Major Lazer was a hit from the moment blogs first hinted at a Diplo and Switch collaboration. Before debut album Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do, hipsters were wearing Major Lazer shirts depicting the bionic, cartoon, Rasta soldier. When the album’s frenetic, colorful, dancehall-influenced Major Lazer songs finally hit ears, it was an instant classic, and things have only ever gotten bigger.
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Switch eventually left and was replaced by Walshy Fire and Jillionaire, infusing the project with even more island power. Major Lazer’s second album Free The Universe saw the group launched into absolutely stardom, and recent LP Peace Is The Mission put them squarely in the mainstream. Recent A-list collabs from upcoming Music Is The Weapon are just, like, beyond – but are they the best?
Here’s Billboard Dance‘s list of the top 15 Major Lazer songs to date.
15. Major Lazer (feat. Partysquad) – “Original Don”
“Original Don” has become a staple in Major Lazer’s sets and features a distinct, thudding brass beat. The build is subtle, but the drop comes in hard and is relentless. Brace yourself for some serious moshing.
14. Major Lazer & MOTi – Boom (Feat. Ty Dolla $ign, Wizkid, Kranium)
“Boom” is a mega collab that pumps up listeners with a clubby beat, Caribbean topline and vocal clips that are stretched and pitched in all directions.
13. Major Lazer feat. Ariana Grande – “All My Love”
“All My Love” comes straight from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt. 1 and is packed with hip-swinging energy. It’s drop is probably the most unique section of the production as it sounds like a conglomerate of animals chanting from all parts of the jungle.
12. Major Lazer feat. Ellie Goulding – “Powerful”
With more than 75 million watches on YouTube and a peak position of 5 on the Dance charts, “Powerful” is one of the biggest Major Lazer songs to date. Ellie Goulding is simply magical on the vocal and is matched in strength by the dark rasp of Tarrus Riley. It’s a dance music power ballad, so let your voice crack with passion as you sing along.
11. Major Lazer feat. PARTYNEXTDOOR, Nicki Minaj – “Run Up”
That rich, bedroom voice from the OVO set comes in silky smooth over the tropical sweetness of this ballad’s beat. Nicki Minaj comes through with the bad gyal bidness, but still, it’s all about the laidback vibes on this easy springtime song.
10. Major Lazer feat. Wild Belle – “Be Together”
Wild Belle are a really cool brother and sister duo with tons of cool instruments in their arsenal and a seriously cool way of telling musical stories. When they teamed up with Major Lazer for this cut off Peace Is The Mission, it became the pace-setter for the whole album. It’s a bit of a sleeper hit compared to others on this list, but it deserves a million listens.
9. Major Lazer feat. Nina Sky, Ricky Blaze – “Keep It Going Louder”
This song was one of 2009’s catchiest dance-pop numbers, and the music video, directed by comedy weirdo Eric Wareheim, was unlike anything anyone had ever seen. We now recognize that effect as a Snapchat filter effect, but we digress. Nina Sky and Ricky Blaze provide the perfect club vocal on this Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do hit. Shout out Skerrit Bwoy, the dude in the blonde mohawk floating throughout the video. He was the original gangsta of the whole Major Lazer vibe. More on him later…
8. Major Lazer – “Watch Out For This”
Seriously classic vibes on this single from Free The Universe. There’s a touch of middle-eastern flavor in this jam that is otherwise a total Caribbean banger. Busy Signal, The Flexican, and FS Green step up to the plate to kill the soundboys and bust microphones open like ladies’ legs. So fiyah.
7. Major Lazer feat. Travis Scott, Camila Cabello, Quavo – “Know No Better”
This title track from Major Lazer’s 2017 EP is a most delicious mix of Caribbean rhythms, future bass touches, and driving piano chords. The tune features some of the hottest voices in modern radio, and the trap breakdown in the middle pushes the song into “something for everyone” territory. “Know No Better” just can’t lose.
6. Major Lazer feat. Flux Pavilion – “Jah No Partial”
This collaboration with Flux Pavilion is one of the hardest hitting bass lines in dance history. It puts the “dub” in dubstep with a sample of Johnny Osbourne’s “Mr. Marshall.” This Free The Universe gem was dropped in every bass set of 2013 and at least half of what followed in 2014. It was remixed and reworked by everyone and their mom, but the original is the golden ticket. That rave bit in the middle? C’mon, bro.
5. Major Lazer – “Pon De Floor”
Major classic alert! This was the jam when it came out. It introduced thousands of white hipsters to “daggering,” the Kingston dance craze so dirty, it was actually banned by the Jamaican government. There’s Skerrit Bwoy again. He was daggering’s biggest star. He does this thing with a ladder. He would do it on tour with Major Lazer and in this video, again directed by Eric Wareheim. After a couple years of partying, he recommitted himself to Jesus Christ and stopped daggering for good. Sad days, but we will always remember them with this video. Oh, and Beyonce liked this song so much, she turned it into “Run The World (Girls).” Nbd.
4. Major Lazer feat. Nyla, Fuse ODG – “Light It Up”
Another killer anthem from Peace Is The Mission, this one featuring Nyla, Fuse ODG, and one seriously cool trumpet solo. This rhythm breaks into moombahton territory, but the chart performance of “Light It Up” has pop smash hit written all over it.
3: Major Lazer feat. Amber of The Dirty Projectors- “Get Free”
This isn’t just one of the best Major Lazer songs ever recorded, it’s one of the best songs, like, ever. Produced alongside GTA with vocals from Amber of the Dirty Projectors, it reaches right into your soul and touches your heart. It’s like Amber is singing for the entire world. She is the voice of Gaia on this one, and we as humans can all come together and dance in the hope that things can and will get better for all of us, equally. It’s not even preachy. It’s just solid.
2: Major Lazer feat. Justin Bieber – “Cold Water”
It’s almost cheating to have Justin Bieber on your song. Obviously it’s going to be a hit. Obviously it’s going to be awesome, but it wouldn’t be fair to act like The Biebs is what makes “Cold Water” so good. Major Lazer killed the production on this one, fusing elements from all over the world to create an anthem fit for any parade, silent car ride, or packed club. This one comes from the upcoming Music Is The Weapon.
1. Major Lazer and DJ Snake feat. MØ – “Lean On”
You’re not even surprised, are you? This is a J-A-M, with capital letters. MØ’s distinctly rich vocals draw you in so Major Lazer and DJ Snake can go in for the kill. It’s the perfect hook. This is the kind of song you go around singing for the rest of the day if someone even so much as whispers the words. Does this mean Peace Is The Mission was the best Major Lazer album of all? Oof, we have to wait and see.