It’s rare to bear witness to the emergence of a new musical moment, but — in clubs and festival fields and inside our headphones — we collectively experienced the birth of modern dance music this decade. As the music evolved from its house and techno origins in Chicago, Detroit and New York, crossed back over into the States from Europe — where the sound had matured in the ’90s and ’00s — it created a bonafide youth movement, fueled by bass drops and confetti blasts. It was loud. It was fresh. It was thrilling. It was ours.
As dance music bubbled up into the mainstream throughout the 2010s, the sound splintered into genres, subgenres and sub-subgenres, with superstar producers establishing the sound and earning potential of the scene and bedroom producers evolving the music in as many directions as the decade’s emerging technology allowed them to move in.
With the spectrum of the genre thus continuously widening, the scene’s countless artists, parties, festivals, labels, songs and genres could sometimes seem disparate, but altogether these pieces added up to nothing less than a dance dance revolution that generated excitement, money, power struggles, controversy, joy and which ultimately — and most importantly — made millions of us dance our asses off.
Here, Billboard Dance presents the 60 dance tracks that most defined the decade. Read our list below, and find a Spotify playlist of all 60 at the bottom.
60. Chris Malinchak, “So Good to Me” (2013)
With mainstream dance music sounding as thick and aggro as it had been in decades, Brooklyn DJ Chris Malinchak owned the summer of 2013 — overseas, anyway — with the subtle and impossibly sweet floor-filler “So Good to Me.” Built around a warm synth blanket and brilliantly deployed vocal samples from the classic Marvin Gaye and Tami Terrell duet “If This World Were Mine,” the song is as sublime as any originally composed love song of the ’10s, with a pulsing beat you can actually feel the blood pumping through. A throwback? The past wishes. — ANDREW UNTERBERGER
59. Oliver, “Light Years Away” (2014)
Fools Gold DJ duo Oliver’s 2014 electro-house banger sounds like how you might’ve imagined Daft Punk’s Tron: Legacy score if it had been pitched a half-decade earlier; ’80s nostalgia with a gleefully cyber-dystopic edge. The drops might not have been able to compete with Skrillex bass bombs at EDC, but the tension that builds up with each revving of the bass makes the title hook a surprisingly satisfying shout-along. — A.U.
58. Shiba San, “Okay” (2014)
One of the most unforgettable basslines of the decade, Shiba San’s “Okay” rumbled through the dance world upon its 2014, helping establish the signature quirky, bouncy, bass-y Dirtybird sound. Five years later, its build-up, undulating low end tones and face-slapping drop — punctuated by a chorus consisting solely of “okay” — is still heard at least once at any given American music festival. Five years later and it’s not unusual to hear those on the dancefloor attempting to sing along to the melody or ask, “What’s that one song that goes ‘dugga dugga dugga dugga dugga dugga dugga doom…doom-doom?’” Those in the know always knows the answer. — MORENA DUWE
57. Lana Del Rey, “Summertime Sadness” (Cedric Gervais Remix) (2013)
It might be hard to remember a time when Lana Del Rey wasn’t considered one of the generation’s most beloved singer-songwriters, but her first taste of international pop success was largely credited not to her own work. That came thanks to the high-octane 2013 remix of Born to Die ballad “Summertime Sadness” — from Cedric Gervais, the French DJ and producer who had just experienced relative success with his rave anthem “Molly.” In a 2013 interview, Gervais explained that while bigger name artists began had thus begun seeking remixes from him, it was Del Rey’s voice that interested him most, and captivated by the track’s romantic vocals, he produced the remix in a single day.
With Gervais’ touch, it became the unavoidable anthem of the year. The “Summertime Sadness” remix became Del Rey’s first (and to date, stilly only) single to reach the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, simultaneously raising her profile, and earning Gervais a Grammy win for best remixed recording, non-classical. — VALERIE LEE
56. Alesso feat. Matthew Koma, “Years” (2012)
The “Clocks” for the EDM age, with Swedish progressive house producer Alesso oscillating between a cascading piano twinkle and a chest-punching synth overload, while jack-of-all-toplines Matthew Koma waxes rhapsodic with future nostalgia. “These will be the years,” Koma promises. And they were. — A.U.
55. Green Velvet & Patrick Topping, “Voicemail” (2014)
Green Velvet, an underground legend cured to perfection by the 90s rave scene, brings his unflappable brand of pulsating techno to this 2014 dance hit. Paired with British DJ/producer Patrick Topping, “Voicemail” samples a series of, well, voicemails, with these deadpan monologues — “I’m not calling to have you put me on the guest list for tonight, but I was wondering if I could ride with you. I have to get my hair and nails did, so please tell the limo driver to wait for me” — played over repetitive techno beats. It was an absurd instant classic that delivered the sound of the dance scene’s origins to new audiences. — M.D.
54. Nicolas Jaar, “Time For Us” (2010)
A decade on from its release, “Time For Us” remains a serious vibe, with the seven-plus minutes of Nicolas Jaar’s breakout tune feeling preserved in the amber of 2010. Jaar was a 20-year-old Brown University student when he handed over “Time For Us” to Wolf + Lamb, the white-hot record label run by the DJ duo of the same name. With woozy, cerebral club kids like Seth Troxler, Michael J Collins and Soul Clap among its ranks, Wolf + Lamb was a perfect launchpad for Jaar ahead of his star-making 2011 album, Space Is Only Noise. “Time For Us” is bare-bones, but luxurious, combining Jaar’s natural headiness with a strong club instinct. There’s a plaintive piano line and slow-chugging bassline set against background whoops and chatter, before Jaar’s tranquilizing vocals slide in. — JACK TREGONING
53. Alison Wonderland, “Good Enough” (2018)
The lead track from Alison Wonderland’s sophomore album, Awake, “Good Enough” is a dark, frenetic meditation on worthiness and self-esteem, outfitted with the Australian producer’s own cello playing. Since her ascent, the artist born Alison Scholler has been an outspoken advocate of mental health in the electronic music realm, using her work, and her Twitter account, to frankly discuss the challenges of wondering if anything is ever, in fact, good enough. It’s an existential question we all deal with in one way or another, and one that fans of this massive, bass-y track answered with a resounding “yes.” — K. Bain
52. Jai Paul, “BTSTU” (2011)
In a scene overrun by spotlight seekers, Jai Paul is a true exception. Back in 2010, the London-based producer casually uploaded a demo called ‘BTSTU’ to his MySpace page. Before long, tastemaking DJs everywhere were desperate to play it out. XL Recordings, then home to the likes of M.I.A. and Vampire Weekend, swooped on the track and released it officially as “BTSTU (edit).”
