In the 80s, a new music genre emerged that found new expressions as a fusion of rhythm, bass, and melody. The rather monotonous and bass-driven basic rhythm was the defining element, while well-known songs or even new Performerations were mixed and livened up the dance scene. Techno evolved over time in different directions and subtypes. From the techno-house scene emerged styles like drum & bass, synthpop, jungle, new wave, EBM, new beat, acid house, electro-funk, trance, dreamhouse, and others.
Not infrequently, stimulants and drugs were consumed in the scene to intensify the experience and dance experience. Acid was for example the slang word for the drug LSD. But more popular were ecstasy or amphetamines. However, the origin of the techno scene was not based on the use of aids but was an expression of a new age and the joy of musical experimentation.
Even after the big hype, drug use became unpopular and was replaced by energy drinks. The best and most famous techno songs of all time we present to you here.
(You can find a Spotify playlist at the end of the article.)
1. Jeff Mills “The Bells”
Detroit Techno is an independent director and was started by the co-founder of the “underground resistance” and techno scene Jeff Mills. Mills first made a name for himself as a hip-hop DJ in the late ’80s, performing as “The Wizard”.
His own radio show then ensured the dissemination of new experiments. “The Bells” was one of his biggest hits, which was later also reperformed and again determined the charts in 2006. The original is timeless and a masterpiece of trance and musical hypnosis. The song draws the dancer and listener in like a maelstrom.
2. Faithless ” Insomnia”
The British band “Faithless” made music between techno, trip-hop, dance, and trance. With the tagline “I can’t get no sleep,” “Insomnia” became known worldwide and was by far the most successful production. The song became a hit in the clubs and quickly reached the commercial level.
The band included Rollo, Sister Bliss, and Maxi Jazz. The song is about the use of chemical stimulants and resulting insomnia.
3. Marusha “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”
Green-colored eyebrows were the trademark of Marusha at that time. Behind the artist’s name is Marion Gleiß, who has German and Greek roots and is one of the most important representatives of the techno scene.
The song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” conquered the charts and came out in 1994. Besides the rhythm, here was recorded the famous song from the musical film “The Wizard of Oz” from the 30s. Also in other music scenes, the song found many Performerations, which however did not reach the success of Marusha.
Her single sold more than 500.000 times and was the cornerstone for many other techno tracks that became commercially successful.
4. Gigi D’Agostino “The Riddle”
The Italian-born DJ Gigi D’Agostino was born in Turin and is considered an icon of the lento violento style. In addition to the famous song “The Riddle”, “Bla Bla Bla” and “La passion” were also the best sellers. Translated, “The Riddle” is the name of the puzzle and was published by Nik Kershaw in the 80s.
The Italian D’Agostino then made the song famous again as a cover version.
5. Daft Punk “Around the World”
The song “Around the World” really went around the world and is therefore also one of the most famous techno songs with great commercial success. Within the techno scene “Daft Punk” is the French version of house music. The musical duo is composed of Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo.
Performances always find very eccentric, z. B. with motorcycle helmet and mask, instead. “Around the World” came out in 1997 and is from the album “Homework”. The song first developed into a club hit and then also conquered the charts.
6. The Prodigy “Out Of Space”
The English band “The Prodigy” started with a breakbeat and then found its way into the techno scene, transforming an acid house into techno hardcore and jungle. Elements of rock and punk-rock also flowed into the Performerations. Members are Liam Howlett, Keith Flint, and Maxim. “Out of Space” was one of the most famous singles and later became successful again as a remix.
The template for the track was the Reggae song “Chase the Devil” by Max Romeo.
7. Westbam/ML “Beatbox Rocker”
Maximilian Lenz, who was born in Münster in 1965 and had hippies for parents, enjoyed an anti-authoritarian upbringing. The now-famous DJ of electronic music and techno who founded “Westbam” started his career in the Münster and Berlin clubs “Odeon” and “Metropol”. 1997 the song “Beatbox Rocker” was released and became a hit.
It says: “I am a beatbox rocker and you dancing to my beat”. So did many. The song can be found on the album “We’ll Never Stop Living This Way”.
8. Dune “Can’t Stop Raving”
Techno and dance is the form of expression of the band “Dune” from Germany, which now no longer exists, while DJ Oliver Froning as one of the band members continues to use the name as a pseudonym. “Dune”, in German Wüste, was written by the Science fiction film “The Desert Planet” inspired. Emphasis was placed on instrumentals and rhythm, less on vocals. “Can’t Stop Raving” is included on the album “Dune”, released in 1995 and was already an instrumental version.
The successful version was then released with Tina Lacebal’s vocoder altered vocals and became a hit.
