Thursday, October 20, 2011

Top 100 DJ's 2011 Results: Thoughts & Reflections

Well, you knew this post was coming… DJMag’s Top 100 DJs poll has been released and the reactions all across the world have been interesting, to say the absolute least.  Many are happy, many are pissed, and some (like me) are left scratching their heads at some of the results.  Let me just start off by saying I am very disappointed to see that Armin van Buuren has been dethroned from his #1 spot to land at #2.  Sure, a 4 year reign as the king of DJs and electronic dance music as a whole is pretty much unheard of (the previous streak was Tiesto with 3 years at #1), but many in the trance community believed he was due for a 5th go around as the top dog.  I certainly did.  Who wouldn’t?  Some could argue this year was as big as last year if not bigger.  With the release of his Mirage Remixes album, Armin Only dates, continued world tour, and let’s not forget: ASOT 500!  I can’t stress this one enough.  ASOT 500 alone was a worldwide event that alone should have had the power to catapult any DJ to the #1 spot.  The whole world was tuned in during all 5 dates in 5 different continents.  It was such a massive event with so much hype, even twitter couldn’t handle the #ASOT500 tweets that were flooding the twitter servers; resulting in a ban of the hashtag.  In my humble opinion, no other DJ has the capability of connecting the world like that through music and technology.  I’m sure he was somewhat disappointed as well, but in a way expected.  Can’t be the top guy forever (just ask Tiesto).   Music is changing, tastes are changing, and new names are coming into the ranks.  Which brings me to our new #1 winner…

Passing of the torch
David Guetta.  Say that name in any group of EDM enthusiasts and you will have a polarized debate with lots of opinions.  You either love him or hate him (with a small margin in there indifferent to his fame).  He’s THAT controversial.  Not to say that those who “hate” him actually HATE the man, but he represents something different in dance music that we are not used to: mainstream attention.  He’s brought house music to the masses with his cross breeding of hip hop with house.  He’s become the go to guy for rappers and R&B singers who want a club friendly record to get the dance floors jumping.  Just look at his track record.  He’s done tracks with or for Akon, Black Eyed Peas, Snoop Dogg, LMFAO, Usher, and Madonna, just to name a few.  A pretty big selling point if you ask me, and that’s exactly what I think has attributed to his #1 status.  EDM sells.  The industry has figured that much out, and David Guetta has become their dealer.  I guess one could argue this dilutes the genre.  What’s been the result?  Regular producers are trying to make house records, hardcore rappers are trying to make  club records, and everyone who used to shun “rave music” has dance friendly tracks somewhere in their iTunes playlist.  It was inevitable.
Now let’s look at some notable spots on the rest of the list since this was the main concern coming into this DJ poll result.  Guetta won, Armin couldn’t 5-peat, end of story.  Let’s get over it.  Moving on:

-Why is Deadmau5 still on this list?  Better yet, why is he still in the top 10?  Even better yet, why are people still voting for him?  Don’t his “fans” know that he doesn’t give a damn about this list.  He never did.  He never promotes it and never well since he doesn’t consider himself a “DJ”.  Go figure.

-I’m happy to see Avicii climbed the ranks.  He even made it a notch above Afrojack!  I was very surprised to see that.  I know he’s had a big year, but I don’t think he’s had one as big as Afrojack’s.  Good for him.  Way to keep a fanbase happy and growing.  That’s how it’s done ladies and gentlemen.

-Speaking of Afrojack, don’t be surprised to see him in the top 5 in the next couple of years.  His fanbase is increasing at a David Guetta rate.

-How did Tiesto not decrease in rank?  He’s still a big household name; let’s not get that confused.  However, he’s had no album, no major releases that became chart topping hits, and he’s pretty much alienated his former trance loving fanbase by playing only house records in his sets and compilations.  Guess loyalty knows no bounds.

-Sander van Doorn!  He actually decreased a few spots?!  How the hell did this happen?  He had every reason to appear in the top 10 (in my opinion again).  Huge compilation with Dusk Till Doorn 2011, huge album (Eleve11) that got great reviews, lots of DJ support, big releases on his label, and bigger fanbase by making more house friendly hits.  I don’t know, I really couldn’t figure this one out.

-Markus Schulz decreased 1 spot?  Well, at least he moved this time around.  And he’s still top 10 despite everyone loving house music these days.  We couldn’t really ask for much more.

-How did Dash Berlin not only maintain his status, but gain?  Even above Swedish House Mafia and Markus?  Explanation please…

-Ferry Corsten had a notable decrease, but that was almost expected.  He didn’t put much out this year.  Next year I anticipate to see some gains with the release of his new artist album and tour that I’m sure will follow.  Same goes for Paul van Dyk.

-Skrillex is in the top 20.  Yes, sign of the times people.  Dubstep/glitch/whatever the hell you want to call it is here to stay because the kids love it.

-I knew Arty would come in big and strong.  Way to make an impact!

-Glad to see Dada Life has climbed up the ranks quite a bit.  They still deserve higher though.

-SteveAoki actually made it this year.  Good for him.  For as big of a name as he is, I was surprised to see his lack of presence in this list.  Like him or not, he belongs.

-Wolfgang Gartner is only at 56? wow.

-Tritonal made it!  Their hard work and campaigning paid off!  After being snubbed last year, they got their wish and made it into the top 100.  I’m happy for them. 

-Porter Robinson had a huge year, and I’m surprised to see him in at 96.  I would have predicted a little higher, but I’m sure he’s happy he made it.  He’s only 19 after all.

