Today, there are various names for genres of music that sound techno. Back in the ’90s, this type of music was generally referred to as “club” or “freestyle” music. What all of these songs on this list have in common is that you can dance to them. So revisit some of these party hits and enter that ’90s portal of time that we all miss in some way or another.
Number Ten: “In a Dream” by Rockell. “In a Dream” is a song by Rockell, off of her 1998 debut album What Are You Lookin’ At? Technically, the song was released as a single in 1997, and it peaked at #6 on the Canada Singles chart and #13 on the US Billboard Hot Dance Music chart. The song was written and produced by Randy Taylor-Weber, and interestingly, the song was first created by the all-girl-group First Kiss in 1989. This song was immensely popular on radio stations and rightfully so.
Number Nine: “Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!!” by VengaBoys. “Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!!” is a song by VengaBoys, off of their 1999 album The Party Album. The song peaked at #1 in the UK, Sweden, Scotland, Norway, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Canada and Belgium. This Dutch Eurodance group was not a one-hit wonder; their 1998 single “We Like to Party” achieved worldwide success. However, I chose this track instead as I like the vocals better, not to mention it brings back tons of memories of dance parties I would have at sleepovers with friends. It was the ultimate party anthem back in the day, no matter how silly the chorus was.
Number Eight: “Run Away” by Real McCoy. “Run Away” is a song by German Eurodance group, Real McCoy. It was released in 1994 off of the album Another Night. The female vocals in the song are sung by Karin Kasar. The song peaked at #3 on the US Billboard Top 40 Mainstream charts, the US Billboard Hot Dance Music charts and the US Billboard Hot 100 charts. While I could have used their catchy pop/dance song “Another Night,” I like this song because of what it was written about. The lyrics were written about George Orwell’s 1949 novel, 1984. The band even made a music video surrounding this theme, although it was rejected in North America by Arista Records. Another Night contains many dance/pop hits, including “Automatic Lover,” “Love & Devotion” and “Come and Get Your Love.” It also features the almost trip-hop-like “Sleeping with an Angel”- my personal favorite track on the record.
Number Seven: “Show Me Love” by Robin S. “Show Me Love” is a song by Robin S., off of her album of the same name. The song was released in 1990 in the UK and in 1993 in the US. The song peaked at #1 on the US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play charts, #2 on the Canada Dance charts, #5 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and #6 on the UK Singles chart. The song was written by Fred McFarlane and Allen George, was remixed several times and was sampled in songs by artists like Kid Ink and Jason Derulo. The song is often confused with Robyn’s 1997 hit song, “Show Me Love” (which I considered for this list, but thought it was more pop than club).
Number Six: “Ready to Go” by Republica. “Ready to Go” is a song by English alt-rock band Republica, off of their self-titled 1996 debut album. Technically this album features the US mix and the original mix of the song; the original recording of the song didn’t come out until the release of the band’s greatest hits. The original mix version of the song is probably the most popular, differing from other songs on this list as it sounds techno but features electric guitar. This version peaked at #40 in Australia and #43 in the UK. The song has been used in everything from sports and advertising to film and television.
Number Five: “Dreamboy/Dreamgirl” by Cynthia & Johnny O. “Dreamboy/Dreamgirl” is a song by Cynthia & Johnny O, released separately on an album by each artist (1990’s Cynthia II and Like a Stranger.) This song is pure freestyle and carries with it the pop/dance elements of 80s songs. The song peaked at #17 on the US Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales chart and #53 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart; this song duet was the most successful song for either artist in their careers. I remember hearing my sisters blare this song on their boom boxes, and it brings back lots of memories.
Number Four: “Give me a Reason” by Buffy. “Give me a Reason” is a song by Buffy, off of her 1996 album First Love. I find when thinking of dance hits of the 90s, many forget about this one. Back in the day, this was called freestyle music and was considered to be in the same vein as Collage and Stevie B (FYI- I wanted so badly to put “Spring Love” on this list but that record came out in 1988). The lyrics describe a girl whose lover has abandoned her but comes crawling back; however, she needs him to give her ‘a reason’ to take him back. It has the perfect dance groove and is one of my favorite songs on this list.
Number Three: “Jellyhead” by Crush. “Jellyhead” is a song by duo Crush, off of their 1996 album, Teenage Kicks. The song peaked at #50 in the UK, while after being signed under Robbins Entertainment, the song peaked at #72 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and #43 on the US Billboard Hot Dance Music chart. It’s hard to imagine I was only eight years old when this song came out, but I loved it nonetheless (To this day, I’m not sure what a ‘jellyhead’ is, although I imagine it’s something along the lines of a person who just doesn’t get reality).
Number Two: “It Feels So Good” by Sonique. “It Feels So Good” is a song by Sonique, off of her 2000 album Hear Me Cry. However, the song was released in 1998 and was officially remixed by Can 7 Soulfood Club, Serious and The Conductor & The Cowboy’s Amnesia. The song peaked at #1 in the UK, Norway, Canada and on the US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play charts. As far as what the song’s about, this is what Sonique said: “It’s about this guy whom I really liked years ago, but who didn’t return my feelings. For he was very successful and I wasn’t – at that time. And he thought that I was in love with his success. This song is just a way of declaring that it was him I liked.” When this song came out, I felt like I was the only one who liked it, despite how popular it became. I remember grooving along to the music alone in my room. I also liked Sonique’s song “Sky.”
Number One: “Better off Alone” by Alice DeeJay. “Better off Alone” is a song by Dutch euro-dance group Alice DeeJay, off of their 2000 album, Who Needs Guitars Anyway? Although this album was released in 2000, the song “Better off Alone” was released in 1998. In 1998, it was released on the label ISBA Music Entertainment Inc., but was re-released under Republic, Positiva and Universal in 1999. The song was the creation of DJ Sebastiaan Molijn, who first thought the track should be instrumental; however, after a break-up, he thought of the lyric, “do you think you’re better off alone.” The vocals in the song are sung by Judith Pronk. The song peaked at #2 in Canada, #4 in Australia, #3 in Ireland and Norway and #3 on the US Billboard Hot Dance Club songs chart. This song reminds me of going to teenage raves and school dances, aligned with strobe lights and glow sticks.