These Will Be the Years: The 100 Greatest EDM Anthems of the ’10s
Counting down the classics that defined the mainstream breakthrough of 21st-century dance
60. Mr. Probz, “Waves (Robin Schulz Remix)”
(Left Lane, 2013)
Anything Robin Schulz weaves through his ProTools turns to gold, as first illustrated from his remix of Dutch artist Mr. Probz’s “Waves.” The secret is his light touch: compared to his uptempo remixes, the original suddenly sounds as if it’s been slowed down. Just give it a beat. — H.B.
59. Pendulum, “The Island””
At a relentless nine-and-a-half minutes, “The Island” is about as epic as progressive house gets, but Pendulum has the hooks to sustain the two-part journey, with a Godzilla-sized lead riff to anchor Pt. 1 and a laser fight of synth rays and squiggles to up the ante in Pt. 2. “What are you waiting for?” Fair question. — A.U.
58. Duck Sauce, “Big Bad Wolf”
(Big Beat, 2011)
Feels insane to discuss “Big Bad Wolf” without its ridiculously funny video, so in the spirit of its characters, go watch that six or seven times to get it out of your system. Using a cut-up howling hook from the titular canine to indicate an outrageous, over-the-top level of thirst does turn out to work just as well as a classic dance-floor novelty. —D.W.
57. Zedd feat. Matthew Koma, “Spectrum”
The track that served as Zedd’s international breakthrough also marked the world’s introduction to the Nate Dogg of EDM, silver-throated vocal utility man Matthew Koma. He’s the best part of the intriguingly dissonant banger, his reedy-but-full croon elevating lyrics like “We’ll run where lights won’t chase us / Hide where love can save us” into something dangerously close to meaningful. — A.U.
56. Rudimental feat. John Newman, “Feel the Love”
(Asylum/Black Butter/Big Beat, 2012)
With the simplicity of its all-encompassing embrace and skyscraping lift, “Feel the Love” is one of the few indie-dance jams worthy of considering itself a descendant of Screamadelica-era Primals. — A.U.
55. A$AP Rocky feat. Skrillex & Birdy Nam Nam, “Wild for the Night”
(A$AP Worldwide, 2013)
“Wild for the Night” started out as a Skrillex remix of French turntablist crew Birdy Nam Nam’s “Goin’ In”; courtesy of Lord Flacko and Sonny Moore, once again behind the decks, the same guttural “Wild for the night / Fuck being polite” gets pitched-down and screwed into reggae synth stabs and chopped up into siren wails, making for a hybrid weekend anthem everyone could lose their s— to equally. — A.U.
54. Flux Pavilion, “I Can’t Stop”
With the help of some seriously screeching high-end, dubstep linchpin Flux Pavilion turned the three-word title phrase into a chant so transfixing and eternally echoing that even Jay Z and Kanye West were ultimately sucked into its vortex. Can’t stop, won’t stop, what’s so great about stopping anyway? — A.U.
53. A-Trak & Dillon Francis, “Money Makin'”
(Fool’s Gold, 2012)
No one would ever accuse either of these dudes of over-seriousness, but even by Fool’s Gold standards, the silliness of “Money Makin'” is gleefully infectious, a jaunty salute to gettin’ them dollars that also serves as a self-aware sendup of the mind-boggling lucrativeness of their business of choice. No levels of irony needed to make shouting along to the “I LOOOOVE… THAT…. MO-NEYYYYY!!!” hook a blast-and-a-half, though. — A.U.
52. TJR, “Funky Vodka”
(Rising Music, 2012)
Famously sampled by Pitbull in “Don’t Stop the Party,” the original “Funky Vodka” takes listeners down the sampling rabbit hole even further with hooks borrowed from Toots and the Maytalls. There may be a good-taste limit to levels of sampling, but wherever it shows up, the sea-breeze groove of “Funky Vodka” is catchy enough to make you not give a damn. — A.Z.