9. Zombie Nation “Nuclear Power 400
Zombie Nation” became known as an electronic project with the founders Florian Center and Emmanuel Günther, whose first album “Leichenschmaus” was released in 1999. “Kernkraft 400” was from this album and was one of the most successful songs of the techno scene with instrumental music. The hit was created on the PC, with the song “Stardust” as the basis, written by David Whittaker.
He criticizes the modern zeitgeist and the media addiction to the representation of the people.
10. Absolom “Secret”
Techno and Trance from “Absolom” in an unusual form. The group consists of DJ and producer Christophe Chantzis, DJ Jimmy Goldschmitz, and Pascale Feront as a singer and comes from Belgium.
In the club scene there, the trance project made a name for itself in the 90s. “Secret” was the first single track and came out in 1997. It became a hit in many countries, including Germany, Italy, the UK, and Switzerland. Later a remix of the original was released by DJ Quicksilver and Vincent De Moor.
11. The KLF “What Time Is Love?”
One of the most influential techno bands for a short time was “KLF” with the band members Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty. The acronym stood for “Kings of Low Frequency,” while the musicians incorporated many styles from ambient to house, using music from other musicians as well.
The track “What Time Is Love”, released in 1990, gave the band a legendary reputation in the rave scene, which also led to “KLF” moving more into electronic projects. Trance and even a mystical space level should unfold and open at the sound of the music.
The band was then finally broken up after a scandalous performance when they tried to pour buckets of blood on their audience in 1992, which was just barely thwarted. At the after-show party, a sheep carcass made the rounds with a sign saying “I died for you”. Good appetite.”
12. RMB “Spring
Techno, trance, and rave go hand in hand. One of the most famous formations from Düsseldorf was “RMB” with the member Rolf Maier-Bode and Farid Gharadjedaghi, who also founded the successful techno label “Low Spirit”.
Many of their songs and tracks use movie quotes and samples, including from “12 Monkeys,” “Seven,” or “Leon the Professional. “Spring” was one of the most successful songs and came from the album “Widescreen”, where Rave was then replaced by Trance.
“RMB” however always offered a wide variety of genres and liked to experiment with hardcore techno, breakbeat, ambient, and other stylistic devices. Classical instruments also found their way into the tracks. “The wind, the birds, the love, the air, the breeze, the June, the spring in me” is the title of the song “Spring”, which reached number 7 in the German charts and stayed there for several weeks.
13. The Chemical Brothers “Galvanize
From Great Britain originated the duo “Chemical Brothers” with the member’s Ed Simon and Tom Rowlands. The foundation in 1989 included above all Big Beat as a style of electronic dance music with Breakbeat. Together with “The Prodigy” or “Fatboy Slim”, “The Chemical Brothers” are considered pioneers in this direction.
With “Galvanize” from the album “Push the Button” in 2004, the duo reached a worldwide chart position for several weeks. The song was similarly popular as previously “Hey Boy Hey Girl”, which appeared in 1999. The track contains excerpts from the song “Hadi Kedba Bayna” by Najat Aatabou.
14. Jeckyll & Hyde “Freefall”
Jumpstyle and techno are combined in “Jeckyll & Hyde,” a project by Dutch DJs Maarten Vorwerk and Ruud van IJperen, who also became known as DJ Ruthless but later left the band. DJ Red alias Patrick Kars and four dancers joined them.
The project name was inspired by the book of the same name by Robert Louis Stevenson. With “Frozen Flame” the career of the DJs began, but then the song “Freefall” reached first place in the charts in 2006 and 2007 in several countries, including Germany or the Netherlands. There were two versions of the track, the original and the radio mix, both of which were well received.
15. Darude “Sandstorm”
From Finland comes the DJ “Darude” aka Toni-Ville Henrik Virtanen, who mainly released his own songs and then made his debut with the successful song “Sandstorm”, which he simply sent as a demo tape to the music producer Jaako Salovaara and got a record deal with the label “16 Inch Records” with it. In 2000, the track became a worldwide hit and had much more success than in his own country. The track then also became an Internet phenomenon and viral video in 2013, is considered a good April Fool’s joke, when on the search for music on the net then first appears the question: “Did you mean Darude – Sandstorm?”
16. Fluke “Absurd”
Even in the techno scene, there are tracks that defy precise categorization. This includes “Fluke,” which means something like “shower” and is a project by Mike Bryant, Mike Tournier, and Jon Fugler, who decided to make music together in London in the ’80s.
