2013 Top EDM Highlights: What Happened This Year?

2013 has been a big year for the electronic music industry; in the past few years, this genre has gone from underground to popular among many millennials, to well-known by everyone, including kids, parents and grandparents in the past 12 months.  The people who aren’t aware of what the acronym “EDM” means are few and far between these days.  Ticket sales for shows and festivals have skyrocketed, along with DJs’ popularity AND their paychecks.  A lot has happened in the past year, and I figured it’d be fun to highlight some of the top stories that graced the pages of OTB.  Enjoy 🙂

Big festival anthems took over the airwaves/Beatport Top 10

My group of friends and I have made a bit of a running joke this year; every time ‘Animals‘ by Martin Garrix or ‘Clarity’ by Zedd came on at a show, we’d all turn to each other with disgusted faces and laugh about how incredibly overplayed both of these tracks are. To be fair, I really did love both of them at the beginning, but between all the mainstream radio play and how often DJs played these tracks at the club/festivals/etc, I really just can’t stand them anymore.  As 2013 comes to a close, I propose we put ‘Clarity’ and ‘Animals’ to death for good. I think Maor Levi and McMaNGOS agree with me.

As far as other big festival tracks go, I don’t necessarily have a problem with them at festivals, but let’s get a little more creative in the studio and in the club, artists. It seemed that every new “festival banger” that came out this year sounded EXACTLY the same, which left many of the songs on the Beatport 100 sounding incredibly similar. This phased out a bit more as summer (festival season) came to an end, but I hope producers chill with the type of drops that Daleri threw together. Want to hear the best drops of the year? Check out our post: Best Drops Ever.

Dubstep died…sort of.

I’ve been a big dubstep fan in the past few years and still am, but I have to admit that I think there are certain aspects of it that are slowly dying out. I’m not sure why it took so long so catch on in the US from the UK, but when it did, it exploded and every frat house in town had their “Pregame Brostep Mix” to play before their next biad or triad. Brostep is definitely on its way out.  It may just be a natural cycling of music tastes and the rise in popularity for other genres of music, but I’m curious to see where things go from here and how dubstep artists plan to adjust to the shift.

Brostep at its finest. Sorry Skrilly, I still love you!

Deep House, Tech House and DnB are on the rise in the US

That said, a few new EDM genres are taking the US by storm.  Drum & Bass has definitely gained a larger following in the past year, with artists like Sub Focus, TC, Andy C, DC Breaks and more.  DnB has been around for so long, so it’s interesting to watch its popularity rise so quickly in this country (USA).  Another genre that’s blown up in a matter of months? Deep house.  When I said it was going to be the next big thing, I wasn’t kidding, and artists like Hot Since 82, Mark Kinchen, MNEK, Dusky and many more are making the latest and greatest groovin’ tunes.  If you haven’t checked out any deep house lately, I highly recommend it.

The media had a heyday with the danger of festivals

Let me start out by saying that no one deserves to lose their life at a music festival; events that are meant to be a good time can go wrong very, very quickly.  The concept of the risk of death at these big shows with thousands of people hit home pretty hard this summer when a Washington State University student passed away at Paradiso Festival at the Gorge Amphitheater. It was a very jolting moment for all of us finding out that someone had not made it home from the festival that weekend.

Just a few short months later, the final day of Electric Zoo in Randalls Island, NY was cancelled due to the deaths of two festival-goers.  The city of New York recommended the cancellation, and organizers agreed.  The story of the deaths and cancellation made national news instantly, just as the death at Paradiso. Local news affiliates interviewed doctors in the area for both shows and attributed these deaths directly to the use of the drug Molly (MDMA), even before autopsy reports were released.

I’m happy that the risks of drug use (especially combined with the heat at summer festivals) is getting media attention.  However, my issue with the media coverage is HOW they reported these tragic stories, and that they used incredibly misinformed information, talked to non-credible sources and began to demonize festival organizers as if it were directly their fault that these young people had passed away.  I could go on about this subject for days, but thankfully events in the Seattle area later on that year such as FreakNight at WaMu Theater proved to the media that raves can be a safe and fun time, and that events companies are taking every measure to make sure that this is the case.  Check out The Message by Seattle-based USC Events for a great example of harm prevention.

