Dancing Astronaut’s BIG 100—Top 25 Artists of the Decade
2010 may as well have been a lifetime ago. At the breakneck pace by which dance music throttles through the stratosphere, the decade is ending in an entirely unrecognizable place from where it began. For context—ten years ago, Electric Daisy Carnival was held in Los Angeles, not Las Vegas, where the Los Angeles Rams now play. Only 250,000 people were paying for a Swedish music streaming service called Spotify, and Billie Eilish was finishing up second grade. It’s been a wild ride through the 10’s, largely soundtracked by EDM’s global boom into a multi-billion dollar industry. Ten years ago our culture was creeping out of South London basements and New York warehouses, and now we’re performing at the Olympics.
So now, as the single most important, historic, and certainly memorable decade dance music has ever seen draws to a close, we had to figure out a new way to break down how far the culture has come. One master list couldn’t possibly reflect the decade in review. In effort to properly recognize the remarkable collection of events that has brought us here, we’re tweaking our typical end-of-the-year model. Instead, we’re dividing the decade’s most deserving into a handful of unique categories.
In review of 2010 – 2019, the most important factors that shaped the decade were Artists of the Decade, Labels of the Decade, Albums of the Decade, and Most Impactful Moments of the Decade. Together, they comprise Dancing Astronaut’s decade-end collection. Introducing, The Big 100.
25. Richie Hawtin –
Among the greatest techno deities stands Richie Hawtin, watching another ultra successful decade shrink in his rearview mirror. Hawtin’s emphasis on the intersection of technology and his craft have made him one of the most dynamic minds in all of electronic music, from his CLOSE live show to the production of his own Model 1 mixer. He’s clocked two Essential Mixes in the last decade, hosted a beloved party series on Ibiza, hit a list of the most prestigious festivals and events across the world, performed unforgettable back-to-back sets with deadmau5, brought techno to the Guggenheim, and even resurrected his Plastikman alter ego. Electronic music went largely mainstream in the 10’s, but that didn’t stop Hawtin from holding it down for the underground with a firm, unrelenting grip.
24. Bassnectar –
Lorin Ashton, better known to his loyal fans as Bassnectar, has spent the decade swallowing crowds with his proprietary blend of bass, punk rock, and electronica, with a fanbase perhaps best compared to the millennial generation’s Deadheads.
In the last ten years, the Bassnectar team has established themselves as an elite live entertainment group, capable of packing stadiums and festivals alike, from selling out Madison Square Garden for Bass Center VIII in 2014 to their homegrown, three-day, sold out, Deja Vroom Festival in Cancun. Selling out has become status quo for the project fronted by Ashton, whose decade-long staying power is fueled by the the ever-evolving bass landscape. Ten projects in ten years stamp a mark of prolific output from Ashton. From Divergent Spectrum (2011) to Unlimited (2016), the beloved king of bass claimed two No. 2 slots and three No. 1’s on Billboard’s US Dance Album charts. What’s more, Bassnectar has supported some of the most successful bass music innovators of the day such as G Jones, Eprom, ill Gates, while uplifting the likes of PEEKABOO, and more.— Chris Stack
23. Kygo –
Just as RL Grime did for trap and Flume did for future bass, tropical house’s moment in the sun during the middle of the decade can’t be discussed without crediting Kygo’s championing of the genre. The Norwegian hitmaker may even be the first real star of the streaming era, amassing a billion streams by 2015, just a year after his emergence, becoming the fastest artist on Spotify to achieve the benchmark. Behind his brand of sun-soaked poolside house, Kygo carved out his place in the decade’s top echelon, culminating in a historical performance at the Rio Olympics closing ceremony.
