The 30 Best Dance Tracks of 2023: Staff Picks

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From left: Kenya Grace, Peggy Gou & KAYTRAMINÉ

Hannah Diamond; Jongha Park; Lucas Creighton

All year we covered the deals, the launches, the layoffs, the lineups and everything else related to the wide world of dance. We also tracked the numbers that provide an understanding of how well the scene is doing (with the dance industry growing by a not insubstantial 34% over the last year.)

Meanwhile, we looked at the trends driving this growth, and asked ourselves what this expansion means for genres that once fancied themselves underground, but now look massive. We went the big shows and talked to breakthrough acts, pioneering artists and new stars reworking classic hits. We looked at the practical challenges and the terrible tragedies, of which the dance world experienced its share of this year.

We did our best to give a fair idea of how things really happened, how they felt, how they sounded and why it mattered. We cheered on massive victories and comebacks. We talked to some of the people putting together the shows that moved the crowds and drew cutting edge acts. We looked at artists doing their part to make a difference in the U.S. and around the world. We broke down the awards, the ways artists get paid, how they manage their own finances and the kind of legal issues that only happen in the dance world.

But what it all always comes back to is the music that fuels the scene, allows us to celebrate when appropriate and mourn when necessary. While there were a few overt sonic trends in 2023 — the resurgence of drum’n’bass, the popularity of productions reminiscent of the house jams on your Jock Jam CDs from the ’90s — overall, dance music this year did what it always does, functioning as a the essential element the ever-evolving, sonically diverse, globally beloved and often joyous scene in which we exist.

These are our 30 favorite dance tracks of 2023, presented alphabetically by artist.

Bebe Rexha & David Guetta, “One in a Million”

Image Credit: Courtesy Photo

Between revamping classics by Supertramp, Haddaway and Eiffel 65, this year David Guetta specialized in bringing nostalgia to dance floors and dance charts. In a twist, the producer pulled from his own hit-filled catalog for Bebe Rexha collaboration “One in a Million,” which interpolates 2009’s “When Love Takes Over.” Rexha brings wide-eyed wonder to this new ode to love, as her breathy lyrics (“I can’t believe that wе’re both alive at the samе time”) launch listeners into a barrage of soaring piano house and strobing bass. “One in a Million” has a chance to make history at the 66th Grammy Awards, where it’s nominated in the new best pop dance recording category. – KRYSTAL RODRIGUEZ

Becky Hill and Chase & Status, “Disconnect”

If Kenya Grace pushed the low-key simmer style of drum’n’bass further into the mainstream this year with “Strangers,” Becky Hill used “Disconnect” to remind the masses that the genre can also fully wallop. A collaboration with U.K. legends Chase & Status (on their own hot streak in 2023 with heaters like “Baddadan”), the song is straightforward in its titular intent. “I ain’t gonna lie to you, life’s been f–kin’ life-in” Hill declares, before vaulting into a power-lunged chorus about disconnecting and redirecting “from everything that’s on your mind.” Escapism was tempting during another heavy year, and few artists made it sound as good, as thrilling or as vital as Hill does here. — KATIE BAIN

The Blessed Madonna with JOY (Anonymous) & Danielle Ponder, “Carry Me Higher“

“Carry Me Higher” is the kind of house record that takes dancefloors from bubbling to boiling over: Slow builds from bubbling drums to bumping basslines, crisp snaps to sizzling hi-hats and string plucks to synth transcendence, with brief breakdowns like taking a lid off the pot to release pent-up steam. Danielle Ponder’s rich vocals, yearning yet teeming with hope, sound like they could have been sampled from a classic ‘60s soul record. In a year where TBM collaborated with Gabriels’ Jacob Lusk and U.K. garage legend Todd Edwards, somehow she saved some of her best for last. — K.R.

