14 of the best feel-good house tracks
Guaranteed mood lifters
There are times when we could all use a little pick-me-up. Life can get you down: work struggles, relationship strains, global pandemics - you know, the usual! Music has the power to elevate your mood, and house music especially was built on that principle. Many of the genre’s records are tailor-made so that when the needle hits the groove, messages of unity and positive are spread to all listeners. Whenever we’re in need of chasing away a bad mood, these are the house records we turn to.
KINGS OF TOMORROW ‘FINALLY’
Given its smooth, luxurious quality, it’s hard to believe that ‘Finally’ was made in Sandy Rivera’s front room. But then again, most great bangers are born from whatever equipment hungry producers can get their hands on and any kind of flat surface they can find to set it up on – hungry to create, hungry to make it.
An ode to CeCe Peniston, ‘Finally’ was Rivera’s ticket to house music immortality via his Kings Of Tomorrow project. Released at the turn of the millennium, it is an exercise in slow-release euphoria, as beautiful pads and a strutting bassline unfurl beneath Julie McKnight’s soaring vocal. One of dance music’s most low-key but utterly ecstatic drops happens half way (!) through the track, meaning dancers are lured, completely hypnotised, to their sun-kissed, blissed-out fate. Sublime. Seb Wheeler
JVXTA 'BRAWN' (CINTHIE'S JACK BE NIMBLE MIX)
We spent a year making a documentary about Fat Tony, the acid house pioneer who went through hell and back for his love of music, the club community and class A drugs. We held the launch party at The Lab LDN where Tony played a rousing set that signified a homecoming for the DJ, who’s been clean for 13 years and now plays for everyone from Defected to the Beckhams. This pumping Cinthie remix, with its unrelenting stabs and constant adrenalin, certainly felt pertinent, with its vocal hook that rings, “My mamma used to say / There would come a day / When the truth would no longer be denied.” Pure confidence and uplift, this is for anyone currently finding themselves – and the moment they walk out the door as exactly who they want to be. SW
FUZZY LOGIK FEAT EGYPT ‘IN THE MORNING’
‘In The Morning’ is the joint best vocal UK funky tune alongside Kyla and Crazy Cousinz’ ‘Do You Mind’. An obvious underground hit, the bubbly 5-minute original was grabbed by Virgin and given a radio edit and music video to cash in on the popularity of the London sound that was crossing over into house music and the wider pop-o-sphere. Still an underground anthem in the capital and beyond, ‘In The Morning’ is pure class, an absolute ray of sunshine and one of the best songs about sex before midday there is. SW
MOTOR CITY DRUM ENSEMBLE 'SP 11’
If you’re looking for a saucy take on deep house, look no further. This track whirls through open hi-hats, gospel samples and a pulsing melody line and will leave you no choice but to put your hands in the air like you just don’t care. I remember hearing this for the first time on Leeds’ famous Cosmic Slop sound system, notably one of the most perfect in Europe as it was built specifically for its home venue of Hope House. It was one of my first proper nights out in the city and this song was electric. It will always be imbued with an innocent, hopeful euphoria for me. Jemima Skala
THE BLACK MADONNA ‘HE IS THE VOICE I HEAR’
The Black Madonna is a versatile DJ who can work in anything from Sheffield bassline to down and dirty techno, but in this 10-minute belter of a house track, she shows off her Chicago spirit. Don’t let its minor key fool you: the pace and energy are enough to get anyone on their feet. From a winding, emotive piano intro into an anxious violin line, ‘He Is The Voice I Hear’ is an odyssey, always propelling forwards while allowing the time to grow and change organically. It’s a masterclass in uplifting, fist-pumping, foot-stomping house that recalls the great Frankie Knuckles, always while putting a classic Black Madonna twist on things. JS
PAUL JOHNSON 'BETTER THAN THIS' (FRANKIE KNUCKLES DIRECTOR'S CUT CLASSIC SOUL MIX)
This track starts off nice and breezy, with a summery house beat and slightly muffled vocal. Then it reaches a climax where the vocal is allowed to take off and its suddenly like a gust of euphoria has swept you up to a higher realm of feeling. It’s no surprise that the track is formed from the work of two original house icons: it captures that transportative energy house music strives for. The vocal asking “Can it get any better?” and then declaring “Can’t get any better than this” rings true every time we listen. Patrick Hinton
