Top 5 Songs I’d Play At A Party

(originally featured on the Oct. 3, 2008 show)

I will be the first to admit that I don’t listen to a whole lot of “party” music. Or at least not in the traditional sense — I don’t really have much hip-hop or dance music in my collection, which seem to be the most popular party genres. But if I were to pick some songs to play at a party, these would be the ones I’d choose.

5. Bloc Party, “Flux”

When Bloc Party first hit the scene, they weren’t really known for making dance music. Silent Alarm, their debut, contained some pretty awesome indie rock/post-punk/whatever you want to call it. Then A Weekend In The City came out and it was a much, much less intense record. (I once described that album’s lead single, “I Still Remember,” as “pretty much what you’d get if [Coldplay frontman] Chris Martin became the lead singer of Snow Patrol.”) Then all of a sudden — like, completely out of nowhere — Bloc Party starts tinkering with dance music and distorting Kele Okereke’s vocals. “Flux” couldn’t possibly sound more different from the material on their first two albums, which is why I was baffled when it was included on the iTunes re-release of A Weekend In The City. It’s also featured as a bonus track on their newest album, Intimacy, yet I think it would have been a better choice for lead single than their actual choice, “Mercury.”  Plus, all the synths and up-tempo percussion in “Flux” make it Bloc Party’s most danceable song to date, and perfect party material.

4. Electric Six, “Danger! High Voltage!”

This song is something of a guilty pleasure for me. I mean, it’s just so… goofy. The disco beats, the silly shrieks of Jack White, and those lyrics! How can you not love a song whose opening lyrics are “Fire in the disco/Fire in the Taco Bell”? Everyone involved in creating this song clearly knew they were making a campy song, so they just decided to make it as campy as possible. The result is hilariously entertaining stuff. This is one of those songs that I strongly recommend you put on if you’re in a bad mood, because as soon as you hear Dick Valentine start shouting about Taco Bell catching on fire you can’t help but smile. And of course as a party song it’s good old-fashioned silly fun.

3. Radiohead, “Idioteque”

“Idioteque” is one of the coolest songs of Radiohead’s illustrious career.  “Idioteque”‘s glitchy drum machines and repeating sample of “Mild Und Leise,” an electronic instrumental by Paul Lansky, marked the biggest departure from Radiohead’s earlier guitar-rock sound when Kid A was released in 2000. Since then they’ve released electronic experiments like “The Gloaming (Softly Open Our Mouths In The Cold),” “Backdrifts (Honeymoon Is Over),” “15 Step,” and the downright bizarre “Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors” — and that’s just the stuff that made the cuts on their albums. But “Idioteque,” despite its lyrics suggesting that something frightening is going on (my guess is global warming, what with the repetition of the phrase “Ice Age coming”) and that “We’re not scaremongering/This is really happening,”  is always lots of fun to listen to and surprisingly easy to dance to. Hard to believe this came from the same guys who wrote “Creep.”

2. Justice, “D.A.N.C.E.”

As I said on my show, “If this song doesn’t make you want to D.A.N.C.E., then you need to check yourself for a P.U.L.S.E.” Sigh… me and my cheesy jokes. Anyway, these guys are a French electronic band who specialize in the same kind of funk and disco grooves that Daft Punk (also French) is known for. And also like Daft Punk, they’re pretty good at it. This song is just plain fun to listen to, and you’ll definitely want to crank up the bass when it comes on. And speaking of French electronic bands…

1. Daft Punk, “Harder Better Faster Stronger”

Guys, this is about as awesome as dance music gets. Granted, that’s not saying much since I don’t listen to a lot of dance music, but still… the guys in Daft Punk are geniuses. This song pretty much singlehandedly justifies the existence of the vocoder and its use in music, and no matter how many robot singers out there abuse the technology ad nauseum to cover up the fact that they can’t sing (coughcoughT-Paincoughcough), nothing they ever do could possibly diminish the awesomeness of its use here. Like, picture someone trying to sing lyrics to the tune of a slick guitar solo. That’s kind of what they do with the vocoder here. It’s funky, it’s catchy as hell, and it’s the #1 song I’d play at a party if I were in charge of the music.

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