Something extraordinary has happened to the Beatport Top 10 over the past couple years: it’s regained its credibility.
Consistently hailed by producers and non-producers alike as one of the crowning achievements in terms of releasing dancefloor-oriented music, the chart — and more specifically the top 10 — has long offered a quick snapshot into the biggest tracks of the moment. As such, the chart further serves the purpose of a transparent window into the changing tastes of our scene.
Circa 2010-2014, for instance, during the rise (and subsequent plateau) of big room culture, Beatport’s famed front page soon came to embody the increasing homogenization of dance music culture. Progressive House, or at least its bastardized mainstream offshoot, seemingly dominated the charts without end, with but a few other genre outliers cutting through the noise. With opportunistic producers replicating the chart’s top hits ad nauseam — no doubt capitalizing on the easy marketability of the genre’s time in the sun — the Top 10 soon became synontmous with formulaic dance productions.To strive for, admire, or even celebrate the Top 10 soon became regarded as shameful behavior for artists.
[It’s worth noting that this phenomenon has never been unique to mainstage-oriented productions. For every banal big room track, there are just as many (if not more) mediocre tech house tracks biting on the sound of the moment.]
Somewhere along the way, however, Beatport’s Top 10 started to evolve — or rather yet, devolve — back to its old ways, before the EDM explosion. Artists like Sasha, Solomun, and Green Velvet once again began ruling the charts, with labels like Innervisions, Crosstown Rebels, and Diynamic holding steady court over the home page. And somewhere during this period — which is holding steady throughout 2017 — the chart has regained its credibility.
One need look no further than the current Top 10 (June 9 as time of writing) to corroborate this:
[Beatport’s Top 10, June 9th]
Pleasurekraft’s 7-year rework of their seminal tech house anthem “Tarantula” has held steady atop the chart for the past few weeks, lending further credence to the idea of a pre-EDM chart revival. This is followed by CamelPhat and Dennis Cruz, two underground power houses with releases on two of the biggest tech house imprints of the day, Relief and Stereo Productions. The list then includes Maceo Plex’s new dancefloor bomb “5th Dimensional Groove” for his own Ellum, as well as Patrice Bäumel’s inescapable Afterlife anthem, “Glutes.” Rounding out the list is a huge Diynamic cut from Dee Montero, “Halcyon,” a new one from Bontan, and two appearances from Berlin’s Keinemusik star, Rampa.
Do you notice something? For one, the chart is comprised almost entirely of tech house and techno — and not just that, but really f*cking good house and techno. All killer, no filler. The fact alone that Rampa has not one, but two releases in the top 10 speaks wonders. Add in the timeless draw of “Glutes,” the menacing arrangement of the new “Tarantula,” and the ‘90s bliss of “5th Dimensional Groove,” and it’s easily one of the most compelling Top 10s in recent memory.
Where the list is perhaps most telling is in the changing tastes of consumers. Beatport is, after all, first and foremost a digital retail store. Kids who were once buying Sander van Doorn and Swedish House Mafia are now wielding Maceo Plex and Patrice Bäumel. Commercial labels like Spinnin’ and Revealed have been usurped on the chart by underground titans like Hot Creations and Kompakt. All of this points to not just the legitimacy of a post-EDM era (yes, that’s unfortunately a term), but a bonafide revitalization and reaffirmation of house and techno culture.
Does this sound like dramatic overstatement? If you’re not a DJ or producer (or one of those crazed fans clamoring for uncompressed WAVs), then it very well may be. But if one is to view the Beatport Top 10 in its long-standing light as a barometer of our scene’s health, then it points not to a decaying electronic culture (which has became the popular narrative in mainstream media), but a burgeoning underground scene where innovation and authenticity thrive.