Calvin Harris & Ellie Goulding, “Miracle”

As niche electronic styles like drum’n’bass are having a mainstream moment, Scottish producer and perennial summer hit-maker Calvin Harris brought trance to the metaphorical and literal party when he performed his collaboration with Ellie Goulding at Coachella this past April. Goulding’s wispy, dance hall-of-fame voice soars over Harris’ production, which bumps up the BPM with a strobing Eurodance beat and reverbed piano melody; altogether, it could be this generation’s “Better Off Alone.” With an eight-week reign atop the U.K. Singles chart, it’s already on its way. — K.R.

Chris Lake & Aluna, “Beggin'”

Amid big years for both artists — Aluna released an album and launched a label; Lake played for about a bajillion people at Coachella alongside FISHER — the pair released the slinky “Beggin.” The pulsing bassline on this one is pure hip-shaking lust, with Lake adding squelchy acid hits while Aluna coos about getting you “beggin’ beggin’, because I’m your weakness.” But while breezy, this one contains a sort of darkly hypnotic quality, too, a reminder of the exquisite torture romance can often involve. — K.B.

Everything But the Girl, “Nothing Left to Lose”

Image Credit: Courtesy Photo

For four decades now, Ben Watt and Tracy Thorn have been making sonically opulent, emotionally resonant pop music — sometimes electronic, sometimes analog — and this year’s Fuse album showed they hadn’t lost a step over that period. Lead single and opening track “Nothing Left to Lose” was an obvious highlight, Watt’s wobbling groove forever threatening to push you too far off-kilter but still managing to keep you locked in. And Thorn’s contralto has only gotten richer over the years, fully in command as she croons, “Kiss me while the world decays/ Kiss me while the music plays.” – ANDREW UNTERBERGER

Floating Points, “Birth4000”

This fall, Sam Shepherd, the British producer better known as Floating Points, assembled an all-star tribute concert at the Hollywood Bowl to bring his spiritual 2021 masterpiece Promises – a collaboration with the London Symphony Orchestra and the since-departed jazz saxophonist Pharoah Sanders – to the stage. Along with his crate-digging, globe-trotting NTS show, it can be easy to forget Floating Points’ club roots; “Birth4000,” released in October, is here to remind us. The pummeling rager reaffirms that – when he wants to – Floating Points can still churn out dancefloor bangers with the best of them. – ERIC BROWN

Floorplan, “We Give Thee Honor”

Released in February by Floorplan — that’s Detroit techno pioneer Robert Hood and his daughter Lyric — “We Give Thee Honor” is like a HIIT workout in church. The pumping production is a tight amalgamation of piano stabs, a full-throttle gospel choir and declarations of “Hallelujah! HALLELUJAH!” over a ’90s house production. While this latter sound was trendy this year, on “We Give Thee Honor” it feels especially credible, given that it’s coming from an artist who was making dance music during the actual ’90s. — K.B.

Folamour, “Poundland Anthem”

You think you’ve got this one figured out, until the French producer kicks in the brass section around the 1:30 minute mark and takes this already ebullient joyride to an even more sun-soaked place. And just wait until you hear what he does with the disco strings. Then the guitar. A highlight of Folamour’s 2023 album Manifesto, “Poundloud Anthem” is a playfully sexy, multi-movement affair that at once sounds vintage and entirely of the moment. — K.B.

Fred again.., Skrillex & Four Tet, “Baby again..”

Image Credit: Courtesy Photo

The March release functions as a jam and a relic, existing as tangible evidence of the ephemeral 2023 supergroup that was Skrillex, Fred again.. and Four Tet. The so-called “Pangbourne House Mafia” (after their recording sessions in Pangbourne, England), the trio created a web of collaborations this year, with Fred and Four Tet both working on Skrillex’s Quest For Fire, and in the lead up to that album performing a series of massively hyped club shows, and then one much larger performance, to celebrate.

The trick worked so well that the trio later filled as Coachella weekend two headliners after Frank Ocean dropped out of the Sunday night slot, creating a night that fans on Twitter hyped as nothing less than the “Super Bowl of dance music.” (And it felt that way.) “Baby again..” is the only production that the trio all officially appear on and it contains the fingerprints of each, twisting a sample of Lil Baby and DaBaby’s “Baby” into a ravey and sleekly hypnotic party-starter that functioned as a high point of PHM’s collaborative shows, and of the year at large. — K.B.

