Disco music came and went but Dance Music in ITSELF never did leave. It evolved and changed over the years and it’s here to stay. Since October 1974, Billboard magazine has done a survey regarding the most popular played songs in America’s biggest dance clubs. It started out with only New York City dance clubs but the survey would grow like wildfire covering nightclubs in America’s major cities. Now as determined by Billboard Magazine here are the all-time Dance Club Artists that nightclub DJ’s of the past and up to the present have been playing for those who want to dance and drink and maybe find romance…or just someone to string along. Again, this is focused is strictly on the Dance Club DJ’s and what was being played in the clubs and that alone.
10. Depeche Mode: The UK Electronic Rock band still makes their mark in America’s Dance Clubs. It did take them awhile to earn that respect of American DJ’s. In 1983, they peaked at #17 on the Dance Club chart with “Everything Counts,” and while “People Are People” is one of their best-known songs peaking at #13 on Billboard’s Hot 100, it also went as far as #44 on the Dance Club chart. They would finally earn their place in the Dance Clubs with their 1987 song “Strangelove” which was not only their first Dance Club Top Ten, it was also their first Dance Club #1 and stayed at the top for three weeks. They would score eight more #1 Dance Club hits. Their last number one on the Dance Club survey was their 2013 single “Heaven.”
9. Jennifer Lopez: This multitalented performer has truly been able to squeeze into the top ten since she branched out into a singing career in 1999. Prior to that she was known as an actress and before that danced with the likes of New Kids On the Block and soon was part of the ‘in house’dance group ‘The Fly Girls’ on the sketch comedy TV program “In Living Color.” “If You Had My Love” peaked at #5 on the Dance Club chart and her follow-up “Waiting For Tonight” was her first Dance Club #1. Her recent Dance Club toppers “Drop It The Floor” and “Dance Again” were collaborations with Latin Pop/Dancer rapper Pitbull. Her last Dance Club single “Booty” also featured Pitbull but there was a remixed version that featured Australian rapper Iggy Azalea instead.
8. Kristine W (Weltz): She is not a household name, but yet the dance club DJ’s love the product she has put out. Just about most of her songs that were released to club DJ’s have gone top five and many of them have gone straight to #1. She only had one single that made the Hot 100 with “One More Try” which only peaked at #78. ‘Try’ however is among her 16 Number One Dance Club hits and she is currently tied with Jennifer Lopez regarding top Number One Dance Club hits. Kristine has tried her hand with Jazz music and has also earned the bragging rights for outdoing The King of Rock and Roll himself Elvis Presley by performing more live shows at the Las Vegas Hilton than The King. She may not top this all-time chart, but Billboard did give her the honor of “Dance Music Artist of the Decade.” She still tours to this day.
7. Mariah Carey: She was known more for her ballads in her early years but she always did throw out an up-tempo bone for the DJ’s to haggle around and hopefully there were plenty of copies to distribute. Her third single “Someday” from her self-titled release was that first bone for the night club DJ and it was a chart topper on the Dance Club chart. In more recent years she managed to shed her innocent good girl look as well as her reputation of being just a balladeer diva. Her disaster called “Glitter” could not even get her played in the club at that period of time, but her Island-Def Jam deal got her a #1 Dance Club with her first single under that deal with “Through the Rain.” Her up tempo ballad “We Belong Together” released in 2005 was also a Dance Club topper. Her single warning her lover not to brag on Social Media about their love affair (Touch My Body) was also a love affair of sorts with the Club DJ’s in 2008 and that resulted in another #1 Dance Club hit. Mariahhas a total of 17 Dance Club Number Ones.
6. Donna Summer: She will always be the Queen of Disco. Just not the Queen of Dance Music overall. When she was able to get her solo career up and running with her musical orgy “Love to Love You Baby” you knew that this was the song you wanted to play in your discothèque. Dance Clubs are known for the sexual underground elements that most common people don’t see. It did not matter if you were gay or straight. ‘Baby’ was the best song to get it on in the disco and maybe “get lucky.” Summer scored a total of 19 Number One Hits on the Dance Club chart at the height of Disco. She wanted to move away from the ’Disco’ sound in the 1980’s, but sadly her star dimmed among Dance Club DJ’s. However, four of the tracks from “The Wanderer” all peaked at #8 and she later peaked at #3 in 1982 with the Quincy Jones produced and co-written jam “Love Is in Control (Finger on the Trigger).” She would again peak at #3 a year later with her middle class working woman anthem “She Works Hard For The Money.” In 1989 she turned to the production team of Stock, Aitken & Waterman and peaked at #5 on the Dance Club chart with “This Time I Know It’s For Real” and then at #3 with “Love’s About to Change My Heart.” She only got three Dance Club #1’s in the 1990’s and one of those songs that was popular in the clubs was Donna’s Dance version of the Classical Crossover standard “Con tepartirò/Time to Say Goodbye” under the title “I Will Go With You.” Her 2008 release “Crayons” scored three Dance Club hits with “I’m a Fire,” “Stamp Your Feet,” and “Fame (The Game).” Donna’s final Dance Club topper was the song “To Paris with Love” which was released in 2010. Two years before her untimely death in 2012.
