Celebrate love this Valentine’s Day with five of the most romantic dance songs ever made.
When you think of dance music, what comes to mind? Jacking rhythms, surely. Maybe a tough bassline. Euphoria, definitely. But love?
Despite its long history and shared DNA with disco, R&B, and soul, there’s a surprising paucity of really romantic songs in the dance music canon. We don’t mean tracks with just a few cheeky samples from an old disco a cappella either. We mean songs that really express what it means to be in love, in all its gorgeous complexity.
While there may not be an overflow of romance coming from the DJ booths, the ones that we do get are proper, celebrate-with-your-heart love songs. Here then are five to put on a playlist and share with a long-time partner (or a hoped-for hookup!) for this year’s love day.
Did we miss any of your favourite electronic love songs? Get at us if we have.
Robin S – Show Me Love
The early ‘90s were the glory days of vocal house, when the New York garage sound went overground and gave us chart-topping classics like CeCe Peniston’s ‘Finally’ and the first in our list, ‘Show Me Love’ by Robin S.
Originally released in 1990 under the name Robin Stone, the more famous 1992 version took Robin’s original vocals and married them to a tough, club-friendly beat. The song was a massive hit and helped make the M1 organ preset a house music staple. Lyrically, ‘Show Me Love’ is less of a dewy-eyed declaration of romance than a mature request for commitment. “If you’re looking for devotion”, Robin sings, “talk to me. Come with your heart in your hands because my love is guaranteed”.
A classic that has only gotten better with time, ‘Show Me Love’ deserves to be on any list of dance music love songs.
Daft Punk – Digital Love
Daft Punk’s 2001 album Discovery was jam-packed with incredible songs but for Valentine’s Day, it has to be the record’s third single, ‘Digital Love’.
Built around a sample from George Duke’s jazz disco classic ‘I Love You More’, ‘Digital Love’ is pure teenage unrequited love. The lyrics – written by DJ Sneak and performed by Daft Punk – tell of a dream and falling in love on the dance floor, equating the power and mystery of the night with new love. But just as the two embrace, the dreamer is awakened by the rising sun and, “Before I knew it, this dream was all gone”.
With its disco loop, yearning lyrics and insane synthesized solo, it’s pure pop nostalgia and one that is sure to spark any love dancing flame.
Chase & Status Feat. Jenna – In Love
The flip side of ‘Digital Love’-style teenage crush is the kind of jaded and resigned love that Jenna sings about in Chase & Status’ mighty drum and bass stormer, ’In Love’.
Featuring as a bonus track on the second edition of Chase & Status’ debut album, More Than Alot, ‘In Love’ marries a towering horn line and Jenna’s powerful vocals to a rolling Amen break and deep, heart-quaking sub bass. It’s essentially a ‘70s soul song redone in a drum and bass style for the oughts. The key to the power of the song is Jenna’s vocals. The former Un-Cut singer makes every pained word felt: “My insides so sore. Finding it hard to let go. ‘Cause I’m still, I’m still in love”. Heartbreaking.
It might not be the song to play at your wedding but there’s no denying the emotional power of this love song.
Layo & Bushwacka! – Love Story
You can’t have a list of dance music love songs without ‘Love Story’. Layo & Bushwacka!’s 2002 song crossed genres and, in the follow up ‘Love Story (Vs Finally)’, even artists, to become one of the more unique and free-flowing dance hits of the 2000s. It’s also romantic AF.
The original, largely instrumental ‘Love Story’ appeared on the duo’s second album, Night Works. With vocals sampled from Nina Simone, a massive bassline nicked off Devo, and an organic arrangement that prioritized feeling over dance floor utility, it was every inch deserving of its hit status. The following year the song was re-released as ‘Love Story (Vs Finally)’, now sporting vocals borrowed from the gorgeous ‘Finally’ by The Kings Of Tomorrow.
‘Love Story’ is an example of a song that sounds like love rather than one that talks about it. There are many kinds of love and the one that you experience on a dance floor, communing with a thousand strangers in the middle of the night, is no less powerful than the kind that brings two people together in partnership.
Frankie Knuckles – Your Love
One of the first Chicago house tracks ever made, ‘Your Love’ by Frankie Knuckles and Jamie Principle is a sexy, synth-lead song about physical love.
The words to ‘Your Love’ were written by Jamie Principle in the early ‘80s as a poem and later as a song with a different vocalist. Frankie Knuckles re-recorded the song, now with Principle on lead vocals, and the cut was played around the Chicago underground before it was officially released, now with added instrumentation by DJ Mark “Hot Rod” Trollan. There were multiple releases of the record, including one credited to Jamie Principle, but the Trax version as Frankie Knuckles is the most famous.
‘Your Love’ speaks of obsessive love, of “fantasizing all the time”, and visions that “blow my mind”. This is a story of new love, of lust even, that period when you can’t get enough of your lover’s physical presence. It’s the kind of song that makes perfect sense in an intimate and sweaty club or a passionate listening session at home.
To call ‘Your Love’ seminal would be an understatement. It’s a landmark moment in dance music and one hell of a sexy track.
While you’re here:
Learn how to make the ‘Your Love’ Synth:
Listen to our Change The Record podcast with Bushwacka:
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