Is This Actually 'The Best Dance Album in the World... Ever'?
We reviewed all forty tracks of Virgin Records' 1998 compilation so you don't have to.
Let's be honest: listening to music is difficult. I mean, the actual act of listening to music isn't that taxing because largely you just sit there and music happens around you and you can text or scratch yourself or breathe really heavily or do whatever it is that people do when they listen to music these days, but the rest of it—the picking and choosing— that's demanding.
Which is why people love mixes and compilations. They do the heavy lifting for you and who doesn't want that? Who doesn't want easily earned adulation when they can get it, well, easily? In an age where none of us can ever really be arsed to do anything, pretty much, the compilation is more essential than ever. A good compilation frees you up to do absolutely anything you want. Or can be arsed to. Which as we've established, isn't very much.
Being lazy at the best of times, we wanted to road test a dance compilation. We're that lazy that we assumed the one called The Best Dance Album in the World...Ever! had to be the best. That title is a huge claim. Here is a record literally claiming to be the greatest LP ever released in the history of dance music—an unparalleled released in every sense. It must have "Love Has Come Around" and "Do For Love" and "Dexter" and "Forever Monna" and "Donna" on it, surely? There has to be some Juan Atkins and Carl Craig and Soundstream and Ada and Mike Dunn and everyone on there, right? Sort of. Can this record possibly live up to its name?
This Best Dance Album in the World Ever is the real deal 1993 edition released on Virgin, containing 40 slamming tracks of some of the biggest floor-fillers of all time...and some other stuff. We've decided to score every song out of 10, giving the album a possible total score of 400. If it gets over 350 points, we're happy to deem it the best dance album in the world...ever! Find out how it performed below. Oh, and if you want to play along at home, you can grab a copy of it for a penny on Amazon.
1. Black Box - "Ride On Time"
It's always good when a compilation refuses to fuck around even slightly. I guess, though, if you're calling yourself The Best Dance Album in the World Ever you've sort of got to kick off with one of the more gargantuan records ever made. Pianos, waling divas, the unmistakable smell of burnt rubber: what more could you want? (10/10)
2. 2 Unlimited - "No Limit"
NO NO, NO NO NO NO, NO NO NO NO, THERE'S NO LIMITS TO HOW MUCH THIS SONG IS OVERPLAYED AND ACTUALLY ISN'T THAT GOOD (4/10)
3. Haddaway - "What Is Love"
Once upon a time this might have actually been a good tune. Maybe. Possibly. We can't really tell though because it's one of those OMG REMEMBER THE 90S HAHA songs that fuckwits the world over have decided is inherently funny, for reasons that have never made sense. The bloke at work who wears Star Wars branded trainers probably thinks this one's "great for a boogie!" (0/10)
4. Dr. Alban - "It's My Life"
This is the kind of song that only oiled up German chaps in Speedos can every truly love. The rest of us might have something approaching fondness towards it, but old Gunter, down by the pool in Benidorm, clutching his frothy, foamy pint, he really loves it. This is his song. (6/10)
5. Snap! - "The Power"
They way the word 'power' is sung on this is one of music's great treats. Honestly. Play it now. POWAH. POWW-UHH. That's good. That is just good music. That's up there with the "Hey!"s in "Turn Around" by Phats & Small, and the still-funny "boink" in "Re-Re-Wind" in the "strange noises that elevate totally average club records into the All Time Classic" category. (8/10)
6. Technotronic - "Pump Up The Jam"
There is not a club night in the world that wouldn't be improved by the DJ dropping this. Absolutely godlike. A towering masterpiece. (10/10)
7. Ace Of Base - "All That She Wants"
My mum likes five songs: "The Road to Mandalay" by Robbie Williams, Akon's "Smack That", "Moneymaker" by Ludacris, The Streets' "Dry Your Eyes", and this. (6/10)
8. East Side Beat - "Ride Like The Wind"
I've written about this one before, weirdly. It sort of sounds like something you'd hear on a Movies 4 Men late night scorcher about a helicopter pilot cum FBI assassin. Which is always, always very good thing indeed. You can imagine cruising down a boulevard armed with a glock and a sack of A-grade coke while this thumps out so it deserves full marks. (10/10)
