It’d be an understatement to say that electronic dance music has seen an unprecedented rise over the last 10 years. It could arguably be called the genre’s greatest decade – a Golden Age, even. For years, dance music raved on within the underground. But as the 2010s began, we saw it creep out of the shadows like never before. Festivals have transported us to worlds beyond our imagination and shown us the beauty that exists behind music. Artists and events of all shapes and sizes have brought us together, united under a common love. Anyone can shine on the dancefloor regardless of gender, race, background or history. That’s what dance music always has been about.
As 2020 fast approaches, the decade that has gotten so many of us hooked on the music is coming to an end. As a nod to the years past, our team of writers here at EDMTunes came together to vote on our top 15 artists of the decade.
It’s important to point out that this is, by no means, an all-encompassing list that hits every influential artist from the past 10 years. There are so many artists outside of this list that we have immense appreciation for as well.
But for now, these are the producers that we mutually agreed have had a powerful impact on the industry. One of these DJs has probably made you the happiest you ever were in life, at some given point, on some given dancefloor. Their tracks will last more than a lifetime; thanks to this generation, they will last forever.
Starting off our list is none other than Afrojack. The Dutch DJ has produced some of the most memorable tracks we can remember. From heartwarming releases like ‘Ten Feet Tall’ to the EDM classic ‘No Beef,’ Afrojack has shown us his incredible range and skill set. His shows are really where we get to see the true Afrojack. If you’ve been to one, you know exactly what we’re talking about. They come with a level of intensity and energy that keep you going with a beat all night. Afrojack has also led the way in mixing hip-hop with EDM, something that was not too common prior to 2010.
#14 The Chainsmokers
Yeah, yeah, we know. They’re loved, hated, and everything in between. And we’re well aware that this one may receive some backlash, given the music they have produced the last few years. But you have to admit that The Chainsmokers have put on some of the best live performances in dance music within the last ten years. Their production is top-tier and their ability to perform beyond the decks has slotted them in at #14 on our list.
The much-loved track ‘Roses’ put them on the map back in 2015 and gained them respect all over the board. That popularity escalated especially after they followed up with ‘#SELFIE.’ A year later. they produced mega-hit ‘Closer’ and the Grammy-winning ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ that showed that EDM can dominate the pop charts too. Their list of achievements goes on and on, proving their worth as a duo that pushed dance music to flourish (whether you like it or not).
#13 Eric Prydz
Eric Prydz – known today under other aliases as well, like Pryda and Cirez D, has played a massive role in the transformation of the electronic music world. This man of many names has guided dance music far beyond this decade thanks to his revolutionary live shows. Within this decade, though, there are quite a few key moments to address.
In 2012, he released Eric Prydz Presents Pryda, a 3-disk album that let fans hear Pryda’s signature sound with unreleased tracks and mixes. In 2014, we finally saw his highly anticipated EPIC 3.0 show, which featured ‘the world’s largest indoor hologram.’ His Opus album in 2016 received acclaimed reviews. Plus, visuals are Eric’s strong point and they have only gotten better over time as he showed off the EPIC 6.0 HOLOSPHERE earlier this year. It was absolutely breathtaking at Tomorrowland, so if you have the opportunity to see this one, we’d highly recommend it.
#12 Axwell Λ Ingrosso
Right after the much-loved, iconic trio, Swedish House Mafia disbanded, Axwell & Ingrosso decided to go on their own duo adventure. Although they only produced one album, it was filled with so many hits you wondered maybe they were better off. In 2017, More Than You Know took the hearts of many, producing incredible emotions within us. We went from dancing our feet off to holding those we love close.
‘Sun Is Shining,’ ‘On My Way,’ and ‘Dreamer’ were just a few tracks that got every festival they played at rocking. Their shows still took elements from their olden days, but they made sure to let us know that Something New was on the horizon.
Known as one point as DJ Mag’s #1 DJ, Hardwell has shown the force he has as a dominating force in EDM. You could even call him the King of Big Room or Electro House – he’s arguably taken over both sub-genres. As seen particularly at Ultra, there is truly nothing like a Hardwell show.
In 2012, ‘Call Me A Spaceman’ and ‘Apollo’ became instant classics. 2015 was a massive year with the release of his album United We Are. He kept his hype train going from 2017-2018, though eventually, he said it was time to take a break from touring. While it probably won’t last forever, the scene misses the incredible energy he brought to the stage.