5. Pet Shop Boys: If anyone was good in being willfully contrary in their music, image etcetc, and yet could write conscience raising and intelligent lyrics in the world of Dance Music, it would be the duo of Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe aka Pet Shop Boys. Their first Dance Club #1 in 1986 is their best-known song to the masses. “West End Girls”deals with the issues of inner city pressure and the income classes in conflict. Most of the lyrics in “Girls” were inspired by the T.S. Eliot poem “The Waste Land.” Many of the duo song lyrics also deal with irony like the follow up single “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)” which sings about two losers who get together and work on a get rich scheme that is going set them up for failure. The duo also did some great dance covers of the classic songs; “Always On My Mind,” (recorded earlier by the likes of Elvis Presley and Willie Nelson) “Go West” (originally done by Village People), and a mashup of “Where the Streets Have No Name” and “I Can’t Take My Eyes off You.” While the Pet Shop Boys were no longer on the American Pop charts they still were popular in the Dance Clubs with songs like “Can You Forgive Her” and “Before.” In 2016, Pet Shop Boys released their 13th album “Super.” Their single “The Pop Kids” from that respected album is the duo most recent #1 Dance Club hit to date.
4. Beyonce: She was the Alpha girl in Destiny’s Child and has proven that she distanced to join the elite divas. While “Crazy in Love” was her first popular hit (and it was a #1 Dance Club Hit) her very first solo hit in the Dance Clubs was actually the Disco throwback “Work It Out” which was written for the Austin Powers movie “Goldmember.” Her song “Naughty Girl” which incorporates Donna Summer’s “Love to Love You Baby” was also a #1 smash in the clubs. Beyonce is known for incorporating World Music styles in her blend of Dance, Pop, and R&B/Hip-Hop. Her feminist empowerment anthem “Run the World (Girls)” which was a #1 Dance Club in 2011 is mix of Electronic Pop, Dancehall, March, and African Tribal beats.
3. Rihanna: This Dance Diva from Barbados first came on the scene with a combination of Dancehall and R&B with the song “Pon de Replay” which gave Rihanna her first #1 Dance Club hit. As her career progressed she embraced the current music trends in Pop and R& B and has established herself as a core artist in the clubs. She has become the second artist with the most #1 Dance Club hits and only trails just one other Dance artist. Hint, it’s not Donna Summer, or Beyonce.
2. Janet Jackson: Michael Jackson may be the King of Pop but not King of the Dance Club, for he is ranked at #26 on the all-time list. Little sister of the famous Jackson family however gets the runner up spot on the All Time Dance Club artist list. When she took “Control” of her career, she not only scored on the Pop and R&B charts but also scored on the Dance Club charts. “What Have You Done For You Lately” and “Nasty” both peaked at #2 (and both went to #1 on R&B) and “When I Think Of You” was #1 smash on the Pop and Dance Club chart…her First Number One’s on those respected charts and the title track was her second Dance Club smash. She continued her Dance Club streak with “The Pleasure Principle” and as a featured artist on the song “Diamonds” in which the main artist at the time was her then boss Herb Alpert. Her streak continued into “Rhythm Nation 1814” in which four of the singles were #1 Dance Club hits. The more guitar rock based “Black Cat” could only peak at #17 in the Clubs but the follow-upsdid slightly better with “Love Will Never Do” and “State of The World” reaching #4 and #9 respectfully. Janet would collaborate with herbrother Michael on the song “Scream” and that would become a #1 song in the clubs in 1995. Her last #1 on the Dance Club chart to date is the song “Feedback.” While her “Unbreakable” album(released in 2015) has some dance pop on it…not even the Club DJ’s are taking a liking to it…but she may be appealing to the Quiet Storm crowd more so with that project. She had those songs going back to Control but this is about the Dance music and not the Smooth R&B music associated with Quiet Storm programing.
1. Madonna: Face it, you know that Madonna would make the top of this list. She has the most #1 Dance Club Hits and she is the #1 all-time Dance Club artist. She started in the Dance Clubs and while she may be too old for certain radio programmers or the listeners would rather hear her old classics that radio made big back in the day or whatever; Club DJ’s still want more of her material…or they are willing to appease their queen. Three of her four singles from her recent “Rebel Heart” album went to #1 on the Dance Club chart. Donna Summer may be the Queen of Disco but she gave up the overall Dance Crown and Madonna was ready to pick up where Summer left off. Before she achieved Pop stardom she scored a #3 hit in the clubs with a song that has become a fan favorite called “Everybody” in 1982. When the single was first released there was no picture of her and her record company tried to market Madonna as a R&B artist. That plan failed because Madonna wanted to have a music video featuring herself in a club singing the song. A year later “Holiday” and “Lucky Star” would become her first two #1 hits in Dance Clubs. In 1985 she would score her first pop hit with “Like A Virgin” which also topped the Dance Club chart. Even when her reign on the Pop charts was in decline in the 1990’s, her version of “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” was given a dance remix for the Club DJ’s to play and thanks to that…it was another #1 hit for Madonna in the Club. When she told Dick Clark on American Bandstand that she wanted to rule the world…we eventually knew what she meant. Her concerts are still a big draw and while radio might pass on her…the Club DJ’s still have her back…for they know where she got her start.
Honorable Mention: I liked to mention that Yoko Ono (the wife of the slain John Lennon) almost made the top 10 of all time Dance Club Artists coming in at #11. If she still manages to put out material that appeals to the Club DJ’s she might have a chance of at least knocking out more likely Depeche Mode or if she is not careful Jennifer Lopez. Her first ever appearance on the Dance Club chart goes back to 1981 with the single “Walking on Ice.” However, it would not be until 2001 that Yoko would have regular appearances on the Dance Club Chart. To date she has 13 Number One Dance Club hits.
For the complete Top 100 All Time Dance Club Artists…Click Below