Back In Time: The 11 Best Dance & EDM of 2011

Continuing our celebration of the biggest decade of EDM as we approach 2020, we’re taking a look back at the years that made it. 2010 was a golden year for dance music including our favourites from Swedish House Mafia and David Guetta. In 2011 we see the domination of Avicii’s global hit, and the breakthrough of Nicky Romero, Bingo Players and more.

Avicii – Levels

Where do we start with ‘Levels’? As soon as Tim played it in his 2010 Essential Mix, everyone’s jaws dropped and they instantly saw its potential. The iconic melody is still catchy to this day. After hearing it on the radio – a mostly instrumental record, it was clear what this would do for Avicii’s career.  With over a billion streams across platforms, this was a massive deal for not only Avicii but dance music in general and would be a track to pinpoint in the commercialisation of EDM.

As with a lot of dance music that crosses into the commercial realm, there was a period of time where the track did become overplayed. Thankfully that has evaporated and the track can be enjoyed in all its glory. Since Tim’s untimely and unfortunate passing, this track, as with many others, has seen a second life.

Nicky Romero – Toulouse

This was undoubtedly Nicky Romero’s breakthrough hit, with over 400 million views on a fan made music video alone. It was definitely a successful release for the Dutch artist. The Guy Fawkes masks depicted throughout the video have become a staple in Nicky Romero’s career. Nicky Romero actually had the waveform for ‘Nothing Toulouse’ tattooed onto his arm, clearly signifying this importance of this release for him. ‘Toulouse’ saw remixes from Chocolate Puma and Tommy Trash.

Above & Beyond feat. Richard Bedford – Sun & Moon

8 years later and this track provides goosebumps to all fans that listen. The powerful and special lead is an iconic sound and is something that has been in the sets of Above and Beyond since its inception. The vocals from Richard Bedford create a beautiful atmosphere that enriches fans in the trance sounds that they’ve come to expect. Overall this is a special song, with the lyrics really hitting some people emotionally. It has a special place in the heart of many Above & Beyond supporters. At the time of writing it has over 40 million streams, although not as many as others on this list – this tracks placement was never in question.

Swedish House Mafia feat. John Martin – Save The World

Like most things Swedish House Mafia touch, their track ‘Save The World’ was a massive hit! With 115M plays on both Spotify and YouTube, this was a tremendous success and further assisted with Swedish House Mafia’s push into the commercial scene. The remix package included some impeccable productions from the likes of Knife Party, Alesso and Third Party.

The film clip was directed by Jon Watts (Spider-man: Homecoming/Far From Home) and featured dogs as heroes. It is both inspirational and cute.

Bingo Players – Rattle

Bingo Players were already prominent names in the music scene before Rattle, however this groundbreaking release shot them to the top of the list. The track became a staple in every DJ’s set, with many mashups and edits of it being made. The catchy lead saw the instrumental become a success worldwide. This initial success saw Far East Movement feature on the track for a vocal version that received even more success on a commercial level. There is a specific amount of plays someone can tolerate with any track and after a while this track became overplayed throughout both the dance and commercial spaces.

Sebastian Ingrosso & Alesso – Calling

Back when Alesso was in his progressive house prime, he teamed up with SHM member Sebastian Ingrosso for the incredible melodic masterpiece that is ‘Calling’. After Alesso left a demo for Ingrosso on his car windshield, he signed him and eventually collaborated on ‘Calling’. This really represents the golden era for Swedish progressive house. A vocal version featuring Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic was released the following year and received praise around the world, hitting top 10 in many countries. With close to 200 million streams on YouTube and Spotify collectively, this was no doubt a shock for the artists.

Knife Party – Internet Friends

‘Internet Friends’ was a staple in most sets throughout 2011, if the original wasn’t played, you were likely to hear an edit/mashup. The crazy robotic vocals and the heavy electronic drop made this track quite unique and it definitely paid of well for Pendulum spin off Knife Party. The Australian duo initially released it as a free download, later adding to to the 100% No Modern Talking EP which kicked off the Knife Party brand in an explosive manner.

Steve Aoki & Laidback Luke feat. Lil Jon – Turbulence

Good friends Steve Aoki and Laidback Luke came together for ‘Turbulence’. Recruiting Lil Jon also, who brought his signature vocals to the already energetic release. To date, it is still one of Luke’s most successful releases. With a crazy film clip and a production like this, it was an immediate success 8 years ago. It was accompanied with remixes from Sandro Silva, Sidney Samson, D.O.D and others.

David Guetta feat. Sia – Titanium

Also produced by Afrojack, ‘Titanium’ was a massive hit, with over 1 billion plays on YouTube and over 600 million on Spotify. What made this track special and eventually successful was of course the stand out vocals from Sia but also the tremendous production. Speaking of production, it features signature Afrojack sounds as well as high energy yet commercially appealable drop.

NERO- Promises

Nero’s biggest track is ‘Promises’, released in 2011 – it still gets praise today. The UK trio included ‘Promises’ in their debut album Welcome Reality. Skrillex also remixed the track, his remix became a hit in itself, with almost more plays that the original and is still being played in 2019. The release went Gold in AUS/NZ and charted high in many counties around the globe. The music video shows a woman in a dystopian regimented future society with mandatory drug consumption, similar in style to the film Equilibrium.

Calvin Harris – Feels So Close

Calvin Harris is undeniably a hit maker and ‘Feels So Close’ was no exception. Hitting 300 million on Spotify and 250 million on YouTube, this was a big track from Calvin Harris and his journey into the mainstream. Back in 2011, Calvin Harris was still signing on some of his songs – the vocals are very good in this and we hope to see him make a return to signing in the future. The sound design and production as a whole is flawless. The single went platinum 3x in USA, 4x in Australia, 5x in Canada and received similar accolades around the world. Dillon Francis, Benny Benassi and NERO remixed the track, with NERO’s mix attracting well over 30 million streams.

Honorable Mentions

Like the 2010 list, it was not easy to be restricted to 11 tracks. Songs such as Alesso’s outstanding remix of Pressure by Nadia Ali, Starkillers & Alex Kenji was easily one of the highlights of 2011 – still being one of the best Alesso productions to date. Rivaling that, is Michael Calfan’s Resurrection in the Axwell recut – although Axwell literally just re-cut it, he took a lot of the praise. Resurrection has an incredible melody and production that saw it being a must in all SHM sets. The instrumental is something magical that holds up today and should see more plays out in the dance world!

Hardwell and Tiësto came together for the first time for Zero 76, named after the area code for their home tome of Breda, Netherlands. Bassjackers released their breakthrough track Mush Mush on Musical Freedom. 2011 saw Fedde Le Grand put out So Much Love, a super solid anthem from the Dutchman. Skrillex released First Of The Year (Equinox) and its crazy video clip that has racked up over 400 million plays. Afrojack and Steve Aoki published No Beef, the slightly underrated track features vocals from Miss Palmer and a signature Afrojack drop first that goes into a more melodic second drop. Last but by no means least, deadmau5 released Raise Your Weapon, this classic mau5 melodic style together with Faroese singer Greta Svabo Bech vocals resulted in one of deadmau5’s best over the years!

The 11 tracks listed, along with the honorable mentions discussed above are featured in our Dance Classics Playlist below.




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