DJs/producers integrated more live music into their shows

We saw a huge rise in electronic artists incorporating live instruments into their sets and shows this year. Saxophone-slaying Big Gigantic was joined by the likes of Bonobo, Rudimental, Gramatik and Pretty Lights as artists who used a full band during their performances.  One live performance that surprised everyone this year was Destroid, a live dubstep band consisting of  Excision, Downlink, and former Pendulum drummer KJ Sawka, taking bass music to a whole new level.

Will.I.Am finally got called out

The “producer” and Black Eyed Peas member was appropriately named by the EDM community this year as “will.i.steal” as he ripped a number of existing electronic songs measure for measure to put into his own tracks.  This year’s stolen tracks included Sandro Silva & Quintino‘s ‘Epic,’ Deniz Koyu‘s ‘Tung’ and Mat Zo & Arty‘s famous track, ‘Rebound.’  The first two originals were tweaked a bit by will.i.steal, but ‘Rebound’ and will.i.am’s track ‘Let’s Go’ are nearly identical, except for the fact that will.i.am essentially takes a great track and makes it sound like shit.  To be fair, will.i.am probably wasn’t the only culprit in 2013, but you can read more about that later.

Will.i.am was known for ripping off tracks in the past, but DJs, especially Arty & Mat Zo, were not going to take this one sitting down.  Arty immediately went to Twitter, noting that will.i.am never asked for permission for the rights to ‘Rebound’ and his label, Anjunabeats released an official statement about the issue, noting that “although Arty (but not Mat Zo) was credited in the sleeve notes, this is not the same as obtaining permission.”  Way to go, Anjunabeats, and will.i.am, just quit while you’re ahead. We’re over you.


Swedish House Mafia broke up, but new super groups came together

When it was announced that Swedish producers Axwell, Steve Angello & Sebastian Ingrosso would be not be continuing to make music as Swedish House Mafia, it was a very sad day in the electronic music community. However, their One Last Tour was a hit in every city it visited, leaving most girls and even many of the guys in the audience in tears from the amazing music and memories that these three were able to make together. Although SHM is no more, I’m sure we’ll see these guys together on the stage again at some point down the road.

Swedish House Mafia

But with (supergroup) death there is also always life; some amazing groups have come together in the past year including the dynamic duos of Skrillex and Boys Noize as Dog Blood, Ferry Corsten and Markuz Schulz as the New World Punx and the groovy, bass-y sounds of GriZ and Gramatik as Grizmatik.  Makes me wonder what new supergroups we’ll have in store for 2014…apparently we have Sub Focus, his M.C. and Delta Heavy creating the supergroup #turndownservice? Although it seems like a bit of a joke, we’ll see if anything comes out of it 😉

Diplo got thousands of girls to “express themselves” to the social media world

Where the hell do I even start on this one? Diplo has had quite the year; he’s produced some of the hottest tracks of 2013, released an awesome new EP and had great success with his group project, Major Lazer with fellow producers Jillonaire and Walshy Fire. Diplo ALSO had quite the year because of one simple dance move: twerking.

Related: All Things Twerk – Morgan Freeman, Miley Cyrus and Funny Gifs

Though Diplo’s ‘Express Yourself’ EP was released in the summer of 2012, girls (generally girls way too young to be with the 35 year old producer) have submitted videos of themselves in nothing but underwear, twerking to Diplo’s music.  So many in fact, that Diplo admitted to being “bored of the twerk videos” and he’ll only post very few because “they gotta be totally amazing.”

You’re so classy Diplo.

I’ll admit, I am a huge Diplo fan and used to have a big crush on him, but I think the whole crazy obsession with Diplo is on its way out.  He’s also had a few arguments with other artists in the music industry, and publicized most of these beefs on Twitter.  Just keep making good music Diplo.  I still love you, even despite that strange Instagram photo incident this summer (NSFW).

Electronic music made it into primetime TV commercials

One thing that people definitely started noticing in 2013 were the amount of electronic tracks that were used in mainstream, corporate television commercials.  There were a number of winners (Feenxpawl & Ivan Gough’s pairing with Kia’s little hampsters), and GoPro was no stranger to the use of electronic music in their advertisements.  Here’s a list of some of my favorites:

Alex’s Clare’s ‘Feel So Close’ with Bing/Internet Explorer
N.A.S.A – ‘Hide’ (Tropkillaz Remix) for Sonos
DJ Snake’s ‘Bird Machine’ for Target’s “Forklift”
Dark Model – ‘Oath’ (Dubstep Remix) for HTC’s “Droid DNA”
Shy Kid – ‘Orion’ for the debut of the 2014 Toyota Corolla
Goldfrapp’s ‘Ooh La La’ for the iPhone 5s
Diplo’s ‘Express Yourself’ for Doritos’ “Valet”

DJs started trolling the shit out of each other…and themselves.

