The dance music scene came alive in 2017. Many of the genre’s biggest names pushed themselves in new directions, turning in their turntables for synthesizers and microphones, or climbing in the studio with acts from pop and hip-hop to create new intersectional sounds that better reflect modern listeners’ genre-blurred interests. Tropical rhythms and youthful abandon rules the airwaves across genres, even as a few old dance-rock favorites returned triumphantly to the spotlight.
When compiling our list, we at Billboard Dance decided to weigh both quality and impact. Below, you’ll find our picks for 2017’s best dance songs that made a major impact on the charts and on the influence of the genre as a whole. Fear not clubgoers — we’ll shed light on our favorite house and techno tracks in a later list, but this list is all about the songs that will one day remind you where you were and who you were with in 2017. They’re the songs we think will go on to define the year, the songs you couldn’t escape and the songs you didn’t want to.
50. Krewella, “TH2C”
The Yousaf sister’s New World Pt. 1 EP runs seven tracks deep and pays homage to the their Pakistani heritage with the incorporation of Middle Eastern-influenced melodies. You’ll hear it right from the beginning of “TH2C”. –– DAVE RISHTY
49. Don Diablo feat. A R I Z O N A, “Take Her Place”
Future house connoisseur Don Diablo recruited one of the hottest alt-pop bands of the year, A R I Z O N A, for “Take Her Place”. The unlikely pairing resulted in a beautiful, feel-good indie electronic record. –– D.R.
48. Felix Jaehn, Hight, Alex Aiono, “Hot2Touch”
The infectious brass stylings of “Hot2Touch” are too good to resist. Grab your partner, hit the dance floor and jam out to Felix Jahen and Alex Aiono’s groover. –– D.R.
47. Tokimonsta feat. Yuna, “Don’t Call Me”
Emergency brain surgery left her unable to speak or hear music, this California beat queen relearned her craft and stole the year with a series of melodic and triumphant releases. “Don’t Call Me” is the single that you can’t get out of your head. –– KAT BEIN
46. DJ Sliink feat. Skrillex, Wale, Austin Millz, “Saint Laurent”
Sliink has long been a king of Jersey beats, and his work with Skrillex and Austin Millz on this hook is bananas. It’s fresh and funky, plus Wale always deads the mic. Try not to pull your bucket hat over your eyes when this hits. –– K.B.
45. David Guetta feat. Justin Bieber, “2U”
Speaking with Billboard earlier this year, David Guetta announced that he planned to change his approach. “There was a magic formula that everybody in the dance world wanted to hear all the time,” he said. “All the records were in the same key with the same type of bass and the same type of synth… People are ready to hear so many different rhythms now and tempo changes. I take this as an opportunity to reinvent ourselves.” So on “2 U” he aimed for just that. Half of each verse and hook is beat-less, allowing a pulsing synth or chiming guitar to lead the way. And while Guetta often pushes tracks towards heaving, definitive climaxes, he ends “2 U” quietly, with a note of supplication from Justin Bieber: “Don’t be blind/ Watch me speak from my heart/ When it comes to you.” –– ELIAS LEIGHT
44. RL Grime feat. Miguel, “Stay For It”
43. Jonas Blue feat. William Singe, “Mama”
Streaming giant Jonas Blue had a mammoth of a record with “Mama,” featuring William Singe. Its twinkling melody paired with Singe’s silky vocals catapulted the tune to nearly 400 million Spotify streams. –– D.R.
42. Bonobo feat. Innov Gnawa, “Bambro Koyo Ganda”
Of all the atmospheric offerings on his latest LP (which is nominated for best dance/electronic album), the Grammy-nominated “Bambro Koyo Ganda” best melds the U.K. artist’s electronic sensibilities with the world music that inspired the release. Featured collaborators Innov Gnawa, a New York-based outfit of Moroccan musicians, lend traditional gnawa instrumentation and chanted lead vocals to the bass-driven number. –– MATT MEDVED
41. Cashmere Cat feat. MØ & SOPHIE, “9 (After Coachella)”
Sugary sweet and downright evil; somehow this heartbreak beat is both. Co-production credits from dance-pop cult favorite SOPHIE and crossover songstress MØ help push the tune about a Coachella missed connection to greatness. –– K.B.
40. Pretty Lights, “Rainbows and Waterfalls”
A sample from The Brothers’ Johnson’s “Strawberry Letter 23” takes this daydream ditty to funkadelic heights. It’s a tasty treat for your ears and feet as you head-nod your way through wonky basslines and butterfly keys. –– K.B.