For a debut single, it felt instantly iconic. From the opening lines — “don’t f–k with me, don’t f–k with me” — the song flits from light to dark, with heavy rumbles offsetting the flashes of clarity. Both Beyoncé and Drake sampled “BTSTU (edit)” — the kind of exposure young producers dream about. But chasing fame was never Jai Paul’s thing. Instead he retreated for most of the decade, only emerging in 2019 with two new songs, “Do You Love Her Now” and “He.” No surprises here: they’re also brilliant. — J.T.
51. Peggy Gou, “It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)” (2018)
Ever hear of the state of flow? It’s that perfect pocket of rhythm and creation wherein the world seems to bow toward your whim. It’s a divine way of being, and it’s a mind-clearing magic Peggy Gou finds in her music-writing process. “It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)” distills the moment into six-and-a-half minutes of retro house gold. It’s tropical and mysterious with a rambunctious beat and an infectiously funky synth line, while Gou’s honey-drip singing voice lends a calming hand. This song slinks around the room like a powerful woman in a gauzy caftan, the kind of presence you hope lingers. Listen to it enough times, and you might fall into a state of flow, too. — KAT BEIN
50. Tim Berg, “Seek Bromance” (2011)
Before he was one of the world’s most famous DJ/producers, Tim Bergling — soon to be known as Avicii — was one of many users on Laidback Luke’s online fan forum sharing his tracks and asking for production advice from his home in Stockholm, Sweden. Who knew (aside from LBL, who recognized the budding artist’s potential) that the artist would soon be sharing his music with the world? One of his best-known songs pre-breakthrough was “Seek Bromance,” under his Tim Berg alias.
A vocal version of his previous single, “Bromance,” “Seek Bromance” even then possessed the hallmarks of an Avicii hit: stadium-sized synth leads, infectious melodies and earworm lyrics that echo in your head far beyond the song’s last note. “I will give to you the love you seek and more,” singer Amanda Wilson repeats in the chorus. A promise of acceptance and unconditional love, it felt like the embodiment of dance music’s PLUR lifestyle. — KRYSTAL RODRIGUEZ
49. The Chemical Brothers, “Got To Keep On” (2019)
Since 1989, Manchester’s Chemical Brothers have popped some of the block-rockin’est beats ever produced. Never one to cling to trends, the duo opened 2019 with a breathtaking album that blended hard, mechanical intensity and ethereal disco groove with hip-shaking funk and vocal samples from 1960s poets. Single “Got To Keep On” is a cinematic celebration in your ear, a rush of dance floor ecstasy with a chaotic build and church-bell release that explodes inside your own cells. The music video, directed by The Chemical Brothers’ longtime collaborator Michel Gondry, features a psychedelic Soul Train to bring each cocky hit to life. It’s a highlight of the group’s live show, and a certified new classic for the ages. — K. Bein
48. Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne, “Rather Be” (2013)
During a moment in dance music when the prevailing trend was to make music that rattled skulls, U.K. trio Clean Bandit ascended with a sweet, swirling love song outfitted in strings and Jess Glynne’s sunbeam of a voice. The melody was undeniable, the production was effervescent, and these pieces put together won Clean Bandit the 2015 Grammy for best dance recording. — K. Bain
47. Bassnectar, “Bass Head” (2011)
The great commercial breakthrough of “EDM” may define the decade, but without dubstep as a gateway, it may have never taken hold. The wobbly, bass-centric sound hit every nerve in America’s collective collegiate youth, turning Greek-life gym rats and edge-dwelling nerds into kindred headbangers. It was all the rage to, well, “rage,” and no one hit the speakers harder than the Bay Area’s long-haired Bassnectar.
A master of genre-hopping mayhem with brutal low-register grooves, his live sets have shut clubs down with pure decibel force. It was a problem that plagued his 2010 tour in support of the Timestretch EP, a collection of hip-hop and dub-infused tunes that pit hair-raising melodies with layers of quality sound design in a bossy but psychedelic package. “Bass Head” was particularly beloved, as it gave dubstep fans a term by which they could rally together. To this day, Bassnectar’s Bass Heads are some of the most devoted fans in the industry, loyal to a nearly frightening degree. — K. Bein
46. Hannah Wants & Chris Lorenzo, “Rhymes” (2014)
Daft Punk’s “Technologic” has been sampled nearly 30 times, most famously by Busta Rhymes in his 2005 hit “Touch It.” In 2014, Hannah Wants and Chris Lorenzo paid bass-riffic homage to both brain-melting jams with one deliciously dank house groove. “Rhymes” takes the rapper’s low-end approach and freaks it, 4 a.m. style, with wide-eyed synth hits and shaky-knee rumbles. This is smoky warehouse rave stuff, the kind of bleep-bloop bass music you listen to in the dark while someone waves a glow stick in your face. It’s also got one helluva half-time breakdown. — K. Bein
45. Camelphat & Elderbrook, “Cola” (2017)
Camelphat’s hypnotic bassline, combined with Elderbrook’s velvety vocals, fused into an undeniable dance track just as at home in clubland as in the festival fields. Recorded in 2017, “Cola” quickly became beloved throughout several dance scenes, with fans and fellow producers proud to see a member of electronic underground rise to the status of Grammy nominee. — M.D.
