Pop and dance titles might have taken over from rock music as the go-to dance tracks, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your whole house jumping with the genre. Rock music has an energizing quality that shows whether you’re playing a slow love ballad or a headbanging masterpiece. This article will cover 35 rock songs that you should be playing at your next dance party.
1. You Shook Me All Night Long – AC/DC
What really makes a good rock dance song is an energizing guitar riff and an uptempo pace. You Shook Me All Night Long is the perfect song to get your guests howling at the rafters and moving around at your next party. It’s also one of those classic rock tracks that pretty much everyone knows, whether they’re into rock or not.
2. My Sharona – The Knack
This debut single from The Knack was the fastest single to reach gold status since The Beatles released I Want To Hold Your Hand. M-m-m-m-my Sharona will forever live as one of the catchiest songs in rock history and one that will surely have everyone on the floor.
3. Sweet Child O’ Mine – Guns N’ Roses
The intro guitar in Sweet Child O’ Mine is absolutely electric and almost mimics a siren. One of the things that makes any great dance song great is a “call-to-action” intro that’s easily recognizable. This one’s got it, and it’s a pure rock classic.
4. Can’t Stop – Red Hot Chili Peppers
The Red Hot Chili Peppers brand of funk-rock is never more on display than it is in the hit single, Can’t Stop. Jarring riffs, funky grooves, and an intro that matches Sweet Child O’ Mine for younger generations set it apart from the crowd as a rock anthem uniquely strong as music. Honestly, it should be in any party playlist, not just a rock-only one.
5. I Love Rock ‘N Roll – Joan Jett
When Joan Jett belted out her love of rock and roll, nobody knew how wide-reaching that song would be. A great arena rock track and frequently played at sporting events, I Love Rock ‘N Roll should be near the top of your rock dance party playlist. This hard-stomping number is one of the most popular classics of the genre and will have your guests swinging and swaying to the rhythm.
6. Heartbreaker – Pat Benatar
“You’re a heartbreak, Dream maker, love taker.” Look, Heartbreaker by Pat Benatar is what you get when rock reaches its highest level of energy and emotion. Anyone who’s heard the song knows the chorus by heart and that counts for something when you’re trying to pick the best dance tracks in any genre. It’s energetic, it’s memorable, and screaming along helps you relieve some stress.
7. Walk This Way – Aerosmith
Walk This Way embodies everything great about Aerosmith, and Steven Tyler and Joe Perry nailed the funky style of the song. It’s one of their biggest hits, helping vault them to mainstream stardom, and it’s not hard to see why. The chorus will have everyone strutting around and showing you exactly how they’d walk this way if Tyler was talking to them.
8. Dancing In The Dark – Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen’s step and snap is on full display in Dancing In The Dark. This song has that uptempo vibe you want in a dance track but stays fairly soft, keeping away from harsh rhythms and big bass drops. The beat for it is perfect for swinging your arms around, putting some sway in your hips, and waltzing up to the girl you’ve been waiting to ask out.
9. Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes
Pretty much the opposite of our last entry, Seven Nation Army relies on its thumping beat and inverted string plugs for its sound. It stays relatively low before exploding into guitars at the instrumental chorus, in some ways mimicking the bass drop of electronic music. Surely, a thumping party anthem that still stays true to its rock and roll roots.
10. Proud Mary – Creedence Clearwater Revival
If you’re looking for something a bit slower and more sensual, check out Proud Mary by Creedence Clearwater Revival. It’ll have everyone rolling, rolling, rolling around the dance floor. An older track and one that brings in jazzier elements than the glam rock entries to this list, this is still a solid dance song and one that works great for a change in tempo from the hair-shaking tracks you’ll probably be playing.
11. Uptown Girl – Billy Joel
Billy Joel’s Uptown Girl is a masterpiece, from its a cappella intro to when he starts singing about that uptown lady. The clear lyrics are easy to sing along with, and the shifts from verse to the chorus are perfect for changing up your moves on the dance floor. The beat is snappy, and it’s an all-time classic song that almost everyone will enjoy.
12. Twist & Shout – Beatles
We’re going pretty far back for this one, but get ready to shake it up, baby. This one’s an oldie, calling you to the floor to twist and shout your heart out for the night that still deserves a spot in your playlist today.
13. Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd
If you want to find a rock song that speaks to lovers of all genres, you can’t do a lot better than Sweet Home Alabama. It’ll land with rock, country, pop, and pretty much any other genre’s fans, as it’s an all-time classic track. All of the instrumentation for it is beautiful and will serve you well for breaking it down on a dance floor.
14. Back In Black – AC/DC
Back In Black is one of the purest rock songs out there. Heavy on the guitar riffs, the track’s chords are echoed in others like Sweet Home Alabama, and the song set the standard for harder rock tracks for decades. The vocals are just as energetic as the guitars, in the signature high-pitched experience you expect from any good AC/DC song.
15. Livin’ on a Prayer – Bon Jovi
Bon Jovi’s signature intro for this song is enough on its own to get your blood pumping. The lyrics on this one are fine, expressing the struggle of working-class jobs, but the music behind them is absolute fire. You’ll have everyone swaying and belting out the chorus, “Woah, we’re halfway there.”
16. Tell Her About It – Billy Joel
Billy Joel really wrote some bops in his time, and like Uptown Girl, Tell Her About It has an infectious energy that makes it difficult to not get up and dance. It’s another snappy single that has a bit of a softer tone, but watching Joel shuffle his feet as he sings makes you want to get up and do the same.
