The 50 Biggest Artists of 2013
2013: the year of the dance music artist album, the rise of SFX and EMC’s Wall Street debut, musically defined by another 365 of festival fuel and Beatport bedlam. It’s been a strange and satisfying year, but still one in which artists deserve retrospective praise. And that’s where Dancing Astronaut’s annual ranking, our Biggest Artists of 2013, comes into play.
These are the artists who paved their way into the mainstream consciousness in 2013. They may not all be your personal cup of tea, but when it comes to raising awareness for dance music, headlining festivals and tastemaking across genres, these 50 artists made the most noise for the scene as a whole. We factored in not only their commercial success but their recognition on a global stage. Some artists made their mark with landmark productions while others were a booking agent’s dream, but regardless of where they made their impact they all have one thing in common; a lasting effect on the dance music zeitgeist of 2013.
But where’s Daft Punk?
We made a conscious decision to exclude Daft Punk from our list. Despite a ton of buzz and 2013′s most talked about album, the duo had very little lasting effect on the scene we call home. There were no festival dates and no touring schedule – just one smash hit and a lot of noise on the internet. Daft Punk’s presence on our list would have tipped the scales in their favor, creating an apples to oranges comparison that we felt did a disservice to the acts on our list and to the robots themselves.
The flag carrier of hard style had his genre booming louder than ever in 2013, remaining stationed in Europe and now scratching the surface of the US market. Headhunterz has been more than an individual artist, but a symbol of his sound. And his headlining Explode tour wasn’t the beginning or end of the impact he’d impose on the live scene, as he served as a landmark artist at festivals ranging across oceans and continents, from Tomorrowland to Electric Daisy Carnival. Productions such as “Colors” helped embed his signature sound into eardrums foreign to hardstyle, and a recent collaboration with Krewella is helping to further ease the transition.
Sky’s the limit when you’re the Robin to Hardwell’s Batman. In the case of Dyro, he’s emerged as far more than a sidekick ever since introduced as the “world’s biggest upcoming DJ” at Ultra Music Festival. Revealed Record’s fastest-rising star saw himself as one of 2013’s most formidable breakthrough artists and newcomers, as his campaign through event season and beyond was a free-for-all of live appearances, consistent chart-toppers, and collaborations alongside Hardwell and Tiësto.
48. Cedric Gervais
The man who needed our help finding Molly rode a wave of buzz into 2013 and achieved radio-ready success with his remix of Lana Del Rey’s “Summertime Sadness.” One of the few artists to break into Top 40 Radio over the past year, Gervais found himself in almost as high demand as the reference that put him on the map. The Miami-based producer may have never found what he was looking for, but instead discovered impressive success throughout the industry’s booming nightlife.
47. Feed Me
The often outspoken Jon Gooch quit DJing this year to focus on a new album. His “retirement” from the decks caused shockwaves throughout his devoted fanbase, but luckily for them he wasn’t entirely truthful. Scaling back his appearances led to the completion of one of the year’s most anticipated albums, the oddly titled Calamari Tuesday. A producer’s producer, Gooch and his alter ego Feed Me left a lasting impression on the cliff notes of 2013 and stood resolute in their noble opposition of dance music’s creative drought.
46. Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano
Electronic dance music branches off into many sub genres, resulting in purist fans who stay true to one of those particular sounds. Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano, however, have abolished that concept of human nature by bringing an assortment of sounds to a variety of settings — and doing so respectfully has earned them the support of fans of all genres. Taking a classic house bravado and a tribal house energy, the duo have seamlessly delivered beat-driven music on stages that normally warrant big room attitude; and their production of the year, “SOTU,” embodies that versatility sonically. In 2013 Sunnery and Ryan went from New York favorites to international stars.
Not content to be pigeonholed into one particular genre, Liv and Mim Nervo made it a point to expand their catalog of productions over the past year. The Australian DJs-turned-Covergirls kept fans on their toes with an eclectic array of releases in 2013, teaming up with R3hab, Marco Lys, Ivan Gough and more. Talented producers and DJs, the two most charismatic women in dance music continued to make waves for their own personal brand while they pushed the female artist agenda to new heights.
44. Laidback Luke
The hardest working man in the business. The demands of dance music fans sped up this year, but Laidback Luke didn’t slow down. Hell, he never had his foot on the breaks. Collaborations with the likes of Hardwell and Martin Solveig lead his 2013 discography, but there was hardly a week in which the veteran didn’t have a taste of new music for his fans. In addition to delivering frenetic electro-house week in and week out via MixMash, Luke also spawned a new imprint, Ones To Watch, for rising talent. As far as his live presence goes, Super You & Me remained one of the most desired movements, remaining consistent and only growing stronger with time.
