Greatest of All Time: 40 Years, 40 Highlights from Billboard's Dance Club Songs Chart
Billboard celebrates some of the biggest moments since the survey's 1976 inception.
On Aug. 28, 1976, Billboard debuted the Dance Club Songs chart as the magazine's first survey ranking the popularity of dance music on a national level.
Forty years later, as the chart continues to reflect the hottest songs in clubs, we're looking back at 40 songs from throughout the list's run that have marked major milestones, from disco to freestyle to trap, and from the Bee Gees to Madonna to Rihanna and so much more.
Aug. 28, 1976
Bee Gees Start Off 'Dancing'
"You Should Be Dancing" initiates the chart, billed upon its launch as National Disco Action Top 30, as its first-ever leader, lasting five weeks at No. 1. It was the only leader for Barry Gibb and co., although they reached No. 3 in February 1978 with the triple-threat of "Stayin' Alive"/"Night Fever"/"More Than a Woman." (For roughly 15 years, songs could team up as one title, while entire albums sometimes also counted as a single entry.)
Sept. 3, 1977
Village People's Victory
Village People enjoy seven weeks at the pinnacle with the act's only No. 1, "Village People (All Cuts)." Again, with full-length albums (and EPs) eligible to chart (on the then-titled National Disco Action Top 40), DJs couldn't resist spinning the four tracks, including "San Francisco (You've Got Me"), on the group's self-titled first release, which preceded the No. 2-peaking "Y.M.C.A."/"Hot Cop" by a year and change.
June 3, 1978
Summer 'Last's at No. 1
"Last Dance," teamed with three other titles, is the diva's fourth No.1. Staying at the summit for six frames, "Last" ties her first topper, "Four Seasons of Love (All Cuts)" for her most impressive No. 1 run: however, both are beaten the following year, when Summer took the double-team of "Hot Stuff"/"Bad Girls" to No. 1 for seven weeks. "Last" still closes out weddings and celebrations of all kinds today.
Jan. 27, 1979
Gaynor Goes to the Top
The enduring disco, LGBT and female-empowerment anthem "I Will Survive" (teamed with three other titles) begins a three-week stay at the top. The song also owned the distinction of earning the first and only Best Disco Recording Grammy award, given in 1980 and never again.
Feb. 24, 1979
Rod Stewart: Sexy?
The British rocker's first of seven chart hits is also his sole No. 1, as "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" tops the chart for three weeks. Nearly 26 years later, in January 2005, the enduring classic returned, reaching No. 2 via new remixes. Like Stewart with "Sexy," even the hard rockers of Kiss explored disco as the '70s neared a close, reaching No. 37 in August 1979 with their only chart hit, "I Was Made for Lovin' You."
Aug. 9, 1980
Diana Ross Reigns Supreme
The former Supremes star starts a five-week run at the top with her second of four solo leaders, the double-sided "Upside Down"/"I'm Coming Out." The latter, co-written and produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers of Chic, endures as a gay pride anthem.
Nov. 14, 1981
Prince Courts 'Controversy'
The Purple One parades to No. 1 with "Controversy"/"Let's Work," spending six weeks at the top. He went on to earn six more No. 1s in the next decade, including another six-week reign with "When Doves Cry"/"17 Days" in June-July 1984. For an artist who once changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol, perhaps it's fitting that the last track to chart from the gone-too-soon singer was "My Name Is Prince" (credited to Prince and the N.P.G.), in 1992.
Jan. 22, 1983
Michael Jackson Thrills
"Thriller (All Cuts)" beings its 11-week domination (as full-length albums were allowed to chart in the song title field until Feb. 23, 1991). Between "Billie Jean," "Beat It," "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'," "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)," the title cut and more, DJs had riches to mine from the iconic set. The King of Pop would go on to top the chart with two tracks each from Bad ("Bad [Remix]" and "The Way You Make Me Feel") and Dangerous ("In the Closet" and "Who Is It") before enjoying two weeks at No. 1 with his only duet with sister Janet, "Scream," in 1995.
