Women in Music 2018

Kaskade's 20 Best Songs: Critic's Picks

Rich Fury/Invision/AP
Kaskade photographed at Edge Studios in Los Angeles on Oct. 6, 2016.

When you talk about the modern dance music scene, certain names invariably come up. Kaskade is one of this generation's most prolific house harbingers. He was raised in the genre's native streets of Chicago, going out to raves before he was legally allowed to drink. There, he learned to control a crowd with treble and bass, but if was after he moved to San Francisco that he began his professional career.

That city's vibrant creative community boosted him to release his first album It's You, It's Me in 2003. The work heralded a fresh, uplifting progressive house sound that would go on to become Kaskade's trademark.

Some 15 years later, Kaskade remains a forward-thinking voice on the dance circuit. He fully embraces the big-room Las Vegas shows, but he also caters to the underground's diversity with his Redux EPs and small-venue tours. He always lends his voice to the important discussions this scene faces, from drug use to violence in what should be safe places.

He is a man who lives the positivity that is felt in his songs, and those songs should be celebrated. So, today we give you Billboard Dance's 20 favorite Kaskade songs.

See more: Alan Walker | DJ Snake | Justin Bieber | LMFAO | Marshmello | Swedish House Mafia Songs | The xx

20. Kaskade (feat. Ilsey) - "Disarm You"

Ilsey's coy vocals dance above fiery electro sounds as marching drum snares push this energetic anthem to its climax. "Disarm You" is romantic and danceable without being overwhelming. It appeared on 2015's Automatic. It's a good set piece worth revisiting.

19. Kaskade (feat. Becky Jean Williams) -  "Empty Streets" 

From 2010's Destiny, this shimmering single is full of dazzling mystery, just like a city in the hours just before dawn. Becky Jean Williams whispers over the classic house vibes to cast her verbal spell. Something about the driving beat and the bedroom singing gives us Kylie Minogue flashbacks. "Empty Streets" was originally recorded by Kaskade's band, Late Nite Alumni, though this version was rerecorded for album release.

18. Kaskade & Moguai (feat. Zip Zip) - "Something Something Champs"

This is actually a bit of a remix. The original house tune from Moguaiis still chock-full of synth melodies not dissimilar to Alive DeeJay's "Better Off Alone." Kaskade upped the energy with rising tension and almost psychedelic textures. This collaboration made the cut for his 2014 hits compilation I Remember, a clear sign that it means a lot to the music man. It's got an uplifting sound, a romantic message, and everything else young couples need to fall in love on the dance floor.

17. Kaskade - "Never Sleep Alone"

Another cut from Auotmatic, this one downright pushes the listener to the center of the dance floor. There's a moment of thoughtfullness in the middle, but the drums soon find their way back into your bloodstream. There's a hard edge to the drop, but it's still got that signature Kaskade shininess. 

16. Kaskade - "Atmosphere"

The title track from Kaskade's 2013 album remains one of his biggest hits and most recognizable hooks. It was nominated for Best Dance Recording at the Grammys. It tells the story of music's magic ability to take us places far beyond our humble reality. It still fills rooms with its kaleidoscopic sound. When you put this on, you're taken back to a happier time.

15. Kaskade & EDX (feat. Haley) - "Don't Stop Dancing"

From 2010's Dynasty, this laid back rhythm isa little bit disco, a little bit rave house, and a little bit nostalgic throwback. It's warm synths dance around a simple, persistent beat. The chorus is the ultimate motivator. Find your freedom on the dance floor and let this one move you into the morning light. 

14. Kaskade & Skrillex - "Lick It"

In 2013, Kaskade teamed up with the reigning king of Dubstep. It seemed a strange collaboration at the time. Skrillex wasn't yet working with everyone from Justin Bieber to Boys Noize, but once fans got a feel for the very groovy, almost French Touch vibes of the tune, they couldn't get enough. Skrillex's trademark nastiness vibes perfectly with Kaskade's easygoing sound. It's funky, futuristic, and full of attitude, definitely a win for both artists.

13. Kaskade (feat. Haley) - "Dynasty" 

The title track of his 2010 hit LP have Kaskade his first number on the Hot Dance Airplay chart. He once again collaborates with his friend Haley, whom already appeared on this list for her work on the iconic hit "Don't Stop Dancing." Her vocals are richer than ever on this Kaskade classic. it helped push the album to number four on the Dance/Electronic Albums chart, too.

12. Kaskade & Adam K (feat. Sunsun) - "Raining"

This track from 2010 is all about mood. It incorporates the humming, static noise of the city. The sweeping motion of cars, the wind screaming like a siren, the pattering of ran on hot sidewalks. The movement melts into the rising action of the song's bridge, and when it all comes to its climax, you rush to the dance floor. This is a great tune for getting lost in a workout, too.

11. Kaskade (feat. Neon Trees) - "Lessons In Love" 

From 2011's epic double album Fire & Ice, this song brought Kaskade together with trendy rockers Neon Trees. It's a heater from the Fire side of the release with a burning focus on the turn up and the tension. The hook is heavy with raw edge as singer Tyler Glenn drips with sensual venom. This one will get your blood going early in the night.

