From the well-known to the unexpected, these 99 LPs span five decades and countless BPMs in the name of dancefloor greatness.
Original artwork by Sydney Jones
In the world of dance music, the single is the thing. Still, not everyone is a DJ and sometimes a playlist just won't do. Even in a time when the record industry is satiating appetites for individual tracks, the dance album (that thing that makes you move all night) still has relevance and power.
In putting together this list of the Greatest Dance Albums of All Time, we looked exclusively at artist albums—those complete statements of musical intention and dancefloor ambition. Singles rule but albums like these are iconic in their own right, holding down the foundation of dance music's storied past and bright future.
There are no compilations, best-ofs, soundtracks, or mixes included; they have their place, but elsewhere. Instead, we gathered the 99 LPs that have left a mark on dancefloors and are guaranteed to make you work up a sweat while doing your thing, be that in your bedroom, under a mirrorball, or bathed in starlight.
99. Stromae: Racine Carrée [Mosaert/Republic] 2013
Language barriers are most irrelevant in dance music. So goes the theory that Belgian singer/songwriter/producer Stromae is operating on. His sophomore album is entirely in French but its focus is on the world. Party jams ("Ta fête"), cheeky dance numbers ("Tous les mêmes") and frenetic moments ("Humain à l'eau") all sit comfortably adjacent like a sonic United Nations.
98. Fischerspooner: Odyssey [Capitol] 2005
The art-popped duo of Warren Fischer and Casey Spooner dropped the "clash" from electro when making their major label debut. Instead, they offered up a critique on pop album structure while making a pop album of their own. Fischerspooner's Odyssey brought a cheeky self-awareness that didn't detract from the infinite danceability of tunes like "Never Win" and "Just Let Go."
97. Les Rythmes Digitales: Darkdancer [Wall of Sound] 1999
Before he was Jacques Lu Cont, Thin White Duke, or the go-to producer for Madonna, Kylie, and the Killers, Stuart Price was Les Rythmes Digitales. On his second album with this alias, he pays homage to the 90s French electronica he loved so dearly with fantastical rides on tracks about sweating, losing control, and discos that sample reverently and often.
96. Ellen Allien & Apparat: Orchestra of Bubbles [Bpitch Control] 2006
German electronic artists Ellen Allien and Apparat both have impressive catalogs of excellent albums but it's their collaborative effort, Orchestra of Bubbles, that merits an hour on the dancefloor. Apparat's glitch love is balanced by Allien's bass fetish and somehow their individual strands of esoteria collide in the dark for a rare techno masterpiece that is also irrepressibly very danceable.
95. The Presets: Apocalypso [Modular] 2008
On their second album, The Presets proved themselves to be subversive rascals of the club, notably with "My People," a dark, thrashing jam about the heinous conditions of immigrant detention centers in Australia. Apocalypso isn't all dancefloor politics though, "This Boy's In love" and "Talk Like That" mine more typical lyrical fare, woven together with an uncurrent of synthesizer intensity.
94. Colette: When the Music's Loud [Candy Talk] 2013
On her first LP for her own label after a career's worth of releases on influential West Coast imprint Om, singer/DJ/producer Colette leaves behind the deep house sound the world was then discovering in favor of Italo-disco, electro, and some 80s synth love. The album's lyrics are about that DJ life but the beats are about the dancefloor.
93. Boys Noize: Oi Oi Oi [Boysnoize Records] 2007
This album came at the world like a punch in the face, and the impression from its rhinestone glove still smarts. Basically, hip-hop breaks and acid house got really drunk at a party once; nine months later, Boys Noize gave us his debut. Banging Oi Oi Oi in the street may cause severe strutting, unintended mean-mugs, and spontaneous dance battles.
92. Skrillex: Bangarang [Atlantic/OWSLA] 2011
When Bangarang was released, "dubstep" was a worldwide phenomenon and Skrillex was one of the most saleable assets in dance music. That he collaborated with The Doors, put out the introspective "Tokyo," and brought in wub-chuckers 12th Planet and Kill the Noise on some ravey fidget-glitch adventure "Right On Time" proved he was ahead of the game he helped create.
91. Drexciya: Neptune's Lair [Tresor] 1999
Out of print and hard to find for several years, Detroit duo Drexciya's Neptune's Lair became somewhat enigmatic even as its influence endured. Tracks like "Surface Terrestrial Colonization" show why. It's the sound of the future through the lens of the first video game generation: hopeful and anxious, experimental but rooted in the reality of song structure and western melody.
90. Clean Bandit: New Eyes [Big Beat/Atlantic] 2014
As the world tired of the ham-handedness of EDM, Clean Bandit offered a new generation a softer, defter touch on dance music tropes. The kids from Cambridge brought strong classical elements and an approachably twee mentality that embraced rap, piano house, and Mozart with equal levels of earnesty, while tunes like "Rather Be" brought house back to the radio masses.
89. Major Lazer: Guns Don't Kill People... Lazers Do [Downtown] 2009
Before Diplo was a household name, Major Lazer was two random white dudes plus a cartoon Jamaican with a laser gun arm. The time they came together in Jamaica's Tuff Gong studio begat a dirty-speaker sound so viciously rude it couldn't be ignored. This was the Skerrit Bwoy era when daggering was dangerous and "Pon De Floor" banged without Beyoncé.
