It’s the poll everybody in dance music is still talking about. Love it or loathe it, DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJs poll is still the go-to marker for the international trends in our beloved electronic music scene. The poll has grown organically over the past 20+ years, and has grown in importance exponentially over time because it’s the one set of dance music awards exclusively voted for by clubbers. Worldwide. From every conceivable country you can think of.
This year we received almost a million verified votes. There are 21 new entries into the Top 100 DJs poll this year, three re-entries and seven non-movers. Nearly 30% of the DJs in the Top 100 – 29, to be exact – are from Holland, reflecting the small European country’s continued dominance of the global dance scene.
The US isn’t too far behind them now, with a smattering of DJs also from Germany, Belgium, Sweden, France, Italy and the UK. Otherwise there are DJs from Russia, Australia, Switzerland, Ukraine, central America, Malta, Slovenia, Israel, Portugal, Spain, India, Poland, Brazil, Egypt, Moldova and Canada also represented in the Top 100.
And yes, it’s all change at the top — there’s a new No.1 for 2015, and anybody who tuned into the awards show on Friday 16th October in Amsterdam — or indeed has already glanced at the front cover of this magazine — will already know the identity of the new No.1 act.
So it’s a massive congratulations to Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike — the new No.1 DJ act in the world. The Belgian brothers have knocked Hardwell off the top spot, denying him the chance to emulate his mentor Tiesto by winning the crown three years in a row. But maybe Hardwell will be back on top next year — who knows?
Dimi and Mike are proper party DJs. They know what it takes to rock a party, and they like to party along with the crowd too.
They’re also, obviously, the Highest Duo in the poll again, and rocked it at the awards during ADE, our Top 100 DJs party in London the following night.
Immediately behind DV&LM in the list are four big name Dutch DJs. Hardwell is No.2, teenage sensation Martin Garrix rises to No.3, and former Top 100 winner Armin van Buuren — also the Highest Trance DJ — slips one place to No.4. Tiesto, the enigmatic big room Dutchman, stays at No.5, and David Guetta — another former poll winner — leapfrogs Avicii to place at No.6.
Afrojack has had a good year, climbing four places to jump back into the top ten, and he’s closely followed by Skrillex, Steve Aoki and Calvin Harris — all of whom place in exactly the same positions as last year. Indeed, the Top 20 is mostly the same big names as last year, but in a different order. Shuffled.
These are the biggest names in the world, the DJs who’ve been headlining festivals and arena shows all year. The exceptions are Oliver Heldens, the future house pioneer who is up 22 massive places to No.12 — also coming in as the Highest House DJ — and Diplo, who jumps 12 places into the Top 20. Considering that the Mad Decent man also comes in at No.45 with his Jack U pairing with Skrillex, and as part of Major Lazer in at No.54, it’s obviously been a big year for him.
The Highest New Entry, straight in at No.23, is KSHMR (pronounced ‘Kashmir’), the California producer formerly in hip-hop act The Cataracs. He was anonymous at first, when his tunes started smashing the Beatport charts, before Tiesto revealed his identity at Ultra Miami 2015 by introducing him onto the stage.
KSHMR, signed to EDM giant Spinnin’, has been name-checked by many of the Top 100 in their profiles as being the breakthrough DJ of the year. It’s quite an achievement for someone who’s only been making EDM for two or three years — and has only so far done one show. It’s testament to his raft of Beatport No.1s, and how important production is to a DJ’s success these days.
KSHMR is named in partial homage to his Indian heritage, but somebody who is really opening up the Asian sub-continent is DJ Chetas from Mumbai, India. Mashing up Bollywood sounds with EDM, and with nearly a million Facebook likes, the first Indian DJ to make the Top 100 is helping to open up this new market to the global dance scene.
He debuts in the chart at No.59. Other big new entries into the top 50 are Norwegian tropical house man Kygo; Dutch EDMers Bassjackers in at No.39; Alok from Brazil, in at No.44; and Tom Swoon from Poland, in at No.46.
Additional European new entries include Spanish house newcomer Danny Avila, French future house star Tchami, big room German DJ Tujamo, and Dutch future house Highest Climber Don Diablo and electro-bass fiends Yellow Claw.
And at last, Disclosure, the UK brothers who have just sold out Madison Square Garden in NYC, finally break into the 100 — smashing in at No.65. Another Brit, Flux Pavilion also zooms into the chart — the bass music man debuts at No.86.
The re-entries into the poll also make for fascinating reading. After a good year during which he’s reverted to longer DJ sets, Chuckie zips back into the poll at No.77, while there are also re-entries for drum & bass stalwarts Netsky and Andy C.
The latter has featured in the Top 100 for most of the past 15 years, usually as the Highest Drum & Bass DJ, and his reappearance suggests that the new generation of drum & bass fans are starting to reconnect with the poll. And that The Executioner has scored a slew of new fans Stateside in recent times.
EDM obviously still dominates the poll. There is some confusion, though — as evidenced by the answers of various DJs to the question ‘Is the future still bright for EDM?’ — as to what EDM is.
Does it mean the whole of electronic dance music, including all styles, or does it refer exclusively to the style of big room electro-house played by Hardwell, Tiesto et al? This confusion — about whether ‘EDM’ means the whole of electronic dance music, or is a genre itself within dance music — has led several DJs to start categorising their style as ‘big room’.
Other award winners in the poll this year include DJ Snake, who is the Highest Trap DJ at No.32; we’ve given Axwell & Ingrosso the Highest Collaboration award, as they’ve both obviously been in the poll for a number of years — both individually and as part of the Swedish House Mafia — but are now very much a firm pairing; and Angerfist is again the Highest Hard DJ, although a few of his hardstyle contemporaries — Headhunterz, Brennan Heart, Radical Redemption etc — have slipped in the poll, suggesting that maybe hardstyle doesn’t translate to all dancefloors the world over.
Richie Hawtin has had a great year with his ENTER. night at Space in Ibiza, and this is reflected by a massive jump of 39 places to No.51 in the 2015 poll — making him the Highest Techno DJ, the accolade mostly won by the evergreen Carl Cox in recent years.
Coxy, who also had a great year in Ibiza, holds steady in the chart, while Slovenian techno stalwart Umek has had a good year too — he’s up five places.
The Next 50 DJs, the jocks who’ve placed between positions 101-150 in the poll this year, make for interesting reading too. Jamie Jones, Maceo Plex, Marco Carola, Sasha, Paul Kalkbrenner, Loco Dice, Flosstradamus and Fatboy Slim are all in the next 50 – despite not campaigning for votes whatsoever, as far as we’re aware.
Once again, women are under-represented in the poll this year. Despite there being hundreds of great women DJs out there, only three appear in this year’s Top 100 — NERVO, Krewella and Miss K8, the hardcore techno spinner from Ukraine. If it was up to the DJ Mag staff, many more female DJs would appear in the poll, but because it is 100% a public vote we have to print what the clubbers decide.
The under-representation of women does beg the question: is clubland inherently sexist? To start delving into this issue a bit, we asked all the DJs in the 100 ‘Why aren’t there more women DJs in the Top 100 DJs poll?’ Most expressed disappointment that there isn’t, but a few EDM chumps suggested that ‘maybe women spend too much time in the make-up shop’ or ‘women aren’t trying hard enough’. It’s sexist attitudes such as these that are part of the problem, and there should be no place for it in our international scene.