Steve Aoki's 15 Best Songs: Critics' Picks

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Steve Aoki at The Fader Fort presented by Converse during SXSW on March 13, 2014 in Austin, Texas.  

Steve Aoki has made a career of capturing life's youthful essence. He literally takes the best thing about childhood -- birthday cake -- and throws it in his fans' faces. All right, he doesn't really do that anymore, but it's a tradition with which he'll always be identified, and it makes sense. His music is electrifying, it's raucous, and it's boiling over with all things fun.

It's not supposed to be really mature or really reflective, even though sometimes he finds a lot of strength in subtle moments. For the most part, people flock to Aoki because he represents unbridled, unemotional, over-the-top entertainment.

When we take a look at Aoki's best work, we have to expect things to get messy and loud. It's braggadocious, it's unrefined, and it's not anything fancy. Any attempt to inspect it with your pretentious glasses will result in full-on head explosion. With that in mind, let's let loose and explore the 15 best Steve Aoki songs unleashed on the Earth so far.

15. Steve Aoki - "Wake Up Call" feat. Sidney Samson

True story: I used to set this track as my alarm clock when it first came out in 2010. I have a really hard time waking up, but this obnoxious slap in the face will definitely do it – and I use obnoxious is the fondest way possible, of course. You've got to remember, the more obnoxious a beat was in 2010, the better it was. It was just a different time, man.

14. Steve Aoki - "Turbulence" with Lil Jon and Laidback Luke

Aoki let the world know right from the get of his debut LP Wonderland just what they were in for. Lots of loud noise, screaming synths and bludgeoning beats. Aoki hasn't mellowed much over these last six years, and it's kind of nice to know that some things will never change. And who doesn't love Lil Jon? Just don't listen to this song on an airplane. You might freak out the other passengers.

13. Steve Aoki - "Ladi Dadi" feat. Wynter Gordon

This tune off Wonderland is a bit more radio-friendly than his super-aggressive, overly filtered electro bangers, and though that is definitely some of the best Aoki, this pop-facing sing-along stuff is what brings the ladies to the dance floor. Definitely check out the Tommy Trash remix too.

12. Steve Aoki & Louis Tomlinson – "Just Hold On"

This track is One Directioner Tomlinson's with production features in Aoki's name, and maybe that's why it sounds quite distinct from the rest of the Aoki catalog. It's got a lot of that post-Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros sense of grandeur and all that oh-oh-oh stuff pop radio loves so much. It's also got some Chainsmokers-esque vibes to it. It's just dropped earlier this month, and you can get used to hearing it every day from here on out.

11. Steve Aoki - "Boneless" with Chris Lake and Tujamo

This track is named after a skateboarding trick. I don't know anything about skateboarding, but I'm sure it's a serious dose of adrenaline, which isn't unlike this and most Steve Aoki songs I've heard. Again, he isn't doing anything complicated, it's just pure, heavy hook. It makes you wanna chug a beer and stomp around and punch a wall or something. Go ahead and scream -- the rage king is in the building.

10. Steve Aoki - "No Beef" with Afrojack and Miss Palmer

This collab predates even the Afroki super-duo. “No Beed” is incredibly simple and straightforward, but at the time, it was a movement all its own. Afrojack, of course, was the king of the whole Dutch house scene, which was everything in 2011, and Aoki was the biggest showman on Earth. Any track they produced together was destined to be massive, and it's still such an iconic melody. Also, like, what are these graphics in this video? I wanna have as much fun as Aoki and Afrojack in this video just one day in my life.

9. Steve Aoki - "Tornado" with Tiesto

A little melody doesn't mean Aoki's gone soft, it just means he's developing his flavors. The very '80s sonic aesthetic is matched by this very Tron-inspired music video. The drop, of course, remains as sparse and heavily filtered as ever. Aoki knows his lane, bro, and he's gonna get in there and gun it to 100.

8. Steve Aoki - "Beat Down" feat. Angger Dimas and Iggy Azalea

Before it was cool to hate on Iggy Azalea, it was cool to have her rock your high-energy track with her signature accented drawl. Sorry, haters, but Azalea kills it on this Steve Aoki song. It's a party on your face, and I'm about to dance on it? Yeah, all of that right there. Don't play this for your grandma or she might call the cops.

7. Steve Aoki - "Dope Girlz" with Shaun Frank

This song is particularly cool because it has all those qualities of the hardest Aoki songs, but it showcases them in a subtle, more grown-up way. It's still hard and edgy and synthy and bludgeoning, but it's like you muffled the sledgehammer with a pillow and then went around a china shop destroying things. It's the perfect Aoki response to the deep, retro-house resurgence, which is what the 4oki EP is all about.

6. Steve Aoki - "BRRAT" feat. Armand Van Helden

This is some really heavy stuff for house funk master Armand Van Helden, but that's what happens when you get in a studio with punk-bred Aoki. All of a sudden, synth laser beams are flying in every direction and you're sampling some crazy spit-spewing rude boi and you've created a monster of epic proportions.

5. Steve Aoki - "Cudi the Kid" feat. Kid Cudi and Travis Barker

This is one of those rare introspective Aoki moments, and that is a side-effect of working with the emotionally sensitive rapper Kid Cudi. Cudi and Aoki have a glorious history of collaboration, and Aoki is good friends with Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker too. It's his live electrifying drum patterns that really take this song over the edge.

4. Steve Aoki - "I'm in the House" feat. [[[Zuper Blahq]]]

Now we are talking some seriously classic Aoki vibes. Zuper Blahq sounds familiar to you, because it is will.i.am, off his leash going crazy on a weird Afrika Bambaataa vibe. This came out in early 2010 and was immediately in rotation at every sweat box electro club on the college circuit. I can't tell you how many bottles of cheap champagne I poured into skinny girl's mouths to this beat. It's still one of Aoki's best tunes, and that name-drop list of Boys Noize and LMFAO in the same breath really lets you know just how weird 2010 really was.

3. Steve Aoki - "ILYSM" with Autoerotique

So, it turns out Aoki can do some great things outside of his usual blaring, sound boy killer milieu. He is totally capable of diving into the deep, sensitive, soulful end of the house pool. Here he flexes his musical muscles with old pals Autoerotique, and though there are still a lot of boisterous drums and big room show-offy moments, “ILYSM” brings you there gradually. It's like good sex, it starts off slow and intimate, and before you know it, your waking up your roommate and she's like “hey, quiet down in there!” Or whatever.

2. Steve Aoki - "Warp 1.9" with The Bloody Beetroots

This isn't just one of the best Steve Aoki songs, it's one of the best electro house tunes that ever screeched its way into existence. Skrillex basically didn't exist when this song came out in early 2009, and dubstep was more of a reggae-influenced creepy-crawler British kids listened to in basements. This was the hardest, wildest thing anyone had ever heard, and it was nothing short of glorious. This music will wake the dead back to life or your blacked-out friend back to the mosh pit. It's pretty much perfect.

1. Kid Cudi – "Pursuit of Happiness" (Steve Aoki Remix)

Before there were flying cakes, there was just Aoki standing on top of the decks shaking a champagne bottle and spraying it all over the front six rows of screaming fans. This was always the song to do it to, because it was the show's grand climax. This was the remix that made Steve Aoki famous, and it truly encapsulates a lot of what 2009 dance music was all about. It's hopeful and catchy, but it's wild and unrestrained. It's bright and bubbly, and it's got some electric guitar and indie edge. It's a lot of things that Aoki draws upon for influence today. It's impossible not to have a good time with this song on, so turn up the volume, roll down the windows, and scream the lyrics as loud as you can. After all, you're only going to be this young right now.

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