10. Kaskade (feat. Joslyn) - "It's You, It's Me"

Turning back the hands of time, we groove our way into Kaskade's 2003 debut album. The title track is the best take away. It's a solid R&B groove contemporary of its time with a steady beat and romantic guitar melodies. Frequent collaborator Joslyn is silky smooth with a bedroom coo. This song helped Kaskade make a home in the hearts of house and pop lovers for years to come and remains one of his coolest, easy-going jams. There's no bad time to put this record on, so go ahead and indulge.

9. Kaskade (feat. Skylar Grey) - Room For Happiness

This last cut from the fiery half of 2011's Fire & Ice is absolutely iconic. You know what it is the moment that fat synth melody hits over that bold kick. Skylar Grey's vocals are a thing of mysterious beauty and absolutely perfect as the song melts into airy refrain. The uplifting chorus is a message we could all use to hear a little more often. Next time you need a pick-me-up, throw this glowing gem of a song on your earbuds and find the silver lining in any cloudy day.

8) Kaskade (feat. Martina Sobara of Dragonette) - "Fire in Your New Shoes"

This cut from 2010's Dynasty has a nasty rock edge to it. Dragonette vocalist Martina Sobara's instantly-recognizable whisper growl is perfectly raw and coy over the trudging guitar melody and perfectly cocky beat. It's still got that Kaskade softness, but it's got neon some bite. It's perfect for getting ready on nights when you want to make just a little bit of trouble.

7. Kaskade (feat. Rebecca & Fiona) - "Turn It Down"

"Turn It Down" remains one of Kaskade's biggest anthems. It's got that perfect megaclub oppulence with stabbing synths that glow like neon lips in the dark, quite like the lips that can be seen singing in the single's official music video. Rebecca & Fiona were fresh talent when this 2011 song emerged. The pairing was heaven sent. The singers' dark harmonies stick in your head forever, and in this case, that is definitely a good thing.

6. Kaskade - "4AM"

One of nightlife's greatest pleasures is leaving the party just before dawn, driving through the city with your best friends and lovers, letting the wind whip through your car windows and into your hair as you blast a song like this. This Kaskade song perfectly captures the magic of such fleeting, youth-ridden moments. One day, when we're old and gray, we can put "4 AM" on and relive the quiet brilliance.

5. Kaskade & Project 46 - "Last Chance"

This beautiful example of tension and release comes from 2013's Atmosphere, Kaskade's second LP to hit no. 1 on the Hot Dance/Electronic Albums chart. "Last Chance" opens the album, setting the scene with classic Kaskade fanfare, rising synth melodies, and shimmering textures. Stef Lang provides the pleading vocal, and Project 46 helps smash the big-room hook.

4. Kaskade (feat. Tamra Keenan) - "Angel On My Shoulder"

Who wouldn't fall in love with Tamra Keenan's gritty performance on this tune? Her vocals are so rich and warm, different from the airy performance Kaskade usually favors. It gives the song a smoky mystery, appropriate for the song lyrics about a love that leaves one torn in half. Kaskade plays with guitar and synthetic strings to build a smooth, disco atmosphere that's easy to fall in love with.

3. Kaskade & deadmau5 - "Move For Me"

Magic happens when Kaskade and deadmau5 share a studio. It's like Kaskade's silvery, swooning sensibility is the milk to deadmau5's techno peanut butter drone. "Move For Me" is hypnotic. It's the first collab from the dream team, a cut from Kaskade's 2008 album Strobelight Seduction. it reached no. 1 on the Hot Dance Airplay chart. Fun fact: You can play this song in DJ Hero 2.

2. Kaskade (feat. Mindy Gledhill) - "Eyes"

"Eyes" are the window to the soul, and if you dare to look into someone's eyes while this song plays, you're almost guaranteed to fall in love forever. You've got to party to this dreamy jam responsibly. All right, we kid, but Mindy Gledhill is really bringing it with her bedroom whisper, and the sparse piano chord melody is so cinematic and emotional, it really is some kind of sonic love potion. Get lost in the feels and let the drop overwhelm you.

1. deadmau5 & Kaskade - "I Remember"

The quintessential Kaskade song, and yet another perfect collaboration with deadmau5. This song is so iconic, Kaskade used it's title to name his greatest hits compilation in 2014. It's not just a great Kaskade song, it's one of the best progressive house songs ever recorded. Even if you don't like progressive house, you've got stellar memories with "I Remember," which is in itself a testiment to the genius of the song. It captures the spirit of happy days gone by and the feeling of reminiscing in the lull of some late night turned early morning. It was first released under deadmau5' as lead producer on the Canadian producer's 2008 LP Random Album Title. It topped the Hot Dance Airplay chart, as its predecessor "Move For Me" did as well. When you think about Kaskade, you think about getting lost in reveries to songs like this, and that's why it tops our list.