swedish House Mafia, a Swedish house music supergroup consisting of Axwell, Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso, was to nab The Weeknd for this track. The opening of the song is haunting, both vocally and lyrically; Like a moth to a flame/I'll pull you in, I'll pull you back to what you need initially/It's just one call away. Now that The Weeknd’s voice has become so recognizable, we know at the first note we’re in for something good.
What Were the Biggest Dance Events of 2021?
For those festivals and events that weren’t shut down by the virus, here were the biggest dance events of 2021. With attendee numbers returning to full go in 2022, the future is bright for big festivals to come, many which featured several of the top DJs of 2021.
Ultra Music Festival: March 26-28 (Miami)
Started in 1999 and named after a Depeche Mode album, Ultra Music Festival is one of the biggest and most lavish festivals in North America.
EDC Las Vegas: May 21-23 (Las Vegas)
Celebrating its 25th year, Vegas welcomes in a series of shows that lives and breathes all styles EDM.
Elements Festival: May 28-30 (Lakewood, Pennsylvania)
Elements Festival is described by its organizers as “… a multi-day arts & music camping festival that takes place in Lakewood, PA, picturesque outdoor private grounds that is over 150 acres.”
Movement Electronic Music Festival: May 29-31 (Detroit)
Movement Electronic hosts a magnificent, underground lineup featuring Richie Hawtin, Maceo Plex, and Goldie ready and willing to rock the daylights out of the Motor City.
For those who were unable to attend these shows, or any shows like them, there were plenty of opportunities to hear and enjoy the top dance songs of 2021. This is where social media sites -- especially Spotify – shines the brightest:
What Were Spotify’s Hottest Dance Acts of 2021?
“Dance Dance” by Thierry Von Der Warth, Chris Willis “Lonely” by Nils Van Zandt and Pakito “Don’t Cha” by Sean Finn, Selda, and Inaya Day “N Time 2 Waste 2021 (HouseWerk Remix)” by DR F.R.A.N.K. and T-Spoon “Survive” by AMARI and Lowkie “Now” by Vinny, Henry Dell “Another Chance” by Antoine Simar “Green Light, Red Light” by Nils Vann Zandt “Ou Te Baba” by Ahzee, TWINNS, Nissa Seych, and Odreii “My Year” by Chris Feelding
Each of the above artists has a foothold in the vast collection of dance music. However, that doesn’t guarantee a spot on our list of the top dance songs of 2021. Without further ado, here are the two best dance songs of the year:
- “Above the Clouds” by Mikey Lion
Mikey Lion built what can only be termed a “psychedelic community” in Desert Hearts with his three partners: Marbs, Porky, and Lee Reynolds. That said, it was “Above the Clouds” from his killer debut set, For the Love, that launched his solo career.
“Above the Clouds,” the album’s first track, has a different feel than music from Desert Hearts. One of the stars in the song is the pounding piano rhythms which sets it far apart. It’s never easy breaking off and doing it yourself. But Mikey L does it with grace and flare.
- “Do It To It” by Acraze
This 2 minute and 37 second dance track from New York producer Acraze was all the rage in 2021; as a slam dunk number one according to fans and critics alike. The totals are staggering: 300 million streams on Spotify alone. The song won for Dance Song of The Year at this year’s iHeartRadio Music Awards.
Lean drum licks bumped nicely with colorful lyrics; Bounce with it, pop with it, lean with it, rock with it. According to the artist’s website, “…. Acraze AKA Charlie Duncker, is showing to be a true visionary as he conquered the bold transition from his speaker-rattling bass sound to a more sophisticated house approach.”
Imagine dance music without dance halls. This was the case from 2020 to part of the 2021 season. But the genre seemed up for the challenge. Regardless of the circumstances, the cream will rise and the best of the best will find a way; on YouTube or maybe even Spotify’s hottest dance acts of 2021.
All in all, there were wonderful dance tracks to be adored, and although many nightclubs were out of order, EDM fans around the world were still able to find the elite ones.
Great music will always see the light.