It’s been one hell of a year for my favorite kinds of music. Mash up artists have stepped up and started releasing more minimixes, EDM DJs have incorporated more remixes and original mash ups into their major sets, and top house DJs have released some monster floor fillers.
I like organizing and sharing my music. Few things make me happier than telling a buddy about a track and seeing him proceed to enjoy it. I guess that is what compels me to write this post that looks back on my favorite 2012 tracks. I want any random reader to discover a song or two that they didn’t already know and enjoy it/them going forward.
The All Trinity Teams are comprised of 2012’s best original house/EDM tracks. For anyone reading this who doesn’t know UVA/C’ville/The Corner, Trinity is one of the more popular bars on The Corner with sweaty, obnoxious dance floors and loud pop/house music. I’ve done a lap or two there. It’s only fitting to name these lists after that bar.
The RX 330 Teams are comprised of 2012’s best mash up and remix tracks. The RX 330 title is a reference to my car and a time when Night Train teammates jokingly called me DJ RX 330. During that time, I would play mash ups on drives to and from tournaments—and nothing else. I apologize to those of you who were scarred by the experiences.
I’ve written a little bit about each song after the jump, but if you’re just interested in seeing the lists/links to the tracks, check ‘em out:
1st Team All Trinity
- The City by Madeon
- Years (ft. Matthew Koma) by Alesso
- The Veldt (ft. Chris James) by Deadmau5
- Stay With You (ft. Mike Posner) by Avicii
- Allein by Pryda
- Sweet Nothing (ft. Florence Welch) by Calvin Harris
- Calling (Lose My Mind) (ft. Ryan Tedder) by Sebastian Ingrosso & Alesso
- Feel The Love (ft. John Newman) by Rudimental
- In My Mind (Axwell Mix) (ft. Georgi Kay) by Ivan Gough & Feenixpawl
- City of Dreams by Alesso & Dirty South
2nd Team All Trinity
- Numb by Usher (prod. by Swedish House Mafia)
- Finale by Madeon
- Language by Porter Robinson
- I Need Your Love by Ellie Goulding (prod. by Calvin Harris)
- Brightness by Walden
- Pair of Dice by Tiesto & Allure
- Like Home by Nicky Romero & Nervo
- You and Me by Special Features
- Beam Me Up by Cazzette
- Don’t You Worry Child (ft. John Martin) by Swedish House Mafia
1st Team All RX 330
- Somebody That I Used to Know (TheFatRat Remix) by Gotye
- Nightchain (Wale v Kavinsky) by The Hood Internet
- Minimix (Annie Mac Radio 1) by Madeon
- Walking Alone 2NIGHT (Mass Mashup) (ft. Erik Hecht) by Eric Prydz, Dirty South & Those Usual Suspects
- Invisible at 5AM (Kaskade Mash Up) – Skylar Grey vs. Thomas Sagastad
- Let It Stay Fly (Skratch Bastid Blend) – Three Six Mafia, Young Buck & 8 Ball & MJG vs Dazz Band
- Dancing On My Own (E-603 Remix) by Robyn
- Angel On My Stronger (Nicky Romero Mix) [Kaskade FON Mash] by Kaskade vs. Kelly Clarkson & Nicky Romero
- We Got It Wrong (Lenno Remix) by St. Lucia
- Dreams (Gigamesh Edit) by Fleetwood Mac
2nd Team All RX 330
- Top Fun (Highway To The Rager Zone) by Super Mash Bros.
- Trojans (Lenno Remix) by Atlas Genius
- Feed My Heart by Basic Physics
- Seaweed Song (E-603 Remix) by Passion Pit
- Waste Love (Ice Mix Extended) by Kaskade & Quadron
- The Night Out (A-Trak Remix) by Martin Solveig
- I Knew You Were Trouble (Remix ft. Sammy Adams) by Taylor Swift
- Climax (Kaskade Remix) by Usher
- For What It’s Worth (Virgin Magnetic Material Remix) by Buffalo Springfield
- Titanium Brightside (Gizzi Bootleg Mashup) by Gizzi
2nd-Team All Trinity
Numb – Usher (prod. by Swedish House Mafia)
Usher has been killing it over the course of the last year or two by teaming up with house/EDM DJs to produce chart toppers. In that same electro-pop vein as Without You and I Can Only Imagine, Numb highlights the melodic synergy between Swedish House Mafia chords and Usher’s pipes (albeit partially auto-tuned). Merlin turned me on to this jam at one of my first visits over to the reincarnated Frisbee House at 508, and I’ll forever associate this song with their new digs.