Gorgon City, “Voodoo”

Released in March, the lead single of Gorgon City’s fourth studio album Salvation centers itself on a dually robotic/emotive voice that weaves through a multi-layered production that ramps up in urgency through beats that pulse like a strobe light over a packed dancefloor. The effect is simultaneously ethereal and tough, light and dark and fully in possession of the song’s namesake magic. — K.B.

James Blake, “Loading”

“Wherever I go, I’m only as good as my mind/ Which is only good if you’re mine/ Which is only good if you’re mine.” If you listened to James Blake’s “Loading” even once this year, chances are these lyrics lingered in your memory for a good while. The Playing Robots Into Heaven single finds the U.K. artist at his haunting, love-starved best, musing over an ever-evolving beat of off-kilter piano keys, skittering percussion, ghostly background croons and warped electronics. A beautiful meeting of the experimental and sentimental. — K.R.

John Summit & Hayla, “Where You Are”

While John Summit productions like “La Danza” and “In Chicago” rile up dancefloors with their heavy club grooves and memeable lyrics, songs like “Where You Are” show where Summit truly shines: in melody. It’s a bittersweet song, yet it feels euphoric, with synth melodies that ribbon-dance across vast, weightless soundscapes, and bass swells that envelop you in warmth. Meanwhile, Hayla’s voice could part seas with its sheer power and emotion. “Where You Are” marked both Summit’s and Hayla’s first top 10 appearance on Billboard’s Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart. — K.R.

KAYTRAMINÉ Feat. Pharrell Williams, “4EVA” 

Image Credit: Courtesy Photo

With “4EVA,” the lead single from KAYTRANADA & Aminé’s joint KAYTRAMINÉ album, Pharrell Williams provides another reminder of his timelessness. His silky voice reverberates across the Afrobeats-inflected track, infusing each note of the track with his imitable cool – a key ingredient for a record that excels in its pursuit of low-key funk. From Aminé’s bouncy flow and KAYTRA’s thumping synths to a hook built around a nod to OutKast’s “Ms. Jackson,” “4EVA” champions the interconnectedness of Black musical traditions. – KYLE DENIS

Kenya Grace, “Strangers”

The breakout hit from 25-year-old U.K. producer/singer/songwriter Kenya Grace was made in her bedroom, and extends this sense of intimacy with lyrics about getting ghosted in the dating app era. These ideas, rendered in a haunting earworm melody, lay over a drum’n’ bass production that helped mark the genre’s dance world ubiquity this year, while also giving it a major crossover moment. The song itself made history as the first ever Hot Dance/Electronic Songs No. 1 to be solely written, produced and sung by a woman. It’s a lot for a track of which Grace told Billboard, “There wasn’t too much pressure on that song, to be honest. I didn’t really have some mad goal in mind — I just wrote it one random night.” — K.B.

Kevin de Vries & Mau P, “Metro”

This collaboration between Dutch producer Mau P and Germany’s Kevin de Vries is a blast from the past. “Metro” is a modern interpretation of Nico Parisi and Erik Hubo’s 2006 track of the same name, slowing down the original trance classic into melodic techno teeming with sinister suspense and depth. The builds climb higher and seem never-ending, like a roller coaster creeping towards its peak, making the drop all the more devastating. A much-anticipated ID before its July release on Afterlife, “Metro” shows that Mau P is continuing to floor the gas post-“Drugs From Amsterdam.” – K.R.