Two years after Jackson's 2009 passing, he returned to the top with a posthumously-completed "Hollywood Tonight," thanks in part to remixes from Chuckie and Jody den Broeder, among others. As a soloist, Jackson totaled 16 top 10s, including seven No. 1s, while he added two more as a member of The Jacksons, including "State of Shock" and "Torture" in 1984.
Sept. 24, 1983
Madonna Shines Bright
The power-packed duo of "Holiday"/"Lucky Star" is Madonna's third chart entry and first No. 1, leading for the first of five weeks. The dance-pop combo followed first hit "Everybody" and another two-sider from the Madonna album, "Burning Up"/"Physical Attraction." "Holiday" also became Madonna's first Billboard Hot 100 hit, reaching No. 16, while "Lucky Star" marked her first top five, shooting to No. 4.
Oct. 29, 1983
Clubs 'Play' Shannon
Freestyle classic "Let the Music Play" spends its first of six weeks at No. 1, the first of two leaders for the singer. "Give Me Tonight" then topped the chart on March 31, 1984.
June 29, 1985
Madonna Gets 'Into the Groove'
"Angel"/"Into the Groove" is Madonna's fourth No. 1. "Groove" was commercially released in the U.S. only as the B-side to the 12-inch of "Angel," the third single from her Like a Virgin album. Because of its uniquely restricted release, "Groove" (as featured in Desperately Seeking Susan) wasn't allowed to chart on the Hot 100. Thankfully, the track had its day in the sun on our then-named Hot Dance/Disco list.
May 3, 1986
Pet Shop Boys Go 'West'
"West End Girls" grants the UK duo of Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe its first No. 1. Exactly 30 years later, in 2016, the Boys scored their 11th leader with "The Pop Kids." PSB has collected 30 top 10s, the most of any non-solo act. Although the duo, which has since its arrival mixed hooky melodies with its beats, prefers single-word album titles (Please, Actually, Bilingual, Nightlife, Yes, etc.), it scored hits with some of the longest titles in the chart's history, including the 12-word "I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Anymore" (No. 2, 2000) and eight-word "How Can You Expect to Be Taken Seriously" (No. 19, 1991) and "I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind of Thing" (No. 2, 1994).
March 7, 1987
We Were 'Fascinated'
Company B's "Fascinated" gives freestyle fans four glorious weeks atop the chart. The energetic track broke out on newly launched top 40/dance stations in such major markets as New York, Miami, Los Angeles and Chicago. Airwaves in the mid- and late-'80s swarmed with joyous and twinkly freestyle tracks from the likes of Alisha, The Cover Girls, Cynthia, Expose, Giggles, Johnny O, George LaMond, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, Sa-Fire, Seduction, Stacey Q, Stevie B, Judy Torres and many more.
Aug. 1, 1987
Depeche Mode Is in Fashion
"Strangelove" logs its first of three weeks at the top, the first No. 1 for the pioneering UK electronic rock band of Dave Gahan, Martin Gore, Andy Fletcher and then-member Alan Wilder. The guys go on to total 10 No. 1s, including "It's No Good," "Dream On" and "Suffer Well," among 18 top 10s earned through 2013. (On Sept. 12, 1987, the word "disco" makes its last appearance in the chart's name, remade the next week as Hot Dance – Club Play.)
April 30, 1988
New Order Rocks, and Dances
The alt rock-dance hybrid "Blue Monday" is the English outfit's first of five No. 1s. Originally released five years earlier, "Blue Monday"/"The Beach" reached No. 5 in May 1983. While the late-'80s embraced freestyle, the era also welcomed synth-friendly, new wave modern rock acts like New Order, along with Erasure, Human League, Information Society, Yazz and others.
Nov. 4, 1989
Technotronic Pumps It Up
The Belgian techno act tops the chart for the first of four weeks with "Pump Up the Jam," featuring Felly. The intoxicating techno-rap track also reached No. 2 on the Hot 100 in January 1990, and the act opened for Madonna on her Blond Ambition tour.