39. Louis the Child feat. Elohim, “Love is Alive”
38. REZZ feat. 13, “DRUGS!”
Techno takes a turn for the weird and wonderful on REZZ’s debut LP Mass Manipulation. She had the whole dance world buzzing on her hypnotic records, and single “DRUGS!” is a mind-melter that dissolves under the tongue and leaves a lasting impression. –– K.B.
37. Gryffin & Illenium feat. Daya, “Feel Good”
When two of dance music’s rising stars team up with a certified gem of a singer-songwriter, you’re bound to strike gold. That’s exactly what happened with Gryffin, Illenium and Daya on “Feel Good” which thrived on dance radio. –– D.R.
36. Avicii feat. Rita Ora, “Lonely Together”
35. Felix Cartal, “Get What You Give”
2017 seemed to be a year where everything clicked for Felix Cartal. From the sound to the aesthetic, everything made complete sense. “Get What You Give” refreshed a classic and did it justice. –– D.R.
34. Kygo feat. The Night Game, “Kids In Love”
The title track off the Norwegian producer’s sophomore album recasts The Who‘s iconic “Baba O’Reilly” chord progression in an evolving four-minute ode to youthful romance. –– M.M.
33. Sam Gellaitry, “Jungle Waters”
A cinematic intro leads us into the 20-year-old producer’s Escapism III, capping an EP trilogy that solidifies him as an experimental beat master on the rise. “Jungle Waters” is the perfect mix of exotic tribal sounds and old Hollywood overtures you didn’t know you deserved. —– K.B.
32. Virtual Self, “Ghost Voices”
Porter Robinson closes out the year with a head-trip dose of digital love. The Virtual Self concept plays with light and dark, real and imagined, physical and computational forms of life. “Ghost Voices” is the dankest song on the five-track self-titled EP. Its classic house groove and futuristic touchest beckon you to the dark side of the dance floor and the web. –– K.B.
31. Above & Beyond feat. Zoë Johnston, “My Own Hymn”
Unless you’re a robot, you’ll likely have goosebumps covering your entire body within the first five seconds of “My Own Hymn”. Above & Beyond captures incredible emotion with their uplifting production and the angelic vocals of Zoë Johnston. –– D.R.
30. Calvin Harris feat. Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry & Big Sean, “Feels”
Harris may have been snubbed by the Grammys, but this jam dominated the Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart with its star-studded vocals and strutting beat. Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1, his full-length ode to golden ’70s-style funky, chunky pool parties, took the chart-topper’s sound in new directions, and “Feels” is a special shout out for all you lovers eye-balling the deep end. Go ahead and dive in. The water feels fine. –– K.B.
29. Four Tet, “Two Thousand and Seventeen”
Between exasperated politics, social injustices and the omnipresence of the “Cash Me Outside” girl, the last 12 months proved to be quite tumultuous and down right exhausting, but just one meditative listen to Four Tet’s seductive intelligence and “Two Thousand and Seventeen” hit us over the head like a bag of healing crystals. The track comes off the London producer’s ninth studio effort New Energy, which soared into the top 10 of Billboard’s Dance/Electronic Albums chart. The sonically sophisticated record envelops his signature world sounds drawing inspiration from traditional Asian string instruments, a celestial slow tempo strut and, perhaps, the flutter of angel wings. — JORDAN DIAZ
28. deadmau5, “Polaris”
“Polaris” is luxurious and grand: In the era of turbo-charged dance records that aim to overwhelm you before the first hook, this record makes its case over the course of nearly ten minutes. “Polaris” doesn’t pick up steam until around the three-minute mark, when deadmau5 starts arraying synthesizers into glossy, seductive patterns. There are long lulls and pretty beat-less passages, which only make the eventual return of the bounding bassline and keen percussion all the more satisfying. And around the nine-minute mark, the song shifts once more, as almost every instrument falls away: After starting in a dream-like state, “Polaris” ends with pure propulsion. — E.L.
27. Justice, “Pleasure (Live)”
Anyone who saw Justice‘s insanely artful Woman Tour won’t be able to help but see the creeping white lines across the wall of Marshall amps as this live cut plays. It takes you right back, just as it takes you back into Justice’s past with a killer mash-up of Woman‘s “Pleasure” and “Phantom Pt.1” from the French duo’s mid-’00s, era-defining debut “†.” It’s everything a Justice fan could ask for; funk, metal, prog, sex, and chunky electro noise. We’re holding our breath for a full live album, but in the meantime, use imagination as a destination and let this single give you life. — K.B.
