Dance Pop 101: Your Ultimate Guide


After Spotify Wrapped 2021, many people scratched their heads over what Dance Pop was. Unexpectedly finding dance-pop artists at the top of their most-listened lists, those unfamiliar rushed to Google for answers.

As big fans of Dance Pop, we are here to help you. Curious about the genre? Read on!

What are examples of Dance Pop?

Dance Pop music is a genre of electronic dance music that contains music most suitable for nightclubs but is accessible enough to find its way onto pop radio. It is often very eclectic, incorporating elements from multiple genres such as R&B, Trance, Techno, House, Funk, and more.

Dance Pop In The 1980s

First, let’s start with an overview of the genre’s origins.

Dance pop music has roots in disco, but dance pop music emerged in the early 80s in response to the waning popularity of disco music. More experimental than its predecessor and more electronic and synth-based, Dance Pop featured a more DJ-driven sound. The music was simple but still more structured than traditional dance music. In addition, the music was aligned closely with other high-tempo electronic genres, such as Hi-NRG, itself an offshoot of disco music.

Early dance pop music pioneers included George Michael and Wham, whose “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” is one of the most recognizable dance-pop songs of all time. Other artists during this time include Madonna, who helped further develop dance-pop into major commercial hits like “Holiday” (1983). Cyndi Lauper’s cover of Robert Hazard’s 1978 song “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and Whitney Houston’s dance pop song called “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” (1987) are other notable examples.

Dance Pop In The 1990s-2000s

While dance pop music is still popular today, it wasn’t until the early 90s that more artists found success with this sound. That’s when club-friendly acts like Britney Spears, Ace of Base, Spice Girls, and others all were dominating pop radio charts! In addition, while the early 90s iteration of the genre borrowed influences from R&B, House, and New Jack Swing, more elements of electronica began to creep in steadily into dance music, making electronica very popular in mainstream pop.

By the late 1990s and early 2000s, dance-pop completed its shift towards real electronic influence, borrowing elements from trance, house, and electro. This allowed artists like Kylie Minogue and Madonna to again achieve success, with Kylie’s “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” becoming a smash hit in the early 2000s. Madonna, herself a pioneer of dance pop, would help return the genre to its disco roots with Confessions on A Dance Floor in 2005 containing elements of Euro Disco. Her lead single from “Hung Up” sampled ABBA’s 1979 classic “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)”

More recently, in the 2010s and 2020s, there’s been a continued interest in dance pop music with artists such as Carly Rae Jepsen, Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Lady Gaga, and Katy Perry finding chart success.

Prominent Dance Pop Artists



Madonna has been credited with popularizing dance pop music and has had several hit songs over the years. Some of her most famous tracks include “Material Girl,” “Like a Prayer,” “Vogue,” and “Like A Virgin,” and “Hung Up.” The female dance pop vocalist is also well-known for her stage performances, which often incorporate provocative visuals and themes.



Cher, “The Goddess of Pop,” is a dance music icon, and rightfully so. Recognizable for her unique contralto singing voice, Cher is still wowing crowds with her singing voice well into her 70s. Achieving a number one single with her duet with Sonny Bono, “I Got You, Babe,” Cher continued to rise in popularity throughout the decades. Cher would go on to release hits such as “Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves,” “Dark Lady,” and “If I Could Turn Back Time.”, exploring many different genres. However, Cher’s most notable hit was her famous contribution to Dance Pop, the smash hit “Believe” (1999), widely credited for introducing autotune to the masses.


Janet Jackson: 

Janet Jackson is one of the most successful artists in history, with over 100 million records sold worldwide. Some of Janet Jackson’s most famous songs include “What Have You Done For Me Lately?” “Control,” and “Nasty.”


Michael Jackson:

Success must run in the family, as the late Michael Jackson is the most successful dance pop musician with over 1 Billion records sold worldwide. An enigma in pop music, he was known for his innovative music, dance moves, and stage performances. Michael’s eccentric personal life lead him to become a darling of the paparazzi, with Michael’s name almost always in the tabloids throughout his lifetime. His hits include songs like “Bad,” “Billie Jean,” and “Thriller.”


Cyndi Lauper: 

Cyndi Lauper is an American singer, actress, and LGBT activist. Her debut album “She’s So Unusual” (1983) was a significant success and yielded four top-five singles on the Billboard Hot 100, including the number-one hit “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” This was a first for a female pop artist at the time.


Kylie Minogue: 

Kylie Minogue is an Australian singer and the highest-selling Australian artist of all time. She first achieved fame in the late 1980s with “Locomotion.” Since then, she has had several successful albums and singles. Some of her most famous songs include “Can’t Get You Out of My Head,” “Spinning Around,” and “Locomotion.”