Dec. 23, 1989
We Were a Part of It
"Rhythm Nation," the fifth of Janet Jackson's 19 Dance Club Songs No. 1s, leads for the first of three weeks. The album of the same name also yielded leaders in "Miss You Much" (two weeks), "Escapade" (three) and "Alright" (two). Add in "Black Cat" (No. 17), "Love Will Never Do (Without You)" (No. 4) and "State of the World" (No. 9), and Jackson counted seven chart hits from the album (six top 10s and four No. 1s).
May 19, 1990
Madonna Strikes a Pose
Originally conceived as the B-side to "Keep It Together," Like a Prayer's final single and Madonna's previous No. 1, "Vogue" vaults to chart victory for two weeks. The track brilliantly elevated the dance-floor trend of vogue-ing from the underground to the mainstream, creating one of her most iconic hits (and videos). Along with "Keep" remixer and "Vogue" co-producer Shep Pettibone, Madonna would go on to score three No. 1s in 1992-93 from her controversial yet critically-acclaimed Erotica album: the title track, "Deeper and Deeper" and "Fever."
Dec. 1, 1990
C+C Music Factory Makes Us 'Sweat'
The team of David Cole and Robert Clivilles scored big in 1990-91 with four straight No. 1s from Gonna Make You Sweat, led by "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)." The song, sporting a rap from Freedom Williams, an uncredited vocal from Martha Wash and a video lip-synch from Zelma Davis, enjoyed five weeks at the top. A year after Cole's AIDS-related passing in 1995, New York's dance/pop WKTU signed on by airing "Sweat" as its first song.
May 25, 1991
La Da Dee, La Da Da
While the lyrical content of dance music often focuses on love and partying, Crystal Waters succeeded at the difficult task of taking something serious and making it party-worthy. "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)," indeed a sad story song about the plight of a homeless woman "singing for money," took house-heads by storm, spending three weeks at No. 1. It was Waters' first of 10 career leaders (including fellow pop crossover hit "100% Pure Love" in 1994) and has inspired multiple samplings, including in the Vassy, Crazibiza and Dave Aude track "Hustlin'," which topped the chart in 2014.
Sept. 5, 1992
The German Eurodance act earns its second leader, the hi-NRG classic "Rhythm Is a Dancer." The track followed the breakthrough success of Snap!'s other No. 1, 1990's rap-dance hybrid "The Power." Both songs reached the top five of the Hot 100 ("Power," No. 2; "Rhythm," No. 5).
May 8, 1993
Robin S. Feels the 'Love'
"Show Me Love" shoots to No. 1, the first of three amorous leaders for the singer with "Love" in their titles: "Love for Love" hit the top that September, and "It Must Be Love" led four years later. "Show" continues to be covered and sampled today.
Oct. 1, 1994
A Real Big Hit
Another German Eurodance act, Real McCoy, reigns with "Another Night," its first of two No 1s; "Come and Get Your Love" led in 1995. Real McCoy also crossed "Another" to the mainstream, enjoying a whopping 11 weeks at its No. 3 peak on the Hot 100.
Dec. 21, 1996
Braxton's Un-Broken Heart
In what was becoming an increasingly popular practice, R&B/pop star Toni Braxton took a hit ballad, "Un-Break My Heart," to the top of Dance Club Songs via up-tempo dance remixes. Her second of five No. 1s, "Un-Break" lasted longest in the lead (four weeks). Written by Diane Warren and produced by David Foster, the track was surely not a natural for the dance floor, that is until DJs Hex Hector and Soul Solution worked their magic. Both the original and remixed versions helped generate tremendous crossover success for the Grammy Award-winning song, as it spent 11 weeks atop the Hot 100 and 14 at No. 1 on Adult Contemporary.