26. Cheat Codes feat. Demi Lovato, “No Promises”
Demi Lovato‘s co-sign on this infectious duet proved to be a powerful boon for the Los Angeles trio. The radio hit reached No. 38 on the Hot 100 and No. 2 on Hot Dance/Electronic Songs, propelling singer Trevor Dahl and bandmates Kevin Ford and Matthew Russell into the pop limelight, with performances on Good Morning America and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. — M.M.
25. The xx, “Say Something Loving”
The xx’s third album I See You dives deeper into the club than the trio ever has before. Electronic backbone Jamie xx took more of the reigns in the creative process, and the result is languid, extraordinary and honest music good enough for crying and dancing both. As a whole, the LP works through the band members’ personal issues as life-long best friends who found themselves in the spotlight before graduating high school. “Say Something Loving” in particular is a beautiful moment of vulnerability featuring a thoughtful vocal sample from the Alessi Brothers’ 1976 song “Do You Feel It (Reprise).” — K.B.
24. Selena Gomez & Marshmello, “Wolves”
“Wolves” is one of several hits in the electronic space this year co-written by Andrew Watt (watt), whose tracks easily meld guitar pop and dance music. He provides the plaintive, finger-picked intro, and Marshmello inserts himself during the shrewd hook: The building waves of electronic handclaps suggest that this song is about to lift off, but instead of flooring it, Marshmello pushes the hook forward in half-time, which is wonderfully disorienting. Gomez is endlessly adaptable, pleading next to watt’s delicate filigree and smearing long exhales on top of Marshmello’s beat. “There’s ways to use the guitar that make you feel something classic that you love, but you mix it with 808s and drums in ways that make it fresh,” watt told Billboard. “A lot of people love that drop.” Sure enough, “Wolves” reached No. 1 on the Hot Dance/Electronic Songs last month. — E.L.
23. Hailee Steinfeld, & Alesso feat. Florida Georgia Line & watt, “Let Me Go”
“Let Me Go” is one of the year’s boldest cross-genre collaborations, a collision of dance music, country and pop. If that sounds strange on paper, don’t tell Andrew Watt, who also co-wrote this record. “I want to hear a song with Alesso and Florida Georgia Line and Hailee Steinfeld,” Watt told Billboard. “That’s something so different to me, and it’s never been done before: An EDM super-producer, a pop star and a country act on a record together. We know how to make these records events.” So Steinfeld and Florida Georgia Line trade lines about romantic frustration, gliding over gentle guitars, a tropical house-inflected trill, rat-a-tat hi-hats and a chorus of shouting kids. Make sure you make it all the way to the end, where Steinfeld lets loose what watt called “the best vocal of her career thus far.” “Listen to how she’s singing that last chorus with just the guitars,” he added. “I get chills when I think about that moment in the studio.” — E.L.
22. DJ Snake feat. Lauv, “A Different Way”
Lauv tries to assuage his partner’s fears in “A Different Way,” skipping over plinking drums with a cadence reminiscent of Ed Sheeran‘s “Shape of You. (No coincidence, as Sheeran and his “Shape of You” co-writer Steve Mac worked on this track.) “I will come running when you call my name,” Lauv assures his lover. “Even a broken heart can beat again/ Forget about the one who caused you pain.” A sudden interjection of dancehall energy offers optimism — maybe starting over is possible, and these two can wipe the slate clean and move on unencumbered by the past. But if you listen to Snake’s next single, the melancholy “Broken Summer,” you guess how the story ends: History tends to repeat itself. — E.L.
21. Robin Schulz feat. James Blunt, “OK”
Robin Schulz and…James Blunt? After throwing this one of repeat, you’ll be rid of any skepticism. Schulz’s mellow rhythms and Blunt’s soulful hook tie everything together. We’re more than “OK” having this gem on our list of best songs this year. — D.R.
20. Camelphat & Elderbrook, “Cola”
It’s time to stop sleeping on this record. “Cola” has been proven to be a beast in the club space and has now transitioned to radio, and rightfully so. The Ibiza-styled song’s tickling house beat, soft-spoken vocals and subtle bassline are a lethal combo. Tap your feet, bob your head and flex with that new dance move you’ve been practicing. You know you want to. — D.R.
