Year In Music 2018

Dance Music Curators From Around the Industry Share Their Favorite Songs of 2018

Data and metrics will always have their place in the music industry -- in any industry, for that matter -- but they don't always tell the full story in a field as subjective as music. Certain songs strike different chords with different people, leaving ample room for various interpretations and levels of appreciation. 

Billboard Dance rallied some of dance music's top curators together (listed alphabetically below) to voice their thoughts on the biggest dance song of the year, their personal favorite dance release of 2018 and "the one that got away" -- in other words, a dance record they believe should have been bigger.

Check out their picks below.

Andre Benz, Founder of The Nations

Biggest Dance Song: Dynoro ?feat. Gigi D'Agostino, "In My Mind" 

Personal Favorite: AWAY feat. London Thor, "Sleepwalker" 

The One That Got Away: Fairlane ?feat. Illsey, "Uncover You"

Blake Coppelson, Founder of Proximity

Biggest Dance Song: Tiësto & Dzeko feat. Preme & Post Malone, "Jackie Chan"

I chose "Jackie Chan" not for its analytics, but it truly was a hit for the EDM scene -- and for Tiësto it was the perfect crossover to bring him back on the charts for the first time since “Red Light.”

Personal Favorite: Illenium, "Take You Down"

Illenium hits my sweet spot, and "Take You Down" was a culmination of everything that I love about his previous album Ashes taken one step higher in terms of production and complexity.

The One That Got Away: RL Grime feat. Daya??, "I Wanna Know"

I chose the RL record because analytically it didn't perform -- it didn't get the attention it deserved, and I never heard it on the radio, despite it having all the variables of being a hit. The vocal is well written, Daya is a phenomenal singer and RL produced it perfectly. I think his core demographic wasn't into it, which may have negatively impacted the record.

Robby Engle, Dance Editor at Apple Music

Biggest Dance Song: Loud Luxury feat. Brando, "Body"

Although it came out in late 2017, "Body" became a worldwide hit in the spring and summer of 2018.  I noticed Body was something special the week it was released, and was happy to champion it at Apple Music, where it now has well over 100 million streams and Loud Luxury have become one of the hottest dance acts of the year.

Personal Favorite: Fisher, "Losing It"

The most culturally relevant dance song of the year, “Losing It” was everywhere from the underground house club to the main stage at EDC. It’s impossible to not dance when this song comes on.

The One That Got Away:  SG Lewis, feat. AlunaGeorge "Hurting" 

The groove with this song is infectious and Aluna Francis (of AlunaGeorge) delivers as beautiful vocal.  This should have been a hit!

Brian Fink, Program Director at Evolution on iHeartRadio

Biggest Dance Song: Calvin Harris & Dua Lipa, "One Kiss"

Beyond “One Kiss” being a great song, it really marked the return of Calvin Harris to his dance core.  And was able to successfully crossover to top 40.

Personal Favorite: Prismo, "Breathe"

Love the lyrics of this song, the production of it, and the sound. Also loved the fact that, in my opinion, it was a huge song from a not-as-well-known artist.  Always love coming across those gems.

The One That Got Away: Avicii feat. Vargas & Lagola, "Friend Of Mine" 

Classic Avicii circa “Wake Me Up." Incredible lyrics, amazing instrumentation, great tempo.  Everything about it was perfect in my eyes… except it unfortunately got lost in the shuffle of other songs being priorities, and then the ultimate tragedy.

Geronimo, V.P. of Music Programming / Electronic & Dance Formats at SiriusXM

Biggest Dance Song:  Fisher, "Losing It" and MK, "17"

Both of these songs were massive for BPM and further opened the U.S. market up to hard and classic house sounds.

Personal Favorite: Midnight Kids with Matthew Koma, "Serious"

I loved this song from the first listen. It’s the perfect second single, with tight production, and amazing vocals from Matthew Koma.

The One That Got Away: Salvatore Ganacchi, "Kill A Soundboy"

This was a massive club and festival banger that should still be a go-to club song… maybe still will.

Austin Kramer, Head of Dance and Electronic at Spotify

Biggest Dance Song: Calvin Harris, Dua Lipa, "One Kiss"

Nailing the year for total streams, and atop the mint Top 100 of 2018, is the undeniable "One Kiss."

Personal Favorite: Avicii, "Without You" (feat. Sandro Cavazza)

Still crying about this -- an immense loss. The video really gave great context to this song in particular. <3

The One That Got Away: Mat Zo, "Meaning Lost All Words" (All of the No Words EP)

This is something I was waiting for. His progressive sound is incredible.

Anna Lunoe, Host of Dance Chart at Beats 1

Biggest Dance Song: FISHER, "Losing It" 

No song -- I repeat, no song -- crossed as many boundaries as "Losing It" this year. Seeing the reaction in Europe was the clincher for me... like "ohhh, this is gonna be that big." One of my friends is a DJ in Sydney playing corporate functions and he is getting requested this song at company Christmas parties. So...yeah. This is company Christmas party, Grammy-nominated big! And only three words in the whole thing. I hope FISHER is ready to play this song for every gig he plays for the rest of his life. 

Personal Favorite: Aazar & Bellecour, "Da Vinci"

Really loved Aazar & Bellecour "Da Vinci." I played it every set and it always got the biggest reaction. 

