2014 was a huge year for EDM. Its popularity blew up worldwide, with many of its DJs breaking into the mainstream for the first time ever. What started out as a counterculture in the 90s has suddenly become the next big thing, and the rest of the world is starting to take notice. But why was 2014 so fruitful for the rising music culture? It’s thanks in large part to a veritable treasure trove of music released by some of the most talented artists EDM has to offer, proving once and for all that it’s very much here to stay.
Amidst the mountains of tracks, EPs, and albums that hit the airwaves, there are a few that stand out as ones that vaulted EDM to the forefront of the mainstream mindset. For this list, we chose to focus primarily on releases that have helped this ideal along: Essentially music that will make your average listener not familiar with the genre curious enough to want more.
1. Money Sucks, Friends Rule, Dillon Francis
Within the dance music scene, Dillon Francis has quickly become known for his deep house-centric alter ego DJ Hanzel paired with the insane offerings of his merch store (for $2000, Dillon will do your taxes). Wade past all the madness though and you can find his first ever full-length album, Money Sucks, Friends Rule. Although it doesn’t stand alone as a concept album, it stands as a collection of tracks that paint with a wide swath, appealing to a number of different audiences both in and outside of EDM. Title tracks you may recognize include his collaboration with DJ Snake “Get Low,” and his tag-team effort with Panic! at the Disco frontman Brandon Urie, “Love in the Middle of a Firefight.”
2. Love Death Immortality, The Glitch Mob
The Glitch Mob burst onto the scene with their debut album in 2010, Drink the Sea. It was widely regarded as a work that would vault them into fame, and for its period it made the LA trio one of the biggest names in dance music. This was soon followed by something of a disappearance, as they weren’t seen touring or releasing new music for years. That is, until Love Death Immortality released this last February. The sophomore effort peaked at #13 on the Billboard charts, evoking a bass-centric sound that was hard, fast, and eminently danceable. Ethereal vocals collided head-on with a heavy feel that once again proved The Glitch Mob to be the EDM visionaries we thought they could be.
3. Galantis EP, Galantis
Composed of Swedes Christian Karlsson and Linus Eklow, Galantis is a supergroup years in the making. Both have impressive pop music credits to their names; Karlsson co-wrote Britney Spears’ smash hit “Toxic,” and Eklow co-wrote and produced Icona Pop’s “I Love It.” Together, they’ve managed to forge their own careers with the release of their self-titled debut EP last April. Featuring six singable yet unique tracks fit for any arena, they’ve quickly become one of the most in-demand names in the scene. They’ve even developed a custom audio filter that combines male and female vocals, making for a singular sound that’s instantly recognizable.
4. Worlds, Porter Robinson
Worlds is an album that represents the masterwork of a young production virtuoso in Porter Robinson. It’s become a crossover hit of legendary proportions, with The Wall Street Journal even dubbing it as an album that “reaches beyond EDM,” and in doing so brought a seemingly hard-to-read counterculture to a wider audience. Describing this album can be tough, so we’ll keep it simple: Imagine Passion Pit and M83 had a baby with The M Machine, and then that baby studied abroad in Japan. That would be the synthy sound Worlds evokes, gifting the world with a work that virtually anyone could appreciate the genius of.
5. Worlds Apart EP, Seven Lions
Bass music can often be a polarizing sub-genre of dance music. It’s discordant, loud, and can be difficult to listen to if you’re not accustomed to its style. Often it’ll lack coherent melodies, instead opting for hard-hitting midtempo blasts of robotic flare, making it a difficult style of music to sell to your average listener. What Seven Lions accomplishes with his Worlds Apart EP though is a marriage between the melodies and vocals of your more palatable offerings, and the anthemic stadium-sized raucous nature of bass music. The very first track even features the vocal talents of none other than Ellie Goulding, providing an accessible window into a previously inaccessible genre.
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