88. Deadmau5: For Lack of a Better Name [Ultra/Mau5trap] 2009
The fourth studio LP from the computer geek-turned-DJ powerhouse, this might be Deadmau5's most intense album yet. Chock full of progressive, trancey anthems like "Ghosts 'n' Stuff" and the serotonin opus "Strobe," it displays his knack for sound design, creating tracks that put the sometimes cantankerous producer in the category of those who truly push limits in the new millennia.
87. The Killers: Hot Fuss [Island] 2004
If Interpol was the Joy Division of the 00s post-punk revival, The Killers were the New Order. Their debut album, Hot Fuss, paid homage to the many great 80s English dance-rock outfits and did it well. Still, The Killers remain red-blooded Americans. Thank Uncle Sam for indie dance classics "Smile Like You Mean It," "Somebody Told Me," and "Mr. Brightside."
86. Simian Mobile Disco: Attack, Sustain, Decay, Release [Wichita/Interscope] 2007
Simian Mobile Disco's first album captures them at their least heady and most visceral, with all the glitched-out analog bashing you'd expect from the Mancunians. The rest of their catalogue isn't dancefloor ready, but this set is. Tunes like "Hustler" fit into the electro milieu of the time, but with an edge that set them apart. Purely coincidental, we're sure.
85. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu: Nanda Collection [Warner Japan] 2013
Anyone who stumbles across the video for "Fashion Monster" wonders, perhaps aloud, "who is this creature?" So transfixing is costumed Japanese pop singer Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, she makes Lady Gaga look boring and inspires artists like Porter Robinson with her computer-generated sounds and the very meta-ness of her J-pop aberration ethos. Also check out Koto banger "Ninja Re Bang Bang."
84: Classixx: Hanging Gardens [Innovative Leisure] 2013
This record was classic (pun intended) before it came out. "I'll Get You" was revolutionary in 2009, and even though it took these sunny-side LA bros four years to release a proper LP, we still "liked bass." Hanging Gardens is 12 tracks of happy-go-lucky perfection. If you soundtracked the best first date in history, you'd get this. Swipe right forever.
83. Calvin Harris: I Created Disco [Columbia] 2007
While doing press for his debut album, then-unknown producer Calvin Harris swore he wasn't trying to say he invented disco, but rather made an album of disco music. Before he was a radio mainstay, Harris staked his claim to danceable, infectious, melodies, prime for a live performance or DJ set with tunes like "The Girls" and "Acceptable in the 80s."
82. Hot Chip: Made in the Dark [EMI/Astralwerks/DFA] 2008
While the rest of the world raced to over-electronicize their dance music, Hot Chip made us boogie with nothing but guitars, a synth, and a whole lotta feels. The squad of everymen from Nottingham became one of the few indie bands fully embraced by the dance community. Albums like this prove there is a raver in every one of us.
81. Akufen: My Way [Force Inc] 2002
Montreal producer Marc LeClair recorded over two thousand tiny samples on his short wave radio, meticulously cut and pasted them onto upbeat house loops and mindfucked everybody by producing a finished album that's simultaneously intellectual and funky as hell. It's a glorious chaotic mess of sound snippets, reined in masterfully, proving that danceability doesn't have to be sacrificed for experimentation.
80. Fatboy Slim: Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars [Astralwerks] 2000
Based on an Oscar Wilde quote, the album's title is kind of a great life philosophy. On "Sunset (Bird of Prey)," Fatboy Slim turned Jim Morrison into an EDM star 12 years before Skrillex did. He got guest drops from Bootsy Collins and Macy Gray and you might recall Spike Jonze's incredible video in which Christopher Walken dances, then flies.
79. Chromeo: Fancy Footwork [Turbo] 2007
Chromeo's second album really put the Montreal duo and their funky synthy electro sound on the dancefloor map. From the fast-paced title track, to woozy between-the-sheets lullabies like "100%," Fancy Footwork offered the right balance of talk box silliness and loverboy swag at the right time. There are even enough sing-along opportunities to overlook the absurd mannequin leg keyboard stands.
78. Gorgon City: Sirens [Black Butter/EMI] 2014
That garage revival thing was always going to hit the mainstream, and luckily it happened in the form of Gorgon City. The London duo packaged current club sounds into a widely palatable visage without watering down their creative energy. They even managed to squeeze a good few hits out of the process. Club music can live on pop radio too.
77. Deee-Lite: World Clique [Elektra 1990]
If the only song you associate with Deee-Lite is "Groove is in the Heart," drop everything immediately and listen to World Clique from start to finish. Uplifting psychedelic house tracks like "Good Beat," "Power of Love," and "What Is Love?" prove the trio of former NYC club kids were... mmm how do you say...delicious, delovely? Delectable, devine? Degorgeous? Dewith-it? Degroovy?
