Music can make or break a party. From trap and house to teen pop and EDM, a single energetic song can revive an otherwise dead atmosphere. For this issue on party culture at Penn, Street staff is sharing some of their favorite party anthems, including the most overplayed tracks at formals and the most underrated bops while pregaming.
–Evan Qiang, Music editor
“Sex on Fire” — Kings of Leon
Fourteen years ago, our fathers (Kings of Leon) brought forth on this continent a song to end all songs (“Sex on Fire”), and the world has never been the same. There is no song like it. I love synth–saturated dance–pop as much as, if not more than, the next teenager, but something about “Sex on Fire's” classically head–banging, hair–tossing, and heart–racing frenzy of guitars and drums gone wild hits a deliciously different note.
–Anjali Kishore, Ego beat
“Telephone” — Lady Gaga ft. Beyoncé
The early 2010s belonged to the one and only Lady Gaga, who put out bangers like “Just Dance” and “Born This Way,” but no song has captured the public's attention more than “Telephone.” The track trades passionate lines about the fear of suffocation from the media and being unable to relax and have fun on the dance floor without public scrutiny. The cherry on top is the bombastic ten–minute music video where Beyoncé bails Gaga out of jail only for the pair to poison unsuspecting customers at a diner. Talk about an extravagant statement.
–Derek Wong, Music beat
“disco tits” — Tove Lo
Complete with references to hard nipples and getting “high as fuck,” Tove Lo’s “disco tits” embodies everything a pregame anthem should be. With sexually charged lyrics and clean, campy production, this track is mindlessly fun and downright infectious in its confidence. Encapsulating the irreverent haze of losing yourself at the club, “disco tits” sets the stage for a perfect night out.
–Kira Wang, Style editor
“Buttons” — The Pussycat Dolls ft. Snoop Dogg
Without fail, I request “Buttons” at every party I go to—and it never disappoints. I always start off arguing its merits with a straight man, but by 20 seconds in, everyone is feeling themselves, and by 60 seconds in, they’re feeling each other. And that’s the power of “Buttons.”
–Emily White, Editor-in-Chief
“XR2” — M.I.A.
With little more than a ramshackle drum track, an infectious air raid horn sample, and M.I.A.'s swaggy emceeing, “XR2” can turn any dance floor into a war zone. As questionably as Kala's—and by extension, Maya Arulpragasam's—politics have aged, its minimalist, glitchy, globalist party bangers have never sounded more refreshing. And "XR2," a rave track about raving with nonsensical lyrics and a brain–meltingly good dynamic build–up, is the best argument for that less–is–more approach to club tracks.
–Walden Green, Print editor
“Dynamite” — Taio Cruz
One word—DYNAMITE. Taio Cruz’s 2010 electropop hit will make you want to “throw your hands up in the air sometimes, sayin’ ‘Ayo, gotta let go.”’ Playing this catchy, electric song at any party will ignite you, fill you with nostalgia, and make you feel like you’re going to explode (in a good way).
–Emma Marks, Staff writer
“Dance With You” — Arkells, Cœur De Pirate, Aly & AJ
Canadian band Arkells’s “Dance With You” features Quebec–based singer Cœur De Pirate and the dynamic American pop duo Aly & AJ. The track is retro, addictive, and glamorous. Cœur De Pirate’s verse wields the kind of lyrical power that makes you feel like you're dancing at a bar in Paris.
–Emilee Gu, Features writer
“Después de la Playa” — Bad Bunny
“Después de la Playa” paints a splashy image of a humid Puerto Rican summer and a salty ocean breeze—it’s certain to satisfy cravings for a sexy summer anthem. Bad Bunny masterfully marries new–wave Perreo and classic merengue in this song from his hit album Un Verano Sin Ti. This song is a certifiable party soundtrack and jumps out of the speakers in your car or on the dance floor—I just can’t get enough of it.
–Natalia Castillo, Staff writer
“Back That Azz Up” — JUVENILE, Lil Wayne, Mannie Fresh
“Back That Azz Up” is a timeless triumph of hip–hop, capable of attracting swarms of people to any dance floor within its first few instantly recognizable seconds. Some say it’s equally as challenging to climb Mount Everest as it is to not shake ass to this beat.
–Jessa Glassman, Arts beat
“Free” — Florence + The Machine
For all of the socially–awkward friends when it comes to partying, don’t worry—Florence + The Machine conveniently wrote a song that’s a metaphor for her anxiety! This song can be our little secret—one that sounds like liquid courage, but for those listening closely, is there to relate when Florence sings, “I’m on fire, but I’m trying not to show it / As it picks me up, puts me down.” With the heartbeat of a hummingbird, “Free” is a dancing–barefoot type of song. And I hope with its musical marathon of a chorus, you too can feel free.
–Emily Maiorano, Arts beat
“Hella Good” — No Doubt
Everyone loves queen Gwen Stefani, and while her solo hits have made many an appearance at Penn parties, I never hear songs from her No Doubt era. “Hella Good,” from the band’s 2001 album Rock Steady, has all the ingredients to be a party classic: a danceable, energetic beat and lyrics that are easy to sing along to (all you gotta know is “keep on dancing”). It’s funky, it’s loud, and it’s fucking sexy.
–Arielle Stranger, Assignments editor
“Super Bass” — Nicki Minaj
Hearing the opening beat of Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass” is like an instant time machine to a decade ago in the best way possible. Though the song is criminally underplayed now, it feels like everyone still managed to store all the words to Minaj’s rap classic somewhere in the back of their minds. Simply no one can resist its clubby, effervescent dance beat and sugary hook.
–Samara Himmelfarb, Music beat
“CUFF IT” — Beyoncé
With her long–awaited seventh studio album RENAISSANCE, Beyoncé brings together the dance pop, house, and R&B genres to create a modern homage to Black dance music of the '70s and '80s. “CUFF IT” begins with the exclamation, “I feel like falling in love / I’m in the mood to fuck somethin' up,” exemplifying the song’s flirty and carefree vibe. Bey released RENAISSANCE intending to create a place to “scream, release, [and] feel freedom,” and this song's flirty lyrics and vibrant dance beat perfectly capture that liberatory feeling.
–Naima Small, Style beat
“Misery Business” — Paramore
“Misery Business” will make you want to dye your hair red and scream at your ex in the middle of the dance floor—so a normal frat party experience, but this time you’re listening to music that’s good.
–Sruthi Srinivas, Focus beat
“Dancing On My Own” — Robyn
Don’t be fooled by its title—“Dancing On My Own” is the perfect party song for everyone to dance to together. While more suited for a house party than a frat basement, the song is all about dancing like no one else is watching. From the first notes of its iconic synth beat, “Dancing On My Own” is one of music’s best sad disco anthems.
–Jacob Pollack, Film & TV beat
“Call Me Maybe” — Carly Rae Jepsen
Ten years after its release, “Call Me Maybe” continues to be the defining pop classic of the century. From its saccharine energy to its delightfully cheesy music video, Carly Rae Jepsen’s signature track will remain a nostalgic artifact of the last decade when bubblegum pizzazz ruled the radios. It’s impossible to ignore the lively spirit and contagious vigor of “Call Me Maybe,” making it the perfect escape from reality.
–Evan Qiang, Music editor