We’ve heard the complaints: DJMag’s list was horrendous, it’s a popularity contest, how are people so low or so high? So we’ve taken all of the feedback, and decided to do something better and construct a list of our very own. We’ve debated internally and had long arguments, but we finally managed to devise a list of our top 50 artists of 2011, and we’ll be revealing them all week. Keep in mind that we’ve consciously chosen the term artist, and not the term DJ, but DJing abilities are a factor that was considered in putting together this list. For the sake of transparency, here’s the full list of criteria and biases that we have followed in order to aid us in the creation of this list:
1. Artist must have released at least one track in 2011 to qualify.
2. Artist must have been featured on Dancing Astronaut at least once this year (in any form of post).
3. The artist must have potential to do great things in 2012 (example: Bob Sinclar cannot qualify, because there is someone else producing inside of his carcass).
1. Age Bias – As a group of young 20-somethings, our age does play a big factor. DJs of the past do not resonate with us as much as they do with people born in decades before.
2. Dancing Astronaut Bias – We are sure you know what this means. If the artist has been featured on Dancing Astronaut a ton, it probably means we like him/her a lot or they’ve made a big splash in the world of EDM to warrant a post. There mere fact that we have developed a connection with them will obviously aid in their ranking. If you don’t like it – tough luck.
3. 2011 Bias – This ranking list is not a lifetime achievement award by any means. That doesn’t mean that work done in the past doesn’t influence your ranking, it just means that we have put a premium on 2011’s results over any other year.
4. Showmanship Bias – If you throw a great party, bring the energy day in day out, your ranking as an artist deserves to be upgraded. Daft Punk doesn’t make it on this list, because for all we know they might not play a live show ever again. How can you be considered an artist if no one is able to see your work live?
It is important to point out that these rankings are done “in house,” and that they only reflect our thoughts and opinions. This is a Dancing Astronaut list, and we have done the best we can to make it as objective as possible given our requirements. If you agree or don’t agree, you are more than welcome to voice your opinion on our Facebook page, Twitter account (use the hashtag #DATop50), or in the comments.
We hope this is an enjoyable read and a constructive way to create discussion among the best fans in EDM — our fans.
Without further ado, here’s the first segment of Dancing Astronaut’s Top 50 artists of 2011, starting at number 50.
50. Benny Benassi
This was one of the most perplexing artists to rank, and we struggled with where to place Benny Benassi on this list. The variety of tracks that he came out with was truly amazing, most notably “Beautiful People” and “Cinema.” These two tracks did well in the mainstream charts (“Beautiful People” hit number one on the Billboard charts) and helped pull house music out of the underground world. The downside? The remixes of “Cinema” did significantly better than the original mix — Skrillex and Laidback Luke definitely gave it the added oomph and wobble to make their versions more prominent in the world of EDM. Benny also came out with an album called Electroman which featured a few more marginal hits. His most recent release, “Close To Me,” features Gary Go (same tandem from “Cinema”), but again, it’s the remixes that are played at clubs, not the originals. Also, Benny played in a Best Buy in 2011 — how wild was that?
49. John Dahlback
How is John Dahlback still flying under the radar? Not only did he create an unbelievable amount of tracks this year, but most of them were of the highest quality. It’s hard to place your finger on Dahlback’s sound; sometimes he comes out with darker tunes (think: “Overdose“), sometimes it’s uplifting progressive (think: “Big” remix), but he can also get straight up crazy (think: “Grunge“). His biggest release “One Last Ride” was featured in Swedish House Mafia’s Madison Square Garden set. Pretty big year, huh?
We forgot to add another bias to our list above: the “incredibly good looking” bias. Dancing Astronaut is comprised of mostly 20-something year old dudes, so go figure. More importantly, the NERVO girls have had quite the extraordinary year, coming out with hits such as “We’re All No One” and “The Way We See The World.” They throw a hell of a live show and are engaged with the crowd the minute they take the stage. Heck, even Steve Aoki and Afrojack do nothing but gush over their talents. They were also the stars of our most popular Behind The Booth feature to date. We almost forgot to mention their upcoming single “Army” which features vocals from Omarion. This track is going to be a must have.