#10 Porter Robinson
Porter Robinson started making music at the age of 12 and has since introduced a more experimental sound to the electronic music scene. He was one of the youngest producers we saw the rise to fame and even made it on Billboards 21 Under 21 List. We’ve seen a shift in his style over the decade as well, from a heavier, darker dubstep beat to something more ethereal. In 2014, his debut album Worlds peaked #1 on their Dance/Electronic Albums List too.
In 2017, his alias Virtual Self kicked off with a brand new EP. That same year, the Inaugural Electronic Music Awards nominated him for both Single of the Year and Live Act of the Year along with friend Madeon. His single ‘Ghost Voices’ would earn him a Grammy nomination in 2019. In a short time, Porter has stormed beyond the U.S. dance music scene, making him a household name in the world.
#9 Martin Garrix
Martin sent the world into a frenzy after his release of ‘Animals’ in 2013. He’s been the guy to see in dance music for the last few years. His productions are some of the best in the industry, evidenced by his last few ADE shows. Tiesto also lent him a helping hand in getting his career started; from there, it became evident that The Only Way Was Up.
Every single that Garrix produces seems to shoot right up the charts. He’s even gotten a mind-boggling 10 billion streams over the last 3 years. ‘In the Name of Love‘ is currently his most storied one. The list is endless but ‘Scared To Be Lonely’ with Dua Lipa and ‘Ocean’ featuring Khalid are two of his most impressive collaborations. Martin has created a whole new generation of dance music fans out there, and all they’re trying to do is get ‘High On Life.’
#8 Calvin Harris
Calvin Harris has transformed EDM all over the world. Particularly in pop center cultures like the U.S., his music has connected with people beyond ravers. He’s produced music with some of the biggest artists out there, including Rhianna, Sam Smith, and Dua Lipa. His talent goes beyond the decks too, proving his skills across the board – he has provided his own vocals on both of his hit tracks, ‘Summer’ and ‘My Way.’
His mammoth 2014 album Motion was loved by all. It featured tracks like ‘Blame’ and ‘Under Control.’ He had one of the longest build-ups by any pop song with ‘We Found Love as well. He’s easily been one of the significant helping hands to merge America with dance music. Only a few DJs are as well-respected as Harris, and we have him to thanks for bringing music to the masses.
Kaskade is one of the OG members of the EDM explosion of the decade, and he truly got in on the ground floor. The Grammy-nominated producer released his legendary Fire & Ice album back in 2011, which catapulted his career forward – and he hasn’t stopped since. At this point, he seems to produce just about every genre and even released a Christmas album in 2017.
DJ Times voted Kaskade the best American DJ in 2011 and 2013. In 2015, he released his most popular album. Automatic featured numerous songs we still love today. ‘Us’ and ‘Disarm You’ will capture anyone’s heart when they play. He also recently returned to his house roots with his Redux tour, which has visited numerous underground venues and provided more intimate vibes for Kaskade-loving fans with a club kick.
Kaskade’s career has been one of the longest in the industry and we hope he continues to give us Sweet Memories for many more years.
#6 Above & Beyond
The trance gods blessed us with Above & Beyond and we are forever grateful. It has been said that time with this trio is a time you will never forget. Their label, Anjunabeats, has taken over the scene in the last few years as well, showing that their empire extends well beyond their own music as well.
In 2014, they went for something different and performed a live acoustic show at Porchester Hall. It is a truly beautiful show and a must-watch. The timeframe from 2017 to the present day has been a good time for the British trio as well (then again, when has it not?). ‘Northern Soul,’ and ‘Anjunafamily’ have been hugely-hitting singles loved by many, and this only touches on their musical accomplishments thus far. Let’s hope Above & Beyond can continue to take us to faraway places and let us forget about life for a little.
#5 Armin van Buuren
Armin van Buuren has had one of the most transformative decades out of any DJ. It began with Armin wining #1 DJ in DJ Mag for an unprecedented fourth time in a row. In 2014, he was nominated for his first Grammy for ‘This Is What It Feels Like‘ – a track that so many of us have connected with.
Armin branched off into psytrance when he collaborated with Vini Vici on ‘Great Spirit.’ At Ultra in 2018, his ID ‘Blah Blah Blah’ went trending after his impromptu hand gestures. His latest album, Balance, is a 28-song masterpiece. Armin has continually proven to be “the guy” in trance music, leading the charge on the genre as it shifts over time – and yet, continues to hold the same elements we’ve always known and loved about it. He has always stuck close to his roots and showed off trance at the main stage level, while still keeping a close niche of fans that follow him wherever he goes.