22. Anna Lunoe –
Easily one of Australia’s brightest musical exports of the decade, Anna Lunoe firmly holds her place as one of dance music’s favorite curators while simultaneously rocking crowds as a triple threat producer, DJ, and singer. From her Beats 1 stint to appearances on Mad Decent, Fools Gold, Future Classic, and Ultra, Luney commands a certain sway among DJ circles while still maintaining her status as one of the most down-to-earth selectors in the game. In the summer of 2016, the Bass Drum Dealer made history alongside Alison Wonderland by becoming the first solo female DJs to perform on the main stage at Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas.
21. Noisia –
You never know what you’ve got until it’s gone. Well, in the case of Noisia, that couldn’t be more on the nose. In 2019, the seminal Dutch drum ‘n’ bass trio announced an impending split in 2020, exactly 20 years after their formation. Fear not, for a victory lap is in order for one of the most influential dance groups of all time—hitting major festivals and events next year for an extended farewell. The decade was ushered in by their debut studio album Split The Atom in 2010, they helped break Skrillex to the world, they did their part to put British hip-hop on the map well before grime took a hold of the cultural zeitgeist with I Am Legion alongside Foreign Beggars, and now, after a monumentally successful run, Noisia is ready to hang it up in search of new creative journeys. Though, as the decade draws to a close and bass music currently commands more sub-genres and new incoming talent than any other category of electronic music, Noisia’s impact on that can’t be understated.
20. RL Grime –
There’s no talking about the last decade in electronic music without acknowledging trap music’s moment. In 2012, Henry Steinway was already enjoying a successful career as a DJ, known as Clockwork. But the moment he donned the RL Grime moniker and he and Salva laid their unforgettable spin on Kanye West’s “Mercy,” things changed forever. Not just for Steinway, but for electronic dance music as a whole. Trap, or rather, hip-hop’s emerging intersection with club music, would go on to fuel the next two years of electronic music’s meteoric rise, and firmly establish RL Grime as the genre’s forefather. His sound has changed considerably since his take on Benny Benassi’s “Satisfaction,” and he’s become a label head in the latter part of the decade, championing a new wave of talent under the Sable Valley banner. This decade wouldn’t be what it was without RL Grime.
19. Mat Zo –
Mat Zo has spent the decade keeping us guessing in the best possible ways. He’s been a chameleon of styles and genres, with a catalog that spans some of dance music’s finest imprints. Not to mention founding his own esteemed label by the middle of the decade, Mad Zoo. But while Zo has shared his affinities for trance, bass, electro, and drum ‘n’ bass in nearly equal measures over the last ten years, he’s also been a vocal critic of dance music’s shortcomings, generating a voraciously loyal fanbase in the process. His two studio albums, 2013’s Damage Control and 2016’s Self Assemble still deserved repeated plays as some of the most innovative works of the decade, and with allusions to a third LP sometime in the future, look for Mat Zo to continue commanding the respect he’s earned as a new decade unfolds.
18. Swedish House Mafia –
One would be hard pressed to imagine electronic dance music in 2010 without “One” playing in their head. Axwell, Sebastian Ingrosso, and Steve Angello acted as a critical authority in early 2010’s, ushering in dance music’s global invasion with a commanding presence. The Swedes transported their electro and progressive house sound across the Atlantic and in the process, issued a new rockstar archetype that had everyone from Miami to Ibiza rocking a black v-neck and skinny jeans. Every single release the group delivered touched the charts, including the likes of “Save the World” “Don’t You Worry Child,” both of which earned Grammy nominations. The Swedish supergroup’s impact was perhaps felt the most when, at the top of their game, they decided to call it quits on the Mafia life amid rising inter-group tensions and an unsustainable lifestyle. Their dissolution in 2013 was the first real massive victory lap EDM had ever seen; our parents would equate it to an Elton John or Kiss farewell stadium tour. The trio’s not-so-secret reformation in 2018 precisely exemplified their international notoriety when they took on closing duties at Ultra five years after they initially said goodbye. Between show cancellations and an absence of new music following their realignment, Swedish House Mafia’s final moments of the decade were undoubtedly less than ideal, but the new era only holds inklings of promise as they build upon their celebrated legacy. — Ross Goldenberg
