1. ‘Like a Prayer’ by Madonna
A truly great party has to have drama, and who better to provide this than the Queen of Pop, Madonna. Indeed, there was drama around ‘Like a Prayer’ even before the single came out in 1989—remember that Pepsi ad campaign? And then there’s the song itself: jags of electric guitar followed by a huge, cavernous drum thwack. A waft of angelic choir singing. Then: ‘Life is a mystery / Everyone must stand alone / I hear you call my name / And it feels like…’—wait for it—‘Home.’ And lo, the drumbeat kicks in and we’re thrust right into the chorus.
‘Like a Prayer’ is a crazy, outlandish, imaginative, absurd song, which makes its success as a dance-floor filler all the more ridiculous and wonderful. Add in a dollop of worldwide scandal, objections from the Vatican and the sickest gospel coda ever to feature in a pop song—and you have the greatest party song ever recorded. Ladies and gentlemen, we thank you.