Electronic Dance Music (EDM) is known for its catchy melodies, enchanting rhymes and exciting beat drops, compelling even the worst sceptics of this music genre to bob their heads and tap their feet to its beats. This style has been stealing the limelight for the past few decades with electronic music artists such as Swedish House Mafia, Skrillex, Avicii and Diplo, making their mark in mainstream media by serving platinum-certified bangers.
Although it may appear that EDM has been gaining momentum in recent years, it has existed in the underground music scene since the 1980s. The year 2010 was when iconic artists, including Deadmau5, Tiesto and David Guetta, started emerging out of the shadows, signalling a new era of electronic music.
The electronic music genre encompasses more than the stereotypical heart-thumping ‘noise’. Subgenres include chillstep, focusing on creating mellow, downtempo beats; acid house, typically regarded as energetic rave music; and techno, embracing more experimental, high-octane electrifying sounds.
Here are some of the best electronic music artists ruling the EDM scene
Swedish House Mafia
EDM forerunners, DJ supergroup and the face of mainstream progressive house music, Swedish House Mafia is a trio — Axwell, Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso — from Stockholm, Sweden. Before uniting as a group in 2007, the three musicians successfully worked as solo DJs/artists in the 1990s and early 2000s.
They blazed into the global music scene with numbers such as “Don’t You Worry Child”, “Save the World”, “One” and “Leave the World Behind,” paving the way for new-age EDM artists. The group played a huge role in the overall EDM boom in the 2010s.
Swedish House Mafia disbanded in 2013 at the peak of their career, only to make an explosive comeback in 2021 with a new single in collaboration with The Weeknd titled “Moth To A Flame,” sending their fans into a frenzy. The trio released their debut studio album Paradise Again in April 2022 (Until One (2010) and Until Now (2012) were singles compilations), via labels SSA Recording and Republic Records.
Skrillex is an American singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, music producer and DJ who played a pioneering role in bringing electronica and dance music to the mainstream. His highly acclaimed music videos include “First of the Year”, “Bangarang” and “My Name is Skrillex.”
His music career took off when he was chosen as frontman for a post-hardcore band, From First to Last, in 2008. During his time with the band, he played a vital role in launching their albums, including Heroine, Dear Diary and My Teen Angst Has a Body Count, but parted ways with them to pursue a solo career.
As a soloist, Skrillex went on nationwide music tours, where he collaborated with several bands, including All Time Low, Forever the Sickest Kids and The Matches. His debut EP titled Gypsyhook was released in 2009, following which he adopted the alias Skrillex.
The first album, My Name Is Skrillex (2010), recorded under his new stage name, was available for free on his official MySpace page. Beating even the legendary French electronic music duo Daft Punk’s record, he has won eight Grammy Awards, more than any other electronic dance music artist.
British-Norwegian DJ and electronic music artist Alan Walker is best known for his ultra-popular 2015 EDM anthem “Faded,” which has amassed over 3 billion views on YouTube. The song was certified platinum in over 23 countries, which served as a springboard toward attaining global acclaim as an artist.
Having over 50 billion audio and video streams on Spotify and other platforms, Walker’s songs bear a trademark melancholic undertone and groovy sounds.
The talented artist has collaborated with major names in music such as Bruno Mars, Miley Cyrus, Coldplay, Sia, A$AP Rocky, Kygo and Avicii. His other notable tracks include “Sing Me To Sleep” (2016), “Alone” (2016), “Tired” (featuring Gavin James, 2017), “Darkside” (2017), “Diamond Heart” (2018), “Are You Lonely” (featuring ISÁK and Steve Aoki, 2019) and “On My Way” (featuring Farruko and Sabrina Carpenter, 2019).
Owing to his love for films and music, Walker immortalised his first world tour by making a documentary-style film titled Aviation Movie, which was released in June 2021. The movie features raw footage from his exhilarating concert held at the Oslo Spektrum Stadium in Norway.
Arguably the most recognised name in the pop and electronic dance music scene, Martin Garrix is a new-age EDM artist who catapulted to fame through his 2013 breakout single “Animals.” The Dutch disc jockey bagged the No. 1 spot on DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJs list for three consecutive years — 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Garrix swiftly climbed the ranks of dance music in the seven years since “Animals” was released, conquering stages across the world and unveiling more invigorating hits. They include the highly acclaimed “Scared To Be Lonely” featuring Dua Lipa, “There For You” with Troye Sivan, “Ocean” with Khalid, “Summer Days’ with Macklemore and Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy, “Home” and “High On Life” with Bonn.