Finale – Madeon
You can’t help but get amped when you listen to Finale. Though not as upbeat and joyful as some of Madeon’s more popular tracks (Pop Culture, Icarus), its beat and lyrics bring out this energetic defiance that gets your feet stomping and heart pumping at first listen. I highly recommend downloading the Pete Tong BBC Radio 1 Rip, because hearing Pete introduce the track and boast about its exclusivity makes it so much cooler. Finale definitely did the trick as part of my Sarasota/nationals pre game playlist.
Language – Porter Robinson
This track is all over the place, going from deep house realms to the verge of dubstep. The synth melody makes this track, as is usually the case with house/EDM jams. That melody has the unique ability to be calming and inspiring and reflective all at the same time. The music video displays (linked above) a really cool concept, too.
I Need Your Love – Ellie Goulding (prod. by Calvin Harris)
I must first confess my ridiculous crush on Ellie. Her voice, her music, and her looks just kill me. What she was doing with Skrillex and that Skrillex haircut is disheartening and beyond me, but there’s still time for her to wisen up. Anyway, this track makes the list because of the twangy, catchy chorus (and Ellie’s pipes, duh). Despite some staccato bits, you still find yourself jamming along to the beat. With this track, Calvin Harris also proves that he is an incredible collaborator (see his work with Florence and the Machine for further evidence).
Brightness – Walden
This jam came to me through the interwebz from the snowman in Wisconsin, BK. Some were quick to dub it “the next Levels,” and I’d just like to say that that is blasphemous. Nothing will ever touch Levels—not even Avicii’s next big hit in 2013. With this in mind, it’s still OK to appreciate this track’s inspiring build-up and naturally fist-pumping hook.
Pair of Dice – Tiesto & Allure
Shout out to my roommate Charlie’s old Duke roommate Andrew for turning me on to this track. I have never been the biggest Tiesto fan, as I don’t usually find enough melody to appreciate in his tracks. This collaboration with Allure, however, melds some high-pitched chords with that classic hard-hitting Tiesto bass.
Like Home – Nicky Romero & Nervo
I’ve had a soft spot for Nicky Romero ever since he started collaborating with Tim Bergling (Avicii), and especially since he helped master Fuck School/Nicktim and Wild One (screw Flo Rida for pimping out that track, by the way). I love the staccato build-up in this song, and I love that the original mix doesn’t waste time with one minute of bullshit interlude/intro beat—it cuts right to the chase!
You and Me – Special Features
The Wolfpack fell in love with Special Features after we discovered his Strobe and Feel So Close remixes last fall/winter. I have tried to keep tabs on him, and as far as I can tell, this is his first original track. His chords are eerily reminiscent of Madeon’s, yet he still has a unique sound that I really enjoy and have trouble articulating. When I screw real life and start living the dream of making music or covering the EDM scene, maybe I’ll learn some things and be able to articulate just what makes his sound so distinct. Until then, just listen for yourself and enjoy.
Beam Me Up – Cazzette
Last January, I predicted that Cazzette would have a bigger year than Avicii. With the help of manager Ash Pournouri, Cazzette came into the EDM mainsteam and the Swedish duo appears to be here to stay. They go pretty hard in the paint (lots of bass wobble, not afraid to dubstep it up), so you have to have an affinity for their style. Watch the music video and tell me you would not want to live in their world.
Don’t You Worry Child (ft. John Martin) – Swedish House Mafia
It’s not SHM’s best production, but it’s better than Greyhound and still a floor filler.
2nd Team All RX330
Highway to the Rager Zone – Super Mash Bros.
Take the greatest EDM jam of all time, slap a title on the track with a reference to one of the greatest movies of all time, and throw in some BUZZ LIGHTYEAR! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! DO I EVEN NEED TO JUSTIFY THIS?!
Trojans (Lenno Remix) – Atlas Genius
Not too familiar with the original track (classic, I know), but these piano chords really go straight to my power source—I love when Lenno eliminates the bass and lets the chords dominate the track. This might be a first team track if not for the dude’s slightly whiny voice. He preaches some meaningful stuff, though.
Feed My Heart – Basic Physics
The Minnesota DJ was pretty busy this year, dropping Lift Off and Light Me Up just a few months apart. Feed My Heart was the track that alerted me to the song of the year (Madeon’s The City), and I’m forever grateful for that.