43. Wolfgang Gartner
The shining example of how to remain relevant without selling yourself short, Wolfgang Gartner continues to stand tall at the forefront of electro house despite the genre’s twisted bastardization by the big room, boiler plate sound that defined 2013. A slow but steady year for Gartner on the production side, the talented and outspoken artist maintained a level of quality that could have been easily discarded for the allure of constant blog discussion. A legend of dance music’s recent revival, Wolfgang continues to be a driving force in the industry, both as a critic of the scene and a mentor for those on his Kindergarten Records imprint.
42. Tommy Trash
The long haired Aussie continued to be electro house’s most relevant proponent in 2013. Cooking up something fishy with A-Trak on “Tuna Melt” and turning the Aston Shuffle “Sunrise” into a global hit were only two of the many high points Trash hit over the last year. A maniac behind the decks and a wizard in the studio, Trash was a must-see act for anyone looking for beats with a bit more grit than they’d get from the commercial side of dance.
Sir Clyde Sergio Narain was knighted this year by his home country of Suriname, but not before he brought the Dirty Dutch family on a world tour at some of the summer’s biggest festivals. With entire tents dedicated to the Dutch sound he helped pioneer, Chuckie remained relevant not only through telling fans to “Move it 2 the Drum,” but by fostering a host of up-and-coming talent through his brand’s unrequited presence in 2013.
Most kids at his age are dealing with the trials and tribulations of adolescence; sitting through high school classes, wrapping up puberty, honing their pimple-popping techniques. But while his peers may have been taking trips to the orthodontist, 19-year-old Madeon was making visits to Lady Gaga’s studio. There are wonders to be spoken about the evolution of his original productions in 2013, with “Technicolor” as his best to date, but his work for Gaga’s Artpop revealed an all new maturity and artistic vision of the sonically-gifted teen.
39. Boys Noize
Alex Ridha is a man of many hats; and we’re not talking about his signature flat rim that bobs behind his decks. In 2013, Boys Noize made production seem like child’s play. Aside from all sounds that fell beneath the BNR umbrella, he followed 2012′s full-length album with a five-track EP… on his own. Even greater came his collaborative efforts with Skrillex through the Dog Blood movement, which has been the most forceful tag team both as a main attraction live and sonic marvel in the studio, proved again this year with original music in the form of their Middle Finger sequel.
38. Sander Van Doorn
Like a magician who can pull anything out of his hat for days upon days, Sander van Doorn is an artist with never-ending tricks. Listing his original productions released in 2013 would take some time, but hits such as “Neon” and “Joyenergizer” are a good place to set that benchmark. A list even longer, however, details the chart-topping anthems released by Doorn Records. Some of the biggest festival tracks of the year came at Sander’s namesake, from “Tsunami” to “Flute” to “Revolution.” There seem to be no end to the rabbits in Sander’s proverbial hat.
37. Fedde Le Grand
What’s a day in the office like with Fedde Le Grand? One thing is for certain, it’s no desk job. In fact, the closest Fedde comes to living the average life is time spent in the studio, where he cooked up anthems such as “No Good” and “Rockin’ N’ Rollin” in 2013. The Flamingo Records frontman has earned praise for his ability to mix flawless sets in intimate environments, but he took his live act to new heights this year, becoming a staple in festival lineups and a desired main stage act.
36. Mat Zo
When we think of artists that can do no wrong the legendary Eric Prydz always comes to mind, but recently, after the release of his debut LP Damage Control, Mat Zo’s name has broached the conversation. Unanimously loved for his talent and vision in the production studio, Zo’s album is the most well-crafted electronic album of the recent dance music explosion. An Essential Mix under his belt, a full length album of timeless electronica in his back pocket and an endless supply of talent at his disposal, Zo’s future is bright and his 2013 was just the beginning.
35. Bingo Players
Dance music lost an incredible talent in 2013 when Paul Baümer lost his battle with cancer in mid-December. While Paul was ill, Maarten took the reins and pressed on as a solo act throughout festival season. Paul’s presence remained felt at every performance, and despite his worsening health, he pressed on in the studio while his partner in crime handled the performance side of the Bingo Players. With a handful of productions under their belt in 2013, including the contagious “Buzzcut,” the pair really made an impact with the outputs of the label they co-founded, Hysteria Records, whose catalog continues to be a shining example of down and dirty electro house without the predictable drops.
34. Dirty South
Considered a must-see live DJ and known for a stylistic approach to synth work with independent singles through most of his career, Dirty South explored foreign territory in 2013. His new direction was an act of artistry, packaged as a debut album that strayed far from his usual antics. Speed of Life set the bar for electronic producers to create stories with sound, and his album is nothing less than a journey from start to finish.
