danceXL 2020

danceXL 2020

Throughout 2020’s lockdown, dance music DJs and producers have had to think outside the booth: What might their fans want to hear when they can’t sweat it out under a disco ball? While underground club music largely moved online, drawing fans to digital festivals and livestreams for a good cause, the mainstream was dominated by nostalgic cuts that pined for rave culture’s heyday—the early ’90s. And Calvin Harris’ Love Regenerator side project—which delivered vintage-sounding releases such as the exemplary “Live Without Your Love” with Steve Lacy—made it clear that the ’90s were having a moment. Spiraling synthesizers, progressive builds, piano rhythms, and acid breaks replaced the bright-eyed dance pop of recent years. Harris wasn’t alone. Duke Dumont, Prospa, and Eli Brown also looked back for inspiration, with transportive, ecstatic dance cuts that drew from soul and disco. In other corners of the virtual club, melodic deep house still held strong; Paul Woolford, Diplo, and Kareen Lomax’s “Looking for Me” drew instant comparisons to a club Tracy Chapman, and SIDEPIECE’s groovy “On My Mind” went viral on TikTok. But of all the moody bangers that soundtracked 2020, none was as inescapable as Joel Corry and MNEK’s “Head & Heart,” an impossibly catchy banger-lite that had us—and everyone—humming “ba-ba-ba-dum” all year long. Revisit 2020’s biggest dance tracks right here.

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