By Andrei Miler
Electronic Dance Music (EDM) is surging to the forefront of mainstream tastes. In the summer, the world of spinning turntables, DJs and auto tune becomes an everyday occurrence. Every weekend brings another festival with a raging mass of teens and neon, the air a cloud of smoke and glow-sticks. The procession begins in May and builds, like a thudding EDM track, into an explosive climax, the Veld Music Festival, a giant two-day bacchanal that colonizes Downsview Park every August.
A quick look at Forbes‘ first annual Electronic Cash Kings list of top earning DJs confirms the arrival of EDM as a mainstream genre. Topping the list is Dutch producer DJ Tiesto, earning a staggering $22 million over the last year and averaging $250,000 gross per show. The list continues through a handful of now-household names including Skrillex, Swedish House Mafia, and Deadmau5. Even Avicii, who closes the list at number ten, earned an impressive $7 million. As a whole, the EDM industry is worth approximately $4 billion per year.
Why is EDM is on the rise, and what brings millions of people to these festivals every year? It’s more than the festival subculture. Electronic dance music is highly captivating. Despite its repetitive synth chords and sometimes tasteless lyrics, its catchy beats and airy “feel good” tones make the genre highly popular. EDM’s main goal is to make people feel good. It ultimately promotes enjoying life and not caring what anyone thinks. When someone goes to EDM concert, their problems seem to vanish for a few hours, their responsibilities disappear, and they are thrown into an alternate universe.
Despite EDM’s ability to transfix crowds, obvious limits to its trance have emerged. Even the genre’s most notable DJ need singers to elevate their songs beyond night clubs and festivals onto the radio and into broader consciousness. Instrumental dance tracks rarely ascend the charts; producers need singers to achieve fame. One such example is 28-year old British pop-star turned EDM singer Ellie Goulding. Her voice is high and nasally. It sounds as if she were getting over a cold while recording, and easily manipulated, digitally, to fit a given song.
Although EDM’s overall effect on people has been under controversy, especially with “Heroes (We Could Be)” by Alesso and Tove Lo who’s music video has been criticized to promote suicide. The song itself is a very realistic look at what makes for a hero. It’s not just power or qualities, “we are a different kind, we can do anything”. They only give you the possibility of being a hero “we could be heroes”. When it’s up to you, do you let others be heroes? Even when you have to take the fall?
EDM music is a state of mind almost and it takes people away to alternate planet with no stresses, no problems, only dance music, and good times. So I’ll leave you with this quote EDM fans.
“Music washes away from the soul the dust from everyday life”
R3hab ft. Trevor Guthrie – “Soundwave”: Trevor Guthrie’s soothing voice accompanied by R3hab’s beats and drops will leave you wanting more of the duo.
Edward Maya ft. Vika Jigulina – “Stereo Love”: Edward Maya’s simple chord progression and mixing of live harmonica along with Jigulina’s airy vocals put this house hit on the list.
DVBBS & Jay Hardway – “Voodoo”: DVBBS’s deep beats do this song justice.
David Guetta ft. Nicki Minaj – “Turn Me On”: David Guetta’s simple yet brilliant beats along with Nicki Minaj’s electronically enhanced vocals and rapping make this a great song to pump you up.
deadmau5 ft. Chris James – “The Veldt”: deadmau5 and Chris James collaborate to bring us an airy, feel-good song.
Mr Probz – “Waves” Robin Schulz Remix: Robin Schulz’s feel-good remix of “Waves” by Mr Probz will leave you wanting to hit the waves.
30. Danny Avila & Kaaze – “Close Your Eyes”: This anthem to the Parookaville Festival is the product of Danny Avila & Kaaze who teamed up to produce what has become the EDM anthem for those ravers.
29. David Guetta ft. Rihanna – “Right Now”: David Guetta is known for his collaborations with the biggest pop stars. Rihanna teams up with Guetta to give us “Right Now,” a feel-good pop-electro house song.
28. Swedish House Mafia – “I Wanna Know Your Name”: I Wanna Know Your Name will leave you wanting to know the name of this DJ.
27. Alexandra Stan – “Mr. Saxobeat”: Alexandra Stan’s hit Mr. Saxobeat earns its place on this list after reaching number 1 on the dance charts in eleven different countries including the Billboard Dance Charts.
26. David Guetta ft. Kid Cudi – “Memories”: Another old yet timeless David Guetta track featuring Kid Cudi. “Memories” is considered Kid Cudi’s most successful song to date.
25. David Guetta ft. Sam Martin – “Dangerous”: Guetta teams up with Sam Martin to bring us this synth-piano song, which might leave you wanting to do something dangerous.
24. Calvin Harris – “Feel So Close”: One of Calvin Harris’s few singles, the mix of melancholic vocals and airy synths puts this song on the list.
23. Swedish House Mafia ft. John Martin – “Don’t You Worry Child”: John Martin’s rustic voice with Swedish House Mafia’s uplifting beats will leave you craving more traditional EDM songs.
