Foot tapping and head bobbing are as much facets of some songs as lyrics and instrumentals. But some music goes to particularly explicit lengths to serenade dance, not only compelling listeners to get up and move, but also paying homage to the act of dancing in subject matter. Below the jump, we review some of 2011′s most memorable dance songs about dancing — full-on, unmasked celebrations of bouncing, shuffling, booty shaking, and generally letting loose on the dance floor.
“Party Rock Anthem” — LMFAO
The group that danced hardest this year is undeniably LMFAO, the uncle-nephew duo that stands, in leopard-print leggings, for indulgence in bodily pleasures and an anything-goes attitude. While the tongue-in-cheek (or is it?) penis pride of their magnum opus”Sexy and I Know It” spawned its own dance, there exists no hedonistic celebration of movement like “Party Rock Anthem.” The video’s loose, post-apocalyptic plot (post-apocalypse, here, signified by shiny new cars parked diagonally on an empty street with their doors and trunks open) only serves to drive home the fact that the only thing this song is about is dancing; Redfoo and Sky Blu escape a dancing zombie apocalypse by dancing, encounter a dancing robot, and take part in a “Thriller”-like synchronized zombie dance — and all of this somehow culminates in a giant, friendly dance circle.
“Bounce” – Calvin Harris ft. Kelis
‘Bounce,” here, can mean a few things, but most prominently, Calvin Harris is referring to the act of dancing to blow off steam. And that’s really all his music video’s fancy-free protagonist wants to do, breaking out moves on the street, in a garage, on a hallway railing, and with an Elvis impersonator, until finally making it to the club, where he dances some more and then passes out in a bin of towels. This song is perfect if not to dance then to bounce to.
“Blow” – Ke$ha
This song, and to an even greater extent its music video, is about as confusing as Ke$ha herself is. Is it the best? Is it the worst? What’s with the James Van Der Beek cameo? Why are there unicorns? But the song’s absurdity perfectly parallels the thing it’s about: the act of flinging ourselves around on a dance floor and feeling great about it. This is a song about the hedonism and whim of dancing, which Ke$ha points out when, after chatting with two suited unicorns about her Uzbek political career, she looks directly into the camera with a face equal parts seductive and maniacal and commands, “Dance.”
“Boogie Down” – Gramatik & Break Science
We’ve had our eye on Gramatik since early summer, and he’s won us over again with this new collaboration with Break Science. The glitch-hop remix gets into your bones and is about just what the title says and the sole lyrics — “boogie oogie down” — repeat. Dubstep fans should download this track immediately, but it’s also fairly danceable for those who don’t pick up their only moves at Ultra.
“Booty in the Air” – Das Racist
We’re still not sure what it is about this trio that makes their self-referential, maybe-serious-maybe-not style so genuinely catchy. While they remain most widely renowned for singing about combination food establishments, their other tracks — like this one, about shaking your booty in the air — are equally as hooking, if not more so.
“Till the World Ends” – Britney Spears
It’s not surprising that the majority of dance songs about the dance floor reside on the top 40 charts. After all, what are the top 40 if not a collection of the most parasitic hooks heard on dance floors across the country? What is a bit surprising, and pleasantly so, is the quality of this year’s top 40 hits, many of which have enlisted talented DJs to produce tasteful electro beats that grant such pop stars as Britney Spears some serious musical merit.
“Dance (A$$) Remix” – Big Sean ft. Nicki Minaj
While some artists prefer to broach the lascivious nature of club dancing as mere innuendo, others come right out with it. Nicki Minaj and Big Sean take care of that in this un-family friendly, un-PC, and yet ultimately very hooking variation on booty shaking.