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Best House Music Tracks to Turn Up Ahead of Beyoncé Renaissance – Oprah Mag

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Explore all that house music has to offer, from Frankie Knuckles to CeCe Peniston and Crystal Waters.
Just days after announcing her forthcoming album

Renaissance (set to release on July 29), Beyoncé’s new single, “Break My Soul,” sent the Beyhive into a frenzy and onto the dance floor. Featuring Big Freedia, the feel-good track, which was coproduced with Tricky Stewart and The-Dream—who also cowrote Beyoncé’s 2009 megahit "Single Ladies"—takes a nod at now-iconic house anthems of the early ’90s, including Robin S’s “Show Me Love.”
But it doesn’t come as a big surprise: A recent interview with British Vogue’s editor in chief, Edward Enninful, hinted at Beyoncé’s new musical era. Upon the first listen of the highly anticipated LP, Enninful made this stunning note: “Instantly, a wall of sound hits me. Soaring vocals and fierce beats combine and in a split second I’m transported back to the clubs of my youth. I want to get up and start throwing moves. It’s music I love to my core. Music that makes you rise, that turns your mind to cultures and subcultures, to our people past and present, music that will unite so many on the dance floor, music that touches your soul.”
So, if Beyoncé is about to give us four-on-the-floor tempos, it behooves newbies and house purists alike to take a deeper dive into the genre that emerged in Chicago in the 1980s from its Black founding fathers, including Frankie Knuckles, Larry Heard (aka Mr. Fingers), Ron Hardy, and Marshall Jefferson. While the list below is merely scratching the surface of the brilliance house music has to offer, here are 12 noteworthy tracks to stream ahead of Beyoncé’s Renaissance.
You can’t go wrong with lyrics that spell out exactly what you should be doing when you hear the sweet sounds of house music: “Give me that house music to set me free / Lost in house music is where I wanna be.” Released in 1986, this gem is among the first house songs to feature piano chords, which would later become a staple sound within the genre. Fun fact: Prior to “Move Your Body,” Jefferson dropped his debut track, “Go Wild Rhythm Trax,” under his Virgo alias.

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“Can You Feel It” was born out of using merely two cassette decks, a Roland Juno-60 synthesizer, and a TR-909 drum machine. If Knuckles is known as the “Godfather of House,” then Mr. Fingers (Larry Heard) is surely the godfather of house music’s cousin: deep house. The subgenre combines traditional Chicago house music elements with jazz and funk-inspired harmonies and bass lines. So it’s safe to say that you can’t talk about deep house without mentioning this 1986 tune off Mr. Finger’s Washing Machine EP. The raw warmth of this track oozes through its body roll-inducing bass lines and subtle synths.
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Known as the “Godfather of House,” Bronx native Frankie Knuckles helped define the genre through a signature production style that eventually became the benchmark soundscape for future generations. Featuring a whistle-sampled hook, “The Whistle Song” is a sultry 1991 number that’s just as much of an earworm now as it was in its heyday. Using techniques like percussion breaks and tempo transitions, Knuckles remixed disco, soul, and funk classics before sharing them with clubgoers at Chicago-based nightclub The Warehouse, which birthed and named house music.
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Ah, the zingy piano chords and pulsating beat make “Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless)” an essential dance tune. This award-winning house anthem makes you want to work the runway, then hit up the dance floor and stay there for hours! The “La Da Dee La Da Da” refrain is super catchy and instantly compels you to sing along. The track garnered so much popularity that the sketch comedy show In Living Color created a hilarious parody.
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Serving as the former beauty queen CeCe Peniston’s debut single, 1991’s “Finally” captures part of the essence of what house music is about: dancing and having a good time. The vibrant piano, thumping bass line, and power-packed vocals of this colorful track contributed to its success. "Finally" reached number one on the Dance Club Songs chart and cracked the top five on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was even featured in the 1994 cult classic film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, further cementing its impact, especially among LGBTQ+ listeners. What started out as a poem while Peniston was in college has thankfully morphed into a timeless tune that still keeps us moving.
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Curtis Jones, better known as Cajmere (or his Green Velvet moniker, if you’re into techno), studied chemical engineering but quit school to begin producing music and DJing full-time. Thankfully, ever since, the world’s been blessed to hear this Chicagoan’s many hits, especially “Percolator." Just about every DJ out there has attempted to remix and add their own style to this bubbling bop, but no one can nail it like its originator. This beautifully crafted song features a frenetic synth amid a backdrop of a bumping drum pattern, moving everyone to the dance floor pronto.
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What’s not to love about this ’90s throwback-inspired tune? Though released in 2020, this house music heater channels everything we love about the genre: a melodious harmony (this time with a strings loop) and pumping breakbeat. Felix da Housecat (in collaboration with Chris Trucher) pays homage to his Chicago hometown on this playful tune, which fuses house, disco, and soaring vocals to create a danceable song.
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Los Angeles-based DJ-producer HoneyLuv played college basketball before becoming a Navy sailor and eventually transitioning into her current career as one of house music’s promising acts. In 2020, she made her debut at the famous electronic music festival EDC Las Vegas. Then, at the start of the pandemic, when many artists were forced to pivot to digital sets, HoneyLuv became a staple on prominent Twitch channels, including Desert Hearts, Groove Cruise, and LP Giobbi’s Femme House. She’s since gained support from several revered DJ-producers, such as Seth Troxler and Oliver Heldens, and has even toured with Grammy-winning producer Kaytranada. Her second single of 2022, “Thr33 6ix 5ive,” is an infectious house song with effervescent energy and pulsating percussion.
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Earlier this month, triple threat (multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, and producer-DJ), OLAN released her debut album, Contra. The entire album is a vibe, but we’re particularly enthralled by the mellowness of “Material." While most of the tracks on this list highlight the more high-energy and danceability sides of house music, the softness of the melody and chilled-out beat of “Material” shows off the genre’s versatility.
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Honey Dijon puts her distinctive creativity on display in everything she touches, from her music to her luxury fashion brand—and this new drop is no exception. If euphoria had a sound effect, “Love is a State of Mind” would be it. The upbeat track features shimmery piano keys, snappy drums, and soul-stirring vocals from singer Ramona Renea.
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Another playful approach to house music is its younger relative: tech house. The subgenre features minimal techno with the soulful and jazzy flavor of house music. Jamie Jones captures this sound perfectly. This Chicago house-inspired track is riddled with rhythmic tribal drums and a quick kiss of melodic keys, which is perfect for getting down on the dance floor, or the comfort of your own home.
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This immaculate tune features the inimitable production prowess of Grammy-nominated DJ-producer Jayda G, alongside producer-singer Aluna‘s ethereal vocals. “Mine O’ Mine” exudes fun energy with its snappy rhythm. It’s also worth noting Jayda G and Aluna’s commitment to championing diversity within dance music, as well as educating avid listeners on the genre’s rich history. “As a member of the Black Music Action Coalition and a Black woman in dance music, I need to challenge the ‘dance music industry’ on its long standing racial inequalities,” Aluna’s open letter via Instagram began. “We not only need to give credit to the artists that created the genre, we also need to establish a long-term plan to secure a healthy future for dance music that is culturally and racially inclusive."
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