The Hottest EDM songs of 2021
Best EDM songs of 2021
2021 was another hard year for EDM fans who found their favorite festivals once again cancelled due to the pandemic. But just because live music was not an option, that didn’t mean that there wasn’t any great music coming out in 2021. Instead of the Electric Daisy Carnival, we tripped out at home, on Zoom, with our friends. We pumped the beats through our Beats headphones and made the best of another very weird year. In this post, we’re going to look back and highlight the best of the best EDM songs of 2021, but we’re also going to answer some other burning questions as well. We’re going to ask, what is the best electronic dance music playlist on Spotify? And we want to figure out what are some sick EDM drops that you absolutely must hear. In order to identify the best EDM songs of 2021, we’re going to choose one track from each of the ten sub-genres of EDM. Let’s get started!
House: Your Love by Qrion
There’s something deceptively simple about this track, partly because it has a delicateness that often isn’t found in House music these days. Instead of the typically throbbing beat we often expect in House songs, Your Love keeps things simple and uncompressed. As a result, we can clearly hear the layers of tracks that come and go during the roughly four-minute run time. At times, there are hints of vocals that drift in and out, adding an additional sense of mystery to the track. There’s something refreshing about a House track that you can listen to on headphones and find relaxing rather than energizing, but this song walks the line between atmospheric and dancey in a way that feels really good.
Dubstep: Tins by Leotrix
At only 22 years old, Leotrix is very much a newcomer to the EDM scene but based on his 2021 track Tins you wouldn’t know it. The track starts out melodically before dropping into an all-out assault on the senses. Glitchy and staticky grooves take over until the track breaks again about midway through. Unlike many Dubstep track, Tins feels committed to injecting melody and harmony into a genre that often focuses more on finding the craziest industrial sounds possible. Much of this track is no exception to that rule, but the structure of the song allows Leotrix to build and release tension in a manner that keeps the song interesting all the way through. From a technical standpoint, there is something very advanced feeling about this track as well. The choice of loops feels very deliberate, and the interplay between the various elements works intricately instead of feeling haphazard and chaotic. For us, that makes Tins one of the best EDM songs of 2021.
Trap: Rumor by Moore Kismet ft. WYN
The opening of this track is light and airy, but you just know something big is coming. If you want to know what are some sick EDM drops, look no further that this track where the drops happen in such unexpected ways so that you never really know what is going to happen on the other side. That’s one of the most interesting parts of this track. Just when you feel like you know what’s going on, it does something completely unexpected. About halfway through the track, we drop back to the light, airy intro section, and the tension starts to build from there. This kind of unpredictability is what keeps Moore Kismet at the forefront of Trap music. Not content to follow what is already being done, Kismet is always looking for a new, melodic approach to a genre that often takes a more heavy-handed approach. Rumor may never reach the intensity of some Trap tracks, but that’s also what makes it such an enjoyable listen. Instead of hitting the listener over the head, Moore Kismet keeps things grounded and controlled. It’s a tough rope to walk, but this track does it expertly.
Drum and Bass: Lighthouse by Etherwood ft. Zara Kershaw
This track does not start out like an EDM track at all. In fact, you might think you’re about to hear a mid-indie rock song with spartan electric guitar chords carried by an airy synth line. Not exactly what you think of when you think of D&B, but about a minute in, things start to get moving. A fast moving hi-hat beat transforms the song into something ethereal and rhythmic at the same time. Part of what makes this song stand out is the fact that it harnesses a level of emotion that EDM fans connect with, especially when it’s being played to a huge crowd. This is one of those tracks that makes you feel uplifted, and there is an undeniable optimism in the chord progressions that effortlessly shift between major and minor. It’s a simple trick but an endlessly effective one, and this track gives you exactly what you want to hear. The vocals, supplied by Zara Kershaw, are the real star of the show here. The lyrics, as simple as they are, convey a sense of hope and aspiration, but the real effect of the vocals comes from the sheer, simple beauty of Kershaw’s voice. This is one of those track you want to listen to again as soon as it’s over.
Future Bass: Sideways by Illenium ft. Valerie Broussard and Nurko
Like so many Illenium tracks, the production really takes center stage. Sideways is no exception, and it makes it clear why Illenium has become one of the most popular and successful artists working these days. Somehow, Illenium manages to keep track of all of the different tracks he’s using, and they all come through with amazing clarity, while the vocal from Broussard always stays crystal clear right at the front of the track. Easily one of the best EDM songs of 2021, Sideways plays out more like a standard pop song, but it always makes sure to come back to its EDM root with some of the sickest EDM drops we’ve heard in Future Bass. There’s also a building quality which has become one of Illenium’s trademarks, which often lead to drops that are so compressed that the music feels as though it has disappeared completely before coming roaring back. Again and again, Illenium has proven that his technical mastery is why his rise has been so meteoric. This track is one of his more memorable, partly due to the fact that the vocal moves the song along so consistently. And when it’s finished, it just quietly drops away into silence.
Synthwave: Close Encounter by Dynatron
Honestly, the first time I started listening to this track, I thought I had accidentally put on the Pink Floyd tune Shine On You Crazy Diamond. The opening is that similar. In place of David Gilmour’s guitar part though, is a trippy, bell-like melody that flits around the edges of the synth wash, and it feels as though you’ve walked into an episode of the X-Files. What I did not expect next was the chunky metal guitar chords. This was an eye opener, and I was so curious about what would happen next. In reality, there is a very progressive element to this song, that makes it extremely cinematic, and when the metal guitar comes back in, you realize that you’re not getting a typical EDM beat either. Instead, it feels like a slow burn metal track with washes of synth moving around the peripheries. One of the reasons why this song is one of the best EDM songs of 2021 is because of how thoroughly it shakes off so many of the conventions of EDM in favor of spooky synth lines and a constant chugging guitar washed in stereo chorus and perhaps a bit of phaser or flanger. It’s one of those tracks that just keeps you guessing the whole way through, and interestingly, it never settles into a consistent or repeatable pattern, which some might say goes against some of the main principles of EDM. Instead, what we get is something closer to doom metal prog-rock that sounds like it should be playing during the climax of a horror movie.
