Photo of Earth Wind & Fire circa 1970.

Most-sampled disco hits

Written by:
July 13, 2023
Michael Ochs Archives // Getty Images

Most-sampled disco hits

Disco music originated in the 1960s at underground venues popular with LGBTQ+, Black, and Latinx Americans. Still, it wasn't long before the subculture spread from clubs in New York and Philadelphia to the rest of the U.S. by the mid-1970s. In 1977, the release of "Saturday Night Fever" further cemented the genre as one of the most popular in the nation.

The upbeat, sensual sounds of disco—made famous by artists like Donna Summer, the Bee Gees, Kool & the Gang, and Gloria Gaynor—were characterized by strong beats, steady rhythms, synthesizers, and electronic drums, laying the groundwork for dance music to follow. (Billboard's Dance Club Songs, which ceased publication in 2020, was originally the National Disco chart in 1976.)

Disco saw a decline in the early 1980s, most notably due to Disco Demolition Night, an anti-disco promotional event at a White Sox game in Chicago in 1979 that ended in a riot. But the genre didn't stay dormant. With easy-to-remember lyrics, party themes, and catchy melodies, disco songs have withstood the test of time, emerging once again as heavily featured elements of pop, electronic, and hip-hop music throughout the '90s and into the 21st century.

To look at the lasting influence of disco, Stacker compiled the 25 most-sampled disco songs, according to WhoSampled, which verifies submissions of sampled tracks from 31,000 contributors. The data is current as of July 8, 2023, and you can read more about the process here. Although there have been several post-disco waves—like disco house in the '90s and the disco pop of the current decade—this list only includes songs produced in the genre's peak years in the '70s and '80s.

#25. 'Dreaming About You' by the Blackbyrds

- Year released: 1977
- Samples: 53

The Blackbyrds are a staple in hip-hop samples, and their 1977 hit is no different. "Dreaming About You" has been sampled on more than 50 tracks by big names, including Ice-T ("99 Problems" featuring Brother Marquis), Snoop Dogg ("Doggyland"), and De La Soul ("Ghetto Thang"), to name a few. However, the song's most notable use is the drum beat on Eminem's 2000 hit "Drug Ballad."

#23. 'September' by Earth, Wind & Fire (tie)

- Year released: 1978
- Samples: 58

"September" is not only one of the best Earth, Wind & Fire songs but also one of disco's most notable tracks. Even in the past decade, it's been heavily sampled, including on Young Thug's 2015 song "Amazing" featuring Jacquees and TLC's 2017 song "It's Sunny." Though "September" has been sampled nearly 60 times, none of its future iterations have outshined the original track.

#23. 'Take Your Time (Do It Right)' by the S.O.S. Band (tie)

- Year released: 1980
- Samples: 58

Hip-hop royalty like Warren G, Flo Rida, Coolio, and Angie Stone have all performed portions of The S.O.S. Band's 1980 jam "Take Your Time (Do It Right)." Madonna also quoted the lyrics and melodies in her 2005 song "Get Together."

#22. 'Free' by Deniece Williams

- Year released: 1976
- Samples: 59

Released at the height of disco in the mid-1970s, "Free" by Deniece Williams has been featured in several jazz, hip-hop, and R&B songs. The bridge is most notably sampled on the 1995 hit "Eastside LB" by Twinz.

#20. 'Love Come Down' by Evelyn 'Champagne' King (tie)

- Year released: 1982
- Samples: 60

Though better known for her 1977 song "Shame," Evelyn "Champagne" King's 1982 release "Love Come Down" reached #17 on the Billboard Hot 100. The disco record has been sampled on tracks from artists like Da Brat ("High Come Down" featuring LaTocha Scott and Trey Lorenz) to Lil' Romeo ("The One") to Tamar Braxton ("Pick Me Up").

#20. 'Best of My Love' by the Emotions (tie)

- Year released: 1977
- Samples: 60

The Emotions' Grammy-winning single "Best of My Love" topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 1977, but its legacy goes far beyond that. The song is featured prominently on one of De La Soul's first songs, 1989's "Say No Go," but you can also hear it in En Vogue, Kylie Minogue, and Vanilla Ice tracks.