Braxton is one of an elite group of R&B/pop stars who hit big in clubs once their soaring originals were remixed, joining Mariah Carey, Deborah Cox, Whitney Houston, Lisa Stansfield, Tamia and, in more recent years, Adele and Katy Perry.
March 8, 1997
Faithless Can't Get No Sleep
The UK trio of Maxi Jazz, Sister Bliss and Dido's older brother, Rollo, take sleeplessness to the summit with "Insomnia." The house/techno-rave track was the second of five No. 1s (including 1998's standout "God Is a DJ") for the genre-bending act. (And, five months later, German act Sash! would ascend to the summit with French vocals, with the similar-sounding "Encore Une Fois.") "Insomnia," originally galvanized by Armand Van Helden's speed garage remixes, returned to the top as "Insomnia 2.0" in 2015 -- thanks to new Avicii remixes, among others -- in celebration of Faithless' 20th anniversary.
May 17, 1997
Daft Punk Gets Funky
The mysterious French men in helmets win over clubs with the laid-back groove of "Da Funk," their first of seven leaders. Three months later, the duo was back at No. 1 with "Around the World," while 16 years later, it teamed with Nile Rodgers and Pharrell Williams for the Grammy-winning "Get Lucky," which spent two weeks at the top.
Dec. 12, 1998
Cher Returns With 'Believe'
Cher scores her first of eight No. 1s with one of her most enduring hits, "Believe." The song topped the Club chart for five weeks and the Hot 100 for four, marking her first No. 1 on the latter ranking since 1974's "Dark Lady."
Oct. 30, 1999
J-Lo Jumps In
Her first of 16 chart-toppers, "Waiting for Tonight" is one of Jennifer Lopez's only leaders that was dancefloor-ready in its original form. Earlier in 1999, another Latin crossover star, Ricky Martin, vaulted onto the chart for the first time with "Livin' La Vida Loca," reaching No. 5 that May. Plus, Enrique Iglesias first took his brand of Latin-influenced dance music to the top in 1999, reaching No. 1 in August with "Bailamos." By 2016, Iglesias would go on to score the most leaders among all male soloists: 14.
Later still in '99, Marc Anthony scored one of his biggest Hot 100 hits, "I Need to Know" (No. 3), which reached No. 12 on Dance Club Songs. And, three years later, in 2002, Shakira would erupt with "Whenever, Wherever" and go on to score seven No. 1s.
Feb. 9, 2002
Minogue Finally Makes It
Although the Aussie songstress first hit the chart in 1988 with "I Should Be So Lucky," it's not until 14 years later that she earns her first No. 1, "Can't Get You Out of My Head." She's now up to 13 total leaders.
Sept. 13, 2003
"Crazy in Love" becomes the first of 22 No. 1s for Beyonce, the third-most all-time, trailing only Madonna (46) and Rihanna (27). She's also earned four No. 1s as a part of Destiny's Child, from "Independent Women Part I" in 2000 to "The Girl Is Mine" (by 99 Souls featuring Destiny's Child and Brandy) this past March.
March 27, 2004
Britney's Tops With "Toxic"
Exactly three months after her first No. 1, the Madonna-featured "Me Against the Music," Spears scores big with In the Zone's second single, "Toxic." The energetic pop track, Spears' fourth Hot 100 top 10 and first in nearly four years at the time, was a natural dance hit, also becoming Spears' first of four Dance/Mix Show Airplay chart leaders. Through 2016's "Make Me…," featuring G-Eazy, Spears has tallied 10 Club No. 1s, among 20 chart hits.
Nov. 19, 2005
Madonna's 'Dance Floor' Hits
"Hung Up," the Abba-sampling first single from Madonna's most cohesive club-ready album to date, Confessions on a Dance Floor, takes the top rung for four weeks. The Stuart Price co-production was the first of four No. 1s from the album, ahead of "Sorry," "Get Together" and "Jump." Confessions, released as one continuously mixed track in addition to its standard version, led Top Dance/Electronic Albums for 13 weeks. "Hung Up" reached No. 7 on the Hot 100 and served as the extended closing anthem on perhaps Madonna's most invigorating dance-oriented and socially-conscious global trek, her Confessions Tour.