22. Skrillex and Diplo ft. Justin Bieber “Where Are Ü Now”: One of the few Justin Bieber songs that actually deserves fame.
21. Zedd ft. Selena Gomez – “I Want You To Know”: Zedd’s recent success in EDM has come as a surprise for many as the Russian DJ comes from a classical background. The collaboration with former Texas-born girlfriend Selena Gomez will leave many wanting more.
20. deadmau5 ft. Rob Swire – “Ghosts N Stuff”: You’d be surprised to hear this song initially had 10 revisions before it hit the charts. We can now say that those revisions paid off.
19. Daft Punk – “One More Time”: Daft Punk’s timeless song definitely deserves its spot on the list. You’ll keep saying “One More Time” as you hit the replay button over and over.
18. David Guetta ft. Kelly Rowland – “When Love Takes Over”: Having reached number 1 in 13 different countries, the Guetta/Rowland duo is one to behold. The two come together to produce a dance hit that will leave you dancing the whole night.
17. Calvin Harris ft. Kelis – “Bounce”: Calvin Harris & Kelis’s collaboration will make you want to “Bounce” all night long.
16. DVBBS ft. Borgeous – “Tsunami”: Although “Tsunami” lacks in the vocal department, the incredible beats and beat drop make up for it.
15. Alesso ft. Tove Lo – “Heroes (We Could Be)”: “Heroes (We Could Be)” is a another smash-hit by Swedish duo Alesso and Tove Lo. Reaching Number 1 in two countries, the empowering yet electric lyric’s make you want to soar away into an alternate universe.
14. Tove Lo – “Habits” Hippie Sabotage Remix: One of the biggest EDM sensations of 2015, Tove Lo’s “Habits” Hippie Sabotage Remix is a perfect song to listen to on those late night fast food runs.
13. Deorro ft. Chris Brown – “Five More Hours”: You never thought you’d find Chris Brown on the EDM stage, but here it is and it’s impressive. “Five More Hours” combines Chris Brown’s high yet calming vocals with Deorro’s synth and electro-pop stylings.
12. Galantis – “Runaway (U & I)”: This EDM turn-up song would be higher on the list had the vocals been less repetitive. However, the beat and the overall message of the song can get you through even the hardest days.
11. Vicetone ft. Kat Nestel – “Angels”: Vicetone’s unusual collaboration with Kat Nestel wasn’t supposed to amount to much. However, the duo has surprised everyone. The trance this song puts you in with its lyrics is unbelievable.
10. Krewella – “Alive”: This is one of my personal favourites. Krewella is a sister Electronic Dance Music duo who released “Alive” in 2012. It was the group’s first Billboard Top 40 hit charting at number 32. This song will make you feel alive.
9. Martin Garrix – “Animals”: Enjoy this classic EDM hit.
8. Calvin Harris ft. Ellie Goulding – “I Need Your Love”:This falls under both the Pop and EDM genre. The Calvin Harris/Ellie Goulding duo is considered one of the hottest, most accomplished duos in today’s Electropop/EDM world. Harris incredible mixing, along with Goulding’s digitized voice, makes this a great song to get you in the mood before a night out. The track sold over 2-million copies worldwide.
7. Avicii – “Levels”: Reaching Number 1 in nine countries and selling over 2-million copies worldwide, Avicii’s 2011 summer hit “Levels” hits all the right notes and levels. See what I did there?
6. AronChupa – “I’m An Albatraoz”: Released in August 2014 by Swedish DJ AronChupa, “I’m An Albatraoz” reached number 1 in six countries and the top 15 in numerous countries. What we can we expect next from AronChupa?
5. Avicii vs Nicky Romero – “I Could Be The One (NickTime)”: Another one of my personal favourites, “I Could Be The One” is a song that is great for listening to after a great night out. Its soothing vocals by uncredited Noonie Bao are incredible.”I Could Be the One” is a battle between Balearic-style EDM and chart-friendly breakdowns that hit all the right places. The result, predictably, is a peaceful truce.
4. Calvin Harris – “Summer”: Reaching Number 1 in thirteen countries, Calvin Harris produced another hit in 2014 in the form of “Summer.” Obvious from the name, “Summer” is a bright and vibrant banger destined to soundtrack the warmer months of the year.
3. Nicky Romero – “Toulouse”: Incredibly underestimated, Nicky Romero, who is now the 15th most popular DJ, achieved popularity with the recording of “Toulouse.” There are no vocals, but the song’s dance beat will want to make you dance the night away.
2. Calvin Harris & Disciples – “How Deep Is Your Love”: Released just five months ago, “How Deep Is Your Love” has already reached the top ten in twenty-two countries and number 1 in ten countries. Calvin Harris again shines accompanied by the incredible talented Disciples.
And the number 1 EDM song currently is….
1. Major Lazer & DJ Snake ft. MO – “Lean On”: Reaching the Top 20 on 48 charts, and number 1 in 18 countries, “Lean On” tops the charts. A combination of synthesized dreams from Major Lazer & DJ Snake and siren-like vocals from MO, “Lean On” more than just pumps you up; it awakens the tribal animal within.