76. Gwen Stefani: Love. Angel. Music. Baby. [Interscope] 2004
Who can take a number from Fiddler on the Roof and turn it into a chart-topper Eve raps on? The type of woman who can go triple-platinum by spelling "bananas." Gwen Stefani appropriates Japanese culture and gets away with it on her solo debut; with production assists from Andre 3000, the Neptunes, and Dr. Dre, it's easy to hear why.
75. Femi Kuti: Shoki Shoki [Barclay] 1998
The raw sensuality of "Beng Beng Beng" rightly steals the spotlight here, but so embraced by the club scene was Femi Kuti's sophomore solo release, Shoki Shoki, it eventually got its own remix album. Still, the original version is pure fire, with the young Kuti keeping his father's legacy of Afrobeat dancefloor politics alive amid swirls of horns and beats.
74. Manuel Göttsching: E2-E4 [Inteam] 1984
Albums like these are made to be listened to during university. Not because Manuel Göttsching is an intellectual, per se, but his work is so conceptual (E2-E4 is technically a single song, divided into nine separate tracks named for chess moves), you can use it as a soundtrack to your dorm room dance party and subject of your honors thesis.
73. Róisín Murphy: Overpowered [EMI] 2007
With her second solo effort, the "Sing it Back" Moloko alum once again provoked the oft-asked question "Why the hell isn't Róisín Murphy a giant superstar?!" Teaming up this time with producers from Groove Armada, Ill Factor, and Bugz in the Attic, Murphy's mercurial vocal and eccentric musical sensibilities are showcased expertly in this polished collection of electro-disco tracks.
72. Theo Parrish: First Floor [Peacefrog] 1998
First released as two EPs, the debut album from the Detroit producer introduced the masses to his otherworldly sauce of jazz-funk-injected house music, as well as the ingenious drum programming he would become known for. While Theo Parrish tracks are forever a DJ go-to, First Floor gave us some insight into the intricacies that would soundtrack his legendary sets forever.
71. Orbital: The Middle of Nowhere [FFRR] 1999
Morphing grooves melt into each other on the famed English brothers' fifth album, where funky robotics intermix seamlessly with cycling crooning from female vocals and lush ambient techno. The Middle of Nowhere was a hit in the UK as Orbital offered a slightly brighter sound experience than usual, showing that even ravishing ambient numbers can still be fun as hell.
70. David Guetta: Pop Life [Perfecto/Ultra] 2007
Shortly before David Guetta cracked the code to his own pop life, he made this classic set of mid-00s Euro dance music. Ripped from Ibiza, ripe for urban dancefloors, the album is Guetta and longtime production partner Joachim Garraud at their finest. Should Guetta or his EDM contemporaries ever want to find some soul, this is where they left it.
69. The Rapture: Echoes [DFA] 2003
The Rapture captured the imagination of the millennial indie-dance movement with pulsing, four-on-the-floor kick patterns, house-inspired bleepy bloops and warped vocals that presented a wholly new aesthetic with classic instrumentation. "I Need Your Love" and "House of Jealous Lovers" are punk-rock for the dancefloor and had the skinny-jeaned set shaking their asses like ravers. This ain't your cool uncle's disco.
68. Moby: Play [V2/Mute] 1999
Play is the Kanye West of electronica albums, in that Moby shopped the LP to every major label and everyone stupidly passed. Initially a flop, Moby licensed all 18 songs for film, TV, and commercials—a first for any album. That strategy got people listening to what is one of the most touching, soulful, and awe-inspiring albums in dance music history.
67. Kid Sister: Ultraviolet [Fool's Gold/Downtown] 2009
After several delays and title changes, Kid Sister's debut could have suffered from hype fatigue. Instead, Ultraviolet delivered an enduring wallop with production by Angello and Ingrosso (pre-SHM), Yuksek (before you knew him), Sinden, A-Trak and more. Throughout, the Chicago singer/rapper's voice soars above the fray uniting a disparate collection of beats for hot a night in or out.
66. LCD Soundsystem: This is Happening [DFA/Virgin] 2010
Every LCD album has enough guitar-driven, nostalgia-laced dance tunes stuffed in there to get everyone teary-eyed and tappy-toed (and keep the hipsters satisfied). The double-shot of "Dance Yrself Clean" and "I Can Change" on the band's final album takes the cake for James Murphy's posse of NYC dance-punks. Bonus points for the Carl Craig-penned psych-jam "Throw' as a bonus track.
65. ABBA: Arrival [Polar] 1976
You can dance, you can jive, you can admit that ABBA is a perennial guilty pleasure. Arrival is the most successful album by the Swedish-pop group, containing three of their biggest hits ("Dancing Queen" among them). These tracks are basically the origin of disco-jive; they incite the finger-snapping and hip-swaying vibe that is the very essence of 70s dance music.
64. Groove Armada: Vertigo [Jive] 1999
Believe it or not, there was a time when saying "shakin that ass" was risqué. Into this innocent era entered Groove Armada's "I See You Baby" off their breakthrough LP, Vertigo. Positivity anthem "If Everybody Looked the Same" went on to feature in far too many films and TV commercials, but ain't no shame in house music making a buck.
