In order to properly decipher what the DJ Magazine Top 100 DJ poll actually means we must be able to identify what criteria people are voting on. Is it the best actual DJ? Best producer? Most popular? Shot slamming ability? Hottest Girlfriend? Is it even feasible to determine what the hell a whole bunch of people are actually voting on? Not to burst your bubble, but the answer is a big N-O. Here is what we do know – the DJ Mag list is the only ‘relevant’ (kind of) ranking system we have in the Electronic Dance Music world, well at least it is for now, until we figure out how to craft our own.
Throughout the past few months we have asked big name DJs about whether the list is actually relevant. Two of the biggest names we asked were Fedde Le Grand and Tiesto (click on each name to read their interviews with us). Their answers are transcribed after the jump:
Oh, I think the DJ Mag thing is pretty much irrelevant nowadays. I dont know if anybody really looks at it still. I haven’t looked at it in a couple of years and I can say it hasn’t really affected my career. I have been in the top ten for the last 10 years I think, but I really don’t think people really care about DJ mag top 100. There are so many more outlets now like Facebook. You can look at the Facebook pages of all the DJs and see who is the most popular in the world. Most popular is obviously David Guetta. He has like 25 million facebook friends (likes) and last year he wasnt even number 1 on DJ mag top 100 so I think that list is just irrelevant nowadays.
It’s funny, as much as people hate to admit it, the Top 100 is still very relevant, especially in places like Asia where a lot of promoters look at the list almost as a ‘value indicator’ for DJs and their worth. Maybe not the best way of doing it, but that’s a reality of what is essentially an industry. But I think the far more important thing about the Top 100 is that it’s still a poll that’s voted for by people on the ground. It is — and it always has been — a popularity contest, and I don’t think you can really argue with that in its essence.
Although there are more and more new charts and polls coming out all the time — there’s a new one called the Muso List and that charts DJs and producers on their online activity, which is pretty interesting, for me anyway. They look at the amount of people who have played your songs, downloaded tracks, commented on your activity, that kind of thing. It’s pretty clear when someone has a track out that’s doing well because you shoot straight towards the top.
Two of the biggest names in the game gave us differing perspectives. What can we conclude about the relevance of the list? Everyone can agree to disagree and conclude that it is a poll based on whatever anyone makes of it. Essentially, it’s a popularity contest. If you’re worth voting for, then you’re worth talking about; if you’re worth talking about, then you’re popular. Deductive reasoning — not very hard stuff.
What’s a ranking list without a little controversy? This was by and large the most talked about position within the list and it makes sense because it is the most notable place. All of us at Dancing Astronaut have heard the arguments against David Guetta: his productions are not that great, he’s a sell out, he plays too commercial.
Let us make this clear — David Guetta is clearly deserving of the number one spot. In order to be considered for a top 5 poll position you must transcend electronic dance music. In the past three years who has meant the most to our favorite form of music than this guy? Guetta is single handedly responsible for bridging the gap between mainstream music and house, he paved the path for future producers to become mainstream juggernauts. Would Avicii’s “Levels” or Swedish House Mafia’s “One” be as popular without David’s past work? Don’t feed us this garbage about how he sold out. Would you rather live in a world where EDM was played on every mainstream radio station or would you rather listen to Justin Bieber rant about his relationship with some teenage girl who may or may not turn into the college slut in a few years.
After watching this video you may want to take a shower in gasoline and proceed to set yourself on fire. We strongly urge you to quell these thoughts. David Guetta is saving you from terrible music like this. Be thankful his groundwork has now indirectly led to mainstream stuff along the lines of…
Hell of a lot better right? Maybe this still isn’t quite your cup of tea, but we all can agree that music is heading in the right direction. We could rant on and on about David and his accolades, but we feel as though you got the picture.
