Club-land worldwide has spoken once again. The votes for the Top 100 DJs Poll 2014 — more than 900,000 this year — have been counted and verified, and Hardwell has been voted the world’s No.1 DJ.
A quarter of the Top 100 DJs are different to last year, showing what a fast-moving international scene we’re all involved with. There are 24 new entries and one re-entry (the evergreen Boy George), and altogether 30,000 different DJs were voted for. Votes came in from practically every country on Earth — including places like Christmas Island and Lesotho — and the most votes came from the USA, followed by Holland, the UK and Brazil. Latin America was the area that had the biggest increased vote.
The Dutch dominance in the poll continues. It’s a Lowlands clean sweep in the top five, with four Dutchmen and one Belgian pairing — more of whom in a minute. An incredible ten of the top 20 DJs are Dutch, and virtually half of the top 40. All in all, 30 of the top 100 DJs are from Holland — testimony to the strength of the Dutch scene, and probably the support the electronic music artform gets from the government in the Netherlands.
No other country hits double figures in terms of representatives in the Top 100. The USA, Belgium, Germany, Italy and the UK all have a handful of DJs in the 100 — quite a different scenario to when the Top 100 poll first started. In the very first Top 100 polls in the mid-’90s, before dance muisc became so international, nearly all of the DJs in the poll were from the UK (DJ Mag is a UK mag, after all). The Top 100 DJs poll actually started as an editorial feature in the mag before growing organically into the monstrous beast it is today.
So it’s congratulations to Hardwell once more, although he faced stiff competition from various contemporaries at the apex of the poll. Belgian brothers Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike have shot up to No.2 from No.6 last year, testimony to their party-rocking hit-busting sets and hype energy on the mic. Five-times winner Armin van Buuren (No.3) is still right up there, and that other young Dutch hotshot Martin Garrix has rocketed into the top five, nestling right up there at No.4. Many dance fans on DJ Mag’s Twitter were predicting that 18-year-old Garrix would actually scoop the No.1 slot this year.
All of the top four were present at the awards in Amsterdam on 18th October, with DV&LM picking up the award for the Highest Duo and Armin collecting the Highest Trance DJ award — as he has done for many years.
With his A State Of Trance radio shows and worldwide events, Armin is still carrying the flag for trance. A few trance big-hitters have taken a tumble in the poll — Egyptian gods Aly & Fila and UK trio Above & Beyond are both down eight places, W&W and Dash Berlin are both down four, Paul van Dyk is down six, Markus Schulz is down 23, Sander Van Doorn is down 12, Gareth Emery is down 23, Orjan Nilsen is down 30, John O’Callaghan is down 16, and Ferry Corsten is down 49 places.
There are already signs that many of the top DJs are jumping ship from EDM. Originally a term for all electronic dance music, EDM came to mean that big room blend of electro-house, trance and brostep wobble that has dominated club-land for the past couple of years. The sound has been experiencing a backlash though, and from their Top 100 answers it looks as though many DJs are now trying to distance themselves from EDM. So is it EDM RIP?
Out of this year’s Top 100 DJs, only American new entry MAKJ describes his DJ style as ‘EDM’. All the top jocks are now using words like “energetic” and talking about “the return to groove” that signals a move towards big room house. Laidback Luke is championing the term ‘future house’ — “future house is deep house meets EDM,” he says — and one man who many of the big jocks are citing this year as their breakthrough artist is Oliver Heldens. Heldens, the third highest new entry at No.34, had the massive ‘Gecko’ track earlier this year.
It’s the Beatport genres of electro house and progressive house that are benefiting from the EDM backlash. ‘Progressive’ means a very different thing to what it did in the 1990s, when Sasha & Digweed ruled the world. Today it means Dannic, Thomas Gold, R3hab and Quintino & Ftampa, it means Spinnin’ Records and Hardwell’s Revealed. Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike call their sound “big room electro/progressive”, as does Highest New Entry Deorro from the US, and Toronto duo DVVBS who crash into the chart one place below Deorro.
It seems like house — the longest-serving dance genre of all, the sound that started with Frankie Knuckles and Larry Levan in black gay clubs in the USA over thirty years ago — has mutated once again to provide the lifeblood of the majority of dancefloors worldwide. DJ Kura, 3lau, Don Diablo, Wolfpack, Audien, Merk & Kremont and Tomorrowland resident Yves V are all electro/progressive new entries into the poll this year. House never went away, of course, but while EDM gatecrashed the mainstream and the commercial charts, particularly Stateside, a few years ago, house is now being lined up as the new ‘hype’ genre.
HARD & FAST
If EDM is being rebranded as big room house and trance is still bubbling away in the background, hardstyle is the genre that stands alone — loud and proud. Angerfist is the Highest Hardstyle DJ this year, replacing Headhunterz as the highest charting hard jock, and if a few hardstyle DJs have dropped down in the poll — Frontliner down eight, Zatox down 21, Headhunterz and Noisecontrollers down a bit, Wildstylez down 39 — there are others moving up to fill the void.
The scene may have lost Showtek to “hard-edged progressive electro”, but Brennan Heart is up 14 places, Da Tweekaz are up 20, and there are new entries for Firebeatz, Vinai from Italy, Dutch dude Radical Redemption, TJR from LA and Code Black. Those who doubted that hardstyle could secure a foothold in mainstream club-land will have to eat their words.
Drum & bass is still a major worldwide sound also, but there are no d&b DJs in the poll this year. The techno scene is still strong, but only Carl Cox (No.59), Umek (No.75) and Richie Hawtin (No.90) appear in the Top 100 this time out. There are probably a couple of reasons for this — techno DJs don’t really campaign for votes, and — like clubbers from the drum & bass scene — techno aficionados don’t really vote in the poll anymore, as few of their favourites get into the chart. It’s like a vicious circle.
Bass music is still well represented in the chart, however. Skrillex is the Highest Bass DJ at No.9, while Borgore from Israel is a new entry at 41. Zedd, who is probably more electro than anything, is up a couple of places to No.22, while Dillon Francis and Knife Party both chart respectfully in the fifties. Zomboy is a new entry at 77, while Diplo — however you define this musical magpie — is up 32 places to No.32.
We’ve introduced a new award this year to cover a relatively new dance style that’s impacted worldwide. DJ Snake is the Highest Trap DJ, helped considerably by spending much of the year on tour with Skrillex and by his big ‘Get Low’ tune with Dillon Francis. It looks like trap is here to stay.