9. Erasure - "Take A Chance On Me"
The first leftfield choice on the compilation, which is usually a sign that the licensing money's not run as far as the label thought it would and the bangers are going to have to be spread somewhat thin. There's nothing wrong with Erasure's typically naff take on the ABBA tune, per se, but there's nothing about it that'd actually make you want to dance. (6/10)
10. Rozalla - "Everybody's Free (To Feel Good)"
As everyone knows, all the best funfair/sunny day at the beach/last day of term/Kisstory bangers are imbued with a deep sense of the melancholy. Without that innate inner sadness, there's nothing there but a shiny exterior, that says absolutely fuck all about fuck all. Grown men have been known to weep to this. Why? Because deep down we all know we're not free to do anything. We're puppets, agents of others, useless sacks of organs and saturated fats. We're nothing. Nothing at all. That doesn't feel good. (7/10)
11. M|A|R|R|S - "Pump Up The Volume"
I fucking hate this song. (1/10)
12. S'Express - "Theme From S"
If you need me to tell you whether or not "Theme From S'Express" deserves to be on a compilation called The Best Dance Album in the World Ever you don't deserve to listen to The Dance Album in the World...Ever! (10/10)
13. Heaven 17 - "Temptation (Brothers In Rhythm Remix)"
"Alright Mark mate, just checking in on the budget. We're up to track 12 as it stands, just wondered how much moolah's left to play around with? I've got a few corkers I'd love to include....are....you serious? We've only got that left? Oh bollocks. Oh fuck me. Right....No, all fine here, yep, absolutely nothing to worry about. Everything is fine, yeah. Honestly..." (4/10)
14. Sub Sub - "Ain't No Love (Ain't No Use)"
This song was probably alright if you were into it back in the day but I was about three and I know that Sub Sub went onto become Doves, and Doves are the archetypal blokes who wear brown trainers and olive green train driver caps band so I'm immediately sent to sleep as soon as this comes on (3/10)
15. M People - "How Can I Love You More?"
Actually, this sort of bangs? It weirdly sounds a lot like an aboslutely amazing sadlad classic that Kompakt put out a while back but with some HUGE vocals. You know when you do half a pill and you think it's just gonna be another OK night and then something clicks and you're suddenly lying on the bathroom floor occasionally sitting up to tell yourself that you're fine, you're just on ecstasy, and eventually you come round to the idea and the world is an absolutely amazing place and you love everything and everyone? That's how I feel right now. This tune...fucking hell...the one...the vibe...the boy. (10/10)
16. The Shamen - "Phorever People"
This is phucking shit. (3/10)
17.The KLF - "3 AM Eternal"
A fact: "3 AM Eternal" is the best song name of all time. Another fact: "3 AM Eternal" is one of the best songs ever made. (10/10)
18. Bizarre Inc - "I'm Gonna Get You"
On an album where pretty much every other song sounds like the perfect accompaniment to a Solero or six, this lithe number somehow stands out as the most ice cream van ready screamer of the lot. Ice cream is great, ergo this song is great. (9/10)
19. Utah Saints - "Something Good"
I'm still not sure how I feel about Kate Bush you know. I think I like her. On paper I really like her, but in reality I've never gone further than buying the best of from Woolworths a decade ago, and even then I only ever really listened to "Hounds of Love" (and preferred the Futureheads cover) and "Running Up that Hill" and truth be told I only bought the CD because a girl I fancied off MySpace used to talk to me about Kate Bush quite a lot on MSN. Nothing ever happened between us and a few years later she shagged a mate of mine, who has repeatedly told me since that said girl "smelt faintly" of baked beans. (7/10)
20. Rage - "Run To You"
I'd never, ever heard this song before and was sort of hoping it'd be a club-ready version of the Bryan Adams classic, and it is, but not in a good way. It sounds like it cost about 25p to make, and was only ever heard by people who bought compilations like this. Listening to it makes me feel a bit sad in the same way that watching children (like myself) browse the budget sections of computer games shop did. I didn't want to be reminded about the dark days of having a Pentium 166, I really didn't. (4/10)
21. Deee-Lite - "Groove is in the Heart"
