20 Must-Have Best Foxtrot Songs for Your Playlist

Updated on September 22, 2023

If you're looking to create the perfect foxtrot playlist, we've got you covered. In this article, we have compiled a list of the 20 best foxtrot songs for your playlist. 

Foxtrot is a smooth and elegant dance style that originated in the early 1900s. It is characterized by long, flowing movements across the dance floor and is often danced to music with a tempo of 120-136 beats per minute. 

We have gathered information from various sources, including music streaming platforms, dance centers, and Reddit, to create a comprehensive list of the best foxtrot songs. 

Here are the 20 best foxtrot songs for your playlist:

1. "Cheek to Cheek" by Dick Haymes

Kicking off the playlist, Dick Haymes sings "Cheek to Cheek" in 1947. Haymes' warm baritone glides over the tune originally written by Irving Berlin for the 1935 Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie Top Hat.

This song is perfect for dancing due to its captivating melody with a strong emphasis on rhythm. Its structure follows a verse-chorus form with a repeated chorus that's easy to follow, and it maintains a clean and straightforward structure. The melody's range is suitable for both male and female vocalists, making it highly singable as well.

Lyrics like “Heaven, I'm in heaven/And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak” epitomize the dreamy essence of the foxtrot. The fluid tempo is ideal for the dance’s long, graceful strides and sweeping turns.

2. "The Way You Look Tonight" by Freddy Martin & His Orchestra

Another Astaire-Rogers favorite, “The Way You Look Tonight,” also earns a spot on the list. Freddy Martin’s orchestra version captures the song’s playful swing.

The tune incorporates a series of descending chromatic passages that evoke a sense of longing and romance, occasionally punctuated by brief moments of tension and release. This dynamic contrast keeps the listener engaged and invested throughout the song.

Jerome Kern’s lyrics, featuring lines like “Some day, when I'm awfully low/When the world is cold/I will feel a glow just thinking of you,” perfectly resonate with the romantic spirit of the foxtrot. Martin’s brisk tempo provides a cheerful beat that complements the light-footed foxtrot footwork.

3. "Taking a Chance on Love" by Helen O'Connell

For an upbeat number, don't miss Helen O’Connell’s rendition of “Taking a Chance on Love.” Lyrically, the song encourages taking risks in romance despite the possibility of heartbreak. This uplifting and romantic theme, combined with the jazz instrumentation, conjures a nostalgic yet timeless and classy vibe.

O'Connell's sultry vocals contribute to the vintage lounge feel. While initially composed for a Broadway show, "Taking a Chance on Love" later evolved into a jazz and pop hit, with recordings by Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, and more.

This song's fusion of mellow jazz and romantic lyrics, set to a foxtrot-friendly rhythm, positions it as a perfect fit for any foxtrot playlist aiming to capture the dance's midcentury ballroom essence.

4. "Side by Side" by Kate Smith

Kate Smith delivers a heartfelt rendition of the Broadway classic "Side by Side," infusing it with a nostalgic ambiance tailor-made for the foxtrot.

This toe-tapping tune boasts a lively rhythm, brass instrumentation, and flirtatious lyrics, all contributing to its uplifting big-band sound that conjures images of ballrooms and dance halls during the foxtrot's early days.

With its perfect blend of melody, era-specific mood, and tempo, "Side by Side" stands out as an excellent choice for any foxtrot playlist seeking to encapsulate the dance style's vintage essence and charm.

5. "Secret Love" by The London Pops Orchestra, Nelson Corbin

The London Pops Orchestra's instrumental rendition skillfully captures the lush, dreamy mood of the song, employing sweeping strings and mellow jazz instrumentation. Its tempo is perfectly suited for graceful foxtrot dancing.

Nelson Corbin's warm and velvety vocals harmonize beautifully with the classy, big-band sound. Despite its origins in the 1950s, "Secret Love" possesses a timeless quality, its themes of romance and longing enduring through the years.

The combination of a smooth, flowing melody, classy vintage vibe, and an emotional yet optimistic tone creates a beautiful soundtrack for foxtrot dancers to elegantly glide across the floor lost in their own "secret love."

6. "It's Been So Long" by Benny Goodman and his Orchestra, Helen Ward

Of course, we can't overlook the King of Swing, Benny Goodman. He injected his lively 1936 recording of "It's Been So Long" with key foxtrot elements: the brass section sets an uptempo beat, the drums contribute a toe-tapping rhythm, and the smooth instrumentals provide an ideal backdrop for long glides and graceful turns around the ballroom.

Numerous artists have covered this song over the years, solidifying its status as a classic foxtrot tune. The combination of its melody and lyrics conjures a joyful and sentimental atmosphere, making it a perfect choice for foxtrot dancing.

Goodman's effervescent clarinet playing infuses the song with a playful energy that will revitalize your foxtrot routine.

7. "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" by Duke Ellington

In 1940, Duke Ellington composed the music for "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," with lyrics by Bob Russell. Initially, it was an instrumental piece titled "Never No Lament," and the lyrics were added later.

