According to x101Jamz.com creator Elevated Scott, a good dance record “must make you want to dance. Without even understanding it, the song must control your body and just make you want to move in sync to the beat.” Legendary turntable wizard DJ King Shameek says an essential ingredient today is “an up-tempo, heavy bottom track with a nice groove. And with all the instrumental tracks that deejays are putting out, vocals with a melody that compliments the track can only help.” Renowned mix master DJ Jamad says every memorable dance song also “has a great chorus. People will request a song, although they don’t know the song title, and sing the hook for you if necessary.”
There was an explosion of great dance records in 2012, and many of those contained some or all of the characteristics Shameek, Jamad and Scott describe. As the world we occupy continued to surround us with social, economic and emotional challenges, up-tempo bottom-heavy tracks with memorable choruses helped us cope.
But of all the songs that made us move, which of them were the best?
Here are SoulTrain.com’s Top 10 Dance Tracks of 2012:
#2: “Let Me Love You” Ne-Yo
#3: “Beam Me Up” Cazzette
#4: “Scream” Usher
#5: “Pound the Alarm” Nicki Minaj
#6: “Greyhound” Swedish House Mafia
#7: “Scream & Shout” will.i.am featuring Britney Spears
#8: “Don’t Wake Me Up” Chris Brown
#9: “Wild Ones” Flo Rida featuring Sia
#10: “Live My Life” Far East Movement featuring Justin Bieber
Katherine Waddell, host of online show This Needs to Be Said, feels a good dance record “has to make you head to the dance floor as soon it comes on.” “Gangnam Style”, an inescapable smash in 2012, did just that. Psy blindsided mainstream radio with his high-energy jam, leaving little room for doubt when time came to create this list. Only, his claim of #1 was not undisputed. Psy’s fellow Korean pop stars BigBang hit dance floors like napalm with their vocally-rich “Fantastic Baby”. “Gangnam” surely won the popularity contest, while in many ways “Fantastic” is a better song. Ne-Yo’s pop/R&B/dance hybrid was a very, very close second.
Of course, no list or ranking can be compiled without argument, so we decided to get second opinions from 19 of the top DJs and music personalities in the world. We asked each what song they felt was the best.
“So many dope tracks that came out last year so it was hard to choose. But my favorite dance track of 2012 was Donaeo ‘Move 2 Da Mandem (Remix)’! It was FIRE!!! Last year was the year for UK bangers with Vali, Katy B, Lady Leshurr, and Dave Guetta. 2012 was definitely the year for dance/club music from Usher, Chris Brown, and will.i.am to Kelly Rowland to Nicki Minaj. Electronic music was electrifying the dance, but Doneao dropped some serious bangers. Nothing moves the floor, or me, like ‘Move 2 Da Mandem’.” – Cool V Mr. Official Whistle @coolvsratednext
“This was the year of the slow flow, so most of your hot songs that were making people dance were almost slow jam worthy. Kanye managed to drop a major banger with ‘Mercy’. From the Patois intro to the Scarface interlude, this is intended to make the club swerve. Honorable mention to Miguel for ‘Adorn;’ it’s been a minute since an R&B joint came out with that listen-up-and-groove impact.” DJ Dub @deejaydub
“Although Rihanna’s Talk that Talk album was released in 2011, the song ‘Where Have You Been,’ released as a single in 2012, was a beast on the radio and in the clubs. What can I say; Rihanna’s voice on a monster track from Calvin Harris is a win-win situation. Whenever you see ladies singing along in the club you know it’s gotta be a hit. The hard-hitting track with melodic and electronic sounds here and there made it an easy song for Rihanna to flip.” – DJ King Shameek @DJ_King_Shameek
“Psy’s ‘Gangnam Style’ is the most known song of the year. It’s a fun song because everyone likes to do a silly dance. The video was hilarious. But I truly think ‘Adorn’ by Miguel was the best song of the year.” – DJ Jamad @djjamad
“No question, the dance track of 2012 was the Asian sensation Psy with his breakout ‘Gangnam Style.’ Word on the street is he made $8 million off this smash, and I’m not surprised. Personally, the music video won me over on the record. Will he have a hit that tops this in 2013? Only time will tell.” – DJ Smallz @djsmallz
“Even though ‘Gangnam Style’ was the late surging breakthrough song of the year, I’m still putting my money on Flo Rida and his #1 hit single ‘Wild Ones’. As an early February release, the single dominated the radio airwaves for 8 months and every female in the club sang the chorus all summer long. ‘Hey, I heard you like the wild ones’; my #1 song of the year 2012.” – DJ Young Mase @YoungMaseLive