19. The Chainsmokers, “Paris”
The Chainsmokers’ meteoric rise continued well into 2017, thanks in large part due to the early-year success of the irresistible “Paris”. The heart-piercing ballad has cruised past half a billion streams on Spotify and soared to No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart. “Paris” actually halted the duo’s record 27-week reign on the chart with the Halsey-featuring smash “Closer.” — Dave Rishty
18. Cashmere Cat feat. Ariana Grande, “Quit”
When Norwegian producer Cashmere Cat sat down to write his debut LP, 9, he could have gone in a total pop direction – and he did halfway. The album is full of grade-A features from Selena Gomez to The Weeknd, Camila Cabello and more. Still, when it came to the beats, Cashy kept things dark, weird and wintery. “Quit” featuring Ariana Grande is a perfect example of his kind of love song. It’s raw and lofty with a sparse but playful instrumental that lets Grande’s burning vocal performance take the lead. It follows their original collab “Adore” from 2015, and while it failed to break through the charts in the States, we couldn’t “Quit” loving it all year long. — K.B.
17. Alan Walker feat. Gavin James, “Tired”
Alan Walker has always embodied the ethos of quality over quantity. The hooded Norwegian sensation had a prolific year by his standards, dropping four releases, and “Tired” was the clear-cut successor to his previous global hits “Faded, “Sing Me to Sleep,” and “Alone.” Buoyed by a standout remix from fellow Bergen native Kygo, the catchy number bowed at No. 26 on Billboard’s Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart and No. 6 on Dance Club Songs. — M.M.
16. Skrillex feat. Poo Bear, “Would You Ever”
This is the kind of song that makes us want to hear a solid, two-hour pop-house set from Skrillex. Yeah yeah, you’ve got the dirtiest drops in the universe, but you’ve also clearly got the grooviest, catchiest, experimental take on feel-good vibes. “Would You Ever” taps Justin Bieber songwriting collaborator Poo Bear and let’s him rip the mic like the soulful house vocalist he was apparently born to be. Funky vocal chops build a hook that crawls under your skin and lives in your brain forevermore. It nods back to the pair’s work on “Where Are Ü Now” when it pitches the vocal into screeching guitar, and we’re pretty damn sure we hear a little bit of Sonny Moore in those echoes. “Would You Ever” peaked at no. 9 on the Hot Dance/Electronic Streaming Songs chart and had radio fans head-banging worldwide. –– K.B.
15. Clean Bandit feat. Sean Paul & Anne-Marie, “Rockabye”
The pop-dancehall craze still had legs at the start of 2017, as demonstrated by Clean Bandit‘s “Rockabye:” If you know the group’s string-slathered hit “Rather Be,” you might not have expected them to collaborate with dancehall veteran Sean Paul. In fact, Paul himself thought the track was a left-field collaboration — “I loved the song,” he told Billboard, “but wasn’t sure how far it would go.” But “Rockabye” was assembled by a crack team, including Steve Mac (Ed Sheeran‘s “Shape of You,” Liam Payne‘s “Strip That Down”), Ammar Malik (Maroon 5‘s “Moves Like Jagger”) and Ina Wroldsen (Calvin Harris and the Disciples’ “How Deep Is Your Love”). The resulting track, an ode to the perseverance and tenacity of single moms, squeaked and squiggled and squirmed to No. 1 in the U.K. And in the U.S., “Rockabye” even ended up out-doing “Rather Be,” climbing to No. 9 on the Hot 100. — E.L.
14. Bonobo feat. Rhye, “Break Apart”
Bonobo‘s nearly two decade-seasoned career finds itself only becoming more tender with time, capped by the release of his resonant sixth LP Migration. Wrapped in the haunting melancholy of indie vocalist Rhye, “Break Apart” captures the tormenting guilt and sorrow of a relationship gone awry juxtaposed by an Enya-like blanket of calm from the U.K. producer. Nominated for two Grammys, Bonobo, aka Simon Green, continues to elevate electronic music culture by tapping into its often-forgotten purpose: bold experimentation. Few tracks in 2017 had us picking up the pieces of our tethered soul like this did, one salty teardrop at a time. — J.D.