There are few producers who have turned as many people onto dance music as Deadmau5. The Canadian DJ has expanded the borders of not just EDM, but music overall on multiple occasions. His infamous Cube originated years ago and still continues to amaze us till today. His 2019 Creamfields set is a masterpiece, during which he showed off Cube 3.0 that took visuals to another level.
He has always been very opinionated on EDM. Known for his numerous Twitter feuds with other musicians and his passion for trolling us, he’s a hell of a character we’ve always loved following – and listening to. Plus, we think it’s all in good spirit anyway. Regardless of how you feel about him, we all respect where he has taken the genre. The 2010s was another decade where he shined above the rest.
#3 Swedish House Mafia
There was no better trio to start off the golden age of EDM than Swedish House Mafia. Each of them individually is incredibly talented and together took over the music world. Their first massive hit came in 2010 with ‘One’. It later would include Pharrell Williams and take the track to another level.
‘Save The World’ would be their next international sensation, one that was ultimately nominated for a Grammy. SHM’s most famous track would be released in 2012. It’s the song we will all collectively play forever. ‘Don’t You Worry Child’ connected with everybody. No matter where you came from, you felt the meaning of the track. And when you hear it live, there truly isn’t anything like it.
At the beginning of the decade, we saw their rise, and at the end of it, we saw their reunion. We’re not sure what the 2020s will hold for Swedish House Mafia, but we do know that the 2010s were years we will forever cherish with SHM – and be in our memories for a lifetime.
I had the pleasure of working on this article with my fellow writer Anika Anderson. This is what she had to say about the #2 and #1 choices.
If there’s one name that absolutely cannot be forgotten in this decade, it’s Skrillex. Although his music career actually started in 2004 as a lead singer for a band, he built an image through his sound and actions to become one of the most sought-after and renowned DJs and producers. In 2011, his groundbreaking EP, Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites, took dubstep out of the underground and into the public eye.
Later that year, he released his Bangarang EP. Skrillex would go on to win multiple awards for both compilations. Additionally, the eclectic producer has made waves in not only the electronic dance music scene but a broader industry beyond that. He has produced music for a variety of artists, including Justin Bieber, Incubus, and even the Kingdom Hearts video game.
He’s part of multiple groups, including his house collaboration Dog Blood with Boys Noize, and his project with Diplo as Jack Ü. Skrillex has also won the most Grammy awards out of any electronic dance music artist (in total, he’s won 8!); so there is no doubt he should be #2 on our list. As he continues to surprise fans with his new music releases, we can’t wait to see what he has in store for the next decade.
And last, but definitely not least: coming at the #1 spot is none other than Avicii. There is really no other competition for this spot, as Avicii has touched countless lives both before and after his death. He was a major part in bringing electronic dance music into mainstream culture, and consequently, why many people entered the EDM scene. In other words, many of us wouldn’t be here today without Avicii’s music.
‘Levels’ was his first big hit, which came out in 2011. His popularity grew exponentially as he played at iconic festivals like Tomorrowland and Ultra; from there, his music career exploded. Before his passing, he released three music compilations: his first album, True, in 2013, the Days/Nights EP in 2014, and finally Stories in 2015. He was named ‘Favorite Electronic Dance Music Artist’ at the American Music Awards and ‘Best Solo Artist’ at the International Dance Music Awards in 2013. ‘Levels’ won ‘Best Song’ at the Grammy Awards in 2012, and ‘Wake Me Up’ won multiple awards too. This list is not exhaustive, either – these are only some of the achievements he accomplished during his lifetime.
Even after his death, we can still see his presence and appreciate his music. Before he passed away, he was working on his new album. With the help of friends and family, TIM was completed and released earlier this summer, giving Avicii fans something to hold on to after his passing. His family also started the Tim Bergling Foundation, where proceeds are dedicated to mental health awareness and suicide prevention.
The takeaway from all of this is that Tim did not just make good music; he also touched people’s lives and continues to inspire others. In the words of Klas Bergling, Tim “had a good heart.”And that’s what he should be remembered for.
Avicii is the greatest and most influential EDM artist of the 2010 decade.
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