Top Ten Guilty Pleasures of '90s Dance
If you're a clubland regular, then you've probably noticed what a major comeback the classic '90s dance sound has made in the last couple years.
You can hear it from the jacking house revival of underground acts like Hercules & Love Affair and Steffi, all the way to the Swedish House Mafia's diva-vocalized dance pop. But why are so many producers looking back to that decade for inspiration?
In this era of ironic hipster posturing, one answer may be nostalgia for a sound that was full of genuine joy and emotion. Songs about love, hope and freedom with killer melodies and hooks that could convert even the most jaded non-believer on a dancefloor.
10. Haddaway's "What is Love"
This track was a number-one hit in 13 countries when it first came out in 1993. And it would be forever immortalized by the Butabi brothers in 1998's A Night at the Roxbury. But those aren't the reasons it's at the top of this list. It's because Haddaway is a romantic badass daring to ask what the rest of us want to know: What is love?
9. Corona's "The Rhythm of the Night"
If Italians were mostly known for their sappy Italo-disco up until the '90s, Corona put them on the international house music map with this 1994 smash hit which remains a major feel-good classic today.
8. Crystal Waters' "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)"
American dance music diva Crystal Waters's illustrious career was kick-started by this 1991 bomb. Its moody Gospel-tinged organ riff and "la da dee, la da da" refrain make it one of the most recognizable tunes in electronic dance music history.
7. Robin S's "Show Me Love"
Its unforgettable percussive organ riff and vocal hook have made "Show Me Love" one of the most imitated, sampled, covered, and remixed dance cuts of all time. It even helped launch Steve Angello and Laidback Luke into stardom when they released their 2009 version. And almost two decades since its release, Robin S herself continues to tour and perform this classic.
6. K-Klass's "Rhythm is a Mystery"
The members of UK production duo K-Klass have reminisced about first meeting at legendary Manchester club the Haçienda in the late '80s. And the influence of that seminal early UK house sound is evident in this exuberant piano house classic.
5. La Bouche's "Be My Lover"
This American-German Eurodance power duo reached some major heights after this 1995 hit. But it wouldn't be long before they split up, with vocalist Melanie Thornton pursuing a solo career before tragically getting killed in a plane crash. Her memory lives on in this energetic sultry classic.
4. Ace of Base's "All That She Wants"
You know we couldn't do a '90s dance best-of list without throwing in some Ace of Base for good measure. These international megastars need no introduction.
3. Scatman John's "Scatman (Ski-Ba-Bop-Ba-Dop-Bop)"
The story of John Larkin (AKA Scatman John) is probably the most endearing one in the history of dance music. Larkin suffered from a severe lifelong stutter and learned jazz scat singing in his teens as a way of overcoming his speech impediment. "Scatman" is his open letter of encouragement to children who stutter. Don't give up because "if the Scatman can do it, so can you." RIP Scatman!
2. Ultra Naté's "Free"
Unlike so many artists who start off underground and then sell out, American singer Ultra Naté fought back against the domineering creative control of her label Warner Bros. by fleeing to seminal indie house imprint Strictly Rhythm. They sure must have been glad to have her after she contributed this chart-topping international megahit to their catalog in 1997.
1. Wamdue Project's "King of My Castle"
American producer Chris Brann is renowned for his underground deep house work as Ananda Project. But clearly, he's nailed the formula for global dance hits too. Roy Malone's 1999 house remix of "King of My Castle" would reach number one in the United Kingdom and the United States. And it remains a floor-smasher today.
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