The song's music and lyrics create a calm and intimate ambiance. It boasts a consistent beat that's perfect for foxtrot routines and a comfortable tempo that's easy to dance to.

Throughout the years, several artists have covered this song, including Harry Connick Jr., Nat King Cole, and Ella Fitzgerald. Its partner-friendly tempo and steady beat, along with its nostalgic vibe, make it an ideal choice for slow dancing.

8. "True Love" by The London Pops Orchestra

Cole Porter wrote "True Love" for the 1956 musical film High Society, featuring Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly. The instrumental cover by the London Pops Orchestra beautifully captures the song's dreamy essence, with mellow jazz instrumentation set to a perfect foxtrot tempo.

The melody flows smoothly, carrying a lilting rhythm that exudes an air of elegance and sophistication, making it ideal for gliding gracefully across the dance floor.

The soft strings and piano, complemented by a subtle swing bass and brush drums, create a lush, full orchestral sound with a timeless jazz lounge vibe. This cover sets the stage for foxtrot dancers to be swept away to an era of refinement and true love.

9. "Things Ain't What They Used to Be" by Charlie Byrd, Herb Ellis

Mercer Ellington, the son of Duke Ellington and the author of "Things Ain't What They Used to Be," originally recorded the song. Since then, many other musicians have covered it. One of the most well-known and enduring versions is by Byrd and Ellis, featured on their 1964 album "Guitar/Guitar."

The song has a melody that combines loveliness with an eerie quality, creating a laid-back and nostalgic atmosphere. Byrd and Ellis' guitar work is subtle and quiet, perfectly capturing the song's tone.

Their performance evokes nostalgia for a more innocent and leisurely period of history, making it an ideal addition to any foxtrot playlist. The song's soft, nostalgic tone and gentle, swinging cadence make it perfect for dancing.

10. "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" by Helen Forrest

Cole Porter wrote "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" in 1938 for the musical "Leave It to Me!" while Mary Martin was the first to perform this song, it has been covered by many other artists, including Helen Forrest.

The version sung by Forrest is perfect for trotfox dancing due to its energetic tempo and amusing lyrics, which together create a fun and flirty atmosphere.

Both dancers and music lovers appreciate "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" for its timeless, classic vibe.

11. "Fly Me to the Moon" by Carmen McRae

"Fly Me to the Moon" was written by Bart Howard in 1954 and popularized by jazz singers like Frank Sinatra. However, Carmen McRae's sultry rendition puts a unique spin on this standard. 

The midtempo, syncopated rhythm is perfect for the slow-quick-quick pattern of foxtrot footwork. The lush chord changes and melodic contours evoke a dreamy, romantic vibe fitting the sentimental essence of the dance. 

McRae's smoky, sensual vocals paired with light Latin percussion and fluttering flutes create a soothing yet rhythmic atmosphere. Though originally a 50s jazz tune, "Fly Me to the Moon" retains a timeless quality. McRae's version in particular provides a more relaxed feel with a touch of exotic flair. 

12. "Do Nothing Till You Hear from Me"by Duke Ellington

Bob Russell wrote the jazz standard "Do Nothing 'Til You Hear from Me" with music composed by Duke Ellington. In 1940, Duke Ellington and his orchestra recorded it for the first time, featuring Ivie Anderson on vocals.

The song has a slow tempo, measuring about 60 beats per minute, and it's in the key of C major. Its melody is built around a repeating four-note motif, which is performed over a straightforward chord sequence.

This song quickly gained popularity, and it has been covered by numerous musicians, including Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, and Billie Holiday. It's a perfect addition to any foxtrot playlist and is sure to create a sensual and passionate atmosphere.

13. "All I Do Is Dream of You" by Michael Bublé

Nacio Herb Brown originally recorded "All I Do Is Dream of You" for the film Sadie McKee. Michael Bublé, on his 2009 album Crazy Love, offered a modern interpretation of this classic jazz pop standard.

The romantic lyrics express a deep longing for an absent lover, evoking vivid dreams and memories of their time together. These sentiments align perfectly with the sentimental essence and intimate embrace of the foxtrot dance.

Bublé's warm, crooning vocals, accompanied by a walking bass, piano, light drums, and big band horns, create a lush and vintage atmosphere with a contemporary twist.

For foxtrot enthusiasts in search of a dreamy, flowing rhythm, expressive lyrics, and a touch of modern retro charm, "All I Do Is Dream of You" strikes a perfect balance between timeless romance and contemporary pop sophistication.

14. "They Can’t Take That Away From Me" by Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong

Many artists have recorded this song over the years, but perhaps the most famous version is the one by Ella Fitzgerald with Louis Armstrong.

The song carries a beautiful and romantic message, emphasizing the enduring power of love and the memories we create with our loved ones.

