Dance music is music that is created to be associated with dancing. It encompasses many different styles of music, from waltz, tango, to country music, among others. Dance music also carries the name of the dance that is associated with it. For instance, there's the cha-cha-cha, merengue, and breakdown. This genre experienced quite an evolution over the years. In the late 1970s, dance music gave birth to other genres that would later dominate both the airwaves and nightclubs.
Now, dance music is more commonly known as electronic music, techno, trance, and house. Electronic dance music was made popular in the early 80s. It utilizes electronics to produce a new style of dance music and it is often played in nightclubs. This style has flourished even more when personal computers became indispensable. From the popular club scenes in London, it has quickly spread to Ibiza, the capital of electronic music in Europe.
In as early as the 1920s, dance music was already a popular music genre. People went to clubs and danced to jazz tunes. Jazz is a kind of dance music that is produced by string instruments and intricate arrangements. It became a staple music in clubs, although today, this kind of music is referred to as white jazz. The 1960s produced a whole new kind of dance music called the soul and R&B. The 70s is the discotheque era and ruled by DJs who controlled the music in nightclubs.
Today, dance music has been injected with various musical flavors and influences. Combination of one or two genres to produce dance music is fast becoming the trend. However, it has now taken a lower profile and an underground appeal. It has taken refuge in niche radio stations but also gaining a great number of urban artists producing their own kind of dance music. Hip-hop, one of the most popular music genres, took its inspiration from the 70s funk and disco. It is safe to say that dance music is greatly influenced by black music in the previous eras.
Popular Dance Songs
To be classified as dance music, the song must have a 4/ 4 danceable feel. It can either have a rapid or slow beat. It can also be a song that causes the floor to get moving. Although it is synonymous to electronic music, it is important to take note that dance music can be anything like jazz, pop, rock, and other kinds of music meant for dancing. The 80s saw the biggest number of dance music flooding the charts after Kraftwerk successfully penetrated the mainstream with their synth-electronic style. Here are some of the most popular dance songs that have made many clubbers hit the dance floor.
"I Feel Love" by Donna Summer - taken from her album Remember Yesterday - its electronic background ushered in an electronic music genre that was widely utilized in the 80s.
"Vogue" by Madonna - from the album "I'm Breathless". It became a huge hit and a chart topper in many countries. It also established Madonna as one of the best dance music artists of all time.
"Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson - from the album "Thriller". There's no doubt that this song will go down the history of dance music. It is characterized by a distinct bass line and the unmistakable hiccups of Michael Jackson.
"Sweet Dreams" by Eurhythmics - from the album "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" . It was a big commercial success and managed to climb the No. 1 spot of the Billboard Top 100.
"I'm Every Woman" by Chaka Khan - taken from Chaka Khan's debut album -"Chaka". It reached No. 1 on the Top 100 as well as the R&B chart. It was Chaka Khan's powerful voice that made this song indelible in many dance music lists.
"Dreamlover" by Mariah Carey - from the album "Music Box". It features a sample from the song Blind Alley. Mariah's vocal is powerful and with a house beat - "Dreamlover" becomes an enduring dance track.
House Music Artists
House music has almost owned the right to dance music, thanks to the slew of DJs who have emerged over the years and made the crossover to the mainstream. It only makes sense to give them a little space and mention their accomplishments.
Aphex Twin is one of the most influential electronic artists who consistently produce unique style and arrangement. His music is a fusion of various musical backdrops. The Prodigy is an electronic band that mixes rave, hardcore, breakbeat, and a host of different styles that endear them to those who haven't even heard of electronic music before. Daft Punk is another success story in the genre of house music. They have managed to rake in huge album sales and rave reviews. They have collaborated with some of the biggest names in the music industry and have also dabbled into other areas of the entertainment scene like writing and directing.
The earlier years of hip-hop scene were very much influenced by black music and Africa Bambaataa was one of its major contributors. He initiated break-beat deejaying and created a sound based on electronic funk. The group Kraftwerk is also one of the pioneers of house music. They are the true representation of electronic music as they use electronic instruments and computer-generated sound.
Dance Music and Movies
Dance music is heavily used in movies and movies were even created around the story of a song. There are a number of dance movies produced over the years and many of them have received positive praises because of their unforgettable soundtrack. In 1963, the movie Dirty Dancing set a new bar for other dance movies to follow. Saturday Night Fever, a movie that propelled John Travolta to stardom put the groove back to disco. It was backed by a successful soundtrack album and the unforgettable moves from the lead star. Flashdance is another dance movie that perfectly defined the dance scenes of the 80s. It introduced a new fashion statement, culture, and most of all music. Save the Last Dance in the late 90s used a combination of hip hop, rap, and classical ballet. It also revolutionized a choreography that is a cross between hip hop and ballet. In recent years, dance movies like Step Up became popular because of their awesome choreography and heavy use of pop and dance music.