44. DJ Koze, “Pick Up” (2018)
Was there a more pervasive or perfectly suited song for clubbing in 2018 than “Pick Up”? From the time of its April release to 2018’s end, DJs and dancers spent the penultimate year of the decade falling in love with the lead single off DJ Koze’s record, Knock Knock. A masterful blend of Gladys Knight & the Pips’ “Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)” and “Pick Me Up, I’ll Dance” by Melba Moore, “Pick Up” increased Koze’s usual degree of melancholy without sacrificing any of the playfulness that’s otherwise defined the German DJ’s work.
Whether by divine alchemy or simple production savvy, Koze made a record that simultaneously embodies the downtrodden mood of the late 2010s and provides a much-needed balm for it. Like the best disco records, “Pick Up” doesn’t wallow in its heartbreak for too long before permitting its heavily filtered bass line and galloping percussion to pick itself and listeners right back up. — ZACH SCHLEIN
43. Icona Pop feat. Charli XCX, “I Love It” (2012)
On the 2012 single “I Love It,” Icona Pop were the people we wished we could be after a horrible breakup. The song itself feels like an exercise in purging, its vocals half-sung, half-shouted atop maximalist synths revving with chainsaw-like ferocity. Throwing your ex’s clothes down the stairs, totaling the car you shared and probably fought in too many times to count: both things you might have wanted to do out of sheer pettiness, but could only play out in your head like the protagonist of your own life’s movie. “I Love It” gives you the adrenaline rush and catharsis of all that without actually doing it. An added bonus, it also introduced to the world the songwriting genius of Charli XCX. — K.R.
42. Major Lazer, “Original Don” (Flosstradamus Remix) (2011)
You know you did your job right when your remix outplays the original — but when the remix fire-starts its own musical movement that sets the pace of electronic output for a solid two years, you can only be Flosstradamus. The Chicago-based duo (now a solo project) got its start making indie-electro and juke-style beats, but when it gave Major Lazer’s hardstyle one-off an 808-laced, half-time rework with booty clap bass and distant chants of “hey,” it made hip-hop’s decades-old trap style a staple of the electronic world.
Looking back, the composition is incredibly simple. Flosstradamus and a million other trap producers would grab the genre and take it to unforeseeable heights until it basically became a dubstep-like race to be the hardest, trappiest, gun-shottingest project in town. But it pretty much all started here, where Flosstradamus made its name, and dance music was never the same again. – K. Bein
41. Yaeji, “Raingurl” (2017)
Wobbly bass lines and foggy glasses are the sign of a good party, and Yaeji’s “Raingurl” is a thunderstorm of dopeness. The New York City-based producer and DJ is a DIY star, writing, producing and singing on subtle dark-room bangers that capture the imagination. “Raingurl” was a moment when it was released, a favorite in many DJs’ sets and a big win for raving introverts everywhere. The song’s bilingual verses (Korean and English) read like a one-sided conversation in Yaeji’s head, exploring thoughts of isolation, depression and being an “other” — until, of course, the bass kicks in, when we all get our therapy in on the dance floor. It’s an incredibly human song, and it goes incredibly hard. Also, Yaeji is a super inspired live performer, and the “Raingurl” video is quirky perfection. — K. Bein
40. Duck Sauce, “Barbra Streisand” (2010)
Modern techno and house shows can feel real serious, but there was a time when dance music was fun hipsters in American Apparel getting messy to disco grooves. Just before that era died in a flurry of Vegas-fueled EDM and dubstep madness, A-Trak and Armand Van Helden got together for a silly bout of surrealism. Duck Sauce put the fun in funky with goof-ball jams that really rocked. They were all about the shout-outs, and on 2010’s “Barba Streisand,” they pulled a swingin’ sample from Boney M.’s 1979 tune “Gotta Go Home,” slapped a bass-y vocal nod to the Babs on it, and turned that b–ch out into a nu-disco classic. The song was guaranteed notoriety when it put everyone from ?uestlove to Diplo, Pharrell Williams and Kanye West in the NYC-lovin’ video. Cameos or not, it’s still a bop, so here’s to the Sauce that makes the difference. — K. Bein
39. Caribou, “Can’t Do Without You” (2014)
Whether as Caribou or the sample-oriented Daphni, Dan Snaith has a knack for assembling seemingly simple songs out of multiple intricate parts. On “Can’t Do Without You,” the opening track from Caribou’s 2014 album Our Love, the Canadian artist puts his skill to good use by tugging as forcefully as possible on listeners’ heartstrings. For all of the song’s neat production tricks, from the pristine minute-and-a-half long build-up into aural clarity to the subsequent descent into colorful and immaculately arranged chaos, the most affecting part of “Can’t Do Without You” is Snaith’s tender vocals. While various sonic strands are introduced only to be manipulated and eventually withdrawn, Caribou’s voice is the only one to remain through the end, the man among the machinery. — Z.S.