Seaweed Song (E-603 Remix) – Passion Pit
Everyone knows about Passion Pit these days (especially after that damn Taco Bell commercial ruined Take a Walk by airing ad nauseam), but E-603 is one of those mash up DJs who hasn’t garnered a large following. I loved his earlier mash up albums, and he puts some more funk into this song than it originally had. This remix is not going to burn the dance floor down, but it still has a great beat and some sentimental lyrics that you can follow.
Waste Love (Ice Mix Extended) – Kaskade
When Kaskade posted this #KMM, people freaked out and thought it was Kaskade returning to his “deep” roots. What they didn’t realize was that this was an edit of a previously released track—not something entirely new. Anyway, I think the appropriate word for this track is “sexy.” It has that swanky feel, as though it should be playing at a modern, high brow cocktail party. Maybe Charlie and I will throw one of those parties one day.
The Night Out (A-Trak Remix) – Martin Solveig
Everybody and their mother remixed this track (see Solveig’s Soundcloud), but A-Trak’s offering was the crème de la crème. Solveig’s track was great in its own right, but A-Trak brings that kick to this remix that only he can. He goes a little harder than normal in the interlude, but I still dig it.
I Knew You Were Trouble (Remix ft. Sammy Adams) – Taylor Swift
OK, so maybe this isn’t a full-blown remix. And I know a lot of people hate Tay Tay for selling out and producing poppier stuff. But Sammy’s verse is awesome, and it’s exciting to hear T-Swift dabble on the fringes of the EDM sphere. “First name: Big. Last name: Trouble.”
Climax (Kaskade Remix) – Usher
In case you couldn’t already tell, Kaskade did well for himself in the remix arena this year. Granted, he doesn’t make much, if any, money directly from these remixes (he releases many of them for free on his SoundCloud page), but they are treats for his fans and concertgoers. Andy might have discovered this specific track not too long before the College Series, and we bumped it a lot on the way to Conferences and Regionals. For those reasons, this song always conjures up stretches of 29 South in my mind. Weird.
For What It’s Worth (Virgin Magnetic Material Remix) – Buffalo Springfield
The classic anti-‘nam anthem gets modernized in another offering from that gem of a mixtape. It’s not a booty shaker, but it has more kick to it than the original.
Titanium Brightside (Gizzi Bootleg Mashup) – Gizzi
Brian sent this jam to me and it helped me realize how much I dig The Knocks, whom I’ll be seeing at Webster Hall in NYC and the 9:30 Club in DC. Gizzi does cool things to the “Titanium” vocals, making them resonate off the walls of the track just enough to perk your ears up. Party on.
1st Team All RX 330
Somebody That I Used To Know (TheFatRat Remix) – Gotye
I still don’t understand how or why the original Gotye track was so popular—it has such a strange beat. I honestly hadn’t heard the original until I heard this remix. But if you ask any member of the Wolfpack, he will tell you that this FatRat remix was, hands down, the track of the year. Andy discovered it shortly before spring break, and it quickly became a spring break and Wolfpad anthem to be reckoned with. TheFatRat comes in so hard with that siren-like intro that commands your attention and immediately declares, “Fuck what you heard!” Throughout the rest of the track, TheFatRat’s chords sound like they’re being charged with electricity (there’s a certain quality to their sound that I can’t describe otherwise), and I can’t get enough of them. Put this one on repeat.
Nightchain (Wale v Kavinsky) – The Hood Internet
I had an obsession with the Drive soundtrack before I even saw the movie. Kavinsky’s Nightcall was my favorite song from the soundtrack, and I thought Lupe’s version was cool, too. But once BK showed me this Hood Internet mash up, I knew it was the one that would be taking the cake. Wale just complements this beat so well—it sounds like the Kavinsky track was produced for him to rap over. Not that it helped us do well at all, but this was one of my main pump up jams when Ring traveled out to Santa Cruz for Labor Day. Whenever this song comes on, I think of that awesome field site above the clouds and above the bay. CHAIN SO BIG CAN’T POP MY COLLAR! (perhaps that should have been a Chain Lightning cheer???)
Minimix (Annie Mac Radio 1) – Madeon
So at this point I’ve slobbed on Madeon’s knob a fair amount. But this Minimix just touches on so many good jams that it’s hard to ignore and it forces me to keep slobbing. My favorite part involves the breakdown with Raise Your Weapon – it gives me goose bumps. And Madeon keeps nailing the hits from there on out, sampling The Night Out, Music Sounds Better, Illmerica, and some of Madeon’s own work.
