FNT’s Top 25 Big Room & Electro Tracks of 2012
Posted by Middy on January 9, 2013
2012 was a year of explosive growth for dance music worldwide. We have seen increasing influence from the United States in dance culture, with the “bigger is better” ethos evident in everything from sound and visual production to the massive convergence of electronic music with pop music (a charge led by top-40 radio stars like Rihanna, Chris Brown, Usher, and even Taylor Swift, who made a brief but notable foray into dubstep this year). In other words, dance music has literally and figuratively blown up. Of course, with the “mainstream-ization” of dance music comes the inevitable backlash from traditionalists who’d prefer it to remain as it was in the 80s and 90s — confined to small clubs and warehouses with little attention from the general public. This rift is notably present in the trance community, where purists who prefer the higher BPMs of the 90s and early 2000s often look down upon newer listeners who have quickly latched on to what Above & Beyond famously described as “trance 2.0.”
While there are valid arguments to be made for both sides of this growing dance music debate, at the end of the day we think you should listen to what you like, and that producers should be free to evolve artistically without fear of being branded sellouts. Of course, it is important to acknowledge and respect the long (and occasionally troubled) road that electronic music has taken to get to where it is today, just as it is undeniable that 2013 has very exciting things in store for the genre — regardless of whether you’ve been a fan for twenty years or twenty minutes.
In keeping with this theme, we bring you this list in addition to our own personal lists — a list which we think sums up the year in dance music, from the clubs to the festivals to what you played on your car speakers. We all have our own tastes, but we still must pay our respects to the EDM anthems that dominated the year. So without further adieu, a few words on how this list was decided. First and foremost, this is our list, not the definitive list from the dance music gods, so no matter how hard we try to be objective we’re sure there will be some debate. Secondly, we are talking about the biggest and best tracks of the year — so tracks that were absolutely dynamite but which failed to garner support and playtime from other DJs will not make the cut. Third, remember the genres we’re covering. No hard feelings to Sasha’s remixes of “Flutes” and “Benediction” — both crushed 2012 — but this isn’t the time or the place. We also must note that we are American, so our list will mainly represent the tracks we heard at US festivals and clubs (even though some of us spent substantial time in Europe). Finally, we must give a quick nod to all of the amazing songs that were released just before 2012 but which still had an enormous impact on the year — like Nicky Romero’s “Toulouse“, Knife Party’s “Internet Friends”, Bingo Players’ “Rattle”, Swedish House Mafia & Knife Party’s “Antidote” and the ever-enduring “Epic”. At the end of 2013, we’ll give the same acknowledgment to tracks released in December 2012, like “Easy“, “I Could Be The One“, “Like Home“, “Clash” and possibly “Rift“.
Whew. Now that we’re done with that, let’s get on to The Top 25 Big Room & Electro Tracks of 2012.
25. Eric Prydz – Everyday
Eric Prydz had a truly dominant year, elevating not only his label output but also his own productions, and “Everyday” exemplifies just that. The feature track of all of his aftermovies for the past several months, this rare vocal track from the melodic master is a track that will remain potent for years to come.
24. Madeon – Finale
Of the three originals Madeon released this year, “Finale” stands out from the rest as the most unique — and also as a genuine work of art. The vocals from Zak Waters combined with the controlled chaos composed by the young French prodigy combine to create a track that sounds fresh even on the 100th play. Unfortunately, this song never made its way into many other DJ sets, so it failed to rank higher in spite of its undeniable quality.
23. Swanky Tunes & Hard Rock Sofa – Here We Go
Once this track dropped it was everywhere — in every set, on every festival stage this summer and in just about every DJ mix. This hard hitting electro house track from the Russians has left its imprint on 2012 in a major way and being a signee of Axtone only raises its status even more.
22. Tiesto & Wolfgang Gartner ft. Luciana – We Own The Night
While these two heavyweights both had outstanding solo productions in 2012 (“Pair Of Dice,” “Nuke,” “Girl On Girl,” Tiesto’s remix of “Young Blood”), “We Own The Night” stood tall among the rest. It’s a singalong, hands-in-the-air anthem that dominated club dance floors and festivals alike and which cuts directly to the heart of the feelings that make EDM such a powerful force.
21. M-3ox, Heidrun – Beating Of My Heart (Matisse & Sadko Remix)
As previously stated, we think that this is the most underrated remix of the year. Matisse & Sadko have had some great productions in 2012, from “Trio” (which just missed the cut – it’s probably the 26th track on this list) to their remix of Shinedown’s “Unity”. However, it was the soaring, blissful melodies of “Beating Of My Heart” that put Matisse & Sadko’s solo work on the map, and though this remix did not have the support one might have imagined, it still remains a top track of 2012.