17. Above & Beyond –
As trance legends, Above & Beyond have sustained themselves as one of dance music’s most beloved artists of the decade for a multitude of reasons. Despite their artistic evolution from their Oceanlab work to critically acclaimed Group Therapy and their more modern dance stylings, one defining characteristic has remained constant—an innate dedication to their community through the power of music. The group’s unmistakable synergy across their Group Therapy Radio program, live shows and musicality, the English dance outfit never cease to champion music in a way that unites their listeners through the boundaries of country lines and language. Above & Beyond’s proven longevity and ability to break down fans’ emotional pretenses and build them back up have made them an unstoppable force on the international dance circuit. What’s more—Anjunabeats and Anjunadeep have become mainstay brands for dance music fans across the globe, providing further evidence that the trio have undoubtedly earned a place among the top artists of the decade. — Jessica Mao
16. Eric Prydz –
Eric Prydz makes our Top Artists of the Decade list not by riding the surging wave of any particular trend but by simply honing his own craft year after year which translate into some of the most technologically forward performances in the dance music space. The Prydz sound falls somewhere between the progressive and electro side of house music, but his exceptionally unique flavor profile, paired with a fervor for melodies that are as sophisticated as they are aurally pleasing has given the Swedish icon a signature sound all his own. Of course, Eric Prydz is a seasoned veteran of electronic music, but between his thriving alter-egos (like Pryda and Cirez D), set lists of largely unreleased tunes, and a live show as ambitious as anybody’s in the industry, it’s crazy to think that Eric Prydz’ best decades could still be ahead of him. — Josh Stewart
15. Gesaffelstein –
It’s almost comical to think that a decade ago, Gesaffelstein was just in the zygotic stages of his career. Prior to 2010, Michel Lévy had but three releases to his pseudonym — obscure cuts which showed promise, but belied the magnitude of what was to come. Albeit, it’s unlikely that even Lévy himself could have imagined the heights his grandeur would reach by 2020. By reaching into the deepest chasms of musical possibilities, Gesaffelstein ascended to the pinnacle of a tower he himself built. His absence for most of the decade’s latter half was palpable, fraught by many imitators, but zero duplicators. To dub Gesaffelstein as the greatest artist of the century would only modestly stretch the limits of journalistic objectivity. As such, including him as one of the decade’s best is a no-brainer. Gesaffelstein’s unprecedented talents have proven to serve as a stark beacon across the barriers of dance music. His is a light so overwhelming in its grace, that it casts over all contenders a shadow as dark as his Vantablack armor. — Will McCarthy
14. Calvin Harris –
Few artists took as much advantage of dance music’s crossover into pop culture as Calvin Harris. The Scottish hitmaker started the decade as an already firm force in dance music, going on to found Fly Eye Records at the onset of the decade. By the middle of it he was producing chart-topping hits with Rihanna and commanding the second largest headlining crowd Coachella had ever seen. By the tail end of the 10’s, Harris had a platinum plaque on his wall, working with Pharrell, Migos, Frank Ocean, Travis Scott, and Ariana Grande, closing in one nearly $200 million in earnings. From a dollars perspective, 2010 – 2019 unquestionably belonged to Calvin Harris.
13. Daft Punk –
Even as the entertainment industry’s most elusive creators, Daft Punk’s impact can be felt all over the decade. From their contribution to Disney’s Tron: Legacy to producing for the decade’s most dominant R&B force, the Android keep an omniscient eye over the ever-evolving music landscape. And each time they drop in, whatever they offer feels so new and fresh, it proves that Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter command a level of influence unknown to any other musical artist today. Their signing to Columbia Records and subsequent critically lauded 2013 comeback LP, Random Access Memories, was one of the biggest releases of the decade, and while there’s never any promise the two knighted French visionaries will ever have more to offer, we take comfort in knowing they’re never really that far away.