47. Swanky Tunes
This band of Russians has been crushing it since the very beginning of 2011. First, they released “Together” which was a Miami Music Week anthem, and shortly afterwards they experienced some serious success with “Feedback,” “XOXO,” and “Smolengrad.” More recently, they have teamed up with R3hab to create “Sending My Love” and to remix Tiesto’s “Maximal Crazy.” The Swedish House Mafia has been among their biggest supporters all year and have frequently featured their songs in their individual sets. 47 is where they end up this year, but these guys have to be on your radar for the biggest movers of 2012. Just wait until they fully infiltrate the US market. We assure you that sparks will fly.
46. Sidney Samson
Some people are going to be outraged at this ranking, but hear us out. His remixes of “Turbulence” and “Punk” alone have to garner him some serious attention. Not only are they festival anthems, but they go damn hard. The creation of his label RockTheHouze has done reasonably well, and his involvement with Surrender Nightclub in Vegas has earned him some serious respect within the Vegas community. Sidney is the master of throwing the wildest parties, and he is one of those artists that only get better the more times you see him. His DJing capabilities give him a little more credibility among the actual DJs within our circle.
45. Third Party
Bold statement: Size Matters has been the most prominent label this year, bar none. Third Party has flown under the radar until very recently, but their “Otherside” remix has put them over the top. Usually, when Third Party remixes a tune we listen to their remix first, due to the fact that it’s probably the best mix of the bunch. Check out their remixes of “Daddy,” “Militia,” and “I Believe In” — they definitely have their own unique sound that is among the most uplifting in the world. By the way, on a scale from 1 – 10, how big was “Duel?” Our answer: 12.675.
44. Sultan & Ned Shepard
This year was more about quality rather than quantity for these progressive stalwarts. Their two most notable releases were “Running” and “In The Air.” Not only did both of these do well at the box office, they also featured other superstar DJs such as Morgan Page, Fedde Le Grand, and BT. Their remix of Lady GaGa’s “Edge Of Glory” was vastly underrated, and their previous work from years before earn them a comfortable ranking within our Top 50. “Fire In Your New Shoes,” anyone?
There is one thing we know for certain: Diplo’s fan base is crazy. He’s one of those guys that sells out shows because he is a performer and a stage presence. “Que, Que” was first featured on HBO’s Entourage, and just in case you weren’t aware, having your music featured on that show automatically makes you the shit. The variety of skills and sounds Diplo brings to the table is sublime, he has cornered the moombahton, hip hop, and Dutch markets, and even did this awesome interview with us earlier this year. What else can this guy do?
42. Bingo Players
These guys get a little boost because they are two of the biggest bros in the game. They are fun, lively, and just plain awesome. “Cry (Just A Little)” was this duo’s signature track of the year, but their recent releases are impressive too. “Mode” and “Rattle” have gotten some serious exposure, as have their well-done remixes of “Give Me Everything” and “Koko.” Check out our review of their show at Ruby Skye just in case you need any more convincing to catch them in action.
41. Deniz Koyu
We would love to have on the record that Dancing Astronaut absolutely adores this guy. Who doesn’t? He has had one of the biggest years a DJ can have, and he is highly regarded by the biggest names. “Dangerous” may be one of the best tracks of the entire year (this isn’t up for debate, it’s a fact), and it may have been the most played track at EDC outside of “Levels.” “Tung” and “Hertz” have been used frequently by artists such as NERVO, Kaskade, Axwell, Steve Angello, Fedde Le Grand, and many more. “Hydra” deserved more attention than it got too. It may have been his 4th biggest release — which says a lot about Koyu’s year — but it was unreal. The biggest thing about Deniz is that his productions are way better live than they are at home. This guy is the real deal and deserves to be featured on the main stage at every festival from this day forward.
Check back tomorrow for artists 31-40. Stay tuned!