63. Avalanches: Since I Left You [Modular] 2000
A decade and a half after its release, Since I Left You remains an other-worldly dance party. The Avalanches since became mythical figures at home in Australia and abroad, having never followed it up, and reportedly bereft with hefty sample licensing bills. Sprawling and complex, the album mines the space between microtech and the poorly-named "plunderphonics" in a pre-mash-up world.
62. Cassius: 1999 [Virgin] 1999
While most people's minds turn to the robot buds of Daft Punk, 90s French house wouldn't be what it was without the debut LP from Philippe Szar and Boom Bass, AKA Cassius. Largely sample-based and topped off with tantalizing dancefloor heat, 1999 manages to remain tasteful and still sophisticatedly fun without giving in to cheap electronica trends of the day.
61. Burial: Untrue [Hyperdub] 2007
With Untrue, elusive British producer Burial created a fresh new dub music landscape that has yet to be proven false. It still sounds like dubstep from the distant future, even though it was released in 2007, before that whole scene ever considered looking forward. It is a work of IDM art, spoken through the voice of urban UK club music.
60. Gorillaz: Demon Days [Parlophone] 2005
Any dance album that starts with a bass clarinet sample from the Dawn of the Dead soundtrack and births catchy singles like "Feel Good, Inc." and "DARE" is officially genius. Demon Days distilled the chaotic musical vision of Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett's cartoon foursome into something slick and comprehensive. It's so artistically sophisticated, you can't call it a gimmick.
59. Yelle: Pop-up [Source Etc] 2007
Few artists launch a successful career off the strength of a street dancing trend. Parisian electro-pop trio Yelle did. The group's cover of 80s tune "À cause des garçons" pumped tecktonik vibes into shady one-offs and discos everywhere, inviting audiences to the new wave of French electronica. Even the quieter moments on Pop-up are worthy of le shimmy et shake.
58. Swedish House Mafia: Until Now [Astralwerks] 2012
Love them or hate them, nobody can deny the emulsive anticipation in the early moments of Until Now's opener, "Greyhound." While the trio of Swedes denied having any interest in making a proper album, they did just that, compiling a handful of singles and rounding it out with the best example of EDM pop the early 10s had to offer.
57. Britney Spears: In The Zone [Jive] 2003
This isn't Britney's best album (that would be 2007's aptly-titled Blackout) but it is the best to dance to. With features from Snoop, Madonna, and Ying Yang Twins, production by Moby and Bloodshy & Avant (pre-Miike Snow), this album is where the pop star went to the club and liked it. Plus, it contains "Toxic," perhaps Ms. Spears' finest recorded moment.
56. DJ Shadow: Endtroducting..... [Mo' Wax/Island] 1996
Famous for being entirely comprised of sampled material, Endtroducing..... was a game-changing release, decades ahead of its time and a major landmark in instrumental hip-hop. It changed the way people look at how DJs in particular constructing music, a process made all the more notable by Shadow himself admitting to making it all "on one sampler in a tiny studio."
55. Björk: Debut [One Little Indian] 1993
Divisive when first dropped, Björk's post-Sugarcubes solo album, Debut, was an ambitious pop opus referencing everything from jazz to techno. Tracks like "Human Behaviour" are canonical, and although Post was critics' opportunity to backtrack on initial criticism of the release, tunes like "Big Time Sensuality" are as ravey as she ever got. Compared to her later work, it's downright accessible.
54. Dizzee Rascal: Tongue n' Cheek [Dirtee Stank/Liberation] 2009
London's grime king was always a sucker for low register noise and disturbing beats, but the rapper's fourth album stopped flirting and went balls deep into dance music. Collaborating with Chase & Status, Calvin Harris, and Armand Van Helden, he proved he knew what to do, marking a friendlier Rascal. He'll still jack you, but he'll buy you a drink first.
53. Nero: Welcome Reality [MTA Records] 2011
There is a dearth of classics in the late-electro/early-EDM era, but Welcome Reality, Nero's post-apocalyptic concept album, triumphs by offering radio-ready pop and brain-melting bass music galore. It brings a level of artistry and narrative to a genre often devoid of both. Sure, it has moments of cheese, but as far as apocalypti-pop goes, it may never be bested.
52. Paul Oakenfold: Bunkka [Maverick] 2002
Is hit single "Starry Eyed Surprise" featuring Shifty Shellshock of rap-rock band Crazy Town eternally cringey? Yes. Should you overlook it? Yes! The rest of Bunkka is a hodgepodge of guest vocals (Emiliana Torrini, Ice Cube, Hunter S. Thompson) and vibes ("Ready Steady Go," "The Harder They Come") but as a postcard of post-electronica dancefloor trance times, it still works.
51. Metro Area: Metro Area [Environ/Source] 2002
Like free coat check, Metro Area's first and only album has become something of an urban legend. Did it really happen? Will it ever be followed up? What we know for sure is that this sexy slice of house quietly invaded record collections in the early 00s and hasn't left, allowing for many nights of light-free swaying on dancefloors everywhere.
50. Deadmau5: Random Album Title [Ultra] 2008
While not his first album, Random Album Title was something of a coming out party for Deadmau5. He perfected his sound, offering the immersive of previous work a warmer, more melodic sensibility. Tracks like "Not Exactly" and Kaskade collab "I Remember" (also on No. 24 on this list) are not only euphoric live, but also sound sweet in headphones.