33. Porter Robinson
Porter Robinson came into 2013 hot on the buzz of his magnum opus, “Language,” and continued to impress from the production side with his Mat Zo collaboration “Easy,” a track that acted as a defining moment in the year’s sonic zeitgeist. Outside of the studio, Porter took the art of DJing into breakneck territory with his powerhouse electro sets on the stages of the world’s largest festivals, including a highlight performance at Tomorrowland in Belgium. Not one to phone it in behind the decks, Porter uses his S4 not for the sync button but rather for his ability to smash and mash countless tracks together in his wildly rambunctious live sets.
32. Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike
The poster boys of Tomorrowland established themselves as two powerhouses in the industry with their Smash The House brand and slew of Top 10 releases. The rowdy-house pair of Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike epitomized the festival scene in 2013. The leaders of the drum-driven drop trend, DV & LM culled some of the largest crowds this festival season. With a brand identity and signature style in high demand throughout 2013 and tracks like “Wakanda” and “Mammoth” becoming staples of nearly every main stage set of the past year, these two’s impact is present every time you hear a tribal kick drum.
Outshining Armin at his own game is no easy task, but this pair of Dutch producers managed to deliver a remix of “This Is What It Feels Like” that was even bigger than the original. Even with some health issues, Willem van Hanegem and Wardt van der Harst kept up a rigorous touring schedule alongside Armin van Buuren and teamed up with some of the biggest names in dance music for memorable collaborations including “Jumper” with Hardwell. Making moves in the release game with their own label Mainstage Music, W&W’s year was a clear breakthrough for the pair.
30. Dillon Francis
Dillon Francis became dance music’s class clown of 2013; championing Tiesto’s love for burrito’s, babysitting teenage fans, and spawning a satirical alter-ego in the form of DJ Hanzel. But for every laugh he provided, he matched with a reason to take him seriously as an artist. His stage presence brought the animation required in 2013 — when a DJ had to be as much an act as, well, a DJ. His remixes of records such as “Suit & Tie” and “Night Is On My Mind” brought his persona to life. His strongest suit of the year, however, is still under wraps — 85% of a completed artist album.
29. Knife Party
There were few tracks as pervasive in 2013 as Knife Party’s “LRAD.” What may have seemed like a quiet year for the duo compared to their complete and utter domination of 2012 was still a successful year by any artists standards. Their EDM Death Machine EP and “LRAD” kept this dubby-duo’s presence burning throughout the summer months. “Powerglove” was hailed as their return, asserting that they were as relevant as ever on main stages worldwide.
Dance music became an official phenonema this year thanks in part to the most viral song in EDM’s history, “Harlem Shake.” While not the first trap artist on the scene, Baauer took the sound global, sparking an internet sensation that brought attention to a burdgeoning scene and style. Everyone has seen the videos, most people have made one, and while we may never want to hear “Harlem Shake” ever again, Baauer’s sphere of influence acted as a net to ensnare another new wave of dance music converts.
27. Martin Garrix
The prodigy behind the most-played song of 2013 earns a spot on our list for the exponential growth his career has seen this past year. While many will scream “one-hit wonder” when refering to the teenage talent, guys like Scooter Braun are putting their full support behind him, testament to his production skills and future potential. His follow up “Wizard” proves that he’s no slouch in the studio. One of the most in demand artists of 2013, Martin Garrix is poised to continue to grow as an artist throughout the new year.
It could easily be said that 2013 was the year of the hardstyle drops, and if that’s the case there is only one group to blame: Showtek. The pioneers of bringing hardstyle elements to electro and progressive, Showtek’s influence on the dance music zeitgeist is undeniable. “Get Loose” took on a life of its own as a certifiable festival anthem and was one of 2013′s tracks you couldn’t escape at festivals across the globe.
Another year, another collection of impeccable productions from the god of bass music, Lorin Ashton. The unanimous spokesman for the artistically viable sect of the bass music genre, Bassnectar is a producer’s producer. Adding an element of math metal to his approach to electronic music, Bassnectar incorporates polyryhtms and tempo shifts to create a complex and dissonant offshoot of mainstream bass music. His legion of followers are the most dedicated in dance music, and with good reason. His passionate art for art’s sake approach to his craft is one worth lauding. Especially in a scene where the term EDM has become synonymous with creative banality.
The first act to take dub-pop to the mainstream, Krewella’s influence on the sound and styles of 2013 is undeniable. Hooking an entirely new generation of dance music fans with their smash hit “Alive,” Yasmin, Jahan and Rain Man will likely have influenced dance music for years to come by capturing the attention of an entirely new and youthful demographic. While “Live for the Night” may be too commercial for most, their album Get Wet was met with praise for being both accessible and hard-hitting. What better way to end a breakthrough year then ringing in the next one on live television?