20. Alesso – Years
First premiered on the final days of 2011 and one of Alesso’s most desired tracks, “Years” was released in August and has been incredibly successful. This anthemic track exemplifies Alesso’s progressive style — and the piano melody is one that you really can’t help but hum along to.
19. David Guetta & Nicky Romero – Metropolis
This song grabs the listener from the opening chords, thanks to its aggressive, wobbling bass line and hard, fierce vibe. The second of two collabs between the two producers in 2012, “Metropolis” was another jewel in Nicky Romero’s crown — many of his other tracks also dominated the festival scene in 2012. The highest first time entry ever in DJ Mag’s Top 100 poll, Nicky Romero should have big things in store for us in 2013.
18. Avicii – Silhouettes (+ Remixes)
A top 25 list would not complete without one of dance music brightest superstars, Avicii. Though the young Swede may never again experience the sheer level of fame brought on by “Levels” (frankly, that may be a good thing), “Silhouettes” and its remixes — especially the one from Syn Cole — became big time festival hits after the track’s belated official release.
17. Skrillex & The Doors – Breakn’ A Sweat (Zedd Remix)
While Skrillex’s original collaboration with the remaining members of The Doors was a banger in and of itself, Zedd’s distinctive and massively supported remix took the track to the next level. His remix rapidly became one of the most widely played tracks throughout the spring and summer festival seasons, receiving major playtime from DJs across genres and helping to elevate Zedd to the vaunted status he currently enjoys.
16. Deniz Koyu – Bong
Deniz Koyu’s follow up to his massive 2011 hit “Tung” was a formidable weapon in many DJ sets throughout the year, also serving as the foundation for countless bootlegs and mashups. Deniz Koyu had a career high year in 2012, dropping quality remixes and originals from start to finish, but “Bong” was undeniably the apex of those releases.
15. Sebastian Ingrosso & Tommy Trash – Reload
I don’t think I have seen as many compliments from fellow DJs in one day for one track as I did for “Reload” when it was released at the end of September. Combining both the grinding low-end we see from Tommy Trash and the melodic properties you can expect from Sebastian Ingrosso, this track still remains potent and fresh today.
14. Qulinez – Troll
The Swedish duo’s massive introduction to the world, “Troll,” put them on the map in a way that I don’t think even label boss Steve Angello could have even imagined. To wit? They were playing Tomorrowland and Creamfields just 3-4 months after the release of their first big single. “Troll” and its driving hook embody this duo’s unique, hard-hitting sound and undoubtedly helped carry them to this point.
13. Dada Life – Kick Out The Epic Motherf*cker
When you produce an instrumental track that people sing along to, you know you’ve got a serious hit on your hands. “Kick Out The Epic Motherf*cker” did just that — and even if the crowd’s rendition of those grinding beats never sounded that fantastic (full disclosure: we’ve screamed along with the crowd in this way on many occasions), the sheer power and longevity of this song cannot be questioned.
12. Steve Aoki ft. Wynter Gordon – Ladi Dadi (Tommy Trash Remix)
Tommy Trash’s first huge single of the year was a remix so powerful that it has totally eclipsed the original in everyone’s minds. “Cacsade” came before this, and one could argue that it belongs on this list as well, but the young Aussie’s massive reboot of “Ladi Dadi” became a worldwide phenomenon and perhaps the definitive example of his distinctive sound.
11. Swedish House Mafia – Don’t You Worry Child
The song that heralded the end of Swedish House Mafia (while simultaneously reaffirming their status as undisputed anthem-makers), “Don’t You Worry Child” was one of the biggest tracks of the late summer, even breaking into Top 40 radio and becoming an undeniable crossover hit. Attendees of Electric Zoo will no doubt recall the blissful feeling that rippled through the crowd when Axwell dropped it in his Saturday mainstage set. Regardless of how you feel about SHM (and the more “commercial” wing of EDM), there’s no denying the potency of this track.
10. Deadmau5 – The Veldt (+ Tommy Trash Remix)
One of the most interesting stories to come out of 2012 was the way Joel Zimmerman found the vocalist for this synthy progressive gem. Sure, the ‘mau5 loves his social media, but the open-ended process behind “The Veldt” is indicative of the power of technology to unite artists with their audiences — and further goes to show how the Internet has influenced the way we make, consume, and share music. All of that aside, “The Veldt” enjoyed major live support from heavyweights across genres and is one of the biggest tracks to come out of an already very big year.