49. Cut Chemist: The Audience's Listening [Warner Bros] 2006
When a kid asks "What's a DJ and what does one do?," hand them The Audience's Listening. On his first LP independent of Jurassic 5, Cut Chemist creates a conversation between artists, himself, and his audience with clever samples, well-timed scratches, and beautiful loops. A real journey into sound, this is decades of recorded history refined into one glorious package.
48. Ricardo Villalobos: Alcachofa [Playhouse] 2003
While Chilean-German eccentric Ricardo Villalobos is probably best-known for his lengthy DJ sets, his first artist album established him as a minimal techno pioneer. Named for the Spanish word for artichoke, there is not a single track under seven minutes on Alcachofa, revealing the producer's mindset as never being too far from the club, especially those dark, dirty techno ones.
47. Lady Gaga: The Fame Monster [Cherrytree/Interscope] 2009
While Gaga's debut is a perfectly acceptable piece of dance-pop, its reissue—replete with an entirely new album, The Fame Monster—is a modern classic. The grotesquely beautiful pound of "Bad Romance" and growl of "Dance In The Dark" complement the Madonna-aping on "Alejandro" (which is great in its own right). What is a night dancing if not an act of monstrosity?
46. Kraftwerk: Computer World [Kling Klang/EMI] 1981
This seminal album didn't just lay the groundwork for multiple future music genres, including techno and hip-hop, it also predicted with freakish accuracy the way technology would consume our lives. Still, the crisp, elegant beats betray a very human liveliness and the deadpan spoken lyrical delivery is more cheeky than foreboding. So, perhaps there's hope for us humans after all.
45. Skream: Skream! [Tempa] 2006
In the chronology of dubstep, this album warrants being on this list on the back of "Midnight Request Line" alone. Skream! captures the genre at its finest, laden with unbound creativity before the purist naysayers and the brostep rinsers alike got their grubby mitts on it. Hell, there are guitars and pan flutes on this record and it's still good!
44. Goldfrapp: Supernature [Mute] 2005
The follow-up to Goldfrapp's heavily-lauded glam rock album Black Cherry marks the English duo's evolution towards dance pop. Think: less Blondie, more Kylie; less swagger, more glitter. Inspired by New Wave and disco, Supernature runs a glorious gamut from the Grammy-nominated, guitar-driven stomper (and eventual soundtrack to an iPhone commercial) "Ooh La La" to eccentric disco-inspired tracks like "Satin Chic."
43. C+C Music Factory: Gonna Make You Sweat [Columbia] 1990
It's hard to properly contextualize the importance of C+C Music Factory's groundbreaking LP, mostly because when a song becomes as ubiquitous as "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)," it's easy to take it for granted. The album's trademark mix of guitar-noise, party-rap, and acid-house helped spread American dance music around the globe. Something to make you go hmm...
42. Tiga: Sexor [Different/PIAS] 2006
Mid-00s cool was defined by the dirty, sexy sounds of electro-clash, a special time and place when punk rock ideals met house beats and disco aesthetics and made sticky hot love in the dark. Sexor is cheeky lyrics, retro-futuristic textures, and NIN covers tuned to perfection. It even won Montrealer Tiga a Juno Award for Dance Recording of the Year.
41. Deep Dish: George Is On [Thrive] 2005
At a time when other DJs of their generation had their asses handed to them when they tried to make an artist album, Deep Dish proved it possible with an LP of melodic, tightly-produced, club-ready, and infectious house music. Plus, they got Stevie Nicks to re-record her vocals for their electronica-fied version of Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams" and somehow it works.
40. Armin van Buuren: Imagine [Armada] 2008
With minimal lyrical inventiveness and maximal extended mixes, albums have always been a slightly volatile format in trance. The unparalleled leader of the genre, Armin van Buuren, offered his most emotionally potent full-length with Imagine, harnessing songwriting and powerful melodies for a unflinchingly trance LP. He even scored a trance classic with the pulsating ballad. "In and Out of Love."
39. Hercules & Love Affair: Hercules & Love Affair [DFA] 2008
There had never been a better time to be gay than 2008—not because of civil rights or shit like that but because that was the year Hercules & Love Affair's same-loving disco revivalism invaded dancefloors from Berlin to West Hollywood. DJ/producer Andy Butler conspired largely with singer Antony Hegarty for this resplendent bacchanal of beats and 70s gay clubbing idealism.
38. M.I.A.: Kala [XL/Interscope] 2007
M.I.A.'s sophomore release took the global vibe of Arular, and amped the massiveness. From "Bamboo Banga" to "Come Around," it's 13 tracks of unforgettable beats and third-world-swagger. Composed primarily by M.I.A. and Switch, Kala features production from Timbaland, Blaqstarr, Morganics, and Diplo, who threw gun shot sounds over a Clash sample, thus creating "Paper Planes."
