As the lead up to 2020 continues, we are counting down some of the best dance music of the decade, this time showcasing the best 12 from 2012. 2012 was arguably a year which had major impact on dance music with some of the best anthems over the decade falling into this year. Below we have listed 12 of the best releases across the year, summarising this down to 12 was not at all easy.
Otto Knows – Million Voices
Otto Knows’ brilliant track ‘Million Voices’ was a kickstarter to a huge wave of productions focusing on vocal cuts and melodies – but none of them able to surpass Otto’s. The vocals are actually edited from Wyclef Jean’s song of the same name. The vocal melody is iconic in dance music and whilst it does not get a lot of love in sets 9 years later, the track was massive in its hay day. When commercial radio got its hands on it, it began a second life and appealed to the masses. This was Otto’s initial release on Sebastian Ingrosso’s Refune label, resulting in a close friendship with the label head which has seen Otto work closely with the imprint ever since.
Otto has not released a lot of tracks over the years, but since ‘Million Voices’, he has teamed up with acts such as Avicii, Bebe Rexha & Klahr. Otto Knows was in the studio with Ingrosso and Alesso making ‘Calling’ and was so inspired that he found the vocal and produced ‘Million Voices’ in a day.
Swedish House Mafia feat. John Martin – Don’t You Worry
This was an incredible and emotional record that was in a way a goodbye song to the Swedish House Mafia… until they came back together 5 years later. At the time of writing, this is the most recent piece of music released by the trio, over 7 years ago. The song was announced during Swedish House Mafia’s tour of Australia while they played at Future Music Festival 2012. They say it was inspired by the beauty of Australia. When it was announced that the tour the Swedish House Mafia were about to set on would be their last, a farewell single was also announced – ‘Don’t You Worry Child’ being that single.
The song had its live debut at the Swedish House Mafia’s Milton Keynes Bowl concert and its radio debut on Pete Tong’s BBC Radio 1 show on the 10th August. The record starts with a beautiful piano lead and is then joined by emotive vocals by frequent collaborator John Martin. The appeal to both the commercial and die hard fans is present and evident by its success.
Porter Robinson – Language
This track was an incredible release that saw plays all around the world from a vast range of individuals. This had a significant impact on American producer Porter Robinson’s rise to fame and to this day, is many fans favourite release. The track features uncredited vocals from Bright Lights. ‘Language’ found itself in the majority of compilations in 2012, it also found a way into the hands of the mainstream, which may be surprising considering its electronic elements.
Porter followed up the single with another hit in ‘Easy’ with friend Mat Zo. It has been over three years since we have seen music from Porter. He has created his Virtual Self moniker since with the highlight of his recent tracks being ‘Ghost Voices’.
deadmau5 feat. Chris James – The Veldt
deadmau5’s hit ‘The Veldt’ showcased Joel Zimmerman’s talents once again. The gifted producer had a rough instrumental available online when Chris James sent over an outstanding vocal version, totally unexpected by the mau5. A match is made in heaven by the technical and melodic instrumental and the vocals both quality and meaningful. The video, linked below is a great depiction of the record. As with the song, the video is based on the short story ‘The Veldt‘ by Ray Bradbury.
The production is really one that you wont tire of. The melody is out of this world, as are the other elements. The flawless track was first released in The Veldt EP along with remixes by Tommy Trash and Freeform Five. It was later included in his ‘> album title goes here <‘ LP. Make sure to listen to the 8 minute version to experience all its glory.
Hardwell – Spaceman
Potentially one of the largest tracks from the 2012 era was Hardwell’s ‘Spaceman’. Featuring top notch melodies and an impeccable sound design, this resonated with millions of fans and DJ’s and was a staple through the entire year. This release catapulted Hardwell onto the top of the DJ index and he remained there until last year when he decided to take a break from touring.
It had a second life when the vocal version ‘Call Me A Spaceman’ featuring Mitch Crown was released a few months after. Another vocal version was created in collaboration with Bright Lights that ultimately was utilised. Despite Hardwell claiming that the latter was his favorite, his management decided instead to release ‘Call Me a Spaceman’. Carnage made a name for himself with his bootleg turned official remix of ‘Spaceman’ that now has a total of 60 million plays.
Avicii & Nicky Romero – I Could Be The One
This was first played by Avicii at the Super Glow event in DC Armory, Washington, USA on November 18, 2011. A rip of this track had been going viral on YouTube and since then, the melody has always stuck out among the rest of not only these artists’ releases but dance music in general. Originally titled ‘Nicktim’ based on the collaborators’ first names, it was later changed to ‘I Could Be The One’ to accommodate to the lyrics. Boosting hundreds of millions of plays across platforms, this record was a major success which led it to cross into the commercial space.
The track’s vocalist and songwriter Noonie Bao revealed to Spotify, that despite working on the track, as well as another one on his 2013 album True, she had never actually met Avicii until a number of years later. The production of the record solidified Avicii and Nicky Romero’s friendship, which made Avicii’s death particularly difficult for Nicky.
Ivan Gough and Feenixpawl feat. Georgi Kay – In My Mind (Axwell Mix)
First premiered in Swedish House Mafia’s Essential Mix, three talented Australians came together for an amazing and refreshing production. Axwell topped it off with a slight edit which unfortunately led to many crediting the entire track to him. 7 years later and this track still works – the incredible progressive melodies and wonderful vocals making it a highlight in any set.
In 2018, Dynoro released a cover of the record with a more upbeat bass filled production. The new version has well over a billion plays and luckily enough for Ivan Gough and Feenixpawl, they are in the writers credits. Whilst this has the stats to back it up, many agree the original cannot be beaten.
Alesso feat. Matthew Koma – Years
Alesso continued his hot streak of releases with the vocal hit ‘Years’. Teaming up with Matthew Koma for the first and only time, Matthew provides outstanding vocals which clearly deserve credit. After being