#18. 'Get Up and Dance' by Freedom (tie)

- Year released: 1978
- Samples: 62

Freedom's 1978 smash "Get Up and Dance" has withstood the test of time and featured on tracks performed by artists like Grandmaster Flash and John Legend. With more than 60 songs sampling it, you've likely heard "Get Up and Dance" many times before, but one of its most famous uses is for the bridge for Jurassic 5's 1998 hit "Concrete Schoolyard."

#18. 'Let's All Chant' by Michael Zager Band (tie)

- Year released: 1977
- Samples: 62

The catchy Michael Zager Band song "Let's All Chant" was a staple not only in clubs across the U.S. but also in advertisements overseas. Millennials will most likely recognize the vocals and drum beat as a significant part of the Backstreet Boys' early single "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" from 1997.

#17. 'He's the Greatest Dancer' by Sister Sledge

- Year released: 1979
- Samples: 70

This Nile Rodgers-produced record was originally made for his group Chic, but it was Sister Sledge that made "He's the Greatest Dancer" an anthem of the disco era. Its guitar riff is often associated with Will Smith's 1997 hit "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It," but that's hardly where its influence ends. "He's the Greatest Dancer" is also one of the first records to mention luxury brands—specifically Halston, Gucci, and Fiorucci—serving as a precursor for hip-hop's commercialization.

#15. 'Theme From S.W.A.T.' by Rhythm Heritage (tie)

- Year released: 1975
- Samples: 72

This disco jam's influence goes well beyond the associated TV show. "Theme from "S.W.A.T." was sampled on tracks by LL Cool J ("I'm Bad"), The Prodigy ("Funky S—"), Rick Ross ("I'm Bad"), and Public Enemy ("Nighttrain"). Most famously, the piano riff is featured throughout Three 6 Mafia's hit "Tear Da Club Up '97."

#15. 'I Feel Love' by Donna Summer (tie)

- Year released: 1977
- Samples: 72

The late Donna Summer was the Queen of Disco, and "I Feel Love" is nothing short of inspiration. The futuristic track off her 1977 album, "I Remember Yesterday," is popular with producers, with Brian Eno calling it "the sound of the future." It was most recently sampled on Beyoncé's "Summer Renaissance," released from her 2022 album, "Renaissance."

#14. 'Shack Up' by Banbarra

- Year released: 1975
- Samples: 81

"Shack Up" might have made Banbarra a one-hit wonder, peaking at #4 on the Billboard Dance chart, but it lives on as a sample. Its guitar riff can be heard in the chorus of N.W.A.'s 1988 hit "F— Tha Police," while younger generations might recognize the drum track from the late Aaron Carter's 2000 smash "I Want Candy."

#13. 'Solstice' by Brian Bennett

- Year released: 1978
- Samples: 82

The synthesizer, slow bass, and reverberating guitar in "Solstice" are a departure from what Shadows drummer Brian Bennett is known for. But the sound could be considered a precursor for new wave music. It's sampled on Kanye West's "Lord Lord Lord" featuring Mos Def, Swizz Beatz, Raekwon, and Charlie Wilson and QB Finest and Nas' "Find Ya Wealth."

#12. 'Heartbeat' by Taana Gardner

- Year released: 1981
- Samples: 87

Not only is "Heartbeat" Taana Gardner's most well-known hit, but it also helped launch West End Records' success. 2Pac, Naughty by Nature, and Janet Jackson are among the artists who've sampled the track. Eazy-E used the bass track for "Radio" in 1988, and DMX sampled it a decade later on 1998's "It's All Good."

#11. 'Gangster Boogie' by Chicago Gangsters

- Year released: 1975
- Samples: 90

Chicago Gangsters' 1975 hit "Gangster Boogie" was instrumental in the debut of many '80s and '90s rappers. The vocals are part of Slick Rick's 1989 track "Children's Story" and LL Cool J's famous anthem "Mama Said Knock You Out," released two years later.

#10. 'Another One Bites the Dust' by Queen

- Year released: 1980
- Samples: 91

"Another One Bites the Dust" is one of Queen's most notable songs and the biggest hit to dabble in disco. The track has a bass line that's become iconic, and one of its most notable samples came a quarter of a century later, courtesy of Gwen Stefani's 2005 hit "Hollaback Girl."