37. Angélique Kidjo: Logozo [Island] 1991
In the early 90s, European discos were hungry for sounds from Africa. When singer Angélique Kidjo from Benin burst onto dancefloors from Lisbon to London with her neon djembes in "Batonga," people couldn't wait to flex in their own zebra-stripe bodysuits. Delivering each word with an ferocity matched only by her prowess as a dancer she rendered language barriers moot.
36. Basement Jaxx: Kish Kash [XL] 2003
Flexing their rolodexes with collaborations galore on their third album, the duo of Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe served up Kish Kash's propulsive menu of gargantuan electronic overloads, gaining the pair a Grammy for Best Electronic Album in 2003, the first year the accolade was given to any artist.
35. Goldie: Timeless [FFRR Records] 1995
Goldie's debut album captured a moment during which jungle was morphing into something wholly new. In the process, Timeless brought with it a cerebral tone that pulled the genre out of the "urban" framework and into the heady jazzy-breakbeatism. Goldie changed drum and bass forever with one album so artistic that art-pop then-it-girl Björk even ended up dating the producer.
34. Kylie Minogue: Fever [Parlophone] 2001
Fever explores the ins and outs of sleepless nights on the dancefloor from moments buoyant ("Love At First Sight") to sensual ("In Your Eyes") to hypnotic ("Your Love"), all soundtracked by cold-hearted machines and a popstar's redolent soprano. Robots, a one-word refrain, and a vexing A-minor key helped make "Can't Get You Out of My Head" Kylie Minogue's biggest hit.
33. Pet Shop Boys: Actually [Parlophone] 1987
Only 18 months after their debut album broke this duo of erudite London synth-lovers onto global dancefloors, Pet Shop Boys returned with Actually, their most cohesive offering. Neil Tennant's distinctive tenor attacks each note on songs like "Hit Music" and "One More Chance" with enough confidence you overlook the idolatry in the form of a strange duet with Dusty Springfield.
32. Everything But The Girl: Walking Wounded [Atlantic/Virgin] 1996
After the massive worldwide success of Todd Terry's 1995 dance remix of their song "Missing," jazz/folk duo EBGT dove headfirst into electronica with their ninth studio release. This dark, brooding album gorgeously marries their signature heartbreak sound and lyrics with trip hop, drum and bass, and house beats, creating the perfect soundtrack for falling in and out of love.
31. New Order: Power, Corruption & Lies [Factory] 1983
Only the US version of the synthpop primogenitors' second LP has "Blue Monday," but even without it, Power, Corruption & Lies stands as a guttural, guitar-soaked, and earnest response to the post-disco era. The slap of Peter Hook's bass alone is responsible for myriad musicians' careers, to say nothing of many nights of head-down shuffling on a dimly lit makeshift dancefloor.
30. Missy Elliott: Miss E... So Addictive [Elektra] 2001
True, Missy Elliott is more hip-hop star than dancefloor queen but name-checking a popular club drug in your album title gets the club kids to take notice. Dancefloor fillers "4 My People" and "One Minute Man" had bodies throbbing in a post-electronica era. And nothing can nor ever will take away from the majesty that is "Get Ur Freak On."
29. The Chemical Brothers: Come With Us [Virgin/Astralwerks] 2002
"It's no Dig Your Own Hole" is the subtext of every tepid review of the Chemical Bros' last few albums but Come With Us is also worthy of comparison. Their fourth full-length effort is solid with a handful of keepers, including the title track, the Planet Rock-inspired "It Began In Afrika," "Galaxy Bounce," "Star Guitar," and frenetic electro jam "Hoops."
28. Tiësto: Just Be [Magik Muzik] 2004
For many trance heads, their conversion moment can be traced to a single experience: the first time they heard Tiësto's "Adagio for Strings." The electronicized version of Samuel Barber's orchestral classic closes an LP that features other worthy (though less iconic) trance moments with BT and singer Kirsty Hawkshaw. Were this Tijs's swan song, he would still be a legend.
27. LCD Soundsystem: LCD Soundsystem [DFA] 2005
Indie rock and dance music have never been brought together so well as in "Daft Punk is Playing at My House," the kick-off tune from LCD Soundsystem's debut album. That it was followed up by synth-driven electro-pop classics like "Tribulations" and garage-punk shimmies like "Movement" makes the album an important reference for that era when hipster kids crashed the dancefloor.
26. Madonna: Madonna [Sire] 1983
All the groundbreaking, world-changing, genre-defining, imitator-inspiring aside, Madonna's first album is just really fucking fun to dance to. From "Lucky Star" all the way through to "Everybody," the stream of bright, sexy, and unfussy pop doesn't falter once. Madonna provided the New York City dance scene a much needed post-disco palate cleanser and drew the blueprint for future dance pop.
25. The Prodigy: The Fat of The Land [XL/Maverick] 1997
With "Smack My Bitch Up," "Breathe," and "Firestarter" all on one album, The Prodigy managed to scare a whole generation (and their even more fearful parents) into dancing to a whole different beat. With an unchallenged eye for aesthetic and controversy, to some, this release was everything that was wrong with music. To others, it was everything that was right.