Trololol! We already touched on Daleri’s take on big-room track drops, but that was just one case in a number of DJ trolls that graced the front pages of every EDM blog in the country. Dillon Francis was, well, Dillon Francis, but we’ll get more into that later. The legendary Deadmau5 (aka Joel Zimmerman or “Joel Troll”) was continually up to no good this year, and making us all laugh our asses off at his antics in 2013.  One that definitely stood out to us was his “release” in light of a tiff with Afrojack called “Drop Da Bomb” which was a big hit to many other “commerical EDM” producers who have already been attacked for their hard-hitting drops that we’re all sick of.

Some DJs stopped making music for their fans and started making it for themselves

I feel like I keep coming back to this big-room house an how much I’m sick of it, but a lot of other artists were sick of it too. 2013 was definitely the year of experimental creativity among a number of popular DJs and producers, which included a number of tracks that people loved, and some that people hated. Skream took off in a completely different direction from his heavy dubstep and went straight into Nu-Disco. Fans were pissed. The best part? Skream didn’t give a shit.  He wanted to make music that made him happy.

Avicii also started branching out into different types of music and threw everyone for a loop during his 2013 Ultra set, which included the premiere of ‘Wake Me Up.’ It left a lot of ravers scratching their heads and most of the EDM community going “WTF??” I don’t necessarily like Avicii’s new sound, but to give credit where credit is due, I appreciate him having the courage to branch out into different genres (even if it is country, which makes me want to vomit). And you know what? People like it. My mom loves ‘Wake Me Up’ and I didn’t think I’d ever hear her enjoying electronic music.

Dillon Francis introduced us to DJ Hanzel, AND we saw his dad!!!

Oh Dillon Francis…you STILL won’t let me have an interview with you but I guess I can get over it because you’re so damn funny.  With the rise of deep house came the rise of DJ Hanzel; Dillon Francis’ alter ego (along with his Vine and Instagram accounts) left us laughing so hard that we were gasping for breath.  The thing with DJ Hanzel is that he likes to go “ONE DEEPER,” which of course sounds like “vun deepah” in Dillon’s shitty German accent (sorry Dillon).  Keep us laughing Dillon Francis, the electronic music scene wouldn’t be the same without your hilarious videos.  And yes, he has a dad, I swear. Now we see where Dillon got his good looks from 😉

The ‘Dance’ category for Grammy nominations was STACKED

Some of the nominations we expected, but some also surprised us.  Duke Dumont‘s breakthrough hit ‘Need U (100%)’ is included the nominations next to well-known hit tracks like Calvin Harris‘ ‘Sweet Nothing,’ Kaskade‘s ‘Atmosphere,’ the ever popular ‘Clarity’ by Zedd and Armin van Buuren‘s ‘This is What It Feels Like.’  But with the Duke’s latest releases, ‘Hold On’ featuring MNEK and ‘I Got U,’ I have no doubt that he will be an artist to watch in 2014.  The list of Best Dance  Album nominees? I can’t say I’m surprised.  It’ll be a fight to the death for this one, even with Daft Punk in the mix.

Random Access Memories – Daft Punk
Settle – Disclosure
18 Months – Calvin Harris
Atmosphere – Kaskade
A Color Map of the Sun – Pretty Lights

OTB had the best year ever…thanks to YOU!!

Only The Beat would never be where we are today if not for you guys; the readers, the listeners, the fans. We hit some awesome milestones in 2013 (9k Facebook likes? YES!) and we thank you for coming back to check out EDM news, tracks, interviews and events on our site. Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for the latest updates on your favorite DJs and producers, and we look forward to what 2014 has to offer the electronic music industry.  Thank you for being part of our OTB family, we love you! 🙂





I'm a bit of a witty firecracker whose name you'll never be able to pronounce. I like long walks on the (Burning Man) playa and I've got a bit of a secret romance with minimal techno. My favorite tracks range all genres - music is music, no matter which way you play it. Watch out, because I can dance like a dinosaur.
- 2 months ago
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