Magazine Feature

Delivering Dance Hits: Choosing Between Stars or Singers for Hire

Dance acts seeking crossover singles have a proven formula in tapping a pop star and hitting Hot 100 pay dirt.

The Chainsmokers on Ruling Billboard Hot 100 & Owning 'Frat Bro' Label

There’s a reason Major Lazer and DJ Snake reportedly first pitched “Lean On” to Rihanna and Nicki Minaj. But “Lean On” eventually reached No. 4 featuring the lesser-known — and surely less pricey — singer MØ. Fame is seemingly just one factor. “There’s not a singer we don’t hit up if there’s something interesting happening there,” says The Chainsmokers’ Alex Pall.

The Chainsmokers?


?The duo has called the 2015 track “Roses” its favorite song. Understandably so: It was the pair’s first top 10 hit, peaking at No. 6 on the Hot 100, partly on the strength of the virtually unknown 23-year-old vocalist Rozes — whose own 2016 single failed to chart.


Building on the momentum of “Don’t Let Me Down,” a No. 3 hit, the two called on rising star Halsey to reach the Hot 100 summit with “Closer.” The last dance single to achieve the feat: Baauer’s “Harlem Shake,” fueled by a hard-to-replicate viral video.

The Chainsmokers & Halsey Lead Hot 100 as Charlie Puth & Selena Gomez Hit Top 10

Calvin Harris


The Scottish superstar handled his own lead vocals for 2012’s solo breakthrough “Feel So Close,” which hit No. 12. Despite telling Billboard “I don’t want to be the man in the front with a microphone,” he reprised the role two years later on 2014’s “Summer,” which hit No. 7.


Harris’ highest-charting hits as either a lead or featured artist have come courtesy of collaborations with A-lister Rihanna: her 2011 chart-topping smash with him, “We Found Love,” and his most recent hit, “This Is What You Came For,” which peaked at No. 3.



Zedd's highest-charting Hot 100 single to date, “Clarity” (No. 8), helped elevate a relatively obscure indie singer to pop prominence, though Foxes was wary of being typecast. She told Billboard in 2013: “I don’t want to be that ‘featured’ artist.”

Selena Gomez

“I Want You to Know” had the makings of a blockbuster: a rumored romance, social media star power and a co-write from OneRepublic hitmaker Ryan Tedder. But while the platinum-selling song was hardly a bust, it only reached No. 17.

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 24 issue of Billboard.