24. Kaskade: Strobelite Seduction [Ultra] 2008
On his second album with Ultra, Ryan Raddon (AKA Kaskade) firmly leaves behind the deep house of his early career for a progressive-inspired set of mostly vocal cuts that flirt with meaning without ever saying too much. "I Remember," a collab with Deadmau5, was perhaps the biggest tune at the time, thanks in part to frequent vocal partner Haley Gibby.
23. Calvin Harris: Ready for the Weekend [Fly Eye/Columbia] 2009
Calvin Harris the underwear model is delicious, but the dark-haired goofball with the golden voice was downright influential. Ready for the Weekend's feel-good mantras play like wise words from a disco sage. Practically every track is single-worthy. With hits "The Rain," "Flashback," "You Used to Hold Me," and the title track, he should have named it Ready for the Spotlight.
22. Moby: Everything is Wrong [Mute] 1994
The third LP released by the iconically bald electronic musician, Everything is Wrong, was was Moby's first acclaimed electronica album. Expressing his myriad production skills at the height of 90s rave, the daring combination of analog and classical instruments along with ethereal vocals meld together to create the unique warehouse-ready, country-cocaine punk sounds that leave you head-banging, shuffling, and sliding.
21. Erasure: The Innocents [Mute/Sire] 1988
English synth-pop duo Erasure perfected their sound and found superstardom with this album, serving catchy, radio-friendly, sing-along tracks like anthems "A Little Respect" and "Chains of Love." Poignant ballads and even a gospel jam round out the dance party as Andy Bell's sweeping, soulful tenor/falsetto and Stephen Hague's deft production evoke just the right amount of delicious 80s nostalgia.
20. Daft Punk: Homework [Virgin] 1997
It's really hard to do anything but dance while listening to Homework. The robots' debut helped usher in the era of late-90s French Touch, practically inventing the bedroom producer. As the story goes, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter wanted to prove they could make a timeless dance album without fancy equipment at home, hence the title. Damn witty robots.
19. Giorgio Moroder: From Here to Eternity [Casablanca Records] 1977
Italian synth god/producer Moroder rode the dripping, undulating wave of his and muse Donna Summer's disco gamechanger "I Feel Love" by continuing to pull pure sex from a Moog synth with this 30 minute magnum opus. Once the driving soundtrack to Studio 54-era hedonism, aptly-named Eternity stands the test of time and brings the panty tingles like no other.
18. Groove Armada: Soundboy Rock [Columbia/Sony] 2007
After years of making albums for the club set, London-based Groove Armada set their sights on the radio, sourcing inspiration from their hometown in the form of dancehall vocalists, pop stars, and British soul. Unpredictable as it is delectable, Soundboy Rock is a pastiche of electronic sound that serves as a solid endcap to the duo's dabbling with the mainstream.
17. Kraftwerk: Trans-Europe Express [Kling Klang] 1977
This quartet of quirky Germans inspired a generation of knob twisters from the Belleville Three to Depeche Mode. Trans Europe Express is the most danceable of their early albums but at a relatively low BPM. Tracks like "Showroom Dummies" and "The Hall of Mirrors" revel in their weirdness while "Europe Endless" and "Metal on Metal" set up the room nicely.
16. Donna Summer: Bad Girls [Casablanca] 1979
When Donna Summer and Giorgio Moroder re-teamed for the disco diva's seventh (double) studio album, they were already the reigning King and Queen of Disco. Bad Girls took them to new heights, becoming Summer's best-selling album. The title track became ubiquitous with the feverish disco obsession that had taken over the mainstream, as well as Summer's prowess as car-sound imitator.
15. Plastikman: Sheet One [NovaMute] 1993
The first album released under Richie Hawtin's Plastikman alias was a powerful rebuttal of the 90s obsession with mindlessly brutal 4x4. With machine-like precision, Hawtin excavates the brooding, psychedelic undertones of techno, the acidic excursions complemented by the album's LSD-referencing title and cover art. Even without his iconic hair, it's almost enough to make you forget #Speakergate... or even EX.
14. Justice: Cross [Ed Banger] 2007
There's nothing subtle on Justice's explosive debut album. It knocked the mid-00s silly with its unapologetically crass and seriously fun take on electro. Even without thrashers "Waters of Nazareth and "DVNO," Cross is unforgettable for the treacherously catchy "D.A.N.C.E."—and a snapshot of a moment when a scraggly gang of French club rats ruled the world.
13. Michael Jackson: Off the Wall [Epic] 1979
The opening bassline of "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" is a premonition: something is about to happen here. Then, with a disco string flourish and young Michael's Studio 54-soaked falsetto, it does. Barring a late-album descent into ballad purgatory, some of these tracks are the greatest in human history. This is the King of Pop at his absolute finest.
12. Skrillex: Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites [Big Beat/mau5trap] 2010
For many, Scary Monsters kicked off the EDM era, at least for those on the harder-edged end of the spectrum. Depending on your perspective, Skrillex either took dubstep worldwide, killed dubstep, or invented brostep. That kind of controversy fades with time but the dancefloor endurance of what is essentially a glorified EP (six originals, three remixes) makes Skrillex a winner.
