DJ Mag‘s Top 100 ranking has been the most reputable and trusted ranking system for DJs – but what does that mean? Year after year, dance music fans are asked to support their favorite DJs and producers with a vote on DJ Mag‘s poll, which makes the Top 100 a popularity contest rather than an accurate ranking. As the scene has boomed, fans have caught on and have been particularly critical about what the famed list ultimately represents. Arguments have been made on all facets, especially the debate of producers and DJs being ranked under the same terms. DA editors return to the roundtable to break down the heated subjects of DJ Mag‘s Top 100 in the midst of the 2012 voting.
Should I care about the DJ Mag Top 100?
Kunal Bambawale: I think every dance fan should care about the Top 100 because it’s the closest thing we have to a census. Assuming that the poll isn’t fixed — and to my knowledge it isn’t — it’s an accurate representation of the current state of the global dance music scene. Would any self-respecting music lover rank the artists in the same way? Of course not. But by taking a look at the list, I know which artists have the most devoted followings.
Brett Kundtz: No, consensus or ranking have no influence on my top 5. The data is interesting, but doesn’t carry any weight.
Dylan Farella: Yes. You should want to support your favorite artists and give them your vote, but understand a ranking doesn’t hold value. If you ask your favorite DJ if they care about their DJ Mag ranking, they will say no. It is not a fair judgment of who is actually the “best” but a reflection of the fans who are willing to vote; and that’s why YOU should care.
What criteria do you consider when voting?
Jesse Grushack: I try to pick the DJs that make the music that I love. It is truly your choice in who you vote for and whatever music makes you the happiest.
Kunal Bambawale: I put myself in this scenario: It’s 10PM. I know that my heart will stop beating at exactly 8:00AM tomorrow morning. In honor of my impending death, Space Ibiza has allowed me to curate a special five act lineup (I call it “Kunalapalooza”). Each artist gets a two-hour set. Which five artists do I want to spend the rest of my life with?
Dylan Farella: Which artist’s music you enjoy most. Since the ranking doesn’t separate producers from DJs, it is only fair to generalize the ranking into pure favoritism. The single most important criterion is quality music that translates to a fun live show.
Who do you think will have the most dramatic rise or fall?
Jesse Grushack: While deadmau5 is asking people not to vote for him to see how far he can fall, I don’t think he will move at all.
Brett Kundtz: Kaskade and Skrillex. Ranked 30 and 19 last year, respectively, I wouldn’t be surprised to see both of these guys in the top 10. Maybe it’s my USA bias, but these two have really shot to the forefront of the dance scene over the last year.
Dylan Farella: Dirty South will have a meteoric rise to the top. In 2011, Dragan was slotted in at 93, a surprising position for one of the greats. Not only is he worthy of a top 20 spot, but his fanbase has grown tenfold in the past year.
Who do you expect to crack the list this year?
Jesse Grushack: Definitely Madeon, he has already had a great year and with “Finale” slated for later this month, he will only rise in popularity.
Brett Kundtz: Nicky Romero, R3hab, and Tommy Trash should be included. Tough to find a main-stage set without a track by one of those three these days.
Dylan Farella: Thomas Gold. The biggest snub of 2011 was the German bootleg master. Gold will finally crack the list and should find himself a home in the top 30.
Who can dethrone Guetta, Armin, and Tiesto and slide into the top 3?
Jesse Grushack: As much as I hate to say it, I think that Avicii could potentially slide into the top 3. With such success in such a short amount of time, he has developed a following that goes beyond electronic fans. He is able to tap into a market that most DJs don’t even exist in. If Avicii markets himself enough, I think he can do it – at least hit the top 5
Kunal Bambawale: These top guys are connecting with their fans, each and every week, and they get rewarded by the voters. That being said, Above & Beyond just concluded a huge North American tour and had their own stage at EDC Vegas. Trance Around the World is doing as well as ever on iTunes and on Twitter. They’re always in the top five — perhaps this year they’ll sneak into the top three.
Dylan Farella: Afrojack. For two years I have been predicting that Afrojack will establish himself at the top along with Guetta, Armin, and Tiesto, and it seems like that year has finally come. In 2012 he has become a festival headliner and a fan favorite. His unmatched stage presence will lock him down at the top.
The Bottom Line
Regardless of where you stand with your views of the ranking system, your vote still counts. With the scrutinizing of the list’s underlying meanings, 2012 could be the year that things get shaken up and fans get a more accurate reflection. Choose wisely and let your voice be heard. We want your opinion too, so head to the comments section and let us know what your responses are and who you will be voting for this year.
For more DJ Mag Top 100 commentary, check out our winners, losers, and snubs from 2011.