17. Mony Mony – Billy Idol
The up-down nature of Mony Mony, with its yelling lyrics, energetic chorus, and strong rhythm all make it a contender for one of the best rock songs to bust a groove to. One of Billy Idol’s most popular tracks, it should definitely be on your list to get people shaking around at your next event.
18. Sweet Emotion – Aerosmith
Sweet Emotion is one of the smoothest songs you can pull out of your bag. A close listen will tell you it isn’t as simple as it seems at a first glance, with layered guitar chords that you can really groove to.
19. Buddy Holly – Weezer
Buddy Holly by Weezer is just a classic song. It’s an ode to the older days of rock, incorporating elements from that bygone era into a neat, modern package. It’s upbeat, perfect for dancing with a partner, and touches a nostalgic part of your heart the way any good rock track should.
20. Summer Of ‘69 – Bryan Adams
Bryan Adams just kills it with the track, Summer of ‘69. It’s one of those early summer anthems that is full of nostalgia for older audiences and still has plenty of energy for younger crowds. You shouldn’t regret adding it to your dance-rock playlist at all, in fact, it should be encouraged.
21. The Boys Are Back In Town – Thin Lizzy
Featured in films like Shrek and A Knight’s Tale, pretty much everybody has heard this banger classic from Thin Lizzy. The Boys Are Back In Town is a solid choice for any dance party, with smooth verses and musically-breaking choruses, great rhythms, and wonderful guitar solos.
22. Carry On Wayward Son – Kansas
Is there any lyrical intro in rock as perfect as the one in Carry On My Wayward Son? The song carries on from the vocals into an inspired guitar beat to open the sound, working as the perfect call to the dance floor to get down to some of the grooviest rock music you’ll be hearing any time soon. The intro gives way to soft vocal verses that will have most of your guests waiting to wave their lighters in the air.
23. Barracuda – Heart
Heart’s biggest song and one of the highest-energy songs of the 70s, Barracuda has been featured in all kinds of media ever since it was originally released. It helps that it’s one of the few rock tracks that kind of comes with its own dance sections.
24. Crazy Train – Ozzy Osbourne
It wouldn’t be right to make this list without including at least one of The Prince of Darkness’s songs. Crazy Train is everything you want in a rock track that you plan on dancing to. With an insane intro and heavy guitar beats, it’ll have everyone at the party riding the crazy train all night long.
25. Panama – Van Halen
Speaking of absolute rock gold, we can’t leave Panama off this list. It’s got punchy guitars that you can’t help rocking out alongside and a perfect chorus for call-and-response—hint, that’s a good thing at parties. Overall, it’s a classic of the entire genre and works just as well at a dance party as it does for cruising down the highway.
26. Free Bird – Lynyrd Skynyrd
Free Bird might be nine minutes long, but it’s a wild ride from start to finish. The beginning is slow enough to slow dance to, but it has plenty of spots where it ups the tempo and rocks the house down. It’s no wonder it became the most requested concert song of all time.
27. Takin’ Care Of Business – Bachman-Turner Overdrive
Takin’ Care of Business is another one of those classic rock songs that has a bit of everything and has been plastered just about everywhere in pop culture. Some soulful and relatable lyrics mesh well with the layered instruments, and the chorus is one of the most memorable and catchy sections in the history of rock and roll.
28. Cherry Pie – Warrant
Look, this song just flat-out rocks. I was headbanging to this one by the age of five in the car when my parent’s Monsters Of Rock disc got put into the CD player. It’s impossible to go wrong playing this track.
29. Cum On Feel The Noize – Quiet Riot
Pretty sure the title for this one should have been stylized and respelled at some point but oh well. Quiet Riot’s biggest hit slaps, another of the most monstrously-popular songs in all of classic rock music.
30. Wanted Dead Or Alive – Bon Jovi
This one’s slower than the last two, by a lot, but it might have more built-up emotion than both of them combined. Bon Jovi nailed this hit so hard that it’s been covered by almost every other touring artist in the history of music.
31. Slow Ride – Foghat
Slow Ride is certainly that, driven by the crashing of cymbals and one of the best rhythm guitar sets of all time. It’s simple, but it’s also infectious. You can get just about everyone moving with this one.
32. Juke Box Hero – Foreigner
Juke Box Hero is a slow-building song that absolutely explodes into a wall of music and lyric greatness. It goes back down, back up, and down again. It’ll take your audience all over the place, from slow-energy builds to bursts of dancing.
33. (Don’t Fear) The Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult
Blue Oyster Cult casually made an almost-perfect song with this track. Layered vocals, groovy music, and uptempo choruses, what else could you ask for?
34. More Than A Feeling – Boston
Boston dropped a few of rock’s classic gems, and More Than A Feeling is no exception. Let’s be honest here, when deciding if older rock music is a good dance track, you just have to ask if it gets the white ladies turnt. If the answer is yes, put it on the playlist, and the answer is also yes for this one.
35. We Will Rock You – Queen
I don’t really have much to say on this one. If you want to get your whole crowd involved in a song, it’s hard to beat this one. Put it on the playlist.
As a contributing writer for Music Grotto, Dakotah writes and produces professional music/media content. He works closely with editorial staff to meet editorial standards and create
quality content for the Music Grotto website. Dakotah is passionate about music in a wide variety of genres, from hip-hop to country and lo-fi to metal, and he enjoys creating music pieces for Music Grotto.