-Noticeable omission: Michael Woods!  I thought the man had a killer year!  Killer past couple of years actually.  Really shocked about this one.

-Overall, trance as a whole went down and the house genre continues their rising popularity.  It seems like most of the trance artists had to work harder just to even maintain their ballpark spot.

Well there you have it everyone.  Maybe one of the more opinionated columns I’ve ever written.  Agree or disagree, that what makes EDM so great.  It’s so big and diverse, we can have an infinite amount of opinions but still come together for the love of music.  Whether or not your favorite DJ made it where you wanted him/her to or not, take solace in the fact that they appreciated your vote and most likely won’t stop what they’re doing anytime soon.  A chat I had with Tritonal earlier this year showed me that in the mind of a DJ, falling short of any expectation is more motivation to push boundaries and work harder to achieve greater things.  They will work harder and continue to do what they do best; entertain us with their music.  Like baseball; there’s always next year.


Trance Thursday Throwback: "Roadkill (Breakfast Remix)"

Welcome to another edition of the TTT brought to you by yours truly, Mark Menjivar.  Forgive me for not posting; last week was certainly hectic.  Now that we have come back to normal speed of life (for the most part), let’s look back and dig into the old record box for this week’s throwback.  One of my favorites of all time in trance game is Ferry Corsten.  His style is comparable to no one; as is illustrated in his productions, song selection for live sets, and radio show.  While he hasn’t made the biggest impact this year necessarily, it’s definitely understandable as he’s been immersed in studio work for his next artist album which I’m sure will end up to be another classic.  That being said, if you remember his live release for his set at Dance Valley 2007, you’ll no doubt remember this week’s classic.  Let’s take a look:

Dubfire – Roadkill (Breakfast Remix)

Breakfast is definitely a name that has a close association with Ferry Corsten since he is regularly featured on his compilations and radio show.  However this was the track that really grabbed my attention at the time and showed me he was a force to be reckoned with.  The spin on Dubfire’s house hit “Roadkill” made a HUGE impact on that Dance Valley live album by completely revamping it and transforming the original version into a full blown trance record.  Definitely one of the stand out points in that set and one of my favorite trance records to date.  The buildup is still one of my favorites of all time and really shows the essence and structure of a classic trance anthem.  Still gives me goosebumps.  Now, excuse me while I go listen to that live album again, and again, and again…. 

Till next time, cheers!


Friday, October 7, 2011

Skills LovEvolution/Love After: The Love came back with a BANG

Well it’s been almost two weeks now since the Love invaded the grounds of coliseum and the dust has settled.  Now we have rolls full of pictures, heads full of memories, and hearts full of satisfaction to endlessly remind us of the great time that was had that chilly day/night Saturday, September 24th.  Speaking of which, the chilly (and almost rainy at times) weather wasn’t enough to slow down the day portion of LovEvolution.  Wetness and clouds aside, the masses came in flocks from all over the Bay Area to enjoy some of the best world class electronic music there was to offer.  The layout was really reminiscent of the LovEvs of old in the Civic Center of SF with floats surrounding the outer rim and each float being from a specific “crew” or promoter.  One thing I’ve always loved was the unique designs and themes of each specific float.  Always makes it hard to choose which one you want to spend more time with.  Luckily, there was enough time in the day to wander all around.  With each float having their respective grounds, the shaded (although not really needed) chill area, the main stage with top popular EDM acts, and easy access to facilities/food, I think the overall set up was a big win for Skills.  The music was great from all the stages and it’s always good to see lots of support for each one. Once the sun (or lack thereof) started to set and the party people were warmed up, it was time for Love After.  The lineup was huge for trance lovers, however Laidback Luke and Moby were there to provide housey and eclectic support.  As expected, the stage was massive and the lighting & screen set up was out of this world.  The Oracle Arena was a much better venue for an event such as this vs. the old Bill Graham Civic Auditorium and the Cow Palace used for ETD POP.  I thought the extensive floor space and ample stadium wide seating was perfect to provide the massive concert feel.  It really gave you the ability to walk around and enjoy the entire venue without necessarily have to “rub elbows”.  Really got me excited to hear that ETD POP will be held there next year. What can I say?  I really give Skills a lot of praise for pulling this thing off without a hitch (that we know of).  Considering the new venue(s) and location change, they did a great job of promoting and planning this LovEvolution to be just as meaningful and memorable as the predecessors.  Speaking of promoting, I thought Skills also did a great job with getting the word out through social media, word of mouth, and even billboard advertising.  Besides that, the crowd is another key element for a successful event.  They were certainly hyped and energetic throughout most of the day.  While it may have seemed a little more packed in the previous San Francisco events, this first time in Oakland had a decent turn out that I’m sure will surge in the coming years.  For Love After, the crowd was especially hot for the DJs, which kept the energy reciprocating through the entire night.  The hard media work definitely paid off and based on the DJ responses from twitter, it sounded like they were impressed as well.

Personally, I think LovEvolution has found a new home.  While some of us previous attendees may be nostalgic about long days/nights in San Francisco, I think this venue replacement was a really great choice.  I like that the grounds are still easily accessible via public transportation and there was plenty of space.  Was there room for improvement?  Sure.  There always is.  However I have full confidence in Skills for using this as a learning experience to continue bringing us the love for LovEvolution and future events at this new venue for years to come.  One thing is for sure: EDM is ALIVE and well in the Bay Area.