#9. 'That's the Way (I Like It)' by KC and the Sunshine Band

- Year released: 1975
- Samples: 95

The upbeat chorus of KC and the Sunshine Band's "That's the Way (I Like It)" is one of the most recognizable of any genre, so it's no surprise it was a staple in disco clubs. The hit's vocal melodies have since been heard on popular tracks like 50 Cent's "I Just Wanna," Puff Daddy's "Been Around the World," and the Backstreet Boys' "It's Gotta Be You."

#8. 'Stayin' Alive' by Bee Gees

- Year released: 1977
- Samples: 103

This Bee Gees hit is not only a part of many pop culture moments—from "Saturday Night Fever" to "The Office"—but it's also part of CPR training due to its unique 103 beats per minute (and thematic lyrics). Of its 100-plus samples, the most notorious use of "Stayin' Alive" was in Refugee Camp All-Stars and Wyclef Jean's song "We Trying to Stay Alive," which drew criticism from Bee Gees member Barry Gibb.

#7. 'Got to Be Real' by Cheryl Lynn

- Year released: 1978
- Samples: 141

Before becoming a popular TikTok sound, Cheryl Lynn's "Got to Be Real" was a hit in the U.S., reaching #12 on the Billboard Hot 100. The famous intro riff is sampled on 2 Live Crew's 1986 track "Check It Out Yall" and N.W.A's 1991 song "Real N-----."

#6. 'Scratchin'' by the Magic Disco Machine

- Year released: 1975
- Samples: 147

This Magic Disco Machine instrumental track's mix of horns, guitar, bass, and drums is a gold mine for samples, featured in numerous electronic, pop, and hip-hop hits. The Chemical Brothers used the drum and guitar from "Scratchin'" for their 1996 song "Buzz Tracks," while the horns were used in the chorus for Eric B. & Rakim's "My Melody" in 1987.

#5. 'Feel Good, Party Time' by J.R. Funk and the Love Machine

- Year released: 1980
- Samples: 150

The vocals on J.R. Funk and the Love Machine's "Feel Good, Party Time" have been popular with hip-hop artists for decades, from Public Enemy's "Miuzi Weighs a Ton" to Dr. Dre's "Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat" featuring Snoop Dogg and RBX. Pop artists have also sampled the vocal quip in the introduction, with Lizzo using it for her 2018 track "Fitness."

#4. 'Sing Sing' by Gaz

- Year released: 1978
- Samples: 175

Gaz's nearly eight-minute track "Sing Sing" has many shakeups, which might explain why artists like Daft Punk and Eazy-E have sampled it. It became a staple in '90s hits like DJ Kool's "Let Me Clear My Throat" and Wu-Tang Clan's "It's Yourz."

#3. 'Movin'' by Brass Construction

- Year released: 1975
- Samples: 210

"Movin'" became Brass Construction's biggest hit, reaching #14 on the Billboard Hot 100. The horns at the beginning famously appear in TLC's "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg" and James Brown's "The Payback," but its most popular use is in the chorus of Juvenile's 1998 hit "Back That Thang Up."

#2. 'Rocket in the Pocket (Live)' by Cerrone

- Year released: 1979
- Samples: 216

The only live track on this list, Cerrone's "Rocket in the Pocket" was recorded at an outdoor concert in Paris in 1979. The drums in the introduction, though only four seconds long, are used in various hits like Kid Rock's "Bawitdaba"; Drake's "Forever" featuring Eminem, Lil Wayne, and Kanye West; and Mark Morrison's "Return of the Mack." The song was especially popular with '80s New York hip-hop artists like Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, and Run-DMC, who each sampled it on numerous tracks.

#1. 'Good Times' by Chic

- Year released: 1979
- Samples: 217

With 217 confirmed samples, "Good Times" by Chic is not only the most-sampled disco song—it's one of the 100 most-sampled songs ever. It's been sampled by dozens of big hip-hop artists—from Will Smith to Slick Rick—and has since crossed over into different genres in songs like Spice Girls' "Something Kinda Funny" and Defunkt's "In the Good Times." The record was most famously used in the first major hip-hop record, the 1979 Sugarhill Gang jam "Rapper's Delight." Even Chic member and songwriter Nile Rodgers famously said that the sampled song is one of his favorites of all time.

Data reporting by Dom DiFurio. Story editing by Jaimie Etkin. Copy editing by Paris Close. Photo selection by Abigail Renaud.

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