2012 has been an exciting year for dance music, the scene has grown beyond any of our comprehensions, supplanting itself in popular culture, fueling the soundtrack of commercials, sitcoms, and even a Disney movie, and shaking the foundation popular culture by establishing a new wave of music consumer. At the forefront of everything have been the artists, the true pioneers of the electronic dance music wave. With a scene as large and expansive as EDM, it was hard to honor only 50 – for every David Guetta or Calvin Harris there are droves of aspiring bedroom producers all doing their fair share of pushing the movement — simply by creating and sharing their art. With the EDM explosion officially in full swing in 2012, we saw countless new artists emerge, seasoned producers experiment with new sounds, and massive collaborations form that made crowning the “best” artist a nearly impossible task.
We have run through the Biggest Tracks of 2012 and now we are ready to unveil our picks for the most influential artists of the year. We’ve already covered 50-41, 40-31, and 30-21, and today we bring you our picks for 20-11. Hop past the break to see who made the cut.
20. Above & Beyond
It wouldn’t be a stellar year for electronic music if not for major contributions from Above & Beyond. 2012 marked monumental moments for the trance trio, including the final airing of their long lived Trance Around the World radioshow and the launch of their new radioshow, Group Therapy. On the production end they’ve conquered with tracks like “Love Is Not Enough” and “Alchemy” to follow their studio album with quality singles. Once again, the guys took their TATW, literally, around the world, setting up shop in cities across the globe including Miami, and most recently, Bangalore, India.
Year’s in the making — from working with a young Kanye Wet to headlining festivals — A-Trak’s career has been defined by his all around knack for music, production value, and most of all, his superior technical abilities behind the decks. 2012 has been as big as any of his accomplished years in the industry, as he has emerged as a public figure and poster boy for electronic music. Over the past 12 months, A-Trak has graced the cover of Billboard Magazine and starred in the latest Grey Goose campaign all while manning his Fool’s Gold imprint and hosting festival stages on a regular basis.
It feels like only yesterday that Alesso had remixed “Pressure” and outed “Calling” with Sebastian Ingrosso. During those earlier days of his career, it seemed as if success couldn’t come more naturally for the young Swede — but in 2012, it did. The pride of Refune Records has become an expected headliner and improved DJ while maintaining his reputation as one of the most talented producers in the game. Topping a stellar 2011, Alesso went on to release “Years” and “Clash” this year, proving his unmatched ability to deliver anthems. Aside from original material, not only has he remixed the likes of Keane and Arty, but he managed to land his sound on Usher’s latest studio album — and he’s done it all while celebrating his 21st birthday.
17. Porter Robinson
When Porter Robinson released his Spitfire EP on Skrillex’s OWSLA imprint last year, it was unanimously understood that the young, American-bred artist would be a prominent figure of EDM’s next generation. With only months of experience under his belt, Porter found himself performing with the likes of Tiesto and Deadmau5, and would eventually find his own headliner status in 2012. Electric Daisy Carnival and Ultra Music Festival have been experiences to some, but Porter is now able to call these events home after his sophmore billing. Off stage and into the studio, Robinson is responsible for one of this year’s greatest tracks, “Language,” glorifying his production skills that are currently being put to use for a full length album.
16. Nicky Romero
Recognized on a large scale in 2011, Nicky Romero has advanced greater in one year than most artists can advance over the span of their entire careers. The calendar struck 2012 and Romero released “Toulouse” and “Generation 303.” He continued to work with David Guetta on “Wild One Two,” and by then he had already become a must see act with high demand from clubs and festivals globally. Fast forward only several months and Nicky has collaborated with Calvin Harris, Avicii, and most impressively, Rihanna. Not to mention, all within an extremely busy and successful year, the young Dutch star managed to launch his own record label, Protocol.
15. Sebastian Ingrosso
While Swedish House Mafia remained united throughout 2012, that didn’t stop Sebastian Ingrosso from having a stellar year as a solo artist. Carrying the legacy, Ingrosso found time to match the likes of “Greyhound” and “Don’t You Worry Child” with his own “Reload,” and in tandem with his Swedish brethren, produced “Euphoria” for Usher. Sebastian is responsible for the most promising talent in dance music with Alesso in his prime and Otto Knows on the rise. His own Refune Records has been responsible for some of this year’s biggest hits such as “Million Voices,” the vocal rendition of “Calling,” and Deniz Koyu’s “Bong.” Parting ways with his crew, Seb managed to prove his own reliability moving forward with a strong 2012.
Lady Gaga has referred to him as her “musical crush,” and that statement was well justified in 2012. German DJ/producer Anton Zaslavski — known internationally as Zedd — has proven himself to have a midas touch, as anything he’s conjured up in his studio has turned to gold. By anyone’s standards, Zedd was in the midst of a stellar production year after outing his remix of Skrillex’s “Break’n A Sweat” and his Nicky Romero collaboration “Human.” That was until he released his Interscope-backed full length album, Clarity, turning a great year into an extraordinary one. Lead singles “Shave It” and “Spectrum” are unanimous festival favorites, and the rest of his debut was perfection from beginning to end. With an album that moved dance music forward, Zedd shot dibs on champion status in 2012.
One third of Swedish House Mafia, Axel Hedfors stands alone as elite and just as strong as when Steve and Sebastian are close by. From the studio, Axwell left his mark early in the year with a remix of “In My Mind.” By the end of the year, “In My Mind” had been featured in a Kia commercial, was stolen by Flo Rida for top 40 radio, and earned a Grammy nomination that would be Axwell’s second nod. Relentless on the business end, Axwell has publicly announced his plans of curating vocal talent while continuing to chief his Axtone imprint, which has been responsible for endless anthems, including but not limited to “Resurrection,” “Trio,” and “Quasar.” Axwell’s value and demand as an artist is of the top-tier of dance music excellence, and his 2012 will accelerate a future of solo endeavors.
Attached to “Zero 76” and becoming associated with Tiesto meant that all eyes would be on Hardwell moving into 2012, and the young Dutchman has only exceeded expectations with his year to remember. When “Spaceman” took on a life of its own early in 2012, Hardwell had created a brand for himself that would result in a record label for upcoming talent. In the same year, Hardwell matched his trademark track with “Apollo,” but not before dropping the year’s most impressive bootleg packs and landing remix duties for Rihanna. His stamp of progressive house has risen to the forefront as Robbert gave way to acts such as Dyro and Dannic, both whom have taken off since their names first hit Beatport. Tiesto’s understudy boasts one of the most recognized and respected names in progressive house, and 2012 was only the catalyst for the man we know as Hardwell.
11. Armin van Buuren
Armin van Buuren is known and beloved in every country, in every home, and in the hearts of trance admirers world wide. Reigning champion and five time winner of DJ Mag‘s Top 100 DJs list, ‘The Greatest’ has basically become Armin’s second nickname. The godfather of trance is the leader of the most well-traveled genres in electronic music, and his Armada imprint is the most reliable and trusted label of its kind. His A State of Trance brand stays relevant 365 days a year, and between his weekly radioshow, annual world tour, and anniversary compilations, Armin leaves no stone unturned in the world of dance. Boasting the most passionate fan base in the industry, it is nearly impossible to debate Armin’s status as elite, and 2012 was no exception for the veteran that many refer to as their own ‘god.’