Here it is then also less about real techno or house, as a synthetically fancy electronic mixture of absurd sounds. Especially in times when the acid house fever was spreading, singles by “Fluke” were popular, including “Thumper” or “Joni”. “Absurd” was then also part of the soundtrack for the movie “Sin City”, but was already released in 1997. “Fluke” also wrote other film songs, including for “Matrix” or “Lara Croft”.
17. Mauro Picotto “Iguana”
From Turin comes Mauro Picotto, who is assigned to progressive techno and is very successful as a DJ and music producer. Already in the mid-90s he founded his own label and was thus an important reference point in the Italian techno scene.
Besides well-known tracks like “Lizard” and “Pulsar”, “Iguana” was the most popular single. All were released in 1999, while Picotto often collaborated with other artists as well. The trademark of his compositions is the gloom and the overlapping of bass, beat, and rhythm.
While he was initially fond of progressive techno, he later oriented himself towards the club techno scene and thus also had commercial success.
18. Mr. Oizo “Flat Beat
Surely one of the funniest videos with techno and beat sound is “Flat Beat” by Mr. Oizo. Behind the furry and lethargically swinging in the rhythm cult figure is the French artist and filmmaker Quentin Dupieux, who then established himself here also as a musician. “Flat Beat” reached a wide audience and appeared as a song in 1999 with smashing success.
The yellow stuffed animal from the video got the name “Flat Eric” and later found appearances in other films by Dupieux or in some successful commercials.
Intended as a verbalization, the filmmaker stated that the song’s background consisted of the inaudible and the desire to finish the song. He used the principle of chance. If the song didn’t do anything the first time I heard it and only elicited laughter from the protagonist, however, listening to it several times then proved to be helpful in an amazing way. “Flat Beat” became an earworm and conquered the charts.
19. Robert Miles “Children”
In the category Techno and Dreamhouse belongs the song “Children” by Robert Miles, a DJ, who was very successful worldwide in the 90s and with the chart entry also established a whole new music genre. In 1994 Miles composed the song in only one night and released it on Joe Vanelli’s “EP-Soundtracks”.
When Vanelli played the song in a nightclub, Simon Berry became interested in it and acquired the licensing rights, making it a hit and signing Miles at the same time. The whole production was one of the cheapest in history and cost only 150 pounds.
The music style Dreamhouse was the answer to the louder critical voices of the then upbeat techno music, which was also accompanied by drugs and caused some deaths. The genre was successful in the 90s but then lost interest again. The most dreamy melancholic sound was underlaid with rhythm and danceable beat. Miles himself was from Switzerland and died of cancer in Ibiza at the age of only 47.
His track “Trance Shapes” was part of the soundtrack of the movie “The Bourne Identity”.
20. U96 “The Boat
One of the most important music projects in the field of techno and dance was “U96”, which was founded by Alex Christensen, Ingo Hauss, Helmut Hoinkis, and Hayo Lewerentz. Commercial success then came with the track “Das Boot” in the 90s, which was also the most famous chart success of the entire techno culture and caused the leap into the mainstream.
Before that Techno was still a pure underground scene. The single sold over 2 million copies worldwide and referred to the movie about the German submarine “U96” from World War II. In the original, the title melody was written and composed by Kaus Doldinger.
As a techno version, it finally conquered the charts in 1991 and stayed there at number 1 for several weeks. In the meantime, “U96” consists only of Hauss and Lewerentz, who also made a name for themselves in the genres Trance and Eurodance. The album “Reboot” was released in 2018 and was #1 on the iTunes charts in Sweden. Well-known artists of the scene, like Joachim Witt or Wolfgang Flür from “Kraftwerk”, worked on the album.
The places 21-100 of the best techno songs of all times:
Techno Songs Spotify Playlist:
Techno was at first pure underground music, which needed some time to get into the charts. The expression of techno culture was the desire for freedom, dance fever, monotonous rhythm, and the desire to escape from ordinary everyday reality.
Techno lovers fought against the commercialization of their ideology and culture for a long time, but couldn’t stop the influence on the mainstream.
In the foreground of the entire scene is always the electronic music with monotonous-rhythmic sound effects, which should trigger dance and ecstasy. Of course, the variety of techno songs makes the selection particularly difficult. The scene produced major events such as “Mayday” or the “Loveparade”, the latter of which caused deaths due to the rush and poor organization at the time and was banned in 2010. Counterparades formed the “Fuckparade” or the “Antiparade”.
Techno co-founders were DJs such as Jeff Mills, Daniel Bell, Sven Väth, Dr. Motte, Danielle de Picciotto, Paul van Dyk, Carl Cox or David Guetta. Since techno stands for energy and power, the energy drink has also found its way into the scene, with active ingredients like caffeine, taurine, and guarana supposed to stimulate the dancers and keep them awake.