The 30 Greatest Dubstep Songs of All Time
From Skrillex to Shackleton, the bassmasters who dropped the music world on its head.
10. Katy B – “Katy on a Mission” (2010)
An alum of U.K.’s famous R&B-twurked Brit Pop School (see Adele, Amy Winehouse, et al.), this young singer is the undeniable queen of dubstep’s boys club. Her first single, produced by Magnetic Man’s Benga and cowritten by Rinse FM grime stalwart Geeneus, is a perfect balance of the siren’s coolly understated, late-night provocations, grounded by pulses of menacing bass. Katy B’s sophisticated, Billboard-bound club music is not made for mean-mugging dubstep purists or fist-pumping festival bros, but for everyone else in between. P.P.
9. Addison Groove – “Footcrab” (2010)
After four years spent churning out dubstep as Headhunter, U.K. producer Antony Williams turned bass music upside down with his first release as Addison Groove, for Loefah’s Swamp 81 label. The similarity between the new alias and the name of a Boston acid-jazz band is coincidental, but the similarity between “Footcrab” and Chicago’s frenetic footwork music is not. Copping the staccato rhythms and stuttering vocal samples of footwork artists like DJ Rashad and Traxman, Williams slowed down the chaos enough to sneak the usually high-bpm music into dubstep sets. The result was a heavy dose of alien funk just when the scene needed it most. P.S.
8. La Roux – “In for the Kill (Skream’s Let Get Ravey Remix)” (2009)
Stripping the U.K. No. 2 electro-pop megahit of its upbeat synths was the best thing that Skream could’ve done for La Roux vocalist Elly Jackson. He replaced the song’s giddy pep with undercurrents of bass and a simple kick-snare, expertly highlighting the gorgeous vulnerability and haunting yearning of the singer’s voice, heretofore lost in the original’s bubbly bounce. And the frantic drum’n’bass run at the end turned the chorus into one of contemporary EDM’s most anthemic moments. P.P.
7. Girl Unit – “Wut” (2010)
Smeared with giddy synth waterfalls, undergirded by 808 smashes, and heavy on the air horn, “Wut” is the undisputed jewel of this 25-year-old London newcomer’s sparse output. Released on left-field label Night Slugs, the gloriously chopped-up question refuses to settle calmly into its glimmering hip-hop haze, doing battle with syrupy bass atmospherics and washes of wonky organ, resulting in delirious shout-alongs of its squeaky, gibberishy vocal bits. A.G.
6. Joy Orbison – “Hyph Mngo” (2009)
For a good bit of late 2009, this was inescapable, ultimately ushering in a new era — stealth smash-ups of electronic styles like these are no longer “dubstep” but “bass.” Not too bad for the London producer’s recording debut. The seemingly endless intro, which gave way to magisterial chords, promised something grand, and Orbison does not disappoint. “UK funky” has since fallen off as a genre-alert, but the garage-influenced mix of house and rave that birthed “Mngo” remains the holding center of contemporary U.K. club culture. P.O.