11. Depeche Mode: Violator [Mute] 1990
This near-perfect jewel of synth-goth glory is Depeche Mode's singularly most beloved work of art. It begat generational anthems like "Personal Jesus," "Enjoy the Silence," and "Policy of Truth," catapulting the band from underground faves to global mainstream success. Part pop saveur, part lecherous perv, Violator at 25 is still creepy-sexy enough to arrest a new generation in its tracks.
10. Kylie Minogue: Aphrodite [Parlophone] 2010
"Can you feel me on your stereo?" asks pop goddess Kylie Minogue on the title track of her eleventh studio album named for another goddess. Shedding the skin of introspection, Minogue unabashedly puts her hands up on the dancefloor. With production from Stuart Price, Calvin Harris, Ingrosso, Nervo, and Richard X, it's like b2b night at your favorite glitter rave.
9. Basement Jaxx: Rooty [XL] 2001
It's hard to say which Basement Jaxx album is the best (there are two on this list), but the quixotic enchantment of opener "Romeo" is undeniable. That track alone cemented the Jaxx's ability to start an album better than any other artist and unlocked the door to what had previously been a cloistered world of non-threateningly sexual, animalistic musical desire.
8. Robyn: Body Talk [Konichiwa] 2010
Released as three EPs, Robyn's Body Talk catapulted her from alt-pop cult fave to global star, defying stereotypes of Swedish pop's disposability in the process. It also provided material for extensive touring, during which the singer displayed her uniquely fierce dancing on sass-fueled tunes like "Dancehall Queen" and "Fembot" and sanguine floor-fillers "Dancing on My Own" and "Call Your Girlfriend."
7. Disclosure: Settle [PMR/Interscope] 2013
As debuts go, it's hard to get more perfect than this. Chicago house-inspired tunes like "When a Fire Starts to Burn" united underground support while "Latch" launched the career of a popstar. Few acts can toe the line between accessible and innovative; that balance has won Disclosure critical acclaim, but Settle's unrelenting danceability from start to finish wins the night.
6. Chemical Brothers: Dig Your Own Hole [Virgin] 1997
Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons' first album placed them at the forefront of electronic music innovation, but it was there highly anticipated follow up, Dig Your Own Hole, that established them as a musical force of nature to be reckoned with. Once the opening licks of "Block Rockin' Beats" blared through systems, brain-rattling big-beat invaded pop-culture. The rest is history.
5. Underworld: dubnobasswithmyheadman [Junior Boy's Own] 1994
Few albums have redirected the course of music history quite like Underworld's third, dubnobasswithmyheadman. The band made a conscious choice to move from their synthpop roots to a techno future; nowhere is that more evident than on the agalmatophilia-titled second track, "Mmm...Skyscraper I Love You." The song, like the rest of the album, pushed the boundaries of what was considered acceptable, practically daring critics to call this drug music. High or sober, this is a beautiful enduring symphony of techno.
4. Fatboy Slim: You've Come a Long Way, Baby [Skint Records] 1998
By 1998, Fatboy Slim was already deep into his career but this album took Norman Cook from big beat legend to crossover deity and UK cultural artifact. "Right Here, Right Now," "The Rockafeller Skank," and "Praise You" sit beyond genre definition and turn everything from a bat-mitzvah to a rave into a feel-good jam along (as this year's EDC proved yet again). DJs have always been the best at making dancefloors move; here they proved producer/DJs did it better.
3. Madonna: Confessions on a Dance Floor [Maverick] 2005
Long after many started saying "I only like her old stuff," the Queen of Pop dropped this start-to-finish perfect album of disco-inspired club cuts, each track mixed—a rarity for non-compilations. While a pop star's club throne is never guaranteed forever, Madonna has more claims to the top spot than most and Confessions proves why. This is the album all her subsequent albums is compared to; for its enduring relevance and how it redefined Madonna as an artist, it should be.
2. Carl Craig: Landcruising [Blanco Y Negro/Mute] 1995
Landcruising is Carl Craig before he became Carl Craig. This mid-90s classic was Mute Records' attempt to jump into the untapped techno market and although it was critically lauded, sales were lackluster. Still, the album was a groundbreaking introduction to what would become Craig's signature: synth-heavy, atmospheric techno that draws influences from beyond Detroit, yet unmistakably belongs to it. It also functions as a homage to Craig's hometown—after all, it was conceived as a soundtrack for driving around its streets.
1. Daft Punk: Discovery [Virgin] 2001
When some extraterrestrial race looks back on the artifacts of 21st century dance music, if Discovery isn't the most importantly examined fossil, it will at least be the soundtrack to their research. The sophomore album by the world's most famous robots is a joyful candy bag of auto-tuned machine-love storylines, French Touch magic, and a plethora of sounds that have become classics to club-kids and shut-ins alike. The relentlessness of "One More Time," the motivational anthem of "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger," the surprisingly emotive "Digital Love," and the dynamic friction of "Face to Face" are standouts in their own right; together they are part of an dancefloor opus. Reliant heavily on samples and made unabashedly with disco love (at a time when disco was paralyzingly uncool, no less), Daft Punk brought electronic dance music to the forefront of modern pop culture, gifting the masses with something that wasn't just infectious, but for many, lifechanging.