“I think any and everyone will have to agree that ‘Gangnam Style’ by Psy was easily the biggest dance record of 2012 if you’re talking Top 40/Dance. Also, Dub Step music took off mainstream, and now lookout for Trap Step which is catching on big time. Again, can’t escape the madness of ‘Gangnam Style!’ – DJ Babe @djbabe1
“Best Dance record of 2012 was ‘Don’t You Worry Child’ by Swedish House Mafia. The lyrics had depth and meaning, the production incorporated multiple instruments and not too many synthesizers which was a nice change in EDM. No matter where you dropped it, the whole crowd sang!” – DJ PM aka Pete Magma @RealDJPM
“The best track of 2012 was Major Lazer ‘Original Don (Flosstradamus Remix)’ because although it wasn’t the first ‘trap’ record, it helped to pop off the genre immensely. American kids are enjoying 70 bpm records.” – DJ Wonder @djwonder
“My favorite dance record of 2012 would be Chris Brown ‘Turn Up the Music’ because the beat just takes over your body from start to finish and it engages the listeners to TURN UP THE MUSIC. It’s so much more than just a dance song; it’s a timeless hit record.” – Elevated Scott @Elv8scott
“‘Silhouettes’ by Avicii was the best dance track of 2012. It was very underplayed, compared to Tim Bergling’s other tracks. But anytime it was dropped the crowd would not stop moving, and you would feel like you were in the right place at the right time.” – Julian Todd The DJ @JULI3NLive
“French Montana featuring Rick Ross, Drake and Lil Wayne – ‘Pop That’ has to be my favorite track of the year! The minute the song comes on it grabs your attention. Also, it has an all-star line-up of some of the most relevant artists of 2012, and the production is on point. Not to mention Uncle Luke on the sample. This has to be one of the most requested songs in the club by both females and males. That is why this party anthem is my favorite jawn of 2012.” – DJ Buscat @DJBuscat
“I say that Juicy J’s ‘Bandz A Make Her Dance’ featuring Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz produced by Mike Will was the best dance song because it was originally an extra song on a mixtape. ‘Bandz’ picked up some speed when they added Lil Wayne, but it really took off once 2 Chainz got on. From there it was a hit being played on national radio and getting spins repeatedly in strip clubs all over the world.” – DJ Smoke @djsmokemixtapes
“Best dance track of 2012: ‘Birthday Cake’ by Chris Brown & Rihanna. It’s the eternal chase between man and woman, but done in a very seductive way. When you’re in the club, man or woman, everyone is thinking about cake, cake, cake, cake, cake, cake…” -DJ Stones @DJStones1
“I would say the best dance record of 2012 was ‘I Don’t Like’ by Chief Keef. Why? It was one of the hottest songs of the year and it causes a certain surge when it comes on in the club. Plus, any way you move to it is a dance, which makes it the hottest dance record in my opinion.” – Rod B Gutta M.M./SMG @RODBGUTTA
“Of course it’d have to be ‘Gangnam Style’. People ate it up. The song actually made history!” – DJ DDT @djddt
“‘Gangnam Style’ because when the start of this track drops, whether it was just an Internet viral track or not, when it drops you can’t help but get jiggy with the sound and beat! No matter what age you are everybody could get crazy to this track.” – DJ Will Kreate
“Psy’s ‘Gangnam Style’, hands down! It was the most universal of 2012 songs that has crossed all races and classes, ages and genders. This is one of those feel-good songs that just makes you want to get up and move. This song will be played in clubs for years to come, crossing all language barriers.” – DJ Metro
“In choosing the best dance track of 2012, for parties it’s important and necessary that your friends and all those who are going to attend be familiar with the songs. You can choose any good dance songs that have a good beat and that could make people dance to their feet. This is why I chose the dance song ‘Without You’ by David Guetta featuring Usher. – DJ Goldie @DJGOLDIE2
–Mr. Joe Walker
Mr. Joe Walker, a senior contributor for SoulTrain.com, staff writer for Muskegon Tribune Newspaper, and feature writer for City Locs, is an award-winning entertainment and news journalist and columnist published thousands of times regionally, nationally, internationally, and online. Former Editor In Chief of XPOZ Magazine, his work has graced the pages and covers of Hear/Say Now Magazine, Notion Magazine, Kalamazoo Gazette Newspaper, Real Detroit Weekly, and MLive.com. He loves to create, loves that you read. Follow him on Twitter @mrjoewalker. Also visit ByMrJoeWalker.blogspot.com.