Walking Alone (Mass Mashup) – Eric Prydz, Dirty South & Those Usual Suspects Ft. Erik Hecht
When one of the greatest tracks Eric Prdyz/Pryda has ever produced dominates your background beat, you know you’re heading in the right direction with your mash up. When I was tired (of listening to NPR some mornings), I would bump this on drives to work in Charlottesville this past summer to wake me up and get me going.
Invisible at 5AM – Skylar Grey vs. Thomas Sagastad
This song is just…powerful. I get lost in the moment each time the guitar and piano progressions crescendo. On top of the mesmerizing melody, the track showcases some incredibly emotional lyrics from Skylar Grey’s angelic pipes. Kaskade is SO SICK WIT IT when it comes to this mash up business. His work with mash ups has made him my favorite DJ (yes, overtaking Avicii). Merlin, we’re going to have to make one other show besides Atlantic City work in the future.
Let It Stay Fly (Skratch Bastid Blend) – Three Six Mafia, Young Buck & 8 Ball & MJG vs Dazz Band
I’ll concede that this is not your typical mash up. But it’s funky…good, sing along, make you want to disco and swag out at the same time funky. Roll dat, light dat, hit dat, hold dat, blow dat ish out slow then pass it to me, bro!
Dancing On My Own (E-603 Remix) – Robyn
Robyn has made a strong return to the pop scene in recent years, but E-603’s edits take this track to a whole new level. Yeah, sure, the lyrics are corny and actually kind of upsetting, but E-603’s synths cheer you up as you listen. This may or may not be one of my/Charlie’s favorite jams right now/of the new apartment.
Angel On My Stronger (Nicky Romero Mix) – Kaskade vs. Kelly Clarkson & Nicky Romero
Back in April, Merlin emailed me the Kaskade Coachella set. This was one of two tracks that really stuck out to me on my first full listen through on the drive to College Regionals (the other being It’s You, It’s Hertz). The bass wobbling interludes aren’t my favorite, but I love the guitar-strumming progression, and I love Kelly Clarkson’s voice meshed with those big-room, reverberating Kaskade chords. I tried really hard to find this track and couldn’t—but then Kaskade posted is as a #KMM. Let’s just say I came to work early that day.
We Got It Wrong (Lenno Remix) – St. Lucia
St. Lucia has been coming on to the scene as a great alternative indie-electro act and will only explode after its recent exposure at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Lenno brings some more exuberance to this track with a catchy and more upbeat chord progression.
Dreams (Gigamesh Edit) – Fleetwood Mac
Another timeless classic gets modernized in this Gigamesh beat that quickly climbed the Hype Machine charts this fall. What’s great about this edit is that Gigamesh’s alterations are not overpowering—the best parts of the original track (the twangy guitar and distinct vocals) still take center stage and carry it home. Gigamesh just adds a few enhancements to put the track over the top.
1st Team All Trinity
Madeon – The City
I consider this to be the best original track of the year. It has those distinct treble-fluctuating Madeon chords, its bass and lyrics energize you, and the vocal selection is spot on. I discovered this song some time in September, and it quickly became my main pump up jam through Regionals and Nationals. Madeon has had a huge year, and I can’t wait to celebrate that with him at Webster Hall and hopefully when he comes through DC in February. Sign me up for the next clay-paint-bomb war that determines the fate of civilization. Did I mention that dudeman is 17? WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE?!
Years (ft. Matthew Koma) – Alesso
Years was possibly the greatest EDM hit of the summer. I especially like the breakdown where Matthew Koma chimes in with, “The sun hits like a bullet of faith…” Those reverberating chords (which are very Kaskade-esque) leading up to the refrain give me chills every time I hear them. I also have some pretty fond memories of this song. One of my favorite drives of the last few years has been the drive from Wildwood (where we play in a silly beach Frisbee tournament) to the Outer Banks (where my extended family has vacationed for a decade). I start out taking the ferry from Cape May, NJ to Lewes, DE and then drive all the way down the eastern shore before crossing over the Chesapeake Bay and heading down past Norfolk to North Carolina. Considering that I have always crushed this drive by myself, there is a lot of time to just naturally think and reflect while cruising alongside crop fields, golf courses, and awesome sunsets. This song is not as great as some others in this post at helping with deeper though, but when I was listening to it on that drive in July, it helped to provide some excitement and optimism about moving on from college (who are we kidding—that’s not really possible) and figuring out how/where to start to my post-grad life and career. These are certainly going to be some wild and defining years, and I’m excited to keep discovering what they have in store.