PETE HELLER 'BIG LOVE'
At more than 10 minutes long, this track is a lengthy one. It more than earns it runtime. Listening to the blend of smooth, rolling textures and warmly distant vocals is like riding a log flume of good vibes. You can almost feel your heart swelling as the sound of ‘Big Love’ washes over you. Press play, kick back and enjoy the float. PH
SOUL CENTRAL 'STRINGS OF LIFE' (DANNY KRIVIT RE-EDIT)
There have been plenty of takes on Derrick May’s seminal Detroit techno classic ‘Strings Of Life’ – see Altern-8's liberal sampling on 1992’s ‘Evapor-8’, plus a million other rave tracks, or Astro Farm’s 1996 balearic belter ‘Strings (Ain't What They Used To Be)’ – but none so utterly and joyously life-affirming as Soul Central’s. Full-on piano heaven, it elevates May’s original sentiments to a spiritual experience. Joe Roberts
DONNIE MARK 'STAND UP FOR THE SOUL' (GRAND CLUB MIX)
Detroit is best known for its techno, but its house music run equally deep and packs in as much soul, thanks to labels such as Simply Soul and Mike Banks’ Happy Records (home of Unit 2’s ‘Sunshine’, another contender for this list). Terrence Parker has a love of piano almost as strong as his love for God, a heady combination as house music’s roots in gospel, alongside disco, attest. With strings and keys reaching for the heavens on his remix of Donnie Mark, stir in the warmest bass and a vocal asking ‘Happiness, can you feel it?’ and your soul will definitely be standing. JR
SOFT HOUSE COMPANY 'WHAT YOU NEED'
The epitome of early 90s Italian piano house, the sound Sasha started out playing, Soft House Company’s ‘What You Need’ can still be heard on London pirate stations today. Hooking you from the off with its sublime lead, there’s no let up in its dizzying emotional rush, whirling you through five minutes of melodic perfection and sending you spinning out the other side, hair tousled and a dazed grin plastered all over your face. JR
THE LOUNGE LIZARDS 'WAKE UP STAND UP (KAI ALCÉ VZR VOCAL MIX)
As motivational phrases go, "wake up, stand up" doesn't hold back in telling you shit's gotta be dealt with. 'Wake Up Stand Up' by The Lounge Lizards squares up to hate and violence in the world, with Jill Rock Jones' blinding vocals accompanying the deft string work and bubbling bass and drums. The original's enough of a sweet treat, but this jazzy Kai Alcé Vocal Mix tops it for me with subtle pads thrown in acting as a mind-relaxation balm and wriggly, ear-tickling keys. Kai's the guy for those gorgeous house reworks, as you'll also hear here. Dave Turner
JULIE MCKNIGHT 'HOME' (KNEE DEEP CLUB MIX)
Bad mood? Whack this on, turn it up loud and you'll be dancing around the house in no time. A dose of soulful house is always a sure cure for a downer, especially when it's powered by the vocals of Julie McKnight. A year after her input on the aforementionoed Kings Of Tomorrow's vocal house classic 'Finally', Julie released 'Home' on Defected Records. While the original's a made-for-Sundays funk-leaning chiller, the Knee Deep In Club Mix is made for a dancefloor workout to get the endorphins flowing. And, boy, you feel good after hearing it. It certainly provided an epic moment in Fat Tony's set in The Lab LDN. DT
Yes, I know that technically Bicep’s ‘Glue’ isn’t what you’d call a typical house-with-a-capital-h kind of track, what with its breaksy disposition and clear nod to the yesteryears of UK rave. However, it is a rare unicorn of a dance tune that's capable of bringing together ravers and music fans from across the electronic spectrum in a fuzzy, warm and "'Wonderwall’ for people who like ketamine” kind of way. It’s dramatic, melancholic and pensive, but never too much all at once. So when partnered with Bicep’s impeccable production tekkers makes for a tune destined to fill any 'floor. Right now? We're opting for a socks 'n' sliders boogie in a really intimate, low-key spot called The Kitchen. Jasmine Kent-Smith
JULIO BASHMORE ‘BATTLE FOR MIDDLE YOU’
Julio’s Bashmore’s 2011 banger ‘Battle For Middle You’, aka my self-elected Track of the Decade, is about as feel-good as it comes. It’s an all-rounder in a lot of ways really, what with it being anthemic in status, weepy eyes and muscle memory nasal twitches-inducing in potency, and robust and four-to-the-four in stature. Sneak ‘Battle For Middle You’ into one of your newly created (during your work hours, don’t worry, us too) playlists – can't be Spotify however, as it's still not on there </3 – and get ready for a vigorous rush of endorphins and early 2010s nostalgia once that deep bassline and stompable chant kicks in. JKS