Before I start, most of what will follow is based on opinions and observations, I may be wrong or right about some the things that may be presented as ‘concrete facts’. Any feedback/corrections/input will be highly appreciated. Please note that I personally think that such polls are mere popularity contests, and should NEVER be used as true measures of artists’ brilliance (or lack of). I will still rant though, so enjoy!
So the 2011 DJ Mag Top 100 list is out, after a rigorous voting campaign, where every DJ, producer, tom, dick and harry started their campaign to get votes from around the globe. Now I don’t usually give two hoots about it, I don’t even vote in it, but this year is a bit different. Why? A look at the top 3 DJs would explain it:
- David Guetta
- Armin Van Buuren
I’m obviously quite biased, as I am a so-called ‘Trance head’, and I was quite content with Armin being on top of that list for 3 years in a row. It gave the scene a boost, not like it really needed it as the EDM subgenre has seen a rise in popularity in recent years due to lower BPMs, more vocals and productions that are easier on the ears of none-fans (In my opinion at least). Obviously there’s also the blurred indistinguishable line between the genres and subgenres out there that makes it quite tricky to tell what is what anymore (Trance productions blend in some psy, dubstep, drum and base and other elements from other related and/or non-related genres of music).
Now, what has David Guetta done to earn overthrowing Armin’s throne? In all honesty I don’t know. I’d assume that he had more (commercial) productions and collaborations with artists well-known in the mainstream music rounds. Credit to him and to Tiesto (If this is what they have been up to in the past year, I don’t keep up with s**t music. Sorry) for doing that, but at the end of the day what have they done to the scene? Here is some insight into what some trance producers and DJs are doing:
People like Armin work endlessly on his record label, his radio show, his almost flawless tours and events around the world (Including the epic ASOT milestone events, like 450 and 500, and soon in 19 weeks: ASOT 550!). While Armin has an army behind him to help him put everything together, other DJs and producers like let’s say Gareth Emery, Ronski Speed, John O’Callaghan might have little more than overworked artist managers and/or agents arranging their lives and hectic schedules, between producing, to recording sets and podcasts to touring and traveling around the globe.
Moving on to other people in the trance scene, Above & Beyond, 3 lads who have influenced my mood, music taste and even travel plans. I’ve spent the best part of the past 5+ years listening to Jono, Toni and Paavo and following their news and trying to see them as often as possible. What is so special about these middle-age men? Well, they are 3 of the most talented, genuine and hardworking people in the trance scene, if not in the EDM scene. They have a very successful record label (Anjunabeats in case you are wondering), they do massive collaborations with some of the biggest names (Andy Moor, Kyau & Albert, Latin music legend Miguel Bose and many more). They headlined many, many events around the globe, they have arguably one of the top 3 trance radio shows (and personally it is my favorite: TATW, which stands for Trance Around The World, and is not a misspelling of TWAT as some of my friends assume!). They change lives in a way, a look at any of their productions, be it under their own name, or under their vocal trance alias Oceanlab, there is meaning behind them. They are not productions created in a fortnight, these guys think every line and every word over tours, over long sleepless night in their London studio. Their recent Group Therapy album took a long time to produce (Coupla years I’d assume), worth the wait, definitely worth the wait.
People like Tiesto and Guetta on the other hand are pretty much pop celebrities, they are ‘mainstream’. They will have big corporate crews plotting their every move and every appearance, merchandise, albums, compilations, sales etc are all thrown in the mix for such money machines. At the end of the day, they cater more to what the average listener is likely to respond positively to and ‘buy’. There is a radio show, I think it was/is by Ronski Speed, it’s called True To Trance. Sadly, the Guettas of this world are true to trash music and commercial crap that sells.
I had a second look at the list and to the top 100 list, PvD dropping out of the top 10, Gareth Emery does as well, while Sander Van Doorn also dropping places to house producers and djs. Ferry Corsten also dropping out of the top 10. A noticeable upcoming artist is Arty, who is relatively new to the scene. He is one to keep an eye out on, the ‘popularity contest’ called the DJ Mag reflects that with him being in the 25th spot now (going 53 spots up). W&W went up 36 places, courtesy of a LOT of good productions and appearances. Good job lads
On a final note, it’s not about the productions, maybe the people with the biggest reach and fans got more votes than more worthy candidates so to speak. Again, the dj mag is not a measure, but it means a lot to an artist. A higher position puts them in a better, erm, position to gain global exposure and to get more opportunities to play/produce/etc and ultimately become better artists, that is one of the reasons why it is such a big deal in an industry where there is little or no other way of distinguishing or classifying artists. I am against it, but heck, it’s not a perfect world. Trance on 🙂