The “Songs You Can’t Help But Dance To” Playlist

I have, in the past, been accused of being a humorless party slaughterer, an accusation which I would like to take this opportunity to stress is not true. I simply don’t enjoy listening to music that sounds like two pieces of heavy machinery screwing each other while some dudes who clearly had unsatisfying childhoods scream in the background. I think that’s reasonable, but apparently Oedipal robot sex is, in addition to being a phenomenal band name, something I am in the minority in disliking. Well, I’m taking a stand, darn it. So what, then, does my ideal dance party sound like?

We begin, of course, with Tom Petty’s American Girl. Now, I’m not sure if this is residual Parks and Rec good feeling (of which, let’s face it, there is a lot), but seriously, it doesn’t matter, because this song is awesome. It starts high and builds and builds into this effervescent tower of carpe diem and late nights and doing things you know you shouldn’t but are going to anyway. And go ahead, just try to listen to that last bit without windmilling your arms and spinning like a crazy person. Couldn’t do it, could you? That’s because it’s impossible.

According to Frank Turner’s I Still Believe, rock and roll is the only thing that’s left to stand for. That’s a can of worms for another day, but this song makes a damn good case in the affirmative. I love its certainty, its fire, the no-holds-barred way it invites you to come out and play. And I mean, the video gives you a dance party, for crying out loud, so you don’t even have to bring your own.

Is Billy Joel the one I’m not supposed to like? (Hipsters and sitcoms, help me out here.) Well, at any rate, I’m a sucker for songs with lyrics that don’t really make sense but are sung with such conviction you go along with it anyway, and We Didn’t Start the Fire is a fine example of the form. Plus, it’s about rebellion and motivated nihilism and generational disillusionment and come on people, what more do you want?

Has there ever been another song which so majestically left all naysayers in the dust? By the “Whoa, whoa, whoa, there’s no stopping me!” part, even Freddie Mercury seems a little pressed to keep up. But Don’t Stop Me Now will take you along for the ride if you give it a chance, though there’s really no way to refuse it once it starts. And let’s be honest – this whole list could probably just be Queen if we wanted.

Continuing the pattern of vaguely and unnecessarily aggressive song titles, You Can’t Stop the Beat hyperactively boogies its way onto our list. Now, I’ll probably never forgive the makers of the movie-musical version of Hairspray for removing the Von Tussel redemption solo, but I couldn’t keep away from a song this relentlessly optimistic and irresistibly energetic. I mean, sure, Harvey Fierstein should probably be kept away from drag-singing, but, as you can probably tell by the title, this song refuses to let anything get it down, and it demands you get on its pretty fantastic level.

I didn’t think there was ever a bad time to play R.E.M.’s It’s the End of the World As We Know It, which my Lit and the Bible professor proved by playing this song during her Book of Daniel lecture. I mean, it manages to make the apocalypse sound like a pretty good time, and, well, let’s just say that’s not something the Book of Daniel achieved. I don’t want to get all intellectual on you here, but if I was going to point to a theme on this playlist, it would be of rocking in spite of all the crap around you, and this song tells the world that we don’t need it around to have a good time.

My brother and I had a french toast dance party set to this song. I don’t think anything more has to be said in its defense. There’s something to be said for letting the classics do the talking.

Okay, just one more thing: has anyone ever felt unmotivated ever after listening to this song? I want to go fight a bear or something right now.

So there you have it, ladies in gentlemen. A dance party for when you actually want to enjoy the music. (Or, if we’re being pedantic, a dance party for when I actually want to enjoy the music.) Now in convenient playlist form!

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