23. Pretty Lights
2013 was the year of the albums. Countless artists tackled the challenge but few did it with as much attention to detail as Derek Vincent Smith. Recording an album’s worth of samples just to create “A Color Map of the Sun,” he established an entire new paradigm for electronic artists to explore. A visionary move from one of dance music’s most visionary producers, Pretty Lights continues to push the envelope with his Pretty Lights Music label, a bass-driven family of the most heady assets in electronic music. A brand new live touring band, a cult-like following and some of the freshest and funkiest sample work in the industry places Pretty Lights firmly at our 23 spot.
It’s A-Trak. What else is there to talk about? When critics complain about dance music being repetitive or boring they most certainly are not referring to A-Trak, or any of the guys (and gals) on his Fool’s Gold Imprint. A man of many hats (okay only one) Alain is a surgeon behind the decks, a tastemaker on his radio show, and a businessman behind the scenes. One of the most composed talents in the industry A-Trak lets that talent speak for itself. With label representation at nearly every festival, one of the best (and most overlooked remixes of the year on Kavinsky’s “Odd Look.”) and a brand that is impossible to duplicate, A-Trak’s waves in 2013 were more than just ripples.
Guy and Howard Lawrence brought the future garage sound to the forefront of the dance music conversation in 2013. The champions of a genre even before their 21st birthdays, the duo enlisted the help of Sam Smith, AlunaGeorge, London Grammar and more for their breakthrough debut album Settle. Achieving career milestones their first time out of the gate, the brothers did what is commonly undoable. And then did it again and again at festival dates, in their Essential Mix, and through the accolades the diversity-hungry masses threw upon them in heaps: 2013 was beyond a doubt the year of Disclosure.
20. Sebastian Ingrosso
When the world said goodbye to Swedish House Mafia at UMF in March, few could have anticipated we would be ushering in the second coming of Sebastian Ingrosso. His year was a blur of impressive festival appearances and high profile live stints; Ingrosso seldom dropped off the radar in spite of a dry year for releases away from a vocal remake of “Reload.” Whether he was representing Departures in Ibiza or joining the ranks of the live dance elite with a landmark gig at London’s Brixton Academy, the Refune Records head honcho’s energy reached every corner of the globe, asserting that there was life yet in the Swedish house trailblazer.
The master of melodic IDs and Axtone’s chief commander was not excluded from the post-SHM excitement. While his label continued to thrive from wave upon wave of focused talent, Axwell’s studio wizardry took two essential forms: an accomplished remix of “Falling (Committed to Sparkle Motion)” and a back-to-basics remodel of one-off solo stint “Centre of the Universe.” Add Tomorrowland triumphs, homeland stints for Carlsberg’s ‘Where’s The Party’ concept and an ongoing pledge against ‘McDonalds’ music values, and the Ax of old looked reassuringly unstoppable.
Already a promising player on the European circuit, Alesso’s contributions to dance music in 2013 were essential to the industry’s popular aura. While “If I Lose Myself” alongside One Republic topped the Beatport charts, “Under Control” sealed the Swedish trailblazer his first UK chart-topper alongside Calvin Harris. In just two tracks, Alesso not only epitomized the genre intervention now available to modern dance music, but how to unite two worlds with unquestionable force. These recorded landmarks were matched with consistent presence on the global festival circuit, a headline stint at Brixton Academy and a Top 20 slot on DJ Mag’s infamous poll. His new school stripes were replaced with significant industry stead, making him an essential component to the well oiled machine that is electronic dance music.
17. Nicky Romero
Nicky Romero is the pitbull of the dance music industry, a talent whose work ethic is often overlooked due to his laid back demeanor. One of the few artists who can play in the mainstream arena without losing his sense of identity, Romero’s 2013 was an eclectic concoction of collaborations and hit singles, but underneath it all the releases that got the least attention were hands down his best, with “Still the Same Man” representing his ability to create high quality tracks in any style he chooses.
16. Above & Beyond
For Above & Beyond, 2013 was about changing attitudes. The ornamented trance mob and Anjuna family glue made the majority of their statements onstage, most notably through a phenomenal live debut in Los Angeles that gathered their greatest hits in gripping instrumental form and a Group Therapy 050 celebration at London’s Alexandra Palace that proved to be an all-out production extravaganza. Theirs is a balance few at the top have mustered: one that makes musical integrity and visual wizardry coexist at a time when show business is supposedly all about milking music’s low-hanging fruit for every last penny. This accomplished trio had other ideas, and throughout 2013, their name remained in bright lights for all the right reasons.
15. Eric Prydz
Returning to America in 2012, Eric Prydz was only getting comfortable. The veteran kicked off 2013 with one of the most talked about Essential Mixes of the decade before opening his Pryda Friends umbrella for Jeremy Olander and Fehrplay. The label pushed high quality music throughout 2013 and even had alter-ego appearances from Pryda and Cirez D. The final months of the year saw EPIC 2.0, the sequel to Eric Prydz In Concert, which brought visuals to a bar-raising front.
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