Stylistic origins PopDanceDiscoPost-discoElectronicR&BNew Wave
Cultural origins Early 1980s
Typical instruments Drum machineKeyboardsSynthesizersVocals (sometimes rapping)
Mainstream popularity Moderate in both the U.S. & UK in the 1980s. Popular worldwide since the late 1990s.
Fusion genres
Teen pop
Other topics
Boy bands • Girl groupsEurodanceTeen pop • Stock, Aitken & Waterman • Dance-pop artists

Dance-pop is dance-oriented pop music that originated in the early 1980s. Developing from post-disco, it is generally up-tempo music intended for clubs with the intention of being danceable or merely dancey. Dance-pop music is generally characterised by strong beats with easy, uncomplicated song structures[1] which are generally more similar to pop music than the more free-form dance genre, with an emphasis on melody as well as catchy tunes.[1] The genre, on the whole, tends to be producer-driven, despite some notable exceptions.[1]

Dance-pop is a popular style and there are several artists and groups who perform in the genre. Notable ones include Madonna, Pet Shop Boys, Kylie Minogue, Rick Astley, Mel & Kim, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Bananarama, Spice Girls, Christina Aguilera, Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Selena Gomez & The Scene, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and Kesha, amongst others.


As the term "disco" started to go out of fashion by the late-1970s to early-1980s, other terms were commonly used to describe disco-based music, such as "post-disco", "club", "dance" or "dance-pop" music.[1] These genres were, in essence, a more modern variant of disco music known as post-disco, which tended to be more experimental, electronic and producer/DJ-driven, often using sequencers and synthesizers. Dance-pop music emerged in the 1980s as a form of dance, or post-disco, which was up-tempo, club-natured, producer-driven and catchy. Dance-pop was more up-tempo and dancey than regular pop music, yet more structured and less free-form than regular dance music, usually combining pop's easy structure and catchy tunes with dance music's strong beat and up-tempo nature. Dance-pop music was usually created, composed and produced by record producers who would then hire singers to perform the songs. In the 1980s, dance-pop was closely aligned to other up-tempo electronic genres, such as Hi-NRG. Prominent producers in the 80s included Stock, Aitken and Waterman, who created Hi-NRG/dance-pop for artists such as Kylie Minogue, Rick Astley and Bananarama. Prominent dance-pop artists and groups of the 80s included Madonna, the Pet Shop Boys, Whitney Houston, Paula Abdul, Mel and Kim, Janet Jackson and Michael Jackson.

By the 1990s, dance-pop music had become a major genre in popular music. Dance-pop music borrowed influences from other genres which varied by producer, artist and period. Such include contemporary R&B, house, techno and synthpop. Since dance-pop music tends to be simple, it often varies and borrows in style from its period. Several dance-pop groups and artists emerged during the decade, such as the Spice Girls, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. By the late-1990s, electronic influences became evident in dance-pop music; Madonna's critically acclaimed and commercially successful Ray of Light (1998) album incorporated techno, trance and other forms of electronic dance music, bringing electronica into mainstream dance-pop. Additionally, also in 1998, Cher released a dance-pop song called "Believe" which made usage of a technological innovation of the time, Auto-Tune. An audio processor and a form of pitch modification software, it became commonly used as a way to correct pitch, as well as to create a special effect. Ever since the 1990s, Auto-Tune became a common feature of dance-pop music.

Lady Gaga, a popular and successful dance-pop artist of the late-2000s/early-2010s.

At the beginning of the 2000s, dance-pop music was still prominent, and was highly electronic in style, influenced by genres such as trance, house, techno and electro. Nonetheless, as R&B and hip hop music became extremely popular from the early part of the decade onwards, dance-pop often borrowed a lot of its influences from urban music. Dance-pop stars from the 80s and 90s such as Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Madonna and Kylie Minogue continued to achieve success at the beginning of the decade. Whilst a lot of dance-pop at the time was R&B-influenced, many records started to return to their disco roots; Kylie Minogue's albums such as Light Years (2000) and Fever (2001) contained influences of disco music, or a new 21st century version of disco known as Nu-disco; hit singles such as "Spinning Around" (2000) and "Can't Get You Out of My Head" (2001) also contained elements of disco music.[1] In Madonna's case, her Music (2000) album contained traces of Euro disco, especially the successful eponymous lead single.[2] Nevertheless, it was not until the mid to later part of the decade that dance-pop music returned greatly to its disco roots; this can be seen with Madonna's album Confessions on a Dance Floor (2005), which contained strong disco influences, especially from 1970s artists and bands such as ABBA, Giorgio Moroder, the Bee Gees and Donna Summer. Britney Spears' Blackout contained influences of Euro disco music. The mid to late-2000s saw the arrival of several new dance-pop artists, including Rihanna, Kesha and Lady Gaga. This period in time also saw dance-pop's return to its more electronic roots aside from its disco ones, with strong influences of synthpop and electropop music; Rihanna singles in the dance-pop genre such as "Don't Stop the Music" and "Disturbia" contain electronic influences, the former of which contains elements of house music,[3] the latter electropop; Lady Gaga's singles "Just Dance" and "Poker Face" are also heavily influenced by synthpop and electropop music; Kesha's debut single, "Tik Tok", is also highly electronic in style and employs a video game beat.

The 2010s so far have, similarly to the late-2000s, seen strong electronic influences present within dance-pop music. Dance-pop artists such as Kesha, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Rihanna remain very popular, and several new dance-pop artists have or are starting to emerge.


Dance-pop music generally contains several notable characteristics, which are listed here:

  • Up-tempo, upbeat music intended for clubs, with a danceable or dancey nature.
  • Catchy songs with an easy, pop-based structure
  • A strong emphasis on beats and grooves
  • Prominent hooks
  • Simple lyrics
  • Polished productions


  1. ^ a b c d e Dance pop, Allmusic, retrieved 30 October 2011.
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