12. Claude VonStroke –
Claude VonStroke‘s band of rump-shaking house aficionados were happy holding down their lane, representing the bay area with their looney, groovy brand of club music. But as house music splintered throughout the decade into sub-genres and movements, San Francisco’s Dirtybird Players rose to the top of their respective game behind the papa bear leadership of VonStroke. Now, as a momentous decade for Claude nears its conclusion, the man who started out hosting barbecues in the park with nothing more than friends, a sound system, and delicious grilled meats has become an accomplished events curator behind the ultra-successful BBQ and Campout events that represent the label’s humble beginnings. Now, Dirtybird and their brand of zany, fun-loving house music chugs into the next decade, their ethos being more of a movement, or even a family now, than a record label and its fanbase. It wouldn’t have been possible without everyone’s favorite camp counselor, and for that Claude VonStroke easily places among the greatest artists of this decade.
11. ZEDD –
ZEDD‘s near-singlehanded blurring of the pop and EDM lines made this an unforgettable decade for the Russian-German DJ/producer. Starting out as one of Skrillex’s earliest protégés, ZEDD carved out an incredibly prosperous decade, ending it as one of the highest paid DJs in the world year-over-year clocking well over a $100 million over the last five years behind massive streaming numbers and a dominating track record of marquee Vegas residencies. He covered Forbes‘ 30 Under 30 issue in 2017 after two ultra-successful LPs: True Colors (2016) and Clarity (2014), that peaked at No. 2 and No. 1 respectively on the US dance charts. Furthermore, the classically trained musician helped champion the likes of Alessia Cara, Maren Morris, Grey, Ariana Grande and more as his steep ascent to pop music’s top echelon continued to trend upward. ZEDD continues to help bridge the gap between pop production and EDM, and with a new decade set to unfold, he’s primed to write his trajectory through 2020 and beyond.
10. Justice –
Despite an aversion to the fanfare and celebrity that being global superstar DJs entails, Justice quietly, authoritatively defined the decade behind their characteristically stoic French cool. Before 2010, the duo was instrumental in laying the groundwork for dance music’s global takeover with material like “We Are Your Friends” and “D.A.N.C.E.,” but with 2011’s Audio Video Disco, Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay went from multi-faceted creatives to electronic music icons. The record led to a headlining Coachella set in 2012 and a live album, Access All Arenas the following year. By the end of the decade, the pair had enjoyed a relative hiatus and come back with Woman, a Grammy-winning Woman Worldwide live record, and a return to visual media with IRIS: A Space Opera by Justice. The pair’s French disco and house roots bled into harder club sounds, cinematic progressive rock, metal, and more. When they re-emerge in the next decade, expect their influence to be as profound as ever, even if it takes a different shape entirely.
09. Dillon Francis –
Dillon Francis’ inclusion on this list may come as a surprise, though, when factoring in the fact that he might be EDM’s first crossover pop culture star speaks volumes to his impact on the decade. Francis, Dancing Astronaut‘s Artist of the Year in 2018, started the 10’s as a festival undercard act; a goofy white kid messing around with the burgeoning Latin-influenced moombahton that Dave Nada was credited with creating around the time. Ten years later and Francis is back to championing Latin sounds, even scoring a Latin Grammy nomination on the way, but not before he went full circle with a highly publicized Columbia Records deal and subsequent move to independent status. He delivered a full-length studio record, a handful of mixtapes, and a jump to TV to boot. Francis may have been among the first DJs to master branding oneself, and as the decade reaches a wrap, he’s undoubtedly done his part to earn a designation as one of the most impactful artists in dance music today.