Don’t worry, we are all fully aware of the massive DJ crush we have on Avicii. Why do we believe that Avicii deserves such a high spot over all time greats such as Fedde Le Grand, Paul Van Dyk, and ATB? Let’s take a look at the production quality just in 2011. “Drowning,” “Street Dancer,” “Sweet Dreams,” “Derezzed,” “Blessed,” “Fade Into Darkness,” “Sunshine,” and his brand spanking new remix of Coldplay’s “Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall.” What Avicii accomplished in a 12 month time span is what most DJs would be dying to do in an entire lifetime. We haven’t even touched upon his ‘lower’ tier releases of “Fuck The Music” and “Snus” — which are still quality productions — but get lost in the fray because they aren’t as good as his chart toppers. Remember, he was 39 on the list just last year and was moving up the ranks quite rapidly. His ascension to the top 10 was not unfathomable, but maybe a bit surprising this early in they youngster’s career.
Dancing Astronaut Rule #1: If you create arguably the most influential track of the year you deserve to be significantly higher by default.
“Levels” is going to be a timeless classic. You are going to be playing it 10 years from now and telling people about all the emotions that were flowing through you when this track was dropped at the various events you went to. Swedish House Mafia’s “One” and Afrojack’s “Take Over Control” are two other very good examples of this rule.
Hopefully you read the blurb about David Guetta above. We told you that Guetta saved lives. But wait, there’s more. Avicii also saves lives (watch the video below).
Two douchebags decide to start a semi-fight over something incredibly stupid (we don’t really know what it was about, but we are betting that it was something beyond dumb) in a Jack In The Box outside of Ruby Skye after Avicii’s set. Before brawling, one of douchebag #1’s friends starts chanting the tune to “Levels” and the fight instantly is forgotten and the whole fast food restaurant starts singing the tune. The fight never happens and the two douchebags kiss and make up and live happily ever after. Instant timeless classic. (Editors note: if you have any arguments about Avicii or the power of his productions please send them to email@example.com).
The biggest mover in this year’s list also happens to be one of the tallest — Calvin Harris. “Awooga,” “Bounce,” “Feel So Close,” and “We Found Love” all destroyed the charts and blasted through speakers for months. Calvin’s tunes range from good to damn good. Vegas played his tracks so frequently that you could have gotten near blacked out taking a shot for every Calvin tune you heard from club to club. We’ll make this short and sweet: moving 60 spots (in the positive direction) makes you a winner in our book.
Mini-Award for track that is most often used as a ringtone: and the award goes to — drumroll please —Calvin Harris “Feel So Close.” How many twenty something year old females have this song as their ringtone on their swanky new iPhone? This track meets all ringtone criteria (listed below):
1. When picking a ringtone the track must be instantly noticeable in order for people to think that it is a socially acceptable choice.
2. Ringtones must not contain huge drops or harsh sounds especially when working in a corporate field. You absolutely do not want your superiors thinking you’re a degenerate. (Dubstep ringtones are definitely not acceptable when working a full time professional gig.)
3. The ringtone must be universally well liked.
4. The track which has been chosen for your ringtone must have been posted on Dancing Astronaut. Just kidding, but not really.
You know when people tell you to pace yourself in a long distance race? Well, Hardwell didn’t quite pace himself — he sprinted the whole damn race, and then ran circles around all the slow people who finished last. The year started out with a boom as he came roaring out of the gates with “Zero 76” alongside Tiesto. “Encoded,” “The World,” and “Cobra” followed suit throughout the year. Don’t sleep on the countless other remixes he created along the way — especially his rendition of “In The Air.” When we think ‘trouse’ the first name that comes to mind is Hardwell. He personifies what it means to be a real DJ: great production skills, high energy, and a tech geek. We’re willing to bet that stuff from this guy only gets significantly better as time passes.
Other Notable WINNERS: Arty, Martin Solveig, Dada Life
Swedish House Mafia
Yes, they had a fairly high ranking landing at the number 10 spot. However, we are talking about the biggest act in the business right here folks. Don’t you recall their record breaking sell out of their Madison Square Garden Show (cut to all the pissed off people shaking their heads fervently for not getting a ticket)? Miami Music Week was highlighted by their Masquerade Motel event where people were getting tazed trying to get in the damn place. How many artists can you name that people are willing to do bodily harm to themselves in order to catch their act? This is partially DJ Mag‘s fault. If you add Axwell, Ingrosso, and Angello’s votes together and combine them with SHM’s votes you would probably be looking at our new number one. This doesn’t quite work because all three of them have individual productions as well.
