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The past year has seen a lot of significant new trends in popular music. Apps like Tik Tok now have a huge influence on what songs become a hit, songs are becoming shorter and shorter thanks to the influence of streaming, and a seeming wave of nostalgia has seen the sound of disco make a big comeback. That love of older sounds has also been behind another developing trend: the classic pop sample in dance songs. Of course, dance music has a history steeped in the art of sampling, but as Billboard notes, artists like Whitney Houston are having their music revived as not just a subtle sample, but the basis for the entire chorus of hit songs.

So what does this mean for the music in your bar or restaurant? In the world of music programming, we often speak about the “fun and familiar” factor. When you have a diverse audience spanning a wide variety of demographics, it can be a challenge to play music that appeals to the whole crowd at once. It’s no coincidence you hear the same hundred songs played at every wedding you’ve ever attended! But with hit dance music that has a prominent sample of classic pop music, not only are you guaranteed a fun, upbeat tune that your younger audiences will recognize, but that sample will perk up the ears of your guests who remember when the original song was burning up the charts too. With that in mind, here are our top 5 favorite dance/EDM songs with a famous pop sample:


  1. Clean Bandit & Whitney Houston – How Will I Know

Sometimes a song is so iconic there’s no point in even changing the name. That’s the case here, with Clean Bandit’s super fun flip of the classic Whitney Houston tune. Having dropped in September of this year, the song is already in the mainstream pop charts and we’re sure will only continue to gain airplay.


  1. Elton John & Dua Lipa – Cold Heart (PNAU Remix)

Another new track brought to us at summer’s end, this infectious song samples Elton John’s 1989 song Sacrifice. Not only does it sample that song, but listen closely and you may pick up lyrical references to Elton songs such as Rocket Man and Someone Saved My Life tonight as well.


  1. Kygo – What’s Love Got to Do With It

Perhaps it would be fair to call Kygo the true master of this trend. Not only has he made this hit song with an undeniably dance-y Tina Turner sample, he’s also performed the same trick with samples from Donna Summer and Whitney Houston.


  1. David Guetta, MistaJam, & John Newman – If You Really Love Me (How Will I Know)

Speaking of Whitney Houston, her song How Will I Know has been exceedingly popular as a sample in 2021. Before Clean Bandit remixed it, David Guetta and friends had their go at updating the classic pop hit. As MistaJam put it “I grew up with that record – fond memories of that peach cover sitting next to the stereo, Arista label rotating on the turntable at the top of the stacking system.”


  1. Eric Prydz – Call On Me

Not a phenomenon exclusive to 2021, we figured it would only be appropriate to finish our list off with an iconic track of the EDM genre (with a slightly racy video iconic in its own right). This samples the classic Steve Winwood hit Valerie, and reportedly when Steve Winwood heard the remix “he thought it was so good, he not only gave his permission to use the samples, he even re-recorded his vocals especially for the track”.

To learn more about the playlists where you can hear these and more great music for your restaurant or bar, click here

Or, if you’d like to learn more about what goes into designing and curating our playlists, click here

Andrew Moss

Andrew Moss is a Playlist Specialist at Control Play, passionate about helping thousands of bars, restaurants, bowling centers, family entertainment centers and more create the ideal music atmosphere for their business. When not working with business owners looking to create a stellar guest atmosphere, Andrew enjoys sipping a cold Alexander Keith’s and listening to Rolling Stones records. Andrew has previously worked as a radio DJ, music reviewer, and band manager.

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