Forget all the talk about Republicans vs. Democrats. In the U.S.A., the party that really matters is the blowout bash musicians have been signing about for decades — that idealized soirée where the tunes are always hot, the cocktails are eternally cool and everyone is invited, no matter their race, creed, sexual orientation or political affiliation. In honor of that idealized day when we can all join hands, hit the dance floor and shake our booties in perfect harmony, we present the 10 biggest “party” songs ever (as determined by their success on the Billboard Hot 100 chart).
These hits — which, coincidentally, were all performed by American artists — range from gentle acoustic ditties to boisterous rap-metal mash-ups, and together, they tell the story of our nation’s unyielding desire to drop our guards and just have a good time. It’s one thing that binds us all together. Turn up the volume and pass the bottle.
1. “Party Rock Anthem,” LMFAO ft. Lauren Bennett & GoonRock (2011)
Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 (Six weeks)
One surefire way to make your song a party-rockin’ anthem is to actually call it “Party Rock Anthem.” Dance-pop duo LMFAO didn’t stop with the great title, though. This chart-topper — which soared to no. 1 in 13 countries — is stuffed full of neon synths, thumping beats, giant hooks, and even some lyrical nods to rapper Rick Ross. It’s a party unto itself.
2. “Party All the Time,” Eddie Murphy (1985)
Hot 100 Peak: No. 2
In the mid-’80s, hot on the heels of his Beverly Hills Cop blockbuster, Eddie Murphy teamed up with Rick James for this slick synth-funk tune about an ungrateful, unfaithful lover. Ironically, Murphy sounds pretty upbeat a dude who’s been left at home by his lady. In fact, he’s nearly as charming in pseudo-Prince mode as he cracking jokes on the big screen. It’s no fluke this reached No. 2 on the Hot 100 and continues to be covered by wildly diverse acts such as R&B singer Aubrey O’Day, the cast of Glee and death metal band Children of Bodom.
3. “Party In the USA,” Miley Cyrus (2009)
Hot 100 Peak: No. 2
More than just an irresistible pop song, this smash from then squeaky-clean Miley Cyrus is an endearing fish-out-of-water story with a super-happy ending. Miley arrives in Hollywood, looking to get famous and party with the cool kids, but her Nashville style leaves her feeling self-conscious. But then the DJ spins her favorite tune, and our gal learns a valuable lesson: From Tennessee to Tinseltown, we all boogie to Britney Spears. Put your hands up, they’re playing your song.
4. “It’s My Party,” Lesley Gore (1963)
Hot 100 Peak: No. 1
The chorus of this chart-topping 1963 hit became part of the popular lexicon, and it’s easy to hear why. Paired with a fun Latin-style rhythm, the words “It’s my party, and I’ll cry if I want to” resonate with anyone who’s ever felt the sting of unrequited love. We’ve all been there, and as Lesley Gore reminds us, it’s OK to make with the waterworks. The song continues to connect with young audiences via covers from acts ranging from BØRNS and the late Amy Winehouse, whose version appeared on Quincy Jones‘ 2010 album Q Soul Bossa Nostra.
5. “Where the Party At,” Jagged Edge With Nelly (2001)
Hot 100 Peak: No. 3
In the early 2000s, if Nelly was on the track, there was about a 95% chance it was going to be a party jam. Sure enough, the St. Louis rapper’s team-up with the R&B group Jagged Edge topped the R&B chart for 3 weeks and crossed over to No. 3 on the Hot 100. Notice there’s no question mark in the title. Wherever this party song is playing, you can bet that bottles are popping and bodies are moving.
6. “Get the Party Started,” P!nk (2011)
Hot 100 Peak: No. 4
Linda Perry, formerly of the band 4 Non Blondes, took her first stab at writing a dance song in 2011, and she pretty much crushed it. Perfect for proms, aerobics classes and clubs alike, “Get the Party Started” let P!nk play up her badass image in a fresh, vaguely retro way. The tune reached No. 4 on the Hot 100, hit the top 10 in 17 countries, and became P!nk’s signature hit.
7. “Party Like a Rockstar,” Shop Boyz (2007)
Hot 100 Peak: No. 2
Rock and hip-hop didn’t just merge on this 2007 track, which peaked at No. 2 on the Hot 100. The genres basically did shots together and hooked up on the couch. “On the yacht wit Marilyn Manson, gettin a tan maaaan!” rap Atlanta’s Shop Boyz, who have a blast naming every rocker-dude accessory (wallet chain, skull belt, Pamela Anderson) they can think of. High art? No. Humongous fun? To quote the song: “Cowabunga—TOTALLY DUUUDE!!”
8. “Garden Party,” Rick Nelson And The Stone Canyon Band (1971)
Hot 100 Peak: No. 6
In 1971, Rick Nelson, the man behind such ‘50s hits as “Be-Bop Baby” and “Poor Little Fool,” joined fellow Eisenhower-era rockers Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley at Madison Square Garden for a rock ‘n’ roll revival show. Fans booed because of his long hair and bell bottoms, inspiring this breezy 1972 acoustic song. “You can’t please everyone,” Nelson sings, “so you’ve got to please yourself.” Funnily enough, this party song pleased a lot of people — it hit No. 6 on the Hot 100.
9. “Fight for Your Right (to Party),” Beastie Boys (1986)
Hot 100 Peak: No. 7
The Beastie Boys meant this to be a parody of idiotic rock songs like Twisted Sister’s “I Wanna Rock.” The problem was, they were a little too convincing with their bonehead shtick, and some fans missed the irony. Perhaps because it offered satire and escapism — a little something for everyone — the 1986 rap-rock hybrid crashed the pop charts and raged all the way to No. 7.
10. “Party Lights,” Claudine Clark (1962)
Hot 100 Peak: No. 5
When you’re a teenager, there’s no party more fun than the one you’re missing because your mom won’t let you go. That’s the jist of Claudine Clark’s one and only hit, a lively girl-group romp that reached the top 5 in 1962. If only Clark’s bummed-out protagonist knew the truth: The shindig she’s imagining is way more fun than whatever’s actually transpiring across the street.