Armin van Buuren has won the Highest Trance award at this year’s DJ Mag Top 100 DJs 2019. He holds steady in fourth place after landing the same position last year. It marks his 18th consecutive appearance in the top 5.
When we talked 2019 with Armin, you’d forgive him for being a bit one-track-minded. There’s the matter of his seventh artist album impending, released mere days after DJ Mag drops him a line. As ever though the Dutch legend makes the handling of his procession of shows, releases, broadcasts and other goings-on appear easy. Maybe, with so much experience under the belt and the supremely well-oiled engine behind it, it finally is.
‘Balance’, though, is both the title of his new album and clearly a cautionary watchword for Leiden’s first son. It is the first time that “spending time with family” has been a major player in his last twelve months summary. Amongst others, that’s meant cathartic biking trips with his dad (hey, it’s Holland) and Tomorrowland with his mum.
Totting up the number of new productions/remixed releases that Armin’s sent through the speakers over the last twelve months requires more fingers than DJ Mag has to hand. Seemingly though, it’s an increase on even 2018’s weighty figure. Among those has been a first-time-ever collaboration with Above & Beyond, with ‘Show Me Love’ dovetailing into the trio’s debut at Armin’s A State Of Trance in February. ‘Repeat After Me’ saw some studio co-operation with Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike (W&W additionally in the mix there). Also in his collab-athon was a meeting with Inner City (“a dream come true”, he says) with ‘It Could Be’, as well as a much-applauded third-time synch up with Shapov for ‘La Résistance De L’Amour’.
Armin confirmed during his 2018 Top 100 chat that the long gestating Gaia album (his standing project with Benno de Goeij) was a wrap. ‘Moons Of Jupiter’ duly dropped in June and to the undisguised and universal delight of the #trancefamily.
Armin’s weekly glimpse-into-the-life vlog sailed through its 100 edition this year. More notably even, his radio show surpassed its 900th. That was marked in the now-established form of Armin-led trance pilgrimages to seven cities over six months that saw Madrid, Miami, Kiev, Oakland and others touched. The final stop, Mexico City had even trance’s most gig-hardened hands voicing ‘best show ever’-like mutterings. Plans are already well afoot for its final pre-ASOT1000 show — set to storm Utrecht’s Jaarbeurs again in February 2020.
Ibiza and Vegas have played every bit the vital part in Armin’s residency make-up in 2019, too. Amongst the 100+ gigs he played throughout, it’s again Romania’s Untold where his attention comes to rest on. “A seven-hour set” from the four-times world’s No.1 is, after all, a rare time-luxury for audience and artist alike.
Inevitably, Armin’s mind returns to business at hand and ‘Balance’’s release, which he views as “a new chapter in my book of life” and “the result of venturing into known and unknown territories and finding the balance in between”. With the album released late October, Armin will step into a year’s worth of ‘Balance’ touring, beginning in China, where he’s stopping in 11 cities throughout November.
The DJ Mag Top 100 DJs poll is back and bigger than ever. In yet another record-breaking year, a whopping 1.3 million people cast their vote for their favourite DJs, that’s up 100,000 on last our 2018 poll. Once again Top 100 DJs partnered with UNICEF, the world’s leading children’s organisation. Thanks to the kind donations of voters and DJs over the past three years, we have now raised over €112,000 for UNICEF. With this money UNICEF has been able to provide 150,000 life saving vaccinations to children in danger.
It’s all change at the top this year, with Belgian brothers Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike reclaiming the No.1 spot — congrats boys! — from Martin Garrix following his three-year reign. Meanwhile, David Guetta jumps up two places to claim the bronze medal, followed by Armin at No.4. Right behind him comes masked DJ Marshmello, climbing all the way from No.10 to make his first appearance in the top five, and Don Diablo — once again the Highest Future House DJ — is up one more spot into sixth. Dutchmen Tiësto and Afrojack both drop places but remain in the top 10, and Steve Aoki rounds off the list by climbing back up one place. The biggest change is Hardwell, who drops nine places down to No.12; however, given he’s currently on sabbatical taking some time for himself this isn’t so surprising, and given all the talk of around mental health and the pressures of stardom this year we wish him all the best.
Moving down the poll and Brazilian favourite Alok is up two to No.11 — will he finally break the top 10 next year? R3HAB, W&W and Lost Frequencies each drop places, while KSHMR and Eric Prydz both climb three spots. The rest of the teenies is formed of three new additions in the form of Timmy Trumpet (up a whopping 20 spots to No.13, his highest placement yet), DJ Snake (up eight to 16) and Scotsman Calvin Harris (up 21 to 19th place).
Skrillex is unmoving at No.21, scooping the Highest Bass award once again in a year that’s seen him open his already teeming net of collaborators even further. Brit trance trio Above & Beyond are right behind him, hauling themselves up a huge 29 places, while NERVO remain the highest placing women in the chart at No.24. At the tail-end of the twenties, Headhunterz holds on to his Highest Hard trophy despite dropping one spot — his nearest competitor, Angerfist, this year down to 34th place.
In 35th comes the mighty Carl Cox, taking the Highest Techno gong again. Coxy is up 18 places, leading the charge for a new influx of house and techno artists. In fact, 2019 sees more house and techno artists in the Top 100 than there has been in almost a decade. Elsewhere, Drumcode boss Adam Beyer is up 31 places, just pushing into the top 50, while Claptone is up four and takes Highest House for the third year in a row. Nina Kraviz climbs a massive 37 places into 60th, while Richie Hawtin, Marco Carola, Paul Kalkbrenner, Solomun remain in the poll too. South Africa’s Black Coffee makes a welcome return after yet another successful season at Hï Ibiza, and there’s a host of new additions: rowdy tech-house lads FISHER — this year’s Highest New Entry — and Solardo join the poll, as do Belgian techno spinner Charlotte de Witte, South Korea’s Peggy Gou, and masked German Boris Brejcha.
The addition of de Witte and Gou show another step in the right direction when it comes to gender diversity in the Top 100. Mariana BO and MATTN have both gained ground rapidly this year — climbing 19 and 21 places, respectively — and Aussie-born bass DJ, Alison Wonderland, claims this year’s Highest Climber award after scooting up a colossal 52 places.
Other artists making double-figure leaps up the poll include ATB, Mike Williams, Ferry Corsten, Breathe Carolina, Deorro, Carl Nunes, Cedric Gervais, Lucas & Steve, and Andy C, who takes home Highest Drum & Bass once again. Swedish House Mafia are up 21 places too, though Steve Angello has taken a hit and Axwell Λ Ingrosso have dropped out altogether. Overall, there are 11 new entries (one more than in 2018), six re-entries — the highest being Belgium’s Yves V, at No.56 — and five non-movers.
Votes came in from 179 different countries, with the most votes recorded from the USA once again, followed by mainland Europe — the UK, Netherlands, Belgium and Germany leading the charge. Latin America is close behind, where fans from Mexico and Brazil, in particular, have been voting in droves. In addition to Facebook and Google, the SMS voting mechanism continued to open up voting to anyone with a mobile phone, with around 15% of all votes coming from this login in 2019. This is perhaps best reflected in the increase of voters from China, which is now second behind India in terms of Asian voting regions. Elsewhere votes came in from countries such as Monaco, Yemen, Sudan, Syria, and Iraq.