38. Tokimonsta feat. MNDR, “Go With It” (2013)
In 2013, Tokimonsta was a star of the L.A. Beat Scene, having risen alongside fellow luminaries like Flying Lotus, the Gaslamp Killer and Daedelus. Toki entered the national and international conversation with her major label debut, Half Shadows. Released on Ultra Records, the LP was packed with the moody, experimental beats she had built her name on, along with more pop-leaning tracks like “Go With It,” an emotionally resonant singalong featuring vocalist MNDR. — K. Bain
37. Gesaffelstein, “Hellifornia” (2013)
It’s hard to pick a best Gesaffelstein song: The French prince of darkness is one of the most exciting breakouts of the decade, rising to fame for his witchy, industrial-tinged brand of synthetic metalectro and co-production credits on Kanye West’s “Black Skinhead” and “Send It Up.” In 2013, he dropped his debut LP Aleph, and with it a slew of memorable moment, including this West Coast rap-inspired teeth grinder. “Hellifornia” is what gangsters rock in hydraulic convertibles when they’re on their way to sell your girl diamond-studded vampire teeth and drugs that turn your whole eyeballs black. It’s a soundtrack for sci-fi shootouts and bad guys that always win. It’s a constant high-point in any DJ’s set, and it’s been dropped by many of the best in the sweatiest moments. — K. Bein
36. Porter Robinson & Mat Zo, “Easy” (2013)
About a year before Porter Robinson gave birth to the glowing touch of his debut album Worlds, he and his buddy Mat Zo teased a softer side of maximalist sensibilities. “Easy,” which samples “Nothing Better” by Colourblind, came at a time when confetti canons were commonplace club gear, and while its hands-in-the-air hook goes great with fireworks, the song’s inner soul feels delicate like a flower. It’s like you just had your first kiss with someone really cool, and as you walk away, a smile creeps onto your face that grows bigger with every step until you’re running with exhilaration. The song’s popularity was further fueled by an anime-style video, created in cooperation with The Line animation group, that featured visual nods to the Japanese classic Akira. — K. Bein
35. DJ Snake & Lil Jon, “Turn Down For What” (2014)
The EDM moment was about a lot of things — technology, youth, capitalism — but if we’re being honest, at its core it was mostly about partying. Few tracks summed up this simple intention better than DJ Snake and Lil Jon’s “Turn Down For What,” a sonic shot of tequila built from the French producer’s soon to be signature slinky synth and the superstar rapper’s shout-along vocals. It was a clubland smash turned mainstage banger turned mainstream sensation made even more memorable by the absurd, funny, horny viral music video that accompanied it. Five years later, the room still turns all the way up when this one comes on. — K. Bain
34. Flume, “Holdin On” (2012)
In 2011, “Holdin On” felt once familiar and entirely new. Australian producer Flume followed in the footsteps of Avicii’s “Levels,” taking cues from the successful formula of utilizing gospel and soul samples in electronic explorations, but included a warmer, weightier bounce that — while still vaguely related to the more aggressive strains of dub and bass sounds — was instantly and refreshingly palatable. Eventually, the sound would earn its own classification entirely as “future bass,” offering a new next step in evolution from the EDM and dubstep frenzy, with less forceful drops and a stronger emphasis on pulsing, swinging synth rhythms. Flume’s early hits, like “Holdin On” and his remix of Disclosure’s “You & Me,” spawned an entire new flurry of bedroom producers eager to make their mark on the subgenre. — V. L.
33. Zhu, “Faded” (2014)
Released in 2014, the sexy, multidimensional “Faded” was Zhu’s breakout track, garnering acclaim from dance world heavies like Pete Tong, who named it an essential new tune on his BBC Radio 1 show. Remaining anonymous until mid-2014 because he wanted to be judged solely on his music, the producer born Steven Zhu quickly accomplished his goal, ascending global charts, going platinum in Australia and receiving a Grammy nomination for best dance recording at the 2015 Grammys. “Faded” became a dancefloor sensation, echoing across festival grounds and night clubs the world over. — M.D.
32. Calvin Harris, “Feel So Close” (2011)
In 2011, Calvin Harris was a still a slightly nerdy, singing Scottish producer with a predilection for making music that could make 30,000 ravers move en masse. Harris’ secret sauce is all over “Feel So Close,” which defined many a peak moment for kids from EDC to Ultra and back again. The song paired the earnest message of the lyrics (“I wear my heart upon my sleeve like a big deal”) with a soaring strain of pop-oriented electronic dance music that felt so close to what artists like Avicii and Swedish House Mafia were doing, but was at the same time quintessentially Calvin Harris. As the decade continued, Harris became and would remain one of the scene’s biggest stars, earning some of its biggest paychecks and playing some of its biggest stages, and even becoming a brand ambassador for blue chip labels like Emporio Armani. By the time the artist appeared in his underwear for the brand’s 2015 campaign, he had officially shaken off his dorky origins. — K. Bain
31. Deadmau5 feat. Greta Svabo Bech, “Raise Your Weapon” (2010)
At the turn of the decade, we were still wondering what the Canadian producer in the mouse helmet was all about. “Raise Your Weapon” provided some answers to the question, “Who or what is Deadmau5?” Now we know Joel Zimmerman as the experimental artist with give no f–ks attitude, who despite rising to the forefront of popular EDM refuses to follow any of the mainstream rules. This 2010 single is no exception. Progressive house meets dubstep in this one-of-a-kind masterpiece, which features the haunting vocals of Greta Svabo Bech and brilliant lyrics penned by a barely-known-at-the-time Skrillex. Bech’s airy delivery uses analogies of war to depict the damage done in a relationship gone wrong, mostly over a slow build of piano chords and minimal synths. That’s all before the bass drops around the 4:10 mark — the introduction to a sonic swell that remains daring even by today’s standards. — M.V.
30. Fatboy Slim & Riva Starr feat. Beardyman, “Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat” (2013)
Balancing between a song and a spoken-word piece, “Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat” is an anthem of sorts, albeit a bizarre one. Peaking at No. 12 on Billboard’s Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart in November of 2013, the collaboration features a stream of consciousness babble about partying, with soundbites like “I’m just dancing to the hum of your fridge” capturing the absurdst streak running parallel with the song’s house beats. This slightly incoherent blathering eventually finds solid ground with its meditative refrain of “eat, sleep, rave, repeat,” offering listeners with dilated pupils and raised hands a perfect dancefloor chant. With it, Fatboy Slim — the electronic music giant of the ’90s — proved his ongoing dedication to the track’s eponymous mantra. — M.D.
