The Best Dance Music of the 1980s

Dance music of the 1980s reached new heights as disco became more and more mainstream. Even preexisting non-disco songs and standards like Perry Como’s 1945 hit ‘Temptation’ were given their own distinctive disco sound, such as being turned into dance tracks with disco arrangements such as Perry Como’s version dubbed Temptation by DJ David Adenauer.

KC and the Sunshine Band’s 1982 hit single, ‘Give It Up,’ quickly became an international dance floor anthem and reached number one on US charts. Country and rock singers even embraced its disco sound.

1. ‘Stayin’ Alive’ by The Bee Gees

Bee Gees’ iconic 80s dance music includes their hit “Stayin’ Alive,” which not only became an unforgettable disco anthem but was incredibly significant within black communities at that time.

It’s an inspiring song for anyone needing encouragement during difficult times, with its upbeat beats and emotive lyrics providing the ideal dance track to get people moving – it has remained popular through decades! A classic from disco’s golden era remains timeless today.

The Bee Gees were an enormously successful band, due to the soundtrack for Saturday Night Fever featuring John Travolta as its protagonist and its song becoming an instant classic during that era. It stands as an example of how one song can become the epitome of its genre and serve as an icon for generations of dancers worldwide.

In the film, this song serves a significant purpose as part of its introduction scene and characters introduction; later used during Tony’s apology to Stephanie for his actions; additionally it appears in Airplane! and shows how disco has gone from serious period of history to humorous parody.

No matter what Barry or his brothers think of it, “Stayin’ Alive” has come to symbolize disco music and has been covered by many artists since. Unfortunately, most versions lack Barry’s energetic strut – Kylie Minogue and Robyn have shown that disco still has a place in today’s music landscape.

2. ‘Is It All Over My Face’ by Arthur Russell

Dusty Henry from KEXP revisits a classic by Arthur Russell, an experimentalist cellist who died at such a young age.

Arthur Russell was a beloved member of New York City’s downtown music scene, drawing influence from classically trained cellist, classical composer, disco, and its rhythmical repetition physicality. During his brief life he cut eccentric dance-floor anthems as Dinosaur L or Indian Ocean while crafting more meditative pieces that flirted with folk and pop. Although only one full-length studio album, World of Echo, was ever produced during his lifetime, since 1992 there has been an ever expanding cottage industry that furthers our knowledge and understanding of his work.

Although Russell may have been labeled primarily as either a dance music weirdo or avant-garde art-rocker, he was actually an incredible polymath. The many musical lives he led often collided and blended seamlessly together; such as when he sang himself with a distinct, slippery baritone tone or provided his voice for cartoonish cartoonish croon on Walter Gibbons mix of “Is It All Over My Face,” taken from Disco Not Disco compilation of early 80s dance weirdness.

Russell’s music stands out because of its profound emotional reverberations; each track sounds not only strange but profoundly moving. He has an ability to combine disparate elements on each of his tracks so they appear as though they are meeting for the first time – perhaps without makeup and looking each other over. It’s an exquisite artful trick which still resonates deeply today and makes his work such an exquisite legacy.

3. ‘Stayin’ Alive’ by The Village People

No matter your opinion of this song, its impact cannot be denied on dance music. From its infectious beat and Barry Gibb’s falsetto vocals to its trademark close harmonies – all elements that made this a hit and illustrated how disco evolved over time by adopting elements from other genres as its own entity.

Stayin’ Alive propelled the group into the forefront of disco’s popularity. It reached number one on US charts just a month after Saturday Night Fever was released in cinemas, cementing their place as pioneers of disco music.

“Stayin’ Alive” has become synonymous with the movie due to John Travolta strutting around Brooklyn during its iconic opening scene, yet its lyrics reveal more than meets the eye: they tell of a struggling soul desperately attempting to survive in New York City despite all that can pull at him down, with “Stayin’ Alive” marking victory against everything that can tear them down, according to drummer Robin Gibb.

Sugarland covered this track on their 2010 album Incredible Machine and British electronic group Black Box covered it on their 2007 album He Who Shall Not Bleed, while 2011 Australian X Factor winner Reece Mastin recorded his own version for his debut album Blasted!. Russian singer Valeriya recorded an alluring melodic death metal cover of it for her album Out of Control; all these different renditions serve to demonstrate this timeless classic’s universal appeal.

4. ‘Move On’ by Michael Jackson

Off the Wall’s irresistibly sensuous opening single, “Wanna Be Startin’ Something”, marks Michael Jackson’s maturation as a vocalist. Although its message might seem simple or even mundane at first, its spectacular harmonies by then-13 or 14-year-old Michael set him on his path as one of music’s premier pop voices. Additionally, its production by Rod Temperton proved how funk could transition effortlessly from dancefloor to easy listening with guitar chords underpinning a lovely melody.

The song revolves around a woman in the disco scene who can select her dance partners freely and mesmerize those around her, reflecting the feelings many young people experienced at this time. Written and produced by Agnetha Faltskog (ABBA member), and produced by Roger Nichols; its catchy tune quickly become one of dance music’s biggest hits worldwide.

Disco was primarily associated with dance music, though its elements could also be found in rock and country genres. Dolly Parton and Bob Dylan introduced disco elements into their songs in order to broaden their appeal; by the 1980s however, disco had experienced a gradual decrease in its popularity and many record labels closed or were sold off due to this trend.

Dance genre is best remembered through dance sequences seen in films and television shows that continue to delight audiences today. Additionally, it serves as the basis of numerous forms of dancing such as hip hop, trance and electro.

5. ‘It’s Raining Men’ by The Weather Girls

At the beginning of the 1980s, disco music was still very much alive, fuelling dance floors across the globe with its extravagant rhythms and finding fresh inspiration through elements such as funk, African beats and psychedelia – creating the opportunity for artists like Madonna to reinvent the genre by developing post-disco style songs that she popularised as post-disco music.

As the decade came to a close, disco’s popularity started to decrease due to its association with certain subcultures and frivolity; many turned against it because of this and thus created the “disco sucks” movement which sought to demean its music and those who enjoyed it. Yet disco remained at the core of New York City dance scenes such as Paradise Garage where long queues, exclusive clientele, and DJ sets offered an ideal environment for even the most discriminating dancers.

As 1979 turned into the 1980s, disco gradually receded back into underground culture; although rock bands continued experimenting with grooves, country singers added funk elements and punks smoothed things out. Michael Jackson’s Thriller album showed how this genre had not completely vanished – though Michael himself used disco basslines and rhythms on it!

Kool & the Gang’s early 1980s hit was “Celebration”, an infectious dance track which has become a timeless classic. From weddings to sporting victories, this timeless tune has become a beloved staple. Hot Chip sampled it this year on their single “Need You Now”, reaching number three on UK charts – proof that its impactful message continues to resonate today! This incredible song remains timeless.