Feb. 24, 2007
Sinclar Rocks the 'Party'
"Rock This Party (Everybody Dance Now)," featuring Dollar Man, Big Ali and Makedah, is the third of seven No. 1s for French DJ Bob Sinclar. The track, which references C+C Music Factory's classic "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)" in its lyrics, followed Sinclar's "Love Generation," featuring Gary Nesta Pine, and "World, Hold On (Children of the Sky)," each of which topped the chart in 2006.
Feb. 21, 2009
Lady Gaga's First No. 1
Although Gaga exploded onto the scene with "Just Dance," featuring Colby O'Donis, it wasn't until her second single that she grabbed her first of 14 No. 1s, with "Poker Face" ("Dance" peaked at No. 2). "Poker" also started a streak of seven straight and 13 out of 14 trips to the pinnacle from 2009 to 2013. She most recently reigned with "Til It Happens to You" in January.
June 20, 2009
Guetta Takes Over
French DJ David Guetta launches his first of 10 toppers with "When Love Takes Over," featuring powerful, vigorous vocals from Kelly Rowland. It became the first of two No. 1 pairings with the former Destiny's Child star: "Commander" hit the top in July 2010 (Guetta's fifth leader in a year's time).
Nov. 19, 2011
Rihanna & Harris Find No. 1
"We Found Love" becomes Rihanna's 16th No. 1 and first of two with Harris. This July, "This Is What You Came For" became her 25th (and Harris' fourth). Both were pure dance in their original, pre-remixed forms, like such prior leaders as "Disturbia," "Only Girl (In the World)," and "Where Have You Been."
Nov. 10, 2012
Swedish House Mafia Makes a Home at No. 1
"Don't You Worry Child" is the third and final No. 1 for the Swedish EDM trio of Axwell, Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso. The song would go on to reach No. 6 on the Hot 100. From first hit "One (Your Name)," featuring Pharrell, through "Child," all six of SHM's entries hit the Club top three.
Aug. 31, 2013
Avicii Takes Two
"Wake Me Up!," featuring Aloe Blacc's uncredited vocals, is one of only two songs to spend more than one week at No. 1 that year (the other: Daft Punk's "Get Lucky," featuring Pharrell Williams). The track, mixing folk elements with dance, would also hit No. 4 on the Hot 100. "Wake" arrived in the wake of Avicii's 2011 breakthrough festival anthem "Levels," featuring another uncredited vocal, from late R&B/blues legend Etta James. In 2014, Avicii (aka Tim Bergling) would achieve two more No. 1s from his True album: "Hey Brother" and "Addicted to You."
Aug. 15, 2015
Madonna Is, Well, 'Madonna'
"B**** I'm Madonna" further cements Madonna as the top Dance Club Songs artist of all time, becoming her third leader from Rebel Heart and record 46th total. In fact, no act has scored more No. 1s on any individual Billboard songs chart. The track, co-written and produced by Diplo, caused a stir with its star-studded video sporting cameos from Beyonce, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Chris Rock, Nicki Minaj and more, all seeming to agree that they're the Queen of Pop, too.
Sept. 24, 2016
Major Lazer Leads, With Justin Bieber and MO
Diplo-fronted Major Lazer leaps to its first leader with "Cold Water," featuring Justin Bieber and MO. Bieber makes his fourth trip to the top and third within a year, after fellow pop-trop-house tracks "What Do You Mean?" and "Sorry." "Water" marks the second hit Diplo/Bieber collaboration, following 2015's Grammy Award-winning "Where Are U Now" (also with Skrillex). "Water" was also the first topper for MO, although in 2015 she sang with Iggy Azalea on the No. 3 hit "Beg for It," as well as on the No. 1 song of the year on Hot Dance/Electronic Songs, "Lean On," led by Major Lazer and DJ Snake.