29. Eric Prydz, “Opus” (Four Tet Remix) (2015)
Think of all the things you can accomplish in five minutes: make tea and toast, answer the emails you’ve been putting off for weeks, run half a mile. Do any of those from start to finish, and you’d still finish with a few seconds to spare before Four Tet brings back the beat after a seemingly endless breakdown in his remix of Eric Prydz’s “Opus.” Taking up more than half of the remix’s ten-minute length, the breakdown is an extended trance induction, its arpeggios meditative and steadily increasing their speed upwards into the heavens. Just when you feel free of your physical form and can hear the sirens’ call, its release back to earth is swift but subtle, not a drop in the traditional sense yet satisfying nonetheless. During summer 2015, Maceo Plex played it in its entirety to a club full of very confused punters in Ibiza, some of whom are rumored to still be waiting for the drop to this day. — K. Rodriguez
28. Flux Pavilion, “I Can’t Stop” (2010)
Wanna know what it was like to be a dubstep fan in 2010? Basically, you rinsed Flux Pavilion’s “I Can’t Stop” for six months without end, and when someone was like, “What the hell is wrong with you?,” you played it again but even louder. The English-bred banger is definitive of the genre, landing somewhere between the soulful, dark-room wonk of its earliest days and the electrified arena energy of what American producers would have it become. It’s beautiful but aggressive, melodic yet brutally bass-ridden. It’s a song so unbelievably hot, Jay-Z and Kanye West flipped it for their show-stopping album Watch The Throne – and the original Flux version is still wavier. — K. Bein
27. Benny Benassi feat. Gary Go, “Cinema” (Skrillex Remix) (2011)
Already entranced by his explosive “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” entrance, Skrillex continued defining the sound of electronic music in the early 2010’s when he put his spin on a remix of “Cinema.” Originally a warm-bodied, dance pop melody from Benny Benassi led by the romantic, reverbed vocals of Gary Go, Skrillex transformed the track into an instant rave classic, spotlighting the chorus over a sparkling intro before slamming on the gas and speeding headfirst into firing bass wobbles and growling dubstep. It was an anthem to sing along to, cry to, and headbang to – all within the span of three minutes and 30 seconds. The remix even earned an unexpected accolade from Kanye West, who deemed it “one of the greatest works of art ever made” on Twitter. Later it was recognized more officially, when it won the the best remixed recording, non-classical award during the 2012 Grammys, marking Skrillex’s very first Grammy win. — V.L.
26. Fisher, “Losing It” (2018)
Deep in Fisher’s hyperactive Facebook timeline, you’ll find a video he recorded at Coachella’s DoLab stage in 2018. It’s mid-afternoon on a scorching Saturday, and the relatively intimate tent is packed out. Within 30 seconds, the crowd is airborne and Fisher is mugging like a madman. The track? “Losing It,” of course.
A few months later, the secret weapon officially dropped on the DJ’s own Catch & Release label, and the rest is history. “Losing It” became the anthem of that summer, played in set after set on festival stages across the US and Europe. In time, it was No. 1 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart and Grammy-nominated for best dance recording. There’s just something unstoppable about this tune, which turbo-charges tech-house for big tent tastes. Fisher returned to Coachella in 2019 with another afternoon slot — only this time it was the overflowing Sahara stage hanging on his every drop. — J.T.
25. The Chemical Brothers, “Swoon” (2010)
“Just remember to fall in love. There’s nothing else. There’s nothing else.” In their 2010 ballad “Swoon,” The Chemical Brothers gave us one simple instruction, and boy, did we fall hard. The six-minute track gathers steam during it’s epic, lo-fi intro before sending listeners on a journey defined by complex loops, warm synths and the iconic breakbeats that have become a hallmark of the legendary duo’s sound. The music video, which follows two characters in silhouette across a stark black background, is arguably just as beautiful and entrancing as the tune itself, which never fails to remind us that the experience of falling of love is truly incomparable. — MEGAN VENZIN
24. Breakbot feat. Irfane, “Baby I’m Yours” (2010)
Disco-funk was way cool in 2010, and French producer Breakbot kicked off the decade with a real dreamy dollop of synth-tastic groove. “Baby I’m Yours” layers bittersweet piano chords and plucky funk guitar over bass lines that strut like skin-tight glitter pants. Breakbot’s close friend and frequent collaborator Irfane comes through with lover-boy vocals guaranteed to break your heart. It was a perfect summertime vibe that continues catching imaginations. In 2018, the song was picked up as an internet meme about American Diplomat Paul Bremer, of all things. Of course, if it sounds oddly familiar to your out-of-touch uncle, he might be confusing it with Bruno Mars’ 2012 hit “Treasure,” for which the singer had to give Breakbot and Irfane credit as songwriters. — K. Bein
23. M83, “Midnight City” (2011)
There was a time when you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing “Midnight City.” Every TV show, commercial and video game soundtrack nabbed the rights to that wacky melody — “DAH doh doo DAH.” And then, just when you thought the onslaught was over, the internet got a hold of it. “Midnight City” was the song of the year, the kind of track that separates an artist’s catalogue into befores and afters. (M83 would go on to score a Tom Cruise film two years after it dropped.) Like much of the French producer’s best work, it’s a celebration of the wide-eyed wonder of youth — sneaking into R-rated movies, driving fast on Friday night with your friends, falling in love in the crowd at a show. Those days get further every year, but put on “Midnight City” at a house party, and it’s 2011 all over again. — DYLAN OWENS
22. Kiesza, “Hideaway” (2014)
The older segment of the EDM generation was aged enough to remember dance music’s big mainstream moment of the 90s, when artists like Black Box, Cece Peniston, C&C Music Factory and more climbed the heights of Top 40 radio with big-ass house tracks straight out of clubland. With her 2014 hit “Hideaway,” Canadian singer/dancer Kiesza paid homage to this moment of dance music history with a deep house track outfitted with her soaring vocals and flourishes that were at once a throwback and thoroughly modern. The song was undeniable, and the corresponding video demonstrated Kiesza’s dance prowess as well. — K. Bain
21. Knife Party, “Internet Friends” (2011)
Music technology advancements and growing accessibility to laptops, software, and equipment allowed EDM to boom rapidly, along with the then new terrain of social media, where everything could be shared twice as fast, and twice as far. Back in 2011, it was a purer era of the digital age, when being blocked online was the worst imaginable consequence of using Facebook.