Dancing Astronaut solution: Divide the total number of votes for the Swedish House Mafia by three and add each portion to the total votes of each individual members’ final tally. This is about the closest estimate we can get by acknowledging their respective achievements while giving them credit for their massive work as a fearsome threesome.
Synopsis: we know these guys are talented, they all dropped places, and they all deserve better. Time to enact our solution and our problem will be solved. Let’s move on to our other losers.
This is absolute blasphemy. Can someone please explain to us how the owner of arguably the hottest record label (Toolroom Records) out right now is not higher? His remix of “You’ve Got The Love” sat atop the Beatport charts for over a month. Does anybody remember how good his collaboration with Tiesto, “Beautiful World,” was? DA will never forget the line outside of Space Miami for Mark’s Toolroom Knights club gig during Miami Music Week, the line wrapped around the building twice. We get depressed even thinking about how low this ranking is for someone this good.
If Mark Knight’s ranking was a disaster, this is just downright depressing. We were under the impression that Eric Prydz had a cult following… What the hell happened here? Many of the astronauts voted for Eric and quite honestly we really have no explanation for this one. It wasn’t his production quality that was lacking — hits such as “2night,” “Personal Jesus“,”With Me,” “Illusions,” and “Mokba” all were absolutely stunning tunes.
Potential Problem: Never underestimate the power of stupid people with equal voting ability. Did many voters even know that Pryda and Cirez D were moniker’s used by Eric Prydz to distinguish his various productions? Or did DJ Mag screw up by not adding Pryda and Cirez D votes under Eric Prydz name? We stared at this ranking for quite some time and this is the only fathomable reason we could come up with.
Solution: Dancing Astronaut teaches an educational class called “EDM for Dummies” that reaches enrollment capacity at numerous locations, thus eliminating the large percentage of ‘stupid voters.’
Solution (2): Dancing Astronaut creates a different voting system allowing only our fans (which happen to be the best and brightest EDM lovers in the world) to cast their ballots. This would create a relatively accurate Top 100, thus rendering DJ Mag’s list utterly useless.
Which solution would you pick?
There are always those guys who get left behind for no apparent reason. This year during Labor Day weekend, Alesso and Dirty South performed at Pacha NYC where Alesso opened for Dirty South. What does this tell you? People who book talent realize that Dirty South was a bigger name, hence his position as the headliner. So how is it that Alesso is a whopping 23 spots higher than Dirty South? With all due respect to Alesso (he deserves to be on this list and maybe even a bit higher than 70) Dirty South should not be lower than him. You need more proof? How many times have you heard “Coming Home” played this year? 10,000? 25,000? Don’t even get us started on how good “Alive” is. Maybe he got the bad end of the stick due to how late “Walking Alone” was released. It’s ok Dragan, you’ll be way higher on our list.
Other Notable LOSERS: Cosmic Gate, Roger Sanchez, Boys Noize
Definition of snub: someone who deserves to be on the list, but for some odd reason did not make their way into the Top 100. This is not to be confused with losers who are members of the list, but should be higher.
Now that we got that out of the way let us dive into a few snubs, there are plenty of them.
Seriously? This guy didn’t make it to the Top 100? If the DJ Mag list was only the top 50 DJs Thomas would still be a snub. All this guy has done this year is pump out banger after banger. “Judas” remix anyone? “Set Fire To The Rain?” His work alongside Dirty South in “Alive” or how about reworking his own tune “Marsch, Marsch?” This kind of crap just makes our heads hurt.
Easy Solution: Axwell & Thomas Gold – Sing 2 Me
Go ahead, watch the video. Then click play again another 100 times. When this song comes out we assure you that Thomas Gold will come back with a vengeance.