Kungs & Carlita, “Shadows”

After the cheery synth pop of “Substitution,” a collaboration with Purple Disco Machine, Kungs veered lean and mean on “Shadows.” The track isn’t much more than an acid-like melodic squiggle — the type of ominous throb that plays well in car-racing videos on TikTok — and a square, crushing beat. Carlita’s vocals sound like distant chants floating down the block from the church on the corner. Adding to the sense of menace, Carlita repeats one word over and over: “Death.” – ELIAS LEIGHT

Kylie Minogue, “Padam Padam”

Maybe you experienced the summer of “Padam Padam” as a longtime fan of Kylie Minogue, memories of “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” radio ubiquity dancing around your brain, while watching the Australian star reclaim her pop-culture throne… or maybe Minogue’s backstory was a total mystery to you, and you stumbled upon one of thousands of TikToks that kept time with its heartbeat hook. However you Padam’d in 2023, “Padam Padam” was for everyone, an oddball onomatopoeia anthem that used two syllables to capture the rush of flirtation, and a little under three minutes to once again put a Minogue hit on repeat. – JASON LIPSHUTZ

LMZ, “Silence Of Love”

“Wont you, meet me, in the quiet!” Jesse Boykins III exclaims on “Silence of Love,” with the words functioning as a command as much as an invitation. They also land with a slight irony, given their position amid the track’s the track’s lush, cacophonous climax. The entire song finds its producers, Hudson Mohawke and Tiga working as LMZ, at the height of their respective powers, creating a track that’s hard and soft, spare and soaring, driving but emotional and yes, loud but somehow also intimate, like that dark back corner of the dancefloor that you and another can tuck away into. — K.B.

Mija, Cakes Da Killa & Wreckno, “I Wanna Be a Big Star”

The October house heater from Mija is all attitude, with the producer laying down a tough, swaggering production onto which Cakes da Killa and Wreckno saunter with some of the tightest and sauciest (“Cakes is here/fix your face”) verses of the year. The track heavily samples the 1990 ballroom culture documentary Paris Is Burning, adding another dose of boldness and wisdom to a track that simultaneously celebrates the past and present of the dance scene’s LGBTQ roots. — K.B.

MK & Dom Dolla, “Rhyme Dust”

Three months before Dom Dolla and MK released their collaboration “Rhyme Dust” in February, Dom dropped it in his livestream set from Serbia. As the story goes, it immediately went viral on Tiktok, leading to a significantly pushed-up release date from mid-2023. It’s not hard to hear why, with its brooding bassline, crashing hi-hats and siren-like synths that envelop your body in a vibrating cocoon. But the sampled vocals from Q-Tip’s “Breathe and Stop” are the star here, slowed, deepened and filtered into a spaced-out drone that makes this track ripe for peak-time mischief. – K.R.

Mochakk, “Jealous”

Ever since Mochakk dropped “Jealous” — then an unreleased ID — in the Yuma tent on this year’s Coachella livestream, the song has been living in this writer’s head rent-free. The Brazilian producer here puts a modern tech twist on old-school house, whipping out frenzied drum rolls, crashing hi-hats and disorienting reverb to match the untamable energy of late singer Loleatta Holloway’s vocals, sampled from her 1977 song “Dreamin’.” With a firecracker like this, it’s no wonder BBC Radio 1 named Mochakk one of 2023’s Future Dance Stars, a title the phenom fully lived up to this year. — K.R.

Peggy Gou, “(It Goes Like) Nanana”

Image Credit: Courtesy Photo

Take a fistful of Ultimate Dance Party CDs from the second half of the ’90s, throw them in a blender, and you might get something along the lines of “(It Goes Like) Nanana.” Gou cited SNAP!’s chugging hit “Rhythm Is a Dancer” and the German producer ATB as touchstones, while TikTokers who fell for the track compared it admiringly to A Touch of Class’s “Around the World,” and Gala’s “Freed From Desire.” Gou told Billboard she was drawn to the simplicity of ’90s house. “A lot of the hooks are repetitive, but it’s still catchy,” she said. “You don’t get bored.” – E.L.