51. Disclosure, “When a Fire Starts to Burn”
Disclosure’s Grammy-nominated, scene-shifting debut album Settle is filled with gems, but proper opener “When a Fire Starts to Burn” stands out with its rhythmic bounce, deep groove, and sexy vocals, effortlessly blending traditional house with U.K. garage. — A.Z.
50. Ivan Gough and Feenixpawl feat. Georgi Kay, “In My Mind” (Axwell Remix)
(Big Beat, 2012)
All you need to know about this song is that Flo Rida sampled it and tacked “Part 2″ onto the end, passing it off as one of his own tracks in 2012. When the Lord of 21st-Century Schmaltz peers through the crowd and selects you as his next concubine, there’s a reason — you’re golden. — B.C.
49. Bare & Datsik, “King Kong”
The only reason to still give Jibbs a second’s thought in the 2010s was his generous-if-unwilling supplying of Bare & Datsik with one of the great vocal hooks in dubstep, a boast about utilizing the 8th Wonder of the World as a car stereo power boost. The drop is so massive that it doesn’t even sound totally implausible. — A.U.
48. Shiba San, “Okay”
With stripped-down beats and grimy vocals, this Dirtybird club-leveler is A-OKAY as promised. — A.Z.
47. Martin Solveig feat. Dragonette, “Hello”
(Big Beat/Atlantic, 2010)
As winning as a tennis ace; Martin Solveig hypnotizing with ramming guitars and pianos while Dragonette leads a master class in lame-dude dismissal. As a superfluous-but-not-unwelcome bonus: Maybe the best use of single-“Hey!” shout breaks since “What I Like About You.” — A.U.
46. Ten Walls, “Walking With Elephants”
(Big Beat, 2014)
That vaguely familiar, lush piano line you’ve likely heard crop up in many a DC10 DJ set is likely Lithuanian producer Ten Walls’ sneakily successful “Walking with Elephants.” So might be that series of deep horn blasts, like the heavy footfalls of giants. No matter what it is, as soon as it fades in and inevitably out, “Walking with Elephants” sticks with you. — H.B.
45. Lana Del Rey, “Summertime Sadness” (Cedric Gervais Remix)
It’s really more like “Summertime Slamdance,” with Miami-via-Paris DJ and producer Cedric Gervais (who won a Grammy for his remix) at the helm. At first he seems downright careless, cutting Lana’s wounded croon into unrecognizable snippets; but as the track unfurls, he builds her up to disco regality with cinematic, crashing fireworks. — H.B.
44. TNGHT, “Higher Ground”
When TNGHT first exploded onto the trap scene with their bastardization of trill, dubstep, and whatever else they wanted, even more forward-thinking dance fans didn’t know what hit them. Quebec’s Lunice and Scotsman Hudson Mohawke’s speaker-blasting grenades, of which “Higher Ground” was the most shrapnel-shredding, were part of a whole new low-end theory that (rumor has it) shattered a plate-glass wall during their set at SXSW 2013. — H.B.
43. Bassnectar, “Bass Head”
(Amorphous Music, 2010)
More-with-less is hardly a central dubstep tenet, but “Bass Head” manages a universe of menace with a plink-plonking synth riff, a simple boom-clap drum line and the toneless titular exhortation of its intro. There are wub-wub-infested drops to be had later on, but its the minimal stretches that give the song its lingering spookiness, and ensure it can hold its own with the genre’s far gorier hits. — A.U.
42. Congorock feat. Mr. Lexx, “Babylon”
(Fool’s Gold, 2010)
Tension and release manage to coexist throughout the entirety of “Babylon,” one of the most piercing and grinding club ragers of the century. Whether its building you to a cathartic full-body explosion or just making you clench your teeth until you require immediate orthodontic aid, it’ll get your blood pressure up like no other. — A.U.
41. Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne, “Rather Be” (The Magician Remix)
(Big Beat/Atlantic, 2014)
The original “Rather Be” was as instant dance-pop classic, but the Magician rework of the song pushes the fader on the mix from disco to house; upping the swinging two-step of the beat, fragmenting Jess Glynne’s vocal into all high points, and keeping the focus forever on that iconic keyboard hook. Not fluid enough for Top 40, but ideal for a club set’s head-swimming peak. — A.U.
40. Porter Robinson, “Sad Machine”
One of the most soulful electronic tracks ever. “Is anyone there?” a vocaloid asks, searching throughout the song for her companion; Robinson’s tinkling, cloud-like melodies are so beautiful and sad and soaring, they forever change what big-tent bangers might look like when we’re all cyborgs. Not as crowd-pleasing as some of the North Carolina producer’s simpler anthems, but easily more unforgettable. — H.B.
39. Kid Cudi, “Pursuit of Happiness” (Steve Aoki Remix)
(Universal Motown, 2010)
No small feat to turn Kid Cudi’s psychedelic night-terror ballad into a treble-blazed paean to partying at all costs, id-stroking enough to soundtrack the climactic montage of debauchery from Project X. And for Steve Aoki’s next magic trick, he shall reform Ed Sheeran’s “The A Team” into a smokin’ Dirty Dutch banger. — A.U.
38. Nero, “Promises”
Cold, beautiful and distinctly alien, Nero’s “Promises” is a dance-floor heartbreaker that merits the dystopian high drama of its ultra-cinematic music video. Given second life through a stark, Skrillex-aided remix, the original still hits hardest, with singer Alana Watson’s blood-chilling wails of “Promises! And they STILL FEEL OH SO WASTED ON MY-SE-ELF!” needing no further drop to ensure they land with maximum impact. — A.U.
37. Duke Dumont feat. A*M*E, “Need U (100%)”
(Blasé Boys Club, 2013)
A*M*E is a sprightly British disco diva with the vocals of Gloria Gaynor, who carries the bulk of Duke Dumont’s U.K. chart-topping breakout, though co-writer MNEK’s choral “mmm-mmm-mmm“-ing shoots off its own sparks. And above those, a clattering, spastic drum line that’s totally impossible to nail down. — B.C.
36. Above & Beyond feat. Richard Bedford, “Sun & Moon”
An impressively slow-developing trance-pop anthem, not even getting to its proper chorus until two minutes in and not even beginning to build to its true synth-frosted peak until after that. The highs are well worth waiting for, though; by the time guest vocalist Richard Bedford gets to the final soaring chorus, his fingers won’t be the only ones touching the sky. — A.U.
35. Edward Maya & Vika Jigulina, “Stereo Love”
Even if you can’t recall another thing about this song, you’ve certainly heard its celestial accordion floating distantly through your Atlantic City hotel, unsure if it’s actually part of the song or a band playing the Italian Restaurant across the way who somehow managed to get their wires crossed with a pool party DJ. Different soundtracks to shameless pleasure are no strangers to the red and white stereo wires, but in this ode to them — one of the first unmistakably club-set tracks to make waves on Top 40 radio this decade — EDM plays matchmaker. — D.W.
34. Benny Benassi feat. Gary Go, “Cinema”
(All Around the World, 2011)
“D-D-D-D-D-D-D-D-D-D-D-D-D-D-D-D-D-D-DROP THE BASS.” Are you gonna tell him no? We’re not gonna tell him no. — A.U.
33. Disclosure feat. Eliza Doolittle, “You & Me”
With his remix of “You and Me,” Flume achieves the almost-impossibility of having a laid-back banger that owes as much to the golden age of hip-hop as it does classical music and cloud rap, while still dropping harder than 99 percent of dubstep dirty bombs. Not many can do alternative justice to Disclosure’s near-perfect UKG, but Flume proves himself worthy of giving it two more legs to full-body heave with. — H.B.
32. Deniz Koyu, “Tung!”
A fire-starting house fist-pumper with a faux-horn riff so seismic that it couldn’t help but cross the song over into Jock Jam territory. The title’s meaning may not be immediately clear, but really, any onomatopoeic-sounding word with an exclamation mark at the end of it would suffice just fine. — A.U.
