Zedd’s album True Colors drops today, and listeners are certainly in for some electronic dance ear-candy. The album’s catchy first single “I Want You to Know” (featuring Selena Gomez ) is the latest of many EDM/pop crossover hits — a winning formula that dominated the charts in the early 2010s. From David Guetta to Avicii, many DJs have used their mixing skills to churn out addictive Top 40 tracks. But what nightclub captain does it best? Let’s find out.
We picked nine DJs who have contributed significantly to the pop scene and ranked their catalogs on commercial performance, critical reception, and originality. Essentially, do their songs make us rAgE~*? Yes, we’re actually 19. Check out our list, and let us know if you agree in the comments below.
He’s the producer you didn’t know was behind some of the best pop tracks. Diplo’s impressive discography includes M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes,” “Too Close” by Alex Care, “Climax” by Usher, and “Look at Me Now” by Chris Brown (featuring Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes). Oh, and he’s also the brains behind some bananas songs on Madonna’s latest album Rebel Heart (2015), like the above “B—ch I’m Madonna.”
While their catalog isn’t huge (yet), this EDM duo — formerly a trio — is responsible for one of 2013’s biggest hits “Alive.”
The very sexy DJ has three solo tracks that charted in the Billboard Hot 100; plus, he’s a featured artist on Ne-Yo’s “Give Me Everything” and Guetta’s “Hey Mama,” which peaked at No. 1 and No. 14 respectively. Afrojack’s beats are the zaniest out of this bunch, with Rolling Stone’s Christopher R. Weingarten writing he has “trademark explosions and monster melodies.”
You have him to thank for “Turn Down for What,” featuring Lil Jon. Oh, but also h/t DJ Snake for co-producing Lady Gaga’s “Government Hooker,” “Applause,” “Sexxx Dreams,” and “Do What U Want” (featuring R. Kelly).
Remember a little song called “Clarity” (featuring Foxes)? Well, that was just the first of several hits Zedd crafted, including “Stay the Night” (featuring Hayley Williams), “I Want You to Know,” and “Break Free” by Ariana Grande. He also produced three songs on Gaga’s ARTPOP: “Aura,” “G.U.Y.,” and “Donatella.” EDM Insider gave Zedd’s first album Clarity (2012) an A+ rating, praising its “cohesive” structure.
Avicii and EDM have become almost synonymous, with his 2011 track “Levels” taking on a mind of its own. But he followed up that success with four additional songs on the Billboard Hot 100 (including the 2013 smash “Wake Me Up”). His other big hit, “Hey Brother” (2013), peaked at No. 16.
If “Get Lucky” (featuring Pharrell Williams) wasn’t your jam in 2013, then who are you, really? Daft Punk is an EDM institution, with their catalog spanning two decades. While only one of their songs went beyond the top 50 on the Billboard Hot 100, Daft Punk’s latest album Random Access Memories reached No. 1 around the world (pun intended). Entertainment Weekly gave the album an A rating, writing that it’s “a headphones album in an age of radio singles; a bravura live performance that stands out against pro forma knob-twiddling; a jazzy disco attack on the basic house beat; a full collaboration at a time when the superstar DJ stands alone.” Try to find an EDM/pop confection more delicious than “One More Time.” We dare you.
Anything Harris touches turns into a hit. With eight solo songs on the Billboard Hot 100 — only one didn’t make the top 30, thank you very much — and a featured credit on Rihanna’s international 2011 smash “We Found Love” to his name, Harris is one of the most successful DJs of our time. While his work isn’t critically the most original, we have to give Harris props for his ability to churn out smash after smash. Also, he may or may not be dating ethereal sunshine queen Taylor Swift, and the idea of an EDM collaboration between the two makes us giddy AF.
Seventeen Hot 100 songs. Five international platinum albums. If there’s a DJ who knows pop like the back of his hand, it’s Guetta. Need you forget seminal classics like “Sexy B—ch” (featuring Akon), “Where Them Girls At” (featuring Flo Rida and Nicki Minaj), “Without You” (featuring Usher) and — of course — “Titanium” (featuring Sia). When it comes to sheer amount of successful pop crossovers, Guetta is a tour-de-force, and you’d be lying if you said you didn’t bop to at least one of his tunes. “Titanium” is arguably one of the most successful dance/pop hybrids of all time, with Billboard dubbing it “epic.” Guetta has no doubt provided the soundtrack that allowed 20-somethings everywhere to take just one more shot of vodka, and for that, we are eternally grateful.