Romy, “Enjoy Your Life”

Romy vocalized what a lot of us were feeling this year when she sang, “Somebody tell me why/ I’m scared to close my eyes/ And I’m too afraid to watch the news.” 2023 was, like the year before it, defined by war, mash shootings, political fraction and the steadily cranking dial of climate change, and clearly Romy felt experienced the angst too, declaring “Anxiety, my old friend/ Since when will you try something new?” But “Enjoy Your Life,” from Romy’s excellent debut solo album Mid Air, also contains the solution to the dilemma with its deeply simply and equally wise chorus: “my mother says to me, enjoy your life.” Sampled from Beverly Glenn-Copeland’s 2004 “La Vita,” those lyrics land like a soothing aural salve, with the lushly produced house track — co-produced by Fred again.., Jamie xx and Stuart Price — facilitating its own advice by just inspiring one to dance. — K.B.

salute, “Wait For It” 

Some people live to party; others party to live. For those in the latter camp, Manchester producer and 2023 Billboard emerging dance artist salute offers an unofficial anthem, “Wait For It,” from their Shield EP. “Daylight, eyes closed/ Near you I feel like I’m balanced/ Dressed up, high hopes/ All that we need is the night to start again,” vocalist Taite Imogen begins. With its brisk breakbeats, prismatic synths and lyrics we’ve all lived one night or another, it inspires an almost-giddy anticipation that makes long queues and lost coats worth it. – K.R.

Skrillex, Fred again.. & Flowdan, “Rumble”

One of the year’s most impactful songs arrived four days into it, with Skrillex kicking off the Quest for Fire campaign with the January 4 release of “Rumble.” Co-produced by Fred again.. and first teased in his viral 2022 Boiler Room set, “Rumble” set the tone for Skrillex 2.0, paring down the maximalist tendencies of his earlier, era-defining output, while maintaining the heaviness and sharp edges that define his catalog. Skittering and ominous, “Rumble” amalgamates jungle, bass, grime — getting bonafides with vocals from U.K. grime MC Flowdan — into two and a half minutes that sets a high bar for all tracks that followed this year. — K.B.

Sub Focus feat. Kelli-Leigh, “Calling for a Sign”

Hot off of Sub Focus’ third solo album Evolve, “Calling for a Sign” is an emotional drum’n’bass powerhouse. Don’t let the intro fool you: the hushed melody slowly morphs into a rollicking build; galactic, punchy drops and warm synth crescendos. Meanwhile, Kelli-Leigh’s vocals go from fragile to a siren-like roar in an instant. Through “Calling for a Sign,” Sub Focus nails the balance between the catchy songwriting you find yourself singing in the shower and hard-edged production for head-banging on the rail. Who says you have to choose? – K.R.

Troye Sivan, “Rush”

Image Credit: Courtesy Photo

In the midst of the Northern Hemisphere’s hottest summer on record, Troye Sivan cranked up the heat on his (twice Grammy-nominated) “Rush.” The lead single from his third album, Something to Give Each Other, perfectly captures the fantasy of a night out: the walloping percussion and euphoric piano house of dancefloors under a red light, Sivan’s lyrics of head-spinning, chemical lust. “Rush” is sweaty and sexy, an act of surrendering to the moment in search of liberation, and hoping that moment never ends. – K.R.

Yaeji, “For Granted” 

As “For Granted” opens, Yaeji is set adrift on memory bliss. “When I think about it/ I don’t even know/ How it got to be this way/ How it got to be so good,” she sings. But loose, loping instrumentation soon gives way to something fierce and frothy — drums pounding in double time, a whooshing bass line. Yaeji soon decides that this sort of contemplation is counterproductive — “I stopped the thinking” — and gives herself over to the pounding rush of percussion. – E.L.

Yunè Pinku, “Sports”

She shoots, she scores. Of course, London-based, Malaysian-Irish artist Yunè Pinku’s 2023 single isn’t really all that focused on competitive athletic endeavors — they’re a background fixation she has little time for, with Pinku calling the song her “angry version of Lana Del Rey’s ‘Video Games’” — but it’s still a hell of a workout, with “Funky Drummer”-type loops and strobe-light synths and squelchy bass brilliantly funneling the singer-songwriter’s irritation onto the dancelfloor. Pinku may not play the star athlete,  but that doesn’t mean she’s not proving herself worthy of a max contract. – A.U.

SG Lewis, “Missing You”

TKTK — K.B.

Floorplan, “We Give Thee Honor”

TKTK — K.B.

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