It seems inevitable that a song like “Internet Friends” would eventually come to fruition, serving both as a cheeky commentary on what was happening in the world and also providing a cathartic eruption of electro energy, primed for the main stage at EDC in the heyday of EDM. Australian duo Knife Party had long been steeped in the world of electro before their breakthrough tune, but it was that hypnotic, robotic chant that left an impression on an entire generation: “You blocked me on Facebook, and now you’re going to die.” — V.L.
20. David Guetta feat. Sia, “Titanium” (2011)
Though Sia features on David Guetta’s 2011 single “Titanium,” it wasn’t originally supposed to be that way. The songwriter cut a demo of the track for Guetta with Alicia Keys in mind, and it was reportedly shopped around to fellow stars Katy Perry and Mary J. Blige, the latter of whom actually recorded a version herself. Ultimately, Guetta decided to go with Sia. Listening to it, it’s hard to picture anyone else. The rousing chorus isn’t so much a build as it is a whack-a-mole mallet to of the brain’s pleasure receptors, a shot or two of tequila straight to the dome. It’s liquid courage in sound form, and one of EDM’s songs for unashamedly belting out in the car, in the shower and at your local karaoke night. — K.R.
19. Zedd feat. Foxes, “Clarity” (2013)
During the summer of 2013, it became clear that the mainstream EDM phenomena was anything but a passing phase. And really, Zedd’s “Clarity” had a lot to do with that. The radio hit featuring British singer/songwriter and model, Foxes, went on to win a Grammy Award for best dance recording, and still reigns as the German producer’s most successful single to date. The electro tinge and big room-reminiscent drop made ‘”Clarity” a surefire club banger, but even behind closed doors the love song made waves. Remember? Matthew Koma’s perfect, heart-wrenching lyrics gave us all something sappy to belt while sobbing at the end of failed summer flings. That’s what the tune intended, right? — M.V.
18. Virtual Self, “Ghost Voices” (2017)
When it felt like the whole dance producer world wanted to be Porter Robinson, Porter Robinson went and became something entirely different. Virtual Self is a dark, cyber portal to a new universe, an alter ego made up of other alter egos, and as he puts it, a “love letter” to all things early 2000s. The sounds, the tempos and the visuals are in homage to the digital frontiers of lore, embracing happy hardcore, psytrance, jungle drum’n’bass and more.
The Virtual Self project thusfar has yielded a four-track EP, a self-titled 2017 set, with “Ghost Voices” being the clear breakout. It’s ethereal cybernetic melody loops delicately placed over a haunting “neo-trance” rhythm, the vocal purposefully chopped and filtered beyond understanding. “Ghost Voices” is dark and brooding but still glows with inner hope like ravers moving in the dark. Calvin Harris spoke openly of how the song reinvigorated his love of house groove, directly inspiring his singles “One Kiss” and “Giant.” — K. Bein
17. Jack Ü feat. Justin Bieber, “Where Are Ü Now?” (2015)
There are many ways to gauge when a dance song went mainstream. For ‘Where Are Ü Now?’, you could quote the one billion YouTube views, the Grammy win for best dance recording, its Billboard Hot 100 reign, or the New York Times video dedicated to its creation. What began as a heartfelt Justin Bieber piano ballad morphed into a runaway mega-hit, perfectly capturing EDM’s shift away from maximalism at all costs.
Built around an earworm “dolphin” sound — actually Bieber’s manipulated vocals — its chart success signaled a new phase for the pop star. Later that year, his all-grown-up album Purpose set ‘Where Are Ü Now?’ as its North Star. As Skrillex put it to the Times, the single was a watershed for the legitimacy of “computer music.” It’s also a neat capsule of where the three players — Skrillex, Diplo and Bieber — were at in 2015, each reframing how the world saw them. — J.T.
16. Jamie xx feat. Young Thug & Popcaan, “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” (2015)
One of the best dance records of the 2010s wasn’t actually all that danceable: A voice at the end of Jamie xx’s “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” declares “It was good… We enjoyed it, but we never used to like, rave to it.” The same is true of the song itself, and yet, it became the undisputed dance anthem to the summer of 2015. Although the In Colour highlight boasts contributions from Jamaican dancehall artist Popcaan and New York-born a cappella group the Persuasions (via vocal sample), “Good Times” is above all else a display of Jamie xx and Young Thug’s talents. Besides flaunting the inventiveness of its English producer, the track stands as one of the most vivid examples of Thugger’s idiosyncratic wordplay and complete disregard for lyrical coherence four years onward. — Z.S.
