In the course of electronic music’s ascent to becoming a worldwide phenomenon, the genre of electro house has played no small role. Built around house music’s classic formula and enhanced with edgy sonics and powerful rhythms, electro house has dominated dancefloors for years now, with some of electronic music’s heaviest hitters (Justice, Tiesto, and Deadmau5, just to name a few) delivering many of the genre’s most memorable efforts. With this in mind, we’ve put together what we see as 20 of the most distinctive, important electro-house tracks to date, and present them to you, in no particular order, to relive, debate, hate, and—who knows—hopefully get turned on to something new.
To kick things off, we reach back to 2006 for Dave Spoon’s “At Night,” a ridiculously addictive tune that helped solidify the then-burgeoning Toolroom Records as a force to be reckoned with. Brought back to earth by the cheeky computer-voice sample which appears here and there, “At Night” is a soaring piece of dancefloor fare, one that gradually lets its warbling synths go absolutely nuts over the course of its eight-minute run.
Also from the mid-aughts, “Rubin” is another synth-led odyssey put together by veteran producers Oliver Huntemann and Stephan Bodzin. “Rubin” is a particularly sharp piece of electro house that blurs the lines between percussion, synth lines, and noise with a masterful touch. Even seven years later, it’s still hard to argue with that bassline.
San Francisco’s Dirtybird label (headed by one Claude VonStroke) served as home to some of the earliest innovators on the electro-house front, and groups like the Martin Brothers are one such fine example. Justin and Christian Martin’s “Stoopit” tune for the label was an understandably in-demand track in its day, with its simple, drum-machine core topped off by one of the most enticing bass glides to ever come from the Bay Area.
Brotherly duo Tiefschwarz scored an early triumph in the rise of electro house with “Issst,” a song whose title seems inspired by the sound of its energetic hi-hats. With just a bit of a spooky underbelly, “Issst” takes listeners down a intricate, spiralling melodic web, but—of course—with a properly beefy beat driving beneath it.
Tracks like 30Hz’s “Space Age” show just how glorious a restlessly fuzzy bassline can be on a dancefloor. Pulsing at a rattling 130 BPM, this particular electro-house monster lives up to its name, with an endless array of synth trickery unfolding as that buzzing bass just keeps rolling us along.
Once upon a time, there was this guy who wore a giant mouse head when he performed on stage—and subsequently changed the game for all mainstage producers to follow. His name, of course, was Deadmau5, and before he became an international artist renowned by many, he delivered this ridiculously lovable remix of The Crystal Method’s “Cherry Twist.” The rest is history.
You’d have to have been living under a rock for about a decade to not recognize Benny Benassi’s “Satisfaction.” With its computer-voiced refrain and its unrelentingly warbly synth line, “Satisfaction” could start a dance party in a matter of seconds when it first dropped—a power it’s not likely to give up any time soon.
Boy 8-Bit’s “Suspense Is Killing Me” is a lean electro-house tune, but one that still packs a lot of power. Focusing on a main biting synth line, the track took a few cues from the world of B-more breaks to help make it a massive hit for Mad Decent way before Diplo started producing tracks for Snoop Lion.
Porter Robinson has been responsible for his share of big-time tracks, but this 2010 monster still stands out. Aside from its titular vocal chops, “Say My Name” relies on a series of restless leads that give way to a gorgeous melodic breakdown, and then go right back into an even more heavy-hitting beat. This Robinson tune is still a hard one to resist on the dancefloor.
Sometimes we want a little weirdness in our dance music, and with Alter Ego (aka Roman Flügel and Jörn Elling Wuttke) at the helm, we’re likely to get just the right amount of untamed vibes. Jocks are advised to reach for the duo’s “Rocker” when they just want to let the machines run wild.
BSOD’s “Choplifted” similarly puts the machines in charge, but instead of letting them run loose, BSOD lines them up like an army of beeps, bloops, and bass. The results are appropriately heavy and entirely appropriate for rocking a dancefloor.
Deadmau5 has proven to be one of the masters of the electro-house genre over the years, and we could easily throw even more of his tunes into this list. “Ghosts ‘N’ Stuff” is generously funky and melodically rich, but also boasts some remarkable bass weight, which has continued to make it an absolute ace in most any electro-house set.
“We Are Your Friends” is perhaps eletro-house’s hardest song to not sing along to. There was a long period of time when you could not escape this song, and quite frankly, you didn’t want to. And, just because it shouldn’t be overlooked, how amazingly funky is that bassline?
Detroit gets a lot of love in dance music circles, and rightly so. So it’s not surprising that a producer like Fedde Le Grand might also want to express his affection in the form of a tune—albeit one that lifts liberally from Matthew Dear’s “Hands Up For Detroit.”
Imagine a world in which Tiesto and Diplo got together and didn’t make a song as massive as “C’mon.” Yeah, we wouldn’t want to be a part of that world either.
With “Internet Friends,” Knife Party took home the prize for Funniest Vocal Chops Over a Slamming Beat, as far as we’re concerned. There’s nothing like letting out a little chuckle right before the beat drops back in, and “Internet Friends” provides just that opportunity.
There are some tracks that just make way more sense at a giant party on a huge soundsystem, and one of those is Bodyrox’s “Yeah Yeah.” There are many hours of the day when Luciana’s vocals could understandably be a bit off-putting, but when the hour is late, and the sounds keep getting bigger and bigger, “Yeah Yeah” is just about perfect—chalk it up to the right combination of sass and bass.
With a title like “Kick Out the Epic Motherfucker,” one really has to bring the “ruckus” as they say (or at least do a really good MC5 approximation). Dada Life was clearly up to the task, as this tune is just about as soaringly epic and absurdly tough as they come.
Leave it up to Eric Prydz to take a classic Pink Floyd cut and refit it perfectly for modern dancefloors. “Proper Education” is somehow both spacey and pummeling, yet still might even be the electro-house cut most likely to get your dad to dance.
We end even further back than where we began, with this 2004 remix of Phonique by German outfit Tiefschwarz. On their remix of “The Red Dress,” the pair mapped out an early structure for the electro-house genre—crisp atmospheres, playful melodies, deep bass, and an adrenaline-charged beat.
Photo via Videokeman