08. Boys Noize –
A decade can seem to be an eternity in the lifespan of electronic music, but Alex Ridha’s musical journey began long before 10 years ago. Since the latter aughts, Boys Noize has been one of the most formidable figures in the adjacent realms of electro, techno, and acid house. In both his music and his live shows, the Berliner savant has set himself apart from the crowd with an unforgiving energy. From Power to Mayday and beyond, Boys Noize has packed sonic punch after punch with a punk-infused clamor that makes Sid Vicious seem more like Sid Rather Polite. Of course, Ridha’s musical output is by no means limited to his Boys Noize oeuvre. Perhaps no one else in dance music’s history has had a keener eye for recruiting collaborators. In his pairings, Ridha is a legend thrice over — alongside Skrillex, Mr. Oizo, and Chilly Gonzales, he’s headlined festivals, and created some of the most delightfully aggressive, utterly bizarre, and mystically soothing songs of the electronic music zeitgeist. Indeed, Dog Blood, Handbraekes, and Octave Minds could all reasonably be considered among the best acts of the decade in their own rights.
Most recently, Ridha has begun a crossover into the deeper house and techno scene with his ELAX alias, apparently vying for a fifth spot in the proverbial dancehall of fame. And, as 2020 ushers in the 15th anniversary of his Boysnoize Records imprint, there is little doubt that his continued contributions to the field will earn him countless more. — Will McCarthy
07. A-Trak –
Few have done more to bridge the gap between DJ culture and hip-hop than Brooklyn’s Alain Macklovitch, better known as A-Trak. Considering house music and hip-hop’s origins are about as close as Isaac and Ishmael’s, its surprising that nobody has ever stood so firmly on both sides of the fence as Fool’s Gold Records’ co-founder. In a previous life he served as Kanye West’s touring DJ. In the years between 2010 – 2019, A-Trak successfully ran one of dance music’s most in-demand labels, branded events offshoots, dabbled in fashion, founded an awards contest to keep turntablism alive, and creatively bounced between electro, trap, disco, house, and hip-hop with the likes of Young Thug, Baauer, Dillon Francis, GTA, and more.
During the decade where ten new DJs cropped up every day, A-Trak spent the last ten years reminding us why “real DJing” is so important while putting on a continuous masterclass in what that actually looks like.
06. Flume –
It would be a stretch to imagine that Flume had pictured back in 2010 where he would be in 2020. In 2011, Harley Streten was an unknown bedroom producer in Australia with dreams of grandeur. A pairing with friend Emoh Instead brought about What So Not, and by 2012, Streten had released a self-titled LP under his own Flume moniker. What happened next would change the course of dance music for the decade. At the top of their joint game, What So Not split with Emoh taking the reigns on the project himself. Flume would go on to follow up with a sophomore studio LP in 2016 that netted him his first Grammy the following year. Following Flume and Skin‘s respective successes would have been a tall order, but after a deserved hiatus, Flume capped the decade with some of his most ambitious works to date, proving that perhaps Streten is a once-in-a-generation talent whose mind and scope of capabilities as a producer largely overshadows electronic dance music’s confines.
He’s the father of future bass, a genre that’s captivated the masses in the latter part of the decade, formulating his own sound that’s gone on to be duplicated innumerable times since his emergence. All the while, he managed to work with an incredible cast of collaborators that includes Beck, Lorde, AlunaGeorge, Raekwon, Vic Mensa, Vince Staples, Andrew Wyatt, and SOHPIE. Flume’s dance between brash experimentalism and forward-thinking that still incorporates massive mainstream appeal make him an easy contender for Artist of the Decade.
05. Porter Robinson –
It isn’t too farfetched to postulate that by the end of his career, Porter Robinson will have been one of the most influential dance artists of all time. In his first decade as an electronic music superstar, the North Carolina-born Robinson went from wide-eyed bedroom producer with a serious anime fascination and an ear for how 8-bit video game music could inspire an entire generation of kids to one of the most brilliant minds electronic music has ever seen. That’s to say nothing of his Grammy-nominated side project Virtual Self.
But the metamorphosis from the 19-year-old that made complextro hits like “Language” to the forward-thinker than brought us his opus on the emotional, conceptual Worlds two years later was one of deep introspection. With a throttling ascent to DJ stardom alongside ZEDD and Skrillex on the first Mothership Tour came a halting realization of EDM’s confines, and only after breaking down that barrier for himself was Robinson able to emerge even more focused and driven on making something that matters. Five years after Worlds, there’s no doubt it was one of the most important albums of the last ten years, cementing Porter Robinson’s place among the top DJs of the decade.