15. Lady Gaga, “Born This Way” (2011)
“Born This Way” was the lead single from Lady Gaga’s 2011 album of the same name, but in terms of being the best single, it had stiff competition in follow-up singles such as “Marry the Night,” “Edge of Glory” and “Judas.” While they all shared the same DNA — a fully charged concoction of electro, disco and synth-pop — “Born This Way” had a message for everyone, everywhere: You’re a superstar the way you are. Confident, assuring and a little (okay, maybe a lot) campy, it felt like permission to live life out loud. “Born This Way”’s resonance reached the charts, too, debuting at the top of the Billboard Hot 100. “That’s the kind of record I need to make,” Gaga said Billboard about the track in a 2011 cover story. “That’s the record that’s going to shake up the industry. It’s not about the track. It’s not about the production. It’s about the song. Anyone could sing ‘Born This Way’. It could’ve been anyone.” — K.R.
14. Avicii, “Wake Me Up!” (2013)
A melodic, story-focused song during the height of the devastating EDM drop, Avicii’s “Wake Me Up!” appeals to the soul of the heart rather than its muscle. The lyrics were penned by the song’s vocalist, Aloe Blacc, who sings about life in that moment being so good that it must be a dream from which he doesn’t want to wake up. Though Avicii didn’t write them himself, it feels eerily representative of the Swedish producer’s honeymoon phase in his own relationship with fame: a bright-eyed young adult who saw the world, and his place in it, for what it could be.
His future-facing outlook also applied to his music, incorporating mellower folk elements like bluegrass guitars and soulful vocals into “Wake Me Up.” That new direction would also echo throughout his 2013 debut album True, in an unexpected foreshadowing of country music’s own return to the mainstream. However polarizing the song was for fans, it was Avicii’s biggest crossover hit, peaking at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and becoming the first Dance/Electronic song to spend over a year (54 weeks total) on the chart. “Wake Me Up” set records on Spotify, too, becoming the first song to surpass 100 million streams, and even becoming the platform’s most-played song from January 2014 to May 2015. — K.R.
13. Nero, “Promises” (2011)
Nero vowed to leave their mark on dance music when they released their classic “Promises” in 2011. The electronic trio’s first track to debut at number one on the U.K. singles chart, ‘Promises’ quickly rose to prominence as a festival anthem, and was soon championed and remixed by a wide range of EDM tastemakers from Skrillex to Calvin Harris, all of whom chose to preserve Alana Watson’s ethereal vocals before taking the intricate production for a spin. Still, the rushing breakbeats and rattling drops of the original have enabled “Promises” to maintain status as a dancefloor classic that even bass skeptics can’t ignore — and that’s a promise. — M.V.
12. Major Lazer & DJ Snake feat. MØ, “Lean On” (2015)
Where Rihanna and Nicki Minaj saw a pass, Major Lazer, DJ Snake and MØ created one of the best-selling songs of all time. “Lean On” has more than 1 billion streams on Spotify (once topping the list for most streams ever), while the music video, filmed in India, has more than 2.6 billion views on YouTube. Popularity isn’t always congruent with artistic integrity, but this slow-burn ballad melts a bittersweet message with moombahton-tinged electro to create emotionally-moving sonic gold.
The song was originally pitched to Diplo by the Danish singer and German producer Jr Blender, but when the star producer’s original take failed to hit with pop divas, he turned to French producer DJ Snake to add some post-chorus sparkle. Those high-pitched vocal squawks became the song’s signature soul, immediately unique and iconic. The song was rerecorded with MØ at a new tempo, destined to become both a timeless smash and an era-defining anthem. — K. Bein
11. Robyn, “Dancing On My Own” (2010)
Robyn’s 2010 LP Body Talk Pt. 1 was 30 minutes of pure dancefloor heat, with “Dancing On My Own” serving as the album’s thesis statement about moving your body as the most effective cure for heartache of any magnitude. The track was sad; it was soaring; it was total perfection. Having been covered by everyone from Kings of Leon to Pentatonix, nearly a decade later, “Dancing On My Own” still gets any party — whether there’s a hundred people on the dancefloor or just you in the room — into motion. — Z.S.
10. Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams, “Get Lucky” (2013)
“Get Lucky” was a cultural phenomenon before it even came out. It helped that Daft Punk rolled out the sort of marketing campaign usually reserved for blockbuster films, airing 15-second glimpses of the song’s guitar part and bridge on Saturday Night Live before the robots properly revealed themselves — as well as collaborators Nile Rodgers and Pharrell Williams —with a visual trailer at Coachella. By the time the song was released in April 2013, a handful of enterprising fans had uploaded YouTube videos cobbling the teasers together in the hopes of uncovering a complete song.
Thankfully, the final product lived up to the hype. Beyond the virtue of crafting a classic, Daft Punk accomplished the seemingly impossible with “Get Lucky” by reintroducing disco to an American audience still engorged on EDM. For one all-too-brief spring, the song’s hypnotic guitar line, smooth-as-silk vocals, and weightless production yielded a widespread consensus we’ve scarcely seen the likes of since. — Z. Schlein
9. Skrillex, “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” (2010)
Once upon a time, a punk kid with an asymmetrical haircut named Sonny Moore came and turned the entire world of electronic music on its head. Inspired by the murk of UK drum ‘n’ bass and dub sound, Skrillex became the first taste of dubstep in the States, with the ferocious, screeching synths and rumbling, wobbly bass lines waking something visceral within the masses of American youth.
Before long, it was the unforgettable “Oh My God!” scream (sampled from a YouTuber called speedstackinggirl) that would signify the universal kick off of a party, swinging open the door for an entire EDM industry to bloom across the next decade. Skrillex was nominated for five Grammys in 2012 for the Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites EP, and won best dance/electronic album and best dance recording for the title track, validating an entire world of music created by your everyday bedroom producer. — V.L.