He won two MTV EMAs and was selected for the Forbes ‘30 under 30’ list twice. The artist made it on Billboard’s ‘21 Under 21’ list thrice and received honours on Billboard’s ‘EDM Power Players’. He even performed at the 2018 Closing Ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in South Korea.
Scottish DJ, record producer, singer and songwriter Calvin Harris has come a long way since recording music from his bedroom as a teenager and working odd jobs to becoming one of the most recognised and successful electronic artists in the world. With a net worth of around USD 300 million, Harris is riding high on the wave of success.
The multi-talented artist produces groovy and hypnotic club music, loved by ravers and partygoers all around the world. Harris has collaborated with musical stars, including Dua Lipa, Sam Smith and Rihanna. The Grammy-nominated musician demonstrated his killer vocal skills through the hit tracks “My Way” and “Summer.”
Harris’ won over 32 international awards, including Producer of the Year and British Single of The Year awards, with Dua Lipa for their hit track, “One Kiss,” at the 2019 BRIT awards.
David Guetta is a French electronic music producer and DJ who rose to fame by mixing Daft Punk’s sleek house music with a sprinkling of electroclash punch, during the EDM boom of the generation. From Paris nightclub DJ in the 1990s to two-time Grammy award-winner in 2010 and 2011, Guetta’s career trajectory has been nothing short of impressive.
The artist first gained international success in the late 2000s with chart-topping hit tracks “One Love” and “Nothing But the Beat.” His house music served as anthems to pop fans. Guetta has collaborated with the biggest names in the music industry, including Nicki Minaj, Sam Martin, Sia, Morten, Chris Willis, Rihanna, Kelly Rowland and Afrojack.
He released the EP New Rave in 2020 and worked with singer Sia on the energetic and catchy synthwave/pop hit “Let’s Love.”
Marshmello is an American dance music producer and DJ whose real identity is shrouded in mystery. The artist, who is speculated to be American DJ Chris Comstock, sports a white bucket-shaped helmet marked with a smiley face to maintain his obscurity, following in the footsteps of iconic anonymous electronic music artists such as Deadmau5 and Daft Punk. The enigmatic DJ ventured into the music industry in 2015 by releasing his works on the internet, which landed him gigs at popular events such as New York’s Pier 94, Pomona, California’s HARD Day of the Dead festival and Miami Music Week.
Marshmello self-released his debut studio album Joytime through his label, Joytime Collective in 2016, which secured the fifth spot on Billboard’s Top Dance/Electronic Albums chart. Both his following albums Joytime II (2018) and Joytime III (2019) bagged the No. 1 spot on the Billboard chart.
The talented musician has collaborated with Selena Gomez for the song “Wolves” (2017), Khalid for “Silence” (2017) and Bastille for the platinum-certified track “Happier” (2018), among other artists.
Marshmello made history by conducting the first-ever live virtual concert inside a video game called Fortnite, with millions of people in attendance in 2019. His 2021 track “Shockwave” from his fourth studio album of the same name marked his return to the top ten on the charts.
This list is not complete without mentioning the late Swedish EDM artist, remixer and music producer Avicii, who gained recognition in 2011 with the release of his Grammy-winning debut single “Levels.” The artist worked tirelessly since the age of 16. He posted his remixes on electronic music forums as a teenager, which eventually caught the attention of record producers and labels and landed him his first deal.
His meteoric rise to stardom can be attributed to some of his most popular music compilations/albums, including True (2013), Days/Nights EP (2014), Stories (2015) and Tim (2019). He ushered in the EDM genre in the commercial space and opened doors for other artists such as Martin Garrix, Kygo and Zedd.
Prior to his tragic death in 2018, Avicii bagged numerous prestigious awards for his superhit single “Wake Me Up,” including Best Solo Artist at the 2013 International Dance Music Awards and Favourite Electronic Dance Music Artist at the American Music Awards. The song also surpassed 1 billion streams on Spotify, making it Sweden’s most-streamed song worldwide.
His legacy lives on in the hearts of music fans through heartwarming tributes, unreleased music, a potential biographical documentary, online memorials and his own charity, Tim Bergling Foundation, which keeps his philanthropic vision alive.
(Main and featured image credit: Marshmello/@marshmello/Instagram)