The Veldt (ft. Chris James) – Deadmau5
Proposing to your fiancée on Twitter? Dat shit cray. But the man still knows how to make great music. This one isn’t a party starter—it’s more of a reflective jam, joining the ranks of Strobe (greatest chill beat of all time) and I Remember. It’s perfect for helping you clear your mind while powering through a long drive. And the video is super Lion King-esque!
Stay With You (ft. Mike Posner) – Avicii
For a while, I was worried that Avicii wouldn’t produce another jam of Fade Into Darkness quality—a house-pop track with a great melody and lyrics that are karaoke-friendly. Superlove was a nice attempt, but I’ve only given it three stars in my iTunes library. Two Million goes a little too hard for my liking. When Luis posted the unreleased snippet of this song, I instantly knew that this was that Avicii jam I had been awaiting. I’m already a huge Mikey P fan, with fond memories of surviving C’ville snowmageddon `09 raging to his mixtapes and driving around the Chesapeake field sites in August `10 listening to 31 Minutes to Takeoff. I know the vast majority of EDM fans/bloggers overuse hyperbole to convey their appreciation for tracks, but I really mean it when I say that hearing Mikey P collaborate with one of my favorite EDM DJs was like a dream come true. Avicii’s soft chord progression behind Mike’s lyrics—especially the three super high synth notes that complement each of Mike’s lyrics in the second refrain—goes straight to my power source. Alex and I bumped this a ton on the #ROADTRIP to and from Club Regionals.
Allein – Pryda
Eric Prydz has gone through more artist names than I have gone through RSD usernames. This signature single off his much-anticipated album won’t reach the elite echelons of Call On Me, but it still ranks as one of 2012’s best original tracks. Somewhat funny story about this song: for the longest time, I thought the track was supposed to be some weird version of alien (like an outer space creature). I thought the echoing voices in the track were singing, “A la dee da da! A la dee da da!” Then one day at work, on my bajillionth listen, something clicked, and I realized that Allein had nothing to do with a weird spelling of alien, but rather with a pronunciation that sounded like, “align.” And then I realized that that’s what all the echoing voices were singing throughout the track. It’s the little epiphanies like that that carry you through the workday.
PS – Check out the EPIC Radio podcasts on his SoundCloud. He digs through the crates, bringing up decades-old tracks and spinning exclusive tracks that haven’t been released or have only been played at specific shows. Dare I say: his show is better than the LE7ELS podcast!
Sweet Nothing (ft. Florence Welch) – Calvin Harris
Keep doing your collab thing, Calvin…especially with Florence. Everyone digs it.
Calling (Lose My Mind) (ft. Ryan Tedder) – Sebastian Ingrosso & Alesso
If I told you that I had never tried to harmonize with Ryan Tedder’s awesome vocals while driving in my car, I would be lying. If I told you that I had never tried to harmonize with them while raging at the Wolfpad, I would be lying. That is all.
Feel the Love (ft. John Newman) – Rudimental
Conger first alerted us all to this song in this awesome video. Over the course of the year, it has gained traction and spin time on some major sets, like Avicii at Stereosonic. While the lyrics and melody are definitely upbeat, this song is bittersweet in my mind because it got mad playtime at the Wolfpad shortly before we all moved out. It reminds me of the last few ragers in the Wolfpad and driving to and from Ring tryouts on those early May mornings.
In My Mind (Axwell Mix) – Ivan Gough & Feenixpawl ft. Georgi Kay
In My Mind has become Axwell’s signature track. And no, this is not a remix.
City of Dreams – Alesso & Dirty South
So the lyrics are Debbie Downers. I realize that some listeners might not be able to get past that. But everything else about this song rocks: the strumming of the electric guitar in the progression, the idea of Dirty South & Alesso collaborating, and the melodic hook after the bass drops. I don’t know a lot about Dirty South’s sound, but I have come to expect greats like this from Alesso. It’s pretty cool how a song with such depressing lyrics can flip a switch (read: drop the bass) and make you want to rage.
Thanks for reading! Happy New Year! Hit me up with some song suggestions or critiques of these lists!