13. LCD Soundsystem, “Tonite”
What’s a comeback without a couple of Grammy nods? “Tonight” is the lead single (note: front man James Murphy “begs to differ, because [he’s] the kind of person who thinks of a single as a physical thing”) from LCD Soundsystem’s first album in seven years, American Dream, which topped the Billboard 200 and also earned the beloved Brooklyn band a nomination for best alternative music album. The track finds Murphy in his conversational comfort zone, sarcastically hailing “market psychology you’re hipping us too” and lamenting that “all the hits are saying the same thing” against a squelching backdrop of analog synthesizers. Bolstered by an ongoing world tour and a Jimmy Kimmel Live performance, the song carried the group’s classic sound to No. 33 on Hot Dance/Electronic Songs. — M.M.
12. The Chainsmokers & Coldplay, “Something Just Like This”
“Something Just Like This” is a manifesto for insecure people everywhere. Chris Martin opens the song by throwing up a mountain of self-deprecation: “I’ve been reading books of old, the legends and the myths/ Achilles and his gold, Hercules and his gifts/ Spiderman’s control and Batman with his fists/ And clearly I don’t see myself upon that list.” But it turns out he doesn’t need to set his sights so high: His partner only wants “something I can turn to/ somebody I can kiss.” Martin appears to fit the bill, because moments later he’s “do-do-do-ing” for joy, and then The Chainsmokers do what they do best: Drop an overpowering electronic bridge that condenses Martin’s hopeful message into an obliterating shot of adrenaline. — E.L.
11. Gorillaz feat. D.R.A.M., “Andromeda”
When Gorillaz gathered collaborators for its fourth studio album Humanz, musical mastermind Damon Albarn asked each artist to write a party anthem for the end of the world. We may yet live in a Trump presidency, but the apocalypse never sounded so funky. “Andromeda” is definitely a high-point of the massive, 26-track offering. A bouncy drum line gets your head knockin’ as soon as you press play, and the space-age disco synthesizers cover your body in gold meteor dust. It peaked at number 16 on the Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart. Albarn said the song was inspired a U.K. club called Andromeda where he used to listen to soul records. D.R.A.M. is exactly what the doctor ordered on this tune, but the peak is definitely when Albarn coos “good times” in happy repetition. — K.B.
10. Avicii feat. Sandro Cavazza, “Without You”
Don’t call it a comeback. Expectations were high when Avicii announced his first EP release since retiring from touring in March 2016 after battling health issues. The following month, he told Billboard, “The music is still growing, it’s still evolving. That’s why, in a way, I had to make the decision I did. Because I don’t feel that EDM is going to stop. So I had to figure out how how am I going to deal with that? Am I going to be able to go on this train for another eight years?” If anthemic lead single, “Without You,” is any indication, the Swedish star is working through those growing pains. While its commercial performance may not have met the high bar set by his prior hits (No. 18 on Hot Dance/Electronic Songs), the release showcases the melodic sensibilities that elevated Tim Bergling to stardom, in a welcome respite from the cookie-cutter future bass currently crowding the scene. — M.M.
9. Axwell Ingrosso, “More Than You Know”
“More Than You Know” was a big and much-needed record for Axwell Ingrosso, silencing doubters who felt they wouldn’t achieve the success of their former supergroup Swedish House Mafia. While the duo still has a ways to go before they begin selling out arenas, Axwell and Ingrosso seem to have found a sound and style that crushes in the dance music space and beyond. — D.R.
8. Major Lazer feat. Travis Scott, Camila Cabello & Quavo, “Know No Better”
Major Lazer wisely picked three artists on hot streaks to help them with “Know No Better”: Travis Scott, Camila Cabello and Quavo of Migos, all of whom know their way around a Top 10 hit. Scott does the heavy lifting here, goosing Major Lazer’s lilting beat with his typically gummy sing-rapping; Bad Bunny provides a similar lift on his Spanish language remix of the single. “Know No Better” keeps listeners off-kilter by constantly down-shifting: The first time Cabello enters the track, the carefree tempo disappears, and her refrain — “Baby, I know you better” — suddenly sounds more like a warning than a declaration of affection. This happens again when Quavo shows up to rap a stolid verse. But Scott stays relentlessly cheerful through it all, and he’s never gone for long. — E.L.