8. LCD Soundsystem, “Dance Yrself Clean” (2010)
“Dance Yrself Clean” is a dance thesis statement. Catharsis can’t exist without stress, so over a thin trail of bass and cowbell, frontman James Murphy spends the first three minutes in self-therapy, whispering a confessional of assholery quiet enough to make you reach for the volume knob. Once you have, it’s too late; he’s got you. In four quick snare hits, Murphy obliterates the tension in the room, cueing a beat that, live, you’ll feel as loudly as you’ll hear it. It’s an iconic rope-a-dope dance moment about the purifying beauty of dance itself. Or, as Murphy puts it, “Arguments were made for make-ups.” – D.O.
7. Swedish House Mafia feat. John Martin, “Don’t You Worry Child” (2012)
Swedish House Mafia was one of the primary architects of EDM, with the trio’s slick, soaring productions defining the sound, their confetti and pyro live shows defining the live experience and their leather jackets, private planes and champagne habits defining the superstar DJ lifestyle. In 2012 the guys — Axwell, Sebastian Ingrosso and Steve Angello — released the epochal “Don’t You Worry Child” a massive, thrilling, emotional singalong that could get tens of thousands of people in a field dancing and screaming and crying in unison. The track was a high point of their career, with the trio announcing their breakup shortly after making history by playing the Coachella mainstage in 2012. “Don’t You Worry Child” served as a point of climax for every show in their subsequent final tour, and for the EDM moment in and of itself. — K. Bain
6. Kavinsky, “Nightcall” (2010)
“Night Call” is less a vibe than an entire mood board. To most, it’s simply evocative of Ryan Gosling in a scorpion jacket (the song scored the intro to 2011 cult neo-noir Drive.) But French producer Kavinsky offers much more between the lines of the creepy retro track. Its accompanying concept album revolves around the reanimated driver of a crashed Ferrari Testarossa, which snaps some audio ephemera into place; before a single note comes, we get the clink of change in a payphone, a howling wolf, and a dial tone. By the time Kavinsky’s demented vox pipes in, the accelerator is flush with the floor, your back pulled into the passenger seat. It’s a little slow for the club, but perfect en route, with a handful of steering wheel. – D.O.
5. TNGHT, “Higher Ground” (2012)
Back in 2012, bass music was in a transitional phase, mutating not always gracefully from its dubbed-out roots into a main stage beast. (2011 was, after all, the year of ‘Bangarang’ and its many adherents.) Right into this heady era dropped Tnght, the cross-continental team-up of Scottish producer Hudson Mohawke and his Canadian equal Lunice.
“Higher Ground,” the centerpiece of TNGHT’s self-titled EP, is borderline anarchic in its construction, ramping up to 160-BPM with a vocal sample designed to scramble heads. This one was made with the unapologetic purpose of blowing up clubs, which it duly did. “Higher Ground” was a flashpoint for bass music, but also for Tnght: not long after this EP, they were done. That only changed with ‘Serpent’, the duo’s curveball 2019 return. Sometimes duty calls. — J.T.
4. Disclosure feat. Sam Smith, “Latch” (2012)
U.K. house duo Disclosure gave listeners something to hold on to when “Latch” hit the airwaves in the early 2010s. It’s infectious hook and nuanced groove not only kickstarted the revival of radio-ready deep house, but it also seemed to transform the beat-making brothers (Guy Lawrence and Howard Lawrence) into overnight successes. British songbird Sam Smith provided the vocals behind this heater’s singalong worthy lyrics, a contribution that pushed his international profile to new heights the same year. Though “Latch” has been referred to by some as a “sleeper hit’ in the United States, it eventually peaked at No.7 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart in August of 2014, and more than a half-decade later, the track is still as delightfully clingy as it was upon first listen. — M.V.
3. Avicii, “Levels” (2011)
Avicii was EDM, with his 2011 breakout single “Levels” defining the sound of the genre and the then 21 year old Swedish producer defining the ethos, lifestyle and paycheck potential of top artists in this world. “The Mount Everest of EDM,” the song was joyous and accessible, launching millions of fists into the air and soundtracking countless festival fireworks displays, getting major exposure via high profile syncs and creating a blueprint for modern dance music that countless producers would try to replicate. Many came close, but no one since has been able to reach quite the height of “Levels.” — K. Bain
2. Rihanna feat. Calvin Harris “We Found Love” (2012)
Before 2011, pop culture’s understanding of “dance music” was fairly limited to names like Lady Gaga, Madonna, and the occasional David Guetta tune. Then, Calvin Harris crafted a blissfully carefree synth-driven dance anthem for pop siren Rihanna, which she carried straight to the radio with her wistful power ballad vocals. It was the perfect equation: “We Found Love” championed Rihanna’s triumph, outlining and taking ownership of her very public relationship and domestic violence altercation with former boyfriend Chris Brown (particularly via the song’s similarly iconic video), while also cementing Harris’ reputation as one of the industry’s top pop producers — enough so that he regularly credits the song as the one that “changed his life.” Ours, too. — V.L.
1. Todd Terje, “Inspector Norse” (2012)
The sound of “Inspector Norse” is, in a word, joyous. This enduring gem is pure Todd Terje: textured, warm and swelling, with a gleaming melody and an intangible undercurrent of humor. It’s hard to overstate the track’s wide-reaching impact in the year of 2012, with DJs everywhere reaching for its six minutes of pure release. But “Inspector Norse” persists beyond its usefulness as a DJ tool. It’s a fully-formed song, albeit one without lyrics or a conventional pop structure. With the ARP 2600 vintage synthesizer as his instrument, Terje told his own free-flowing story. (Special mention also goes to the live show version, which featured a violin section and choreographed dancers draped in fairy lights.)
The Norwegian party people-pleaser has kept the campy, quirky tunes coming, but there can only be one “Inspector Norse,” a track that contained all the tension/release pleasure of the 2010s dance scene and spun it with a plucky sense of moxie and genuine depth. It was serious music that was seriously fun, the decade’s dance world thesis statement delivered in a swirling, nearly seven-minute form. — J. Tregoning