An Alternative Holiday Playlist: 40 Classic Dance Hits That All Have the Words “Boogie,” “Shake,” “Groove,” “Dance,” or “Funk” in the Title

I actually love Christmas music, both secular and spiritual. I’m not a curmudgeon about it. But it’s also nice to mix things up sometimes, and today I thought you might need a little boogie music to liven up your Advent.

A couple days ago, Hannah and I were decorating the Christmas tree and listening to one of our favorite Christmas records—Herb Alpert’s Christmas Album. But when it finished and we were still going, I decided to put on something completely different: The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1. I.e., just what the doctor ordered. It made me think about how much I used to like dancing and how long it’s been since I did any of it. (Not structured dancing, mind you.) It also occurred to me that maybe I’m not the only one.

Thematically, the vast majority of pop songs fall into one of three categories: (1) love songs, (2) lost love songs, and (3) party/dance songs. The latter category can basically be summarized thus: “Let’s throw our cares to the wind and just have a good time… and maybe have sex later.” I think that’s exactly the sort of carefree fun we all need a little more of right now—in a very COVID-safe way of course—and at least some tunes in that vein might give us a little something to help us forget our troubles and get the blood flowing. So I wasted a day making a playlist of some of my favorite classic “dance” songs spanning several decades.

In order to have a little fun with it and put some limits on the playlist, I decided to include ONLY songs that have the words “boogie,” “shake,” “groove,” “dance,” or “funk” in the title. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this includes quite a large percentage of the dance standards from decades past. Of course, there are plenty of great dance songs that aren’t on this list—I’m certainly no expert on this genre anyway—and it’s definitely a stretch to define some of these as “dance” songs, but they all at least have an upbeat tempo that makes me feel good and want to tap my feet. So without further ado, here’s the playlist, in chronological order:

1.) Elvis Presley – Shake, Rattle and Roll (1956)

2.) Jerry Lee Lewis – Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On (1957)

3.) Harry Belafonte – Jump in the Line (Shake, Señora) (1961)

4.) Martha & the Vandellas – Dancing in the Street (1964)

5.) Wilson Pickett – Land of 1,000 Dances (1966)

6.) Sly & The Family Stone – Dance to the Music (1967)

7.) Van Morrison – Moondance (1970)

8.) James Brown – Make It Funky, Pt. 1 (1971)

9.) Kool & the Gang – Jungle Boogie (1973)

10.) Nina Simone – Funkier Than A Mosquito’s Tweeter (1974)

11.) KC & the Sunshine Band – Boogie Shoes (1975)

12.) Bee Gees – You Should Be Dancing (1976)

13.) Heatwave – Boogie Nights (1976)

14.) Parliament – Tear The Roof Off The Sucker (Give Up The Funk) (1976)

15.) Wild Cherry – Play That Funky Music (1976)

16.) Chic – Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah) (1977)

17.) A Taste of Honey – Boogie Oogie Oogie (1978)

18.) Ace Frehley – New York Groove (1978)

19.) Funkadelic – One Nation Under a Groove (1978)

20.) Peaches & Herb – Shake Your Groove Thing (1978)

21.) The Jacksons – Blame it on the Boogie (1978)

22.) Earth, Wind & Fire – Boogie Wonderland (1979)

23.) The Jacksons – Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground) (1979)

24.) Ray Charles – Shake a Tail Feather (1980)

25.) Roky Ericson – Don’t Shake Me, Lucifer (1980)

26.) Earth, Wind & Fire – Let’s Groove (1981)

27.) Marcia Griffiths – Electric Boogie (Electric Slide) (1982)

28.) Bruce Springsteen – Dancing in the Dark (1984)

29.) Madonna – Into the Groove (1984)

30.) Whitney Houston – I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me) (1987)

31.) C+C Music Factory – Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now) (1990)

32.) Deee-Lite – Groove Is in the Heart (1990)

33.) Flogging Molly – Devil’s Dance Floor (2000)

34.) Rage Against the Machine – Renegades of Funk (2000)

35.) Toploader – Dancing in the Moonlight (2000)

36.) Ying Yang Twins (ft. Lil Jon) – Salt Shaker (2003)

37.) Florence + The Machine – Shake It Out (2011)

38.) Baauer – Harlem Shake (2012)

39.) Jack White – I’m Shakin’ (2012)

40.) Mark Ronson (ft. Bruno Mars) – Uptown Funk (2014)

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