Techno: For the Ride by Lupa
Here at www.turntablelive.com, we love to highlight new and up-and-coming artist, so it makes sense that we’re dubbing Lupa’s For the Ride one of the best EDM songs of 2021. Her retro-sounding beat is coupled with a swirling arpeggiated synth melody, but then the song drops into another mood altogether. Things turn dark, and suddenly it’s not clear where this track is headed. The simple vocal sings: “I’m just along for the ride,” and this is how we, as listeners, feel as well. Instead of anticipating where the song will go next, it’s much more fun to sit back and just enjoy the ride, wherever it takes you. Lupa’s use of arpeggiation to build tension is really first rate, and she has an amazing sense of when and how to resolve that tension before moving the song in a different direction. Constantly expanding and contracting, the song seems to always be moving in a very urgent direction, but you never know where it will end up next. We haven’t heard a whole lot from Lupa yet, but based on how successful this track is, it’s likely we’ll be hearing a lot more from her in the near future. Let’s take a quick break from the list and answer a burning question:
What is the best electronic dance music playlist on Spotify?
We searched out the most played EDM playlists on Spotify to see what people want to hear right now. It turns out that your favorite EDM playlist depends greatly on what you plan to do while listening to it. So, let’s go through the top five EDM playlists on Spotify to see what’s on them. Currently, the most popular EDM playlist is called Beast Mode, and it’s geared towards people who want to hear something upbeat while pumping iron at the gym. But it’s a pretty eclectic playlist featuring The Motto by Tiesto as well as Motley Crew by Post Malone. Coming in at #2 is an exclusively 90s playlist that will appeal to anyone looking to relive those glorious days before social media and streaming audio. It might be a stretch to say that this is truly an EDM playlist since it starts off with the Sheryl Crow classic All I Wanna Do which is definitely not an EDM track. In the #3 spot is a playlist called Mint that is a more traditional EDM mix with like likes of Alison Wonderland, Swedish House Mafia, Alesso, and James Hype. Top Brasil is the fourth most played EDM playlist, and as you can imagine it features Brazilian artists like Gusttavo Lima, Felipe Amorim, and Matuê. Rounding out the top five is the Motivation mix, which features more mainstream acts like ACRAZE, Ed Sheeran, and Strange Fruits. So, regardless of what you’re looking for, Spotify has you covered when it comes to the hottest EDM playlists. Ok, let’s get back to the list!
Best EDM songs of 2021 (continued)
Midtempo: Help Me by AWAY and Koda This track starts off like a mellower version of a Nine Inch Nails song, but it slowly morphs into something that sounds more similar to Radiohead without the guitars. For an EDM track, this song relies pretty heavily on the lead vocal, and the various synth elements jump in and out of the track but mostly stay on the edges of the production. The chaotic melodies pop in and out with various little percussion flourishes that keep the track moving along. As the song moves on, the vocal becomes even more reminiscent of something Thom Yorke might come up with, but the chorus always brings us back to something that sounds a bit more like Trent Reznor’s early work with NIN. It all adds up to a track that is both forceful and haunting. Towards the end, an ominous piano bass line creeps in just to make things feel extra spooky.
Dance Pop: Time by SG Lewis
“There was harmony in the music, there was a harmony in the behavior of the people, and we had a good time,” is the first thing you hear on SG Lewis’ 2021 track Time. Then the hi-hat beat comes in with modulated Wurlitzer piano, but it’s still not clear where we’re headed. The next lyric that comes through is “don’t waste this time,” and this feels like a specific demand considering all we’ve been through in the last couple of years. Once the track settles into its disco swing, you can tell that this is going to be a good time. The hints of strings hard panned to the sides recalls memories of most disco tracks from the 70s, but the way all of the instruments are modified gives the track a decidedly modern-retro feel. The bassline also harkens back to 70s disco as it pushes the song along without intruding too much. One of the reasons why this is one of the best EDM songs of 2021 is because you just want to sit with and get lost in the groove. While this would definitely be a great track for the dancefloor, it’s also just fine at home on headphones.
Trance: Turn the World into a Dancefloor by Armin van Buuren The opening of this track is a bit deceptive because, at first, it sounds nothing like an EDM track with its lilting piano melody. But after one of the sickest drops we’ve ever heard, things kick in just like you’d expect. Van Buuren isn’t reinventing the wheel here. He’s been making EDM for a long time, and he’s very good at what he does. This track does not find him going in some wildly new direction, but it does show just how good he is at creating beats and synth parts that create urgency and excitement. There’s a reason why van Buuren has been at the top of the EDM game for over a decade: He knows what gets people moving, and his style of Trance is probably the template for up-and-coming Trance artists. He’s the godfather of Trance, and he knows it. That’s why tracks like Turn the World into a Dancefloor are just so much fun. This isn’t a track that keeps you guessing. After a brief intro, you know where the next three minutes are going to take you, and that’s just find. Sometimes it’s fun to hear a great version of something you love.
Here at www.turntablelive.com, we know that you want to find the best of what’s out there so you can share it with your friends. Our goal is to make you aware of all the cool new tunes that you may not have heard yet. Create new playlists, invite your friends to share theirs, and have a great time. After all, music is better with friends.