Ace of Base: 

Ace of Base is a Swedish pop group, who rose to international fame in the 1990s with their debut album “The Sign,” which yielded the hit singles “All That She Wants,” “The Sign,” and “Don’t Turn Around.”


Spice Girls

The Spice Girls is a British pop girl group formed in 1994. Initially composed of Emma Bunton, Geri Halliwell, Mel B, Melanie C, and Victoria Beckham, they had their first UK number one hit with “Wannabe” in 1996. Shortly after this, they released their second album “Spiceworld.” It was followed by their third album, “Forever,” which has sold more than four million copies worldwide.


Britney Spears: 

Britney Spears is another big name in dance pop who started her career in the late 1990s. Her debut single “…Baby One More Time” (1999) was an instant hit and reached number one in multiple countries. She would go on to have many other successful singles like “Oops!… I Did It Again” (2000), “I’m a Slave For You” (2001), “Toxic” (2004), which all ranked high on Dance charts worldwide.


Lady Gaga:

Lady Gaga is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. She first broke through a solo artist in 2008 with her first album, “The Fame” (later reissued as The Fame Monster). This album contained a series of dance pop tracks well received by critics and fans alike.

Gaga has since released other albums that have performed well on the Billboard charts, including “Born This Way” (2011). While her popularity fluctuated over the years, her performance on A Star is Born reinvigorated her career with the smash hit “Shallow.”


Katy Perry:

Katy Perry is another pop star who rose to fame in the late 2000s with her hit singles “I Kissed a Girl” (2008), “California Gurls” (2010), and Teenage Dream,” which all made it on top of dance charts.

Perry’s first album was named after her birth name (Katy Hudson), but from there, she reinvented herself into the pop star she is today. She has since released many other albums like “One of the Boys” (2008), “Teenage Dream” (2010), “Prism “(2013).” Witness “(2017), and Smile (2020).


Ariana Grande:

While Ariana first began her musical career at 15 on Broadway, Ariana Grande first came to fame in 2013 when she played the role of Cat Valentine on the Nickelodeon show “Victorious.”

She would later obtain a record deal due to covers of hers being discovered by executives on YouTube, and from there, it was history. In 2013, Grande released her first studio album, “Yours Truly,” which debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart. The album contained “The Way” and “Baby I,” which reached number 9 and number 21, respectively. Grande’s second studio album, “My Everything” (2014), also reached number one in the United States. It spawned the hit singles “Love Me Harder,” “Bang Bang,” and “One Last Time.” Ariana has continued to dominate the pop charts ever since.

Best Dance Pop Songs

“Can’t Get You Out of My Head” by Kylie Minogue

This song was a worldwide number-one hit in 2001, reaching top honors in 40 countries. It became Minoque’s first top ten single in 13 years in the US and was inescapable in 2001. It’s a catchy tune that will get stuck in your head for days, and it’s definitely dance-pop at its best!

“Wannabe” by Spice Girls

This song was the group’s debut single and reached number one in several countries, making it one of the most successful dance-pop songs of the 1990s. So, if you want to hear some classic girl power, this is the song for you!

“Toxic” by Britney Spears

In 2004, Spears released her fourth studio album, “In The Zone,” containing “Toxic.” This is one of Britney’s best with an iconic sampled string section.

“Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga

Released in 2009 as the lead single from Gaga’s third EP, “The Fame Monster.” With a unique, theatrical music video and dynamic dance beats, this song is one of Lady Gaga’s biggest hits.

“Believe” by Cher

This song was released in 1998 as the lead single from Cher’s twenty-second studio album “Believe.” The dance-pop hit exploded upon release. It was notable for its pioneering use of autotune. While some use the effect to pitch correct imperfect performances, Cher used it for special effects, making a vocal effect unlike anything else.

“I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston

This song was released in 1987 as the lead single from Houston’s second studio album “Whitney.” It quickly became a worldwide hit and remained one of Whitney Houston’s most iconic tracks. With its upbeat rhythm and powerful vocals, it’s no wonder this song is still so popular today.

“Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham!

Released in 1984 as the lead single from Wham! ‘s second studio album, “Make It Big.” With its instantly recognizable “jitterbug!” intro, this song is a must-listen for any dance-pop enthusiast. It’s one of George Michael’s most iconic songs!

Other popular dance music genres include house, trance, techno, and electro. While they may not be directly considered “dance-pop,” there are elements of these genres that often appear in those kinds of songs. For example, house music is typically known for its upbeat rhythms and catchy beats, usually found in dance pop songs. And Trance music is often characterized by its emotional melodies and euphoric sound, which can also be heard in some dance-pop tracks. So if you’re looking to explore more types of dance music beyond just pop and dance pop, these are a great place to start!


If you were looking to learn more about dance pop or dance music, we hope this article gave you a good start. Have any questions, or think we missed something? Let us know in the comments!

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