December 27, 2011 Share


It’s the end of the year and that means taking a look back at the year that was and invariably, whether you like it or not, making lists, handing out awards, and the like. For us, it means our DJ of The Year honor and on this, our third year of bestowing a DJ as the best of the year, a year in which Dance music has gone mainstream and DJs are bigger and more front and center then they have been in a very long time, we find ourselves asking ourselves again a very important question. What makes a DJ of the Year?

Are these choices essentially a popularity contest, or is it more the sum of a breakout year behind the turntables plus a breakout year behind the boards as producer? Or perhaps it’s about something more esoteric, such as a DJs creative contributions to the scene, or more importantly the craft of DJing. Personally, I wouldn’t mind if it were the later, but I think it’s safe to say, it’s a combination of all these reasons – let’s not forget to throw in some politics and a dash of corruption, of course.

One thing is for certain, looking at the many DJ polls there are, and the resulting commentary from fans and industry heads alike, no matter what the criteria, it’s easy to see that no one is ever truly in agreement over the results. It’s sad, but sometimes the only thing you can bet on being consistent, is the politics.

Swedish House MafiaBut let’s say all is legit behind the scenes, and the fans true votes are in fact determining the results of many of these end of the year lists we are either so fond of or loathe with all our being. It’s still hard to make sense of some of the results. Some polls lean so much towards one genre of music, you can almost see right past its voters demographics and right into their living rooms and hear what they’re listening to. Of course, there are the divisions too, there are plenty of charts that heavily represent the electronic music DJs, but what about Hip Hop/Urban DJs? Are they not DJs? And what about women DJs? Some lists have no female DJs at all, while others might include a few at best.

Mark ShulzLastly there is our own individual tastes, what is considered creative by one is irritating noise to the next listener. Dub Step anyone? Personally, if we were going to select on creativity, I would like to see Art Department, the Canadian duo at the top of the list, or perhaps German DJ, Dixon with his eclectic and dramatic sets that border on the cinematic.

If we were to select based on a DJs popularity, the decision wouldn’t be any easier. One persons idea of a breakout year is considered straight selling out for another. Take for instance David Guetta. He had a remarkable year, his album ‘Nothing But The Beat’ went platinum in 5 countries, additionally he had a few noteworthy remixes, and appeared not only all over the radio, but on network television too. This is good for Dance music, right?

Well, despite the fact that Guetta truly loves DJing and is a big promoter of underground dance culture, at least he says so time and time again in interviews, so called dance culture purists can’t stand him. All you have to do is read through the comments and forums all over the Internet to see just how much hate there is for Guetta out there. It’s quite scary actually. But if we were going to base our selection on these facts, it would be hard to avoid Guetta. He had that big a year.

All this talk got us thinking about our decision and one thing became very clear to all of us. See, despite Guetta’s break-out year we all agreed he wasn’t our best choice, this year anyway, and due to their newness, my suggestions of Art Department and Dixon didn’t score high either. But the one thing we did agree on is that there was no DJ who really stood out based on a combination of all the criteria we have covered here, none had such a breakout year that he or she would make the decision easy, such as our two previous winners Deadmau5 and Black Coffee did. Granted, there were a lot of great DJs, a lot of movement made, Dance music truly was global. And that’s when it hit us.

RihannaThe real star of 2011, the breakout star that made major moves, was on every one’s lips, playing in their ears, and thumping in their chests, is what some call Electronic music and others call Dance music, which for simplicity’s sake, is what we’ll refer to it as. Whatever you call it, 2011 was the year that Dance music emerged from the underground and took over the airwaves. We saw top billing R&B and Hip Hop artists such as Rihanna, Flo Rida, Taio Cruz, even Snoop Dog get in on the action. Dance remixes of originals by Adele, Beyonce, Katy Perry, and more got as much, if not more play as the originals. Acts like Swedish House Mafia, LMFAO, and Deadmau5 continued on their tear of turning Dance music on its head.

In case all of that commercial success is contrary to your purists wishes, things were just as hot in the underground. The aforementioned Art Department and Dixon are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the creativity bubbling deep underground. Skrillex, Maceo Plex, Seth Troxler, Maya Jane Coles, Loco Dice, Soul Clap, Jamie Jones, Motor City Drum Ensemble, Afrojack, Agoria, Moodyman, no matter what your tastes, there is plenty to chose from. It is a wonderful time for dance music! And that is why this year, we are selecting Dance music itself as this years DJ of the Year.

Art DepartmentWhat? Dance music is not a person! You’re right. See, as we all know, there are a lot of polls out there, and as we covered above, the results, compiled from legions of fans and industry people each with their own views and tastes, are as varied as the fans and the genres represented by the many DJs themselves, and thus there is always disappointment. And that wont change. But one thing that can change is us. And that is what we are doing this year with how we carry out our DJ of The Year honor.

See, we could’ve done a fan vote, or queried industry people, but we chose to have this be more than a popularity contests or a judgement call, and that means stepping back and looking at the bigger picture, by looking at the environment itself as well as its inhabitants. In other words, it won’t always be a DJ. More often than not it will, but sometimes, it can be a genre, a movement, a piece of technology even, we are opening up the floodgates, and we feel good about it.

Maya Jane ColesWe’re the first to admit, we are not the first to do this. Time magazine honors a Person of the Year, and guess what, it’s not always a person. The ‘middle class’ was selected in 1962, the ‘computer’ in 1982, ‘You,’ as in us, the denizen’s of the Internet in 2006, and this year, the ‘Protester’ was honored, representing the rising up of the voices of disenfranchised people all over the globe. We’re down with this last result and with how Time magazine performs this yearly task, and we are taking a cue. And proud of it.

We know there will be detractors, those who simply won’t get it, but we feel good about this and with that being said, we congratulate our 2011 DJ of The Year winner, Dance music! Now, let’s dance!

Click below for a full list of all the DJ of the Week and WeekendMix features we’ve done not only in 2011 but since we began. As you will see and hear, there is plenty to be proud of in our Dance music world. Let’s make 2012 just as big!