The One That Got Away: Born Dirty & Anna Lunoe, "Badass"

I mean, it got mad streaming love and is still getting thrashed by lots of DJs.... but is it getting requested at corporate Christmas functions???

Zel McCarthy, Dance and Electronic Editor at Tidal

Biggest Dance Song:  Calvin Harris & Dua Lipa — "One Kiss"

I want to believe that Calvin Harris sought to give this generation its own Balearic summer anthem a la Spiller's "Groovejet," which makes Dua Lipa the new Sophie Ellis-Bextor, which is so deeply cool.

Personal Favorite: Peggy Gou — "It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)" 

Peggy Gou was a critically acclaimed DJ prior to this record's release, yet I wasn't the only one who wasn't anticipating a breakthrough on this level, let alone a club track that's personal without being mawkish, innovative without being cold, and an all-around rhythmic wonder.
The One That Got Away:  Femme featuring Nova — "Be Shy"

There's a video for this jewel from London-based producer Femme that should have been the global template for moments of dancefloor empowerment for every Being In Total Control of Herself (and still could be), but watch it with your eyes closed and absorb the glitchy glory of beats masterfully accompanied by cunningly restrained vocals that all but say: "this is what the future sounds like."  

JB McDaniel, Program Director at KNHC-FM

Biggest Dance Song: Calvin Harris & Dua Lipa, "One Kiss" 

Calvin has brought uptempo dance music back to the masses in 2018 with "One Kiss"! Super groovy, with Dua's angelic voice on full display. It will be used for years by GMA as bumper music.

Personal Favorite: PNAU, "Go Bang"

I don't know much about these cats, but they're from Australia, and have a certain "sound" that our listeners like. Put in to test on a whim, and it came back like gangbusters. 'Go Bang' will be KNHC's No. 1 song of 2018. I have yet to successfully troll them on Twitter.

The One That Got Away: Elderbrook, "Capricorn"

What a song! Super infectious, and the lyrical "la-la-la-la" action is unparalleled! Unlike so many other songs, this one tells a tale. The singer brings you along as he tries everything to keep his girlfriend from breaking up with him over a horoscope. A personal favorite.

Matt Medved, Founder of Billboard Dance

Biggest Dance Song: Fisher, "Losing It"

Fisher's breakthrough hit was rare in every way. Despite being a mostly instrumental house track, "Losing It" achieved an uncommon ubiquity that transcended dance music's genre divides -- seldom do we see a release that DJs are equally comfortable playing for festival main stages and subterranean nightclubs. And even fewer producers can boast the personality of the outlandish Aussie artist, who's well-positioned to capitalize on his momentum in 2019.

Personal Favorite: Silk City & Dua Lipa, "Electricity"

2018 was a great year to lose yourself on a dance floor and try to forget cartoon villains like Donald Trump and Brett Kavanaugh, who loomed large over our national discourse by threatening dance music's core values of inclusion and respect. This year's welcome resurgence of mainstream house music found Dua Lipa gracing two of its notable hits, and while Calvin Harris' "One Kiss" charted higher, Diplo & Mark Ronson's Chicago house homage hit a necessary spot for these turbulent times.

The One That Got Away: AJ x Deno, "London" feat. EO

London's youth movement is currently driving its afro-swing moment. Boasting a coveted Stormzy co-sign, 16-year-old Deno Driz teamed with longtime friend AJ, also 16, and Billboard Dance artist to watch EO, 17, to release one of the year's most underrated releases. Aptly named and infectious, "London" serves notice that the style should make a greater pop music impact in 2019.

Pete Tong, DJ at BBC Radio 1

Biggest Dance Song: Krystal Klear, "Neutron Dance"

Personal Favorite: Peggy Gou, "It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)"

The One That Got Away: DJ Koze, "Pick Up" 

Robin Wilms, Global Dance, Electronic & Alternative Editor at Deezer

Biggest Dance Song: Calvin Harris & Dua Lipa, "One Kiss" 

It’s safe to say that we live in an age of nostalgia, which is not a bad thing, especially when Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa knew exactly what all of us wanted, without us even knowing it. The re-introduction of a classic sounding bassline mixed with more recent ones, the ease the song-progression and perfected vocals resulted in arguably the most addictive track of the year, that continues to be enjoyed by a huge variety of music fans.

Personal Favorite: Hodge, "Beneath Two Moons" 

Hodge was never the kind of producer that would produce straightforward 4x4 club tracks, but when he released his ‘Beneath Two Moons’ EP in February, I knew I would play its leading track for the rest of the year. Within a framework of minimalistic yet effective percussion and a powerful kick spread over the track, Hodge experiments with echoing screams and an incredible haunting, tension building, synth-driven climax. The result is a track that keeps you moving for almost six minutes straight. Play this one evening with some friends in a living room and you’ll see.

The One That Got Away: Peggy Gou, "It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)"

Peggy Gou’s vocal debut had success in some markets and was quickly adopted by a specific audience. The highly addictive and subtle acid synth-line, the groove of percussions, the vocals (all in Korean) and the overall progression of the song makes this an instant classic. Try and close your eyes while listening and you’ll soon find yourself laying next to a pool in some dreamy and exotic retreat, at least for a couple of minutes.

Billboard Year in Music 2018