04. Avicii –
For better or worse, 2010 – 2019’s most memorable moments can be quantified by the moves of the late, great Avicii. His name was synonymous with dance music’s light speed rise to popularity over the last ten years. From the global ubiquity of “Levels” to his tragic death on April 20, 2018 with so many moments both bright and interminably dark in between, Avicii simply defined electronic dance music. There isn’t much to say about Tim Bergling’s legacy that hasn’t been said over the last year and a half since his passing, but suffice it to say that dance music would not be where it is today without the “Wake Me Up” producer. Moreover, wherever it winds up being 10 years from now will surely bear the mark of his influence too. Rest in peace, Avicii.
03. Deadmau5 –
Think about dance music like a family tree for a moment. Picture the deadmau5 family tree, so to speak, over the course of this last decade. It starts with Skrillex just before “Scary Monsters” and runs all the way down to current torch carriers like REZZ and the next generation of dance minds like Rinzen. Then think about the branches of that tree—who else came as a result of Skrillex, REZZ, and others going on to stardom? deadmau5’s impact in dance music is simply inescapable. Since the release of his Grammy-nominated 4×4=12 in December of 2010, the Mau5 has spent the decade pushing the technological boundaries of music creation and performance forward. All while beefing with Disney, scoring films for Netflix, scooping up four Grammy and six Juno nods, successfully running one of the greatest labels in dance music, and in his free time adopting the power of live streaming to give fans an intimate inside look at his processes. Today’s global dance music industry has been undoubtedly shaped for better or worse by Joel Zimmerman, making him a shoe-in for one of the top artists of the decade.
02. Diplo –
To adequately cover Diplo’s contribution to the culture over this last decade would take a dissertation. Love him or hate him, Diplo has soundtracked the decade—there’s no two ways about it. From Major Lazer to Jack Ü, with LSD, Silk City, and not one but two successful solo projects in tow, to say Wesley Pentz is the busiest man in music would be a pitiful understatement. And that would be to say nothing of launching three successful labels in the last decade. He’s brought sounds from all over the world to the masses, from the Afro-Caribbean to country western, while still managing to proctor some of the most consumed pieces of media in human history on the mainstream front. From Beyoncé to the NFL, one can’t open their cell phone or turn on the television today without being more than two degrees of separation from something Diplo is up to. Yet somehow, the next decade is likely to promise even more from Blondre 3000, and we can’t wait to see it materialize.
01. Skrillex –
This may have been the easiest placing on this list. There simply wouldn’t be a decade in dance music to talk about without Skrillex. The Recess producer’s trajectory to the top of electronic music, and thereafter, is really reflective of dance music’s global expansion over the course of the decade, isn’t it? The parallels between the two journeys are clear, but the examination of their intersections proves unequivocally how instrumental Skrillex was in transforming dance music to the global enterprise it is today. Sold out Mothership tours, scoring for Disney, working alongside Mariah Carey, FKA Twigs, Rick Ross, Chance The Rapper, Kelsey Lu, Justin Bieber, and so many more in between, the sum of Skrillex’s work over the last ten years far outweighs the individual parts, of which there are too many to count. He went from stage-diving dubstep kid, proctoring the most aggressive sounds American audiences had ever heard, to esteemed dance music producer, successfully running a label that for most of the decade promised electronic music’s fiercest works. Then somehow, without a shift in momentum, Moore took his stardom to the top of the pops, all while maintaining a humility that has forced us to change our collective notion of celebrity.
But for a screamed-out punk from LA just trying to find his next creative outlet to transform into the undisputed king of popular music has been a remarkable journey to watch, cover, and enjoy. And yet somehow, the closing of the decade only seems to mark the end of the foreword in Skrillex’s book.