"They Can't Take That Away From Me" is an ideal addition to a foxtrot playlist, boasting a classic jazz vibe, a swinging melody, and romantic lyrics. Its tempo is also perfectly suited for foxtrot dancing.

15. "The More I See You" by Michael Bublé

Michael Bublé included this jazz standard on his 2005 album "It's Time." The song's midtempo, swinging rhythm and fluid melodic phrasing make it an excellent match for the smooth style of foxtrot dancing.

Bublé's warm and expressive vocals, combined with an upbeat jazz trio arrangement featuring walking bass, light drums, piano, and guitar, establish a cozy and inviting atmosphere with a touch of vintage sophistication.

While the song originated in the 1940s, Bublé's rendition offers a fresh perspective on this classic. His interpretive vocals enhance the lyrical beauty and melodic richness of the song, making it a delightful choice for foxtrot dancers.

16. "September in the Rain" by Dinah Washington

Harry Warren and Al Dubin composed "September in the Rain" for the movie Melody for Two. In 1960, jazz singer Dinah Washington recorded this tune, making it a popular hit. The lyrics of the song evoke memories of a love affair that concluded in the rain during a September day.

The song boasts a calm big band arrangement, complemented by Dinah Washington's silky and seductive voice, resulting in a lush and dreamy ambiance that's ideal for gracefully gliding across the foxtrot dance floor.

With orchestral strings, horns, and a swinging rhythm, the song conjures a romantic and vintage atmosphere, while a medium-tempo walking bassline maintains a steady groove. 

17. "If I Didn't Have You" by Billy Crystal, John Goodman

"If I Didn't Have You" was written by Randy Newman for Pixar's 2001 animated film Monsters, Inc. Billy Crystal and John Goodman performed the duet in the film, which later won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. 

Its upbeat tempo and swinging rhythm provide a playful energy perfect for the carefree, sweeping movements of foxtrot. The lyrics portray a message of friendship and being lost without the other. This sentiment translates well to the romantic intimacy and connectedness showcased in foxtrot dancing. 

Though written for a modern children's film, this version harkens back to the theatrical jazz standards of the 1930s and 40s. 

The toe-tapping melody, charming lyrics performed with comedic flair, and retro jazz sound make this rendition of "If I Didn't Have You" a fun, lighthearted pick for a foxtrot playlist.

18. "Beyond the Sea" by Bobby Darin

"Beyond the Sea" originally started as a 1945 French song called "La Mer," written by Charles Trenet, and Jack Lawrence added English lyrics to it in 1946. Bobby Darin recorded a popular swing version in 1959, which earned him a Grammy nomination for Record of the Year.

The song's brisk tempo and lively rhythm align seamlessly with the energetic foxtrot dance style. Its romantic lyrics paint a picture of a love waiting somewhere beyond the sea, evoking imagery of idealized romance and escapism that perfectly complements the whimsical nature of the foxtrot.

"Beyond the Sea" offers a flawless tempo, timeless lyrics, and a classic big band sound that will sweep couples across the dance floor in a carefree and lighthearted manner.

19. "I Could Write a Book" by Harry Connick Jr.

Richard Rodgers composed "I Could Write a Book" for the 1940 Broadway musical Pal Joey. Jazz singer and pianist Harry Connick Jr. covered this showtune standard in 1989.

The song features a medium-tempo swinging rhythm and lyrical, melodic phrasing that are perfectly suited for the smooth foxtrot dance style. Connick's smooth vocal styling, combined with a walking bassline, piano swing chords, and subtle brass figures, conjures an upbeat vintage jazz lounge vibe.

For foxtrot dancers in search of an uplifting standard with a toe-tapping melody, sweet lyrics, and a fresh yet retro sound, "I Could Write a Book" checks all the boxes, both lyrically and rhythmically.

20. "Moon River" by Andy Williams

For a rousing finale, Andy Williams' velvety take on "Moon River" can't be beat. This Andy Williams' iconic rendition became a Billboard hit in 1962.The smooth flowing melody and gentle rhythm at a perfect foxtrot tempo evoke a timeless, classy mood. 

Lyrically, "Moon River" uses poetic imagery of a winding river leading to love and adventure somewhere beyond the horizon. This optimistic yearning fits the romantic essence of foxtrot's intimate ballroom dance style. 

The combination of a beautiful sweeping melody, romantic lyrics, an easy flowing rhythm, and a relaxed yet lush orchestral sound makes this song a perfect selection for foxtrot dancing, capturing the dance's essence of elegance, romance and mid-20th century style.

We hope that this list of the 20 best foxtrot songs for your playlist has inspired you to get out on the dance floor and start foxtrotting!

With their combination of fluid tempos, romantic lyrics, and retro charm, these 20 tunes deliver everything you need to craft the ultimate foxtrot playlist. 

Their diversity provides lively jazz instrumentals, crooning ballads, and even Broadway-worthy singalongs to choose from based on your dancing mood. So grab a partner and let these foxtrot favorites set the tempo for a magical night of ballroom elegance.