9. Hard Rock Sofa – Quasar
It got its worldwide unveiling from Swedish House Mafia at Madison Square Garden last December and has gone on to become one the foremost tracks of the year since. A bootlegging favorite for many, this track (and its monster drop) have a dance floor-shattering power that is matched by very few releases this year. “Quasar” stands tall as one of Hard Rock Sofa’s premiere tracks, and is truly a testament to the Russian duo’s hard-hitting, bass-driven sound.
8. Hardwell – Spaceman
One of the most ubiquitous tracks in recent memory, the immensely catchy and high energy “Spaceman” should be instantly recognizable to anyone who hit the festival circuit in 2012. Hardwell’s heavy production shook up dance floors for months and still continues to be one of the dominant songs in many live sets.
7. Eric Prydz – Allein
No doubt about it: the Swede with the notorious fear of flying had one of the biggest years in recent memory. The release of the incomparable Eric Prdyz Presents Pryda coupled with an enormously popular and much-hyped US tour enabled the former Swedish House Mafioso to roar back into mainstream consciousness and secure a place for himself as one of the unquestioned kings of electronic music. “Allein” was present throughout all of this and is perhaps the single track that is most emblematic of the amazing year he has had — it practically begs you to sing along, and though it may be in German it’s a message that speaks directly to the heart of the dance community.
6. Otto Knows – Million Voices
One of the most recognizable tracks of the year, “Million Voices” made Otto Knows a household name in EDM. He was FNT’s number one artist to watch in 2012 and did not disappoint, putting out quality releases from start to finish. “Million Voices” became a symbol (and indeed an anthem) of dance music’s takeover in 2012, thanks to its innate sing-a-long properties and arena-ready sound — both of which make you feel like you’re part of something bigger.
5. Swedish House Mafia – Greyhound
“Antidote” may have dominated the early months of 2012 thanks to its December release date, but no one can deny the unparalleled might of “Greyhound” as we moved into the summer. It was at every festival in most every set and somehow it still managed to get the crowd going even as 2012 wore on. The catchy, almost techy track with the massive chords and memorable accompanying video reflects the savvy production prowess of the Swedish House Mafiosos — they may be riding off into the sunset, but they’ll always be remembered as one of the biggest trios in electronic music.
4. Zedd – Spectrum (+ Remixes)
The remixes are a very important factor in the high ranking of this beautiful progressive anthem — while the original become a worldwide hit in its own right and a liveset staple for DJs across all genres, the incredible level of variety in the remix package (which featured everyone from Arty to Armin van Buuren to Deniz Koyu to Zedd’s favorite, Gregori Klosman & Tristan Garner) allowed “Spectrum” to dominate to an extent that is virtually unmatched. 2012 was Zedd’s breakout year; though many people followed him in 2011, Zedd now has the eye of the mainstream media and it’s a safe to bet that we’ll see much, much more of his distinctly orchestral style in 2013.
3. Nari & Milani – Atom
We experienced the resurgence of the minimal drop with “Epic” and its repetition of those three (inexplicably riveting) notes. Now, that particular torch has passed to Nari & Milani’s “Atom.” From its foreboding build to its heart-racing, percussion-driven drop, “Atom” understandably became a staple of mainstage festival sets from Miami to Manilla.
2. Feenixpawl & Ivan Gough ft. Geogi Kay – In My Mind (Axwell Mix)
From the moment it was released, “In My Mind” had top track written all over it. In fact, for the first six months of 2012, this was the undisputed track of the year, but midway through our number one pick slowly began to move into position. Axwell’s iconic mix has it all — the vocals to sing along to, the infectious melody and high energy breakdown, and the feeling of universal accessibility which has led it to crop up everywhere from Flo-Rida’s discography to Kia Soul commercials.
1. Porter Robinson – Language
It is with great pride and perhaps a sense of inevitability that we deem 2012 the official year of “Language,” Porter Robinson’s crowning achievement to date. It’s a testament to the sheer force of this song that it was played by everyone from Kill The Noise to Skrillex to Above & Beyond to Tiesto to Armin van Buuren — and those are just the DJs whom we can personally remember off the top of our heads. How many times did you find yourself linking arms with complete strangers, singing along to the soaring vocals in the bridge and waving your hands in the air? Yes, it sounds cheesy, but this song takes the top spot. And to its credit, we’re still not sick of it.
Tags: 2012, Alesso, Avicii, Bong, Dada Life, david guetta, Deniz Koyu, dj, electronic music, Eric Prydz, label, music, Nicky Romero, Porter Robinson, remix, Sebastian Ingrosso, skrillex, song, sound, steve angello, steve aoki, support, swedish housoe mafia, tiesto, time, track, woflgang gartner, zedd