31. Chris Malinchak, “So Good to Me”
(Ministry of Sound, 2013)
The thinking man’s EDM anthem, significantly less action-packed and aggro than your average club banger, but no less anthemic or satisfying for its smoother edges. Or maybe, more the feeling man’s EDM anthem, coaxing more out of a Marvin and Tammy lift than anyone since Meth and Mary, an air-dryer to the heart with every “Every sky would be blue / Long as you’re loving me” insistence. Either way, Chris Malinchak managed an international chart smash that moved listeners internally as well as externally, a non-too-common occurrence in ’10s pop. — A.U.
30. Flux Pavilion, “Bass Cannon”
(Circus/Big Beat, 2011)
If only AOL subscribers in 1996 had known that the dial-up modem sounds that would make them want to slam their heads against the wall would eventually power the dubstep weaponry that their kids would slam their whole bodies to. — A.U.
29. Deadmau5 feat. Chris James, “The Veldt” (8 Minute Edit)
Eight minutes of pure, atmospheric bliss. — A.Z.
28. Florence + the Machine, “Spectrum (Say My Name)” (Calvin Harris Remix)
Florence Welch fully immerses herself in this track, pouring her heart out through mighty vocals and emboldening lyrics. Add Calvin Harris to the mix, and the end product is one of EDM’s most powerful floor-fillers. The “Spectrum” remix was enormous just about everywhere besides the U.S., so later that year, the two teamed up again for the nearly-as-transcendent “Sweet Nothing” and finished the job. — A.Z.
27. Wolfgang Gartner, “Flexx”
One of big-tent house’s most proficient grinders, Wolfgang Gartner released over a half-dozen stellar singles in 2012 alone, the best of which was probably “Flexx,” a groaning monster with a sinewy hook and a perfect pre-break stutter that makes the song’s ultimate explosion absurdly satisfying. Should’ve been bigger than “Moves Like Jagger.” — A.U.
26. Diplo feat. Nicky Da B, “Express Yourself”
(Mad Decent, 2012)
Ass-clapping with a grin, this song’s been accused of ripping New Orleans bounce from its birthplace and transplanting it into the mainstream, but by building a subwoofing sizzler around the late Nicky Da B’s vocals, Diplo more than pays homage. You’re just jealous you didn’t think of the real ratchet commandments first. — B.C.
25. Showtek feat. We Are Loud and Sonny Wilson, “Booyah”
The “Kernkraft 400″ of the ’10s. And yes, we do mean that as a compliment. — A.U.
24. Adrian Lux, “Teenage Crime”
Icy and comforting at the same time, “Teenage Crime” holds adulthood at arm’s length while it comes crashing in anyway. It’s about choices versus reality, but more than that, it’s about getting f—ed up and being dumb. Were life only still that easy. — B.C.
23. Alesso feat. Matthew Koma, “Years”
Alesso is king of the clean beat. Though his tracks are undeniably formulaic — annihilating builds and decrescendos, major melodies, and a yearning topline — they’re also undeniably catchy. And with EDM Best Supporting Actor Matthew Koma’s reedy intonation, there’s no one better to sing over a “Speed of Sound”-like piano cascade about hope for the present. — H.B.
22. Nari and Milani, “Atom”
“Atom” is what it sounds like Nari and Milani are trying to split with their jackhammering drops, a pounding industrial break that sounds like the intro to “Bizarre Love Triangle” weaponized for mass destruction. “Blast, beat, go!” is hardly enough of a starter’s pistol to be properly prepped for that. — A.U.
21. Afrojack and Steve Aoki feat. Miss Palmer, “No Beef”
(All Around the World, 2011)
The squiggling, transfixing and yet oddly unpredictable meshing of styles between two of the decade’s mechaproducers, which Chick-Fil-A really should’ve jumped on for a promotional campaign by now. — A.U.