7. ODESZA feat. WYNNE & Mansionair, “Line of Sight”
Expectations were high for ODESZA‘s first new material since 2014’s excellent In Return, and “Line of Sight” rewarded their fans’ faith. The lush lead single from Odeza’s third LP, A Moment Apart, which is also nominated for a best dance/electronic album Grammy, showcases the meticulous production and ear for melody that have helped the Seattle duo of Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight distinguish themselves from a crowded future bass scene. Featured singers WYNNE and Mansionair play complementary roles in the interplay between the song’s comforting verses and soaring, pitch-shifted refrain. Performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and KEXP, “Line of Sight” became one of eight album tracks to chart on Hot Dance/Electronic Songs, peaking at No. 23, while also bowing at No. 28 on Alternative Songs. — M.M.
6. Mura Masa feat. A$AP Rocky, “Love$ick”
In the year of dancehall-inspired dominance, Mura Masa‘s take on tropical vibes is somehow excitingly unique. Is that beat made from the sound of clinking glass? We don’t know for sure, but “Love$ick” definitely makes us want to say “cheers.” If you have a new crush and you still need to convince that cutie you’re down to ride, Masa’s steel drums pack the perfect, adventurous punch. A$AP Rocky beats the beat up with his funky flow and helped push the single from Mura Masa’s self-titled debut album to no. 18 on the Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart. All together, the LP captured the spirit of pop music in 2017 while being brave enough to push it to new heights, and for that, we thank the 21-year-old producer from Guernsey. — K.B.
5. Martin Garrix feat. Dua Lipa, “Scared to Be Lonely”
There’s a saying that it’s harder to stay on top than it is to get there. “In The Name Of Love” catapulted Martin Garrix to the upper echelon of dance and pop music in 2016. The intensely emotional “Scared To Be Lonely” secured his position among the elite in 2017. The latter peaked at No. 76 on the Hot 100, hauled in nearly a billion total streams and was Shazam’d over 3.5 million times. The Dua Lipa-tagged record received a dozen official remixes, recruiting the likes of DubVision, Medasin, Loud Luxury and more. — D.R.
4. Marshmello feat. Khalid, “Silence”
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more perfect pairing of breakthrough talents in 2017. In August, mystery DJ/producer Marshmello was selling out shows left and right on a viral Instagram-fueled rise, while Best New Artist contender Khalid was riding the wave of his Grammy-nominated debut LP American Teen. The result? A game-changing hit that topped Billboard’s Hot Dance/Electronic Songs and Dance Club Songs charts, introducing Khalid to the dance demographic and cementing Marshmello as a serious pop crossover contender (No. 33 on Hot 100). – M.M.
3. Kygo & Selena Gomez, “It Ain’t Me”
Kygo‘s biggest Hot 100 hit to date (No. 10) showcased his own artistic development, as well as that of featured co-star Selena Gomez. The singer turned in one of her most mature-sounding outings in narrating a love story turned sour over alcoholism, while the Norwegian producer debuted the pitch-shifted vocal chopping approach he’d subsequently employ on releases like “Stargazing” and U2 collab “You’re the Best Thing About Me.” “It Ain’t Me” represents the the perfect balancing act of Kygo’s past tropical house trademarks and radio-oriented evolution. — M.M.
2. Zedd & Alessia Cara, “Stay”
It’s safe to say that Zedd is back where he belongs: at the top. “Stay” peaked at No. 2 on the Hot 100 and was heard all over Top 40 radio this year. Best of yet, the song contains electro elements that day one Zedd fans know and love. Alessia Cara proved to be the perfect pairing for the record and delivered a topline too catchy to get out of your head. The two performed “Stay” on The Voice, as well as an acoustic version of the song on the American Music Awards, which proved how strong the song was in any genre context. — Dave Rishty
1. Calvin Harris feat. Frank Ocean & Migos, “Slide”
From its opening notes to its increasingly-energetic verses from Frank Ocean, Quavo and Offset to its final, triumphant hook, “Slide” was the most instantly-engaging song of the year, with little competition. Before the song arrived, it was difficult to imagine how a combination of the pop-dance master Harris, the soul-drenched crooner Ocean and the hyper-trapping Migos could work together at all, much less flow seamlessly. But Harris stitched it all together in a way that complements all of its disparate elements without compromise, allowing each to flex their favorite muscles. Quavo and Offset in particular work well in tandem, with the opening line of the latter’s verse among the best — and brightest — in a year full of them: “Offset! / Good gracious / Starin’ at my diamonds while I’m hoppin’ out the spaceship.” If aliens ever arrived on Earth to sample the best music we have to offer, “Slide” is the starting point for 2017. — DAN RYS