“Camorra” alone should have gotten him into the top 100. Even though “Flash” was released in 2010, it was mashed up and played at every big festival about a million times. We feel as though this Dutch superstar really does not get enough credit, both “Solar” and “Play N Stop” are two of the most underrated tunes of the year. The quality and quantity of his productions are just next level stuff. Although to DJ Mag’s defense (wow, did we just say that?) there were a ton of Holland-based producers who could have overshadowed him even during his breakout year. Think: Afrojack, Laidback Luke, Tiesto, and Hardwell. Also, he isn’t quite a household name even for some fairly knowledgeable EDM fans. The truth is that the voting is biased towards older DJs (read below).
Facts about DJ Mag List: While it may be labeled a 2011 list, you can really throw that out of the water. This list is set up for DJs who have been around for fairly long periods of time. After all, this is a popularity contest, and if you have been around the block for a while you will gain popularity (we refer to it as the college slut syndrome: CSS for short). It is partially a lifetime achievement award. Meaning, the work you have done in the past will linger with people over time and cause them to vote for that DJ by default. What is that saying again? Respect your elders – or something like that.
Fadil El Ghoul falls under the ‘workhorse’ category. We’re under the assumption that he never leaves his studio unless he is performing somewhere. The breadth of tunes he has created in the past year is quite honestly unbelievable, and the stuff that he has been coming out with recently has just been getting better and better. (We’re referring to his remix of “Maximal Crazy,” and his rendition of Calvin Harris’ “We Found Love.”) A few other notables from this year are “Sending My Love,” “I’m Still Hot,” “Give Me Everything,” “Judas,” and so many more. Most people make the case for ‘quality over quantity,’ butR3hab likes making the statement ‘quantity and quality.’
Let’s play a rationalization game. Michael Woods is a UK based producer. DJ Mag is a UK based magazine. No home field advantage? When you watch Andy Murray play at Wimbledon all the Brits go nuts for him, and he isn’t even from the Great Britain, he is from Scotland. Supposedly, London is filled with great nightclubs and has a special love for house music. Are we doing the math correctly? What the @#$% happened here? “First Aid,” “Bullet,” and “VMS” weren’t enough? If DJ Mag were a US magazine you better believe Kaskade would have been top 10, that’s for damn sure.
Other Notable SNUBS: John Dahlback, Swanky Tunes, Hard Rock Sofa, Bassjackers
Dancing Astronaut presents AWARD CEREMONY
Here are a few of the awards that we would like to give out to a select few artists.
MVP (Most Valuable Producer): Tim Berg aka Avicii (what did you expect? this is quite frankly a no brainer)
Honorable Mention: Fedde Le Grand, Skrillex, Tiesto
MIP (Most Improved Producer): Calvin Harris (he was good before, better now, and jumped 60 spots on the list)
Honorable Mention: Avicii, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Hardwell
ROY (Rookie Of The Year): Alesso (not as big of a home run as you might think, look at the honorable mention list)
Honorable Mention: Porter Robinson, Zedd, Madeon
Best Vocalist: Nadia Ali (duh?)
Honorable Mention: Christina Skaar, Martina (Dragonette), John Martin
Hottest Females In The Game: Nervo (twinning anyone?)
Honorable Mention: DJ Lips, Dinka (Tamara)
Best DJs To Party With: Bingo Players (these guys are absolute bros and we effing love them)
Honorable Mention: Avicii, Thomas Gold, Max Vangeli
Blow The @#$% Up (given to the producer who is about to take the EDM world by storm): Tommy Trash (man crush)
Honorable Mention: Knife Party, Third Party, Dmitri Vangelis & Wyman
Most Underrated Producer: Deniz Koyu (so good yet where is the love?)
Honorable Mention: EDX, Funkagenda, Manuel De La Mare
Thought He Was Dead, But He Is Actually Still Alive: Bob Sinclair (wait on second thought is he breathing?)
Honorable Mention: Paul Oakenfold, Paul Van Dyk, BT
Most Likely To Be Found Dead During Miami Music Week Due To Excessive Partying: Me (shot pounding is not a leisurely activity – it’s an effing sport)
Honorable Mention: the rest of the Dancing Astronaut Team
Best News/Media Outlet For Anything And Everything Media Related:
DJ Magazine Dancing Astronaut