December marks the end of another year which means another year of drops, bass, whistles, and Lil' Jon screaming expletives. Beatport recently asked for DJs all over the world to post their top ten tracks of the year and when I was called upon for the challenge I decided to accept. Today, I bring you the top ten tracks that I found to have the most impact for music this year. These tracks aren't in a true particular order of preference but hopefully my explanations of each choice can make it more clear as to why these tracks made the cut. You can also listen to the full playlist here on Spotify or buy the tracks via Beatport.
1. Sad Machine - Porter Robinson
Sad Machine, in my opinion, is a masterpiece on multiple fronts. From sound design to melodies to production, this track really proves Porter Robinson's ability to be an artist rather than just another DJ with a banger. If you have ever followed Porter's YouTube series where he talks about the Worlds Tour, you begin to understand that this whole album is meant to be an experience and not a Beatport Top Ten track. Sad Machine tells a beautiful story and stands as a statement to other artists to go beyond the Vengeance sample packs and create a song with an emotion filled story. (Just because there is a story doesn't mean people can't dance to the track.)
2. Pets - Deadmau5
So as most people who have been following for awhile probably already know, I am a big fan of Deadmau5. We share similar views on electronic music and also love a good cup of coffee. (No Timmie's for me though in SF. Thanks Obama.) I was really excited to see Deadmau5 drop this album because it came after a lot of work that he had put out before hand. This came after he released a track for each of the seven deadly sins along with a YouTube video to compliment it all and after his long hiatus on social media. I don't know Joel Zimmerman personally but I am in the belief that he went through a lot as an artist and a person this past year. To see this album come out is like seeing a new transformation of Deadmau5, which is great. Pets, to me, is a kind of self reflection and personal pat on the back with the feeling that everything is okay because now there is nothing but gold skies. Beauty is in the eye of beholder and this track is gorgeous.
3. Breathin' - EDX
Before I heard this track on BPM, I had no clue who EDX was. That is a shame because EDX is a producer that you don't see much of anymore. His track Breathin' is one that is very minimal but through the melodies and use of natural sounds, he created a living track that moves dynamically. I can go into the specifics of why this track works but the point is that Breathin' is another track that climbed the charts while being different. Don't get me wrong. I love a banger just as much as anyone else. (Keep scrolling.) However, tracks like Breathin' get people into a different space and give the listener some needed emotion. I love listening to EDX when I am running and especially Breathin' as I run along the beach.
4. When We Were Young (Vicetone Remix) - Dillon Francis
Dillon Francis surprised me with his debut album Money Sucks, Friends Rule because I was expecting a Mad Decent Block Party essentially. Alas, he made exactly what I should have expected which is that he made a DILLON FRANCIS album. From progressive house to moombahton to an awesome remix by Vicetone. The reason I choose Vicetone's remix was because Vicetone did something that remixes should do. Vicetone reflected themselves on to the track and gave it a totally different perspective of being young and in the moment. This song is a banger for sure and makes me want to throw my hands in the air as I write this. Vicetone doesn't get enough credit for their productions because these two producers really know their style which is something many artists trying to "make it" lack. Kudos to Dillon Francis and I am challenging Vicetone to blow up this next year to show the world that you two are some of the most talented producers on the scene right now.
5. Waited 4 U - sLOW mAGIC
Slow Magic popped up on my radar when I started working at KUSF and this band really understands the meaning of Chillwave. Whether you listen to Chillwave or not, it is clear that everyone is jumping on the bandwagon and producing it now days. However, Waited 4 U is a great example of how Chillwave can be used to pull emotion rather than just vibes at a trendy night bar. The vocals don't really pop in until 2:20 but when they do the track is brought to a climax that totally changes the dynamic. I'm glad I discovered this band and you will be seeing them a lot more on the blog and in my sets.
6. Last all night (koala) feat. KStewart - Oliver Heldens
Oliver Heldens originally released the instrumental version of this track, formerly known just as Koala, and I loved it. As soon as I heard that he re-released the track with a new title and vocals from KStewart, I was ecstatic. This track makes me feel like I am in an 80s dance club just trying to forget the world and dance, well, all night. If you haven't seen the music video, go watch it. It brings an even different level to the track. Oliver Heldens is another producer who is on his way up and his last few tracks have really perked my ears. He doesn't seem to be another Beatport Top Ten cookie cutter but only time will tell. Keep up the great work Oliver!
7. aTMOSPHERE - kASKADE
Kaskade spent another year of making Grammy nominated tracks and killing DJ sets across the globe. He also released Redux and a small personal tour of all the clubs that he played at before he blew up. Atmosphere is a calling to old Kaskade while keeping it fresh for 2014. What I also appreciate is that Kaskade lent his own vocals to the track. Of course not every producer has the voice to sing over a track but Kaskade does and he did not let that talent go to waste. Kaskade is a producer who may seem like your typical headliner but he actually is a really fascinating individual who produces amazing tracks. I can't wait to see what he has in store for us next year.
8. Wasted feat. Matthew Koma - Tiësto
When I first heard Wasted, I though Sirius XM made a mistake in the track meta-data. There was no way this could have been a Tiësto beat! However, it was and I couldn't believe it. Wasted has a totally different vibe than Tiësto's traditionally 128 BPM bangers. I have not been much of a Tiësto fan but Wasted is a great track that goes against the trends. (Which is ironic since this track was trending for the whole summer.) Wasted is a great example of an uplifting summer track that college kids love to blast at their lake parties. It was an anthem and that is exactly what I love to hear. Anthems are the back bone of a good time and Wasted became one of those songs that I will blast when I hear. Hopefully I can hear more Tiësto that thinks outside the box in 2015.
9. gOLD skIES FEAT. aLEESIA - mARTIN gARRIX & sANDEr Van Doorn, DVBBS
Gold Skies didn't really mean much to me until I was given the stems to remix the track. Martin Garrix hadn't done much outside of Animals but Gold Skies is something different. It may seem a little cookie cutter-ish on the outside but when you really listen to the track it is actually quite beautiful. Martin Garrix, Sander Van Doorn, and DVBBS really created a track that blends acoustic instruments, synths, and drums into a progressive house track full of emotion. I am impressed the most by Martin Garrix and I can't wait to hear what he has in store for 2015.
10. Heartbeat feat. Little Boots - John Dahlback
John Dahlback isn't really a house-hold name but this guy can really create some amazing sounds. I first found John Dahlback earlier this year while I was digging through an online DJ pool. The first track I found was a bootleg of his from years ago but it was totally different that what was coming out at the time. Heartbeat is also something very different than what you typically hear being played at the festivals now days. This track uses this type of synth that is clearly electronic and sounds almost as a riser. I have only heard it used a few times this year in tracks but John Dahlback has built a signature sound around it. I know I am not doing the track justice so go and listen to this amazing production featuring Little Boots.