A record that positively reeks of chardonnay, cheese balls, and poorly thought through extramarital sexual encounters. Still quite good though. (7/10)
22. Sister Sledge - "We Are Family (Sure Is Pure Remix Edit)"
"We Are Family" is a really, really weird one. It's obviously cheesy as fuck and overplayed and sort of completely basic...but....but it's also played totally straight and is so sincere that it's actually a complete joy from start to finish. This remix adds nothing at all, but takes nothing away either. Bonus point for the way they sing the word "sing". (7/10)
23. Chaka Khan - "I'm Every Woman"
See above, minus the bonus point. (6/10)
24. Ce Ce Peniston - "Finally"
See above, again, but add two bonus points because it's "Finally" (9/10)
25. Inner City - "Big Fun"
Here's what happens when you get to heaven: God welcomes you and sits you down and tells you he has one question and one question only. That question is: "Good Life" or "Big Fun". The correct answer is "Big Fun". (10/10)
26. Mantronix - "Got To Have Your Love"
God, get me plunged under the unceasing plash of a wave machine right now! (8/10)
27. The Source - "You Got The Love"
28. Arrested Development - "People Everyday"
I heard this song on the first day I saw breasts for the first time. I mean, I'd seen them on beaches before but that didn't count. In this instance a girl, who'll go unnamed, flashed her chest at a bunch of us on the back seat of the school bus. It was one of the special afternoons when our bus provider sent a double decker rather than a standard coach. The double decker usually signaled a loosening in morals for reasons that'll never fully make sense. It is probably best they don't. (7/10)
29. Kris Kross - "Jump"
This was the first song I ever liked apparently. I just listened to it for the first time in 22 years or so. What was I thinking? This is terrible! What a fucking idiot four year old I was! I'm ashamed of myself. (3/10)
30. C + C Music Factory - "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)"
31. Soul II Soul - "Back To Life (However Do You Want Me)"
A song I could quite happily never, ever, ever hear again frankly. It's the kind of song boring people play at really boring barbecues and there is nothing worse in this life than standing in someone's shitty back garden with their shitty mates holding into a shitty hot dog. (2/10)
32. Adventures Of Stevie V. - "Dirty Cash (Radio Edit)"
All cash is good cash. Not all songs are good songs. (5/10)
33. West End - "The Love I Lost"
ANYONE GOT A RIZZLA? FUCKING HELL MATE....FUCKING HELLL....NICE TO MEET YOU....FUCKING HELL...(8/10)
34. Incognito - "Always There"
Sort of sounds like something you'd hear on a nice morning in a market town branch of Barnardos. Charity shop house at its very best. (8/10)
35. SL2 - "On A Ragga Tip"
"Hey, me again, yeah, all going well thanks, just think it might be good to have some of that funky jungle music the kids like at the moment.." (4/10)
36. Shaggy - "Oh Carolina"
"Reggae? Great idea!" (3/10)
37. Shabba Ranks - "Mr. Loverman"
"And more? Why not!" (2/10)
38. Kenny Thomas - "Thinking About Your Love"
Phew, what a night it's been. We've danced our way through 37 hit records of varying quality and by now we're a sweat-soaked mess, ready to collapse. We need something slow, something sultry, something a bit more seductive. We need a completely forgettable/serviceable bit of blue eyed soul sung by a bloke who looks like an angry mechanic called. Thank you, compilers. Thank you. (7/10)
39. Sydney Youngblood - "If Only I Could"
Look out of the window everyone — the sun's coming up! This should be a magic moment, shouldn't it? We've all made it this far. Together. We did it. We managed to pass some time. Without falling asleep! But what's that hollow feeling worming it's way around the room? That, my friends, is the sound of "If Only I Could" by Sydney Youngblood. (4/10)
40. Soul II Soul - "Joy"
At last I am free. (5/10)
TOTAL SCORE: 243
Earlier we decided that 350 was the minimum score needed for this album, The Best Dance Album in the World...Ever to be considered the actual best dance album in the world ever. It's final score is a reflection of the fact that this isn't actually the best dance album in the world ever. It an an absolutely acceptable dance album, a fine dance album, a dance album you wouldn't mind hearing once and never again. It's like listening to Kisstory for two hours, basically, and whether or not that's a good thing is down to you. In a nutshell, it isn't the best dance album in the world ever. But it's far from the worst.