The 90s was a great time for dance music, and this list of 90s dance songs proves the point.
In 90s dance music, we see influences from disco, house, trance, and techno meld together. The energy and the sound is unmistakable. These tracks are great for nostalgia. But many of them are simply great dance tracks in their own right.
A good number of the artists that came from this time remain household names, including the likes of Daft Punk, Fatboy Slim, Faithless, and Basement Jaxx. That’s testament to the enduring quality of some of the music of this era.
So without further ado, let’s dive in. If you don’t already know them, this list will introduce you to some of the best 90s dance songs of all time.
1. Music Sounds Better With You – Stardust
Release date: 20 July 1998
The project of Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter, Stardust was a French house trio who released just one track. As it happened, their one track, ‘Music Sounds Better With You’ was one of the biggest dance anthems of the decade – and, indeed, one of the biggest dance tracks of all time.
The warm, breezy song samples a Chaka Khan guitar riff. Its mid-tempo vibe makes it perfect for all sorts of occasions. The trio disbanded immediately after releasing the track, believing that it created a sense of ‘magic and mystery.’
Check out the charming, nostalgic video that goes along with the track. Undoubtedly, one of the best 90s dance songs ever.
2. Around The World – Daft Punk
Release date: 7 April 1997
Daft Punk are one of the biggest names in dance music in the 90s and beyond. The duo, formed of Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo began in 1993.
They reached huge success at the end of the 90s and in the early 00s with the rise of the French house movement. They went on to become one of the biggest names in dance music of all time.
‘Around The World’ is one of the tracks that first put Daft Punk on the map. Its simple disco beat, vocal effects, and cheeky video directed by French filmmaker Michel Gondry helped launch the duo to international fame.
3. Born Slippy .NUXX – Underworld
Release date: 1 July 1996
An all-time dance music classic, ‘Born Slippy .NUXX’ shot Underworld to international fame after appearing in the film Trainspotting.
The track, which is in many ways one of the most experimental songs on this list, is about alcoholism. The fragmented, impressionistic lyrics were intended by vocalist Karl Hyde to reflect the darker side of addiction.
Despite the track’s experimental feel – combining extremely hard techno beats with ambient synths and droning vocals – it became an anthem for a generation.
4. You Don’t Know Me – Armand Van Helden feat. Duane Harden
Release date: 25 January 1999
‘You Don’t Know Me’ was something of a one-hit wonder from American producer Armand Van Helden, featuring the vocal talents of Duane Harden.
With its lyrics focused on empowerment and its driving house beat, the track became a late 90s dance anthem. It peaked at number 2 on the US Billboard Hot Dance Music chart, and number one on the UK singles chart, as well as gaining top 10 spots across Europe.
The track is sometimes overlooked, but it remains an understated classic of the era.
5. 9pm (Til I Come) – ATB
Release date: 26 October 1998
This list stays away from the cornier dance tracks of the 90s, but ATB’s ‘9pm’ was such a big hit, that it can’t be left off this list.
A touchstone of the trance genre, the track is the work of German producer ATB (André Tanneberger) and features the vocals of Yolanda Rivera. The pitch-bending pipe organ hook proved to be the riff that the track is known for, and has been sampled variously by other dance music producers.
6. Insomnia – Faithless
Release date: 27 November 1995
Faithless are one of the biggest names in 90s dance music. Insomnia stands as the group’s greatest hit, and one of the biggest 90s dance tracks.
The group was formed in London in 1994 by Maxi Jazz, Sister Bliss, and Rollo, with the distinctive vocals delivered by Maxi Jazz.
The lyrics, with the refrain ‘I can’t get no sleep,’ found resonance with clubbers, who often experienced insomnia as a result of drug-taking.
The track builds huge tension before dropping the big, trance-like synth. The idea to build the track this way was inspired by Underworld, whose track ‘Born Slippy’ uses a similar long build.
7. Praise You – Fatboy Slim
Release date: 4 January 1999
Fatboy Slim is the moniker of British producer Norman Cook. His distinctive style of dance music typifies ‘big beat’ – the use of heavy breakbeats, as heard in ‘Right Here, Right Now,’ ‘Praise You.’
The term ‘big beat’ has also been used to describe the tracks from the likes of the Chemical Brothers and the Prodigy. ‘Praise You’ provides a great example of it, and it has gone down in history as one of the great 90s dance songs.
His 1998 album You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby was an iconic album of the era, and of the big beat genre, receiving much critical acclaim.
8. Show Me Love – Robin S
Release date: 13 October 1990
The earliest track to feature on this list, ‘Show Me Love’ by Robin S was a decade-defining track.
Released by American singer Robyn Stone, the track was huge in the UK and the rest of Europe.
The song showcases a classic house beat with sleek yet gritty vocals, and a synth line that pretty much epitomises 90s house. An undeniable classic of 90s dance music.
9. Children – Robert Miles
Release date: January 1995
Robert Miles’ ‘Children’ is an instantly recognisable dance classic. The most successful version of the track is his ‘dream house’ remix, with its distinctive piano riff and trance beat.
Miles’ cited two inspirations for the iconic track. The first was a response to photos of Yugoslav children war victims that his father brought home from a humanitarian project. The second was a track that was intended to calm ravers down at the end of DJ sets, in order to reduce car accidents.
The legendary Italian producer and DJ died from cancer in 2017, aged 47. He leaves behind the legacy of creating one of the all-time best 90s dance songs, and indeed one of the outstanding dance music tracks of all time.
10. Flat Beat – Mr Oizo
Release date: 22 March 1999
‘Flat Beat’ is a techno masterpiece by French producer Mr Oizo. Besides producing this classic 90s dance song, Mr Oizo (real name Quentin Dupieux) is a respected filmmaker. Mr Oizo is a corruption of the French word for bird, oiseau.
The track features a bass and drums sample from ‘Put Your Love in My Tender Care’ by The Fatback Band, and Dupeiux has stated that it only took him two hours to produce.
The track was featured in several Levi’s commercials, along with a yellow puppet called ‘Flat Eric’ – Flat Eric also features in the track’s legendary video. One of everybody’s favourite 90s dance songs!
11. Red Alert – Basement Jaxx
Release date: 19 April 1999
British duo Basement Jaxx are responsible for a catalogue of brilliant dance songs in the 90s and early 00s. The pair’s name comes from a night that they started in 1994 in Brixton.
Performing as tour support for Daft Punk, Basement Jaxx started to build a significant reputation. Their popularity grew as they dropped successive hits in the late 90s and early 00s.
‘Red Alert’ with its slap-pop bass line and chaotic energy is an absolute classic, and surely one of the best 90s dance songs.
12. Firestarter – Prodigy
Release date: 18 March 1996
You don’t get much more iconic than Prodigy’s ‘Firestarter.’ Their punk aesthetic and sound proved inspirational, with the track topping charts in the UK, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, and Norway.
The band described themselves as ‘electronic punk,’ however, tracks like ‘Firestarter’ and ‘Breathe’ clearly demonstrate a dance influence, heavily influenced by big beat.
The Guardian ranked the track number 8 out of the top 100 UK number ones of all time. A fair accolade for what is undoubtedly one of the most memorable 90s dance songs.
13. Hey Boy Hey Girl – Chemical Brothers
Release date: 31 May 1999
Formed in Manchester in 1989, The Chemical Brothers are an electronic music duo who became one of the UK’s biggest dance music success stories.
‘Hey Boy Hey Girl’ is one of the pair’s best ever tracks. Its menacing groove shows the influence of techno, trance and acid-house. Even the strangely absurd American vocal sample has aged well.
A totally infectious track and one of the greats of 90s dance music.