It’s nothing new that this years DJ Mag Top 100 DJ’s list is a complete joke when it comes to ranking the DJ’s and producers on actual talent. It is, in essence, a popularity contest where certain DJ’s beg their fans to vote for them in order to obtain bragging rights and potentially charge a higher fee for their performances.
Anyone who appreciates quality music can tell you that the ranking is completely hogwash, mostly voted on by musically-uneducated people whom unfortunately have very little idea what a skilled and creative DJ/producer even is. But what’s even more appalling is that now record labels and management companies are doing everything in their power to get their DJs as high on that list as possible by buying votes and swaying the ignorant raver to vote in their favor. The biggest shock for me came this summer at the world-renowned TomorrowLand festival in Boom, Belgium…
I’ll admit that I have a lot of respect for ID&T, and am in love with the festivals and productions they have put on. But when I attended TomorrowLand this past July, I was appalled when I was approached several times by hired female workers walking around with iPads asking people if they had voted for the DJMag Top 100 yet. If the festival-goer stated that they have not, they were then asked if they could vote now on the iPads and list Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike as their #1. More than half the people that attend TomorrowLand have no clue about the DJ’s and producers that are at the festival and are just simply there for the experience. It’s no wonder DV&LM beat out Armin this year for the # 2 spot and it’s antics like that that completely invalidate the ranking for me (among many other things).
I decided to make my own top 10 ranking, purely of trance DJ’s and producers (how it should be anyway). This is not my “all-time” list, for I have only considered what has happened in the last year based off my experiences, and what the DJ has accomplished. Keep in mind this is my own opinion and if you agree/disagree let me know!
1. Armin van Buuren (Real ranking #3)
Do I really need to explain myself with this one? Armin is and has always been the king of trance music. And this past year has not been any different. His insanely popular radio show ‘A State of Trance’ reached 650 episodes and Armin embarked on a global tour making stops in Utrecht, Miami, Buenos Aires, Jakarta, and Yekaterinburg. Simultaneously, Armin was amidst his famous ‘Armin Only’ world tour covering almost every continent in 11 different countries. And if that wasn’t enough, he has had chart-topping tracks, a very successful year for his record labels, and helped many young and upcoming artists gain invaluable exposure and new followers. The man is an unstoppable genius and I can’t wait to see what he has to bring in the next year for us devoted fans.
2. Aly & Fila (Real ranking #28)
Easily second on my list is the Egyptian duo Aly & Fila. I have been fortunate enough to see Fadi in action five times this past year and every time I have been blown away. His memorizing sets effortlessly show off his talent as he intertwines various types of driving music into one elegant show. It is truly a wonder to witness him in action. In addition to insane amounts of touring, this past year saw the duo celebrate 350 episodes of their acclaimed show ‘The Future Sound of Egypt’ with parties around the world, with notable stops in New York City and London. And just to top off such a monumental year for them, Aly & Fila have just released their eagerly anticipated third studio album “The Other Shore.” If you haven’t already, you should seriously consider purchasing this beautiful album here.
3. Simon Patterson (Did not make the top 100)
‘Psymon’ wins my award for “Most Improved” this year (not that Simon was never an ingenious DJ/producer). This past year has seen him shoot to the top of the trance’s scene most wanted DJ’s list. His original productions and inventive remixes have made him a household name not only in the Psy-Trance world, but the “Underground” scene as well. Almost every major festival in North America and around the world has had Simon on the bill. He has been booked for almost every Insomniac event this past year and been apart of other major festivals like TomorrowWorld, Digital Dreams, and Luminosity. We are incredibly excited that Simon chose to celebrate 100 episodes of his radio show ‘Open Up’ in Toronto for New Years Eve.
4. Paul van Dyk (Real ranking #38)
Some people may be surprised at my ranking of PVD so high up this year due to his lack of original productions, but my ranking is based off what he and his label have done for up-and-comers. The Vandit label has been a massive platform for new trance artists (key example Ben Nicky) to release their original music and collaborate with the legend himself. And PvD has supported these artists whole-heartedly by performing their tracks live, tweeting about their shows and releases, and inviting them to play alongside him during huge events. He has always been a mentor to many DJs and it has made me gain even more respect for him than I already had.
5. Markus Schulz (Real ranking #44)
It’s safe to say that this Unicorn Slayer is the unofficial resident of Transmission Festival in Prague, having just performed for his 10th time this past weekend. That combined with the release of this album ‘Scream 2’ this year and his legendary marathon sets (remember the 11 hours he did in Toronto?) makes Markus number 5 on my list.
6. Above & Beyond (Real ranking #25)
Coming off a gigantic show in New York City at Madison Square Garden for Group Therapy 100, Above and Beyond come in at number 6 for me. There aren’t too many artists (EDM or not) that can sell out MSG in mere hours (keep in mind Armin didn’t even sell it out for his Armin Only stop there). This just goes to show the incredible amount of fans A&B have all over the world and the impact their radio show has. I am excited to hear their new album “We Are All We Need” coming out in January.
7. Indecent Noise (Did not make the top 100)
I have seen Aleksander perform live twice this year and am excited to see him again in a couple weeks at EDC Orlando. His hard trance classics set at the afterparty of Luminosity is still one of my favorite sets of the entire year. Everything this guys has accomplished since then has also been simply amazing. Check out his five hour set from NYC just a few weeks ago:
8. Jordan Suckley (Did not make the top 100)
Easily my favorite set of TomorrowWorld this year, and one of my top ones at Luminosity. His relatively new show, Damaged Radio, showcases the latest Psy-Trance bombs and has also quickly become a staple on my weekly trance programs.
9. Photographer (Did not make the top 100)
Even though I have yet to see him preform live, I am obsessed with his productions (his newest being ‘Rebound’), remixes, and live sets from this past year. I still listen to his ASOT 650 set from Utrecht on a weekly basis. He also recently teamed up with Simon Patterson to make the ‘Who’s Afraid of 138?!’ compilation album out now on Armada.
10. Lange (Did not make the top 100)
This last spot was definitely the hardest for me to decide. There are many skilled artists that could have easily been included in my list for a wide array of reasons. However I had to give the number 10 spot to Lange for his beautifully crafted album “We Are Lucky People.” I personally loved every song on that album and hearing some of them live at Luminosity was such an emotional experience for me. The amount of detail and talent that album portrays is awe-inspiring and the exact reason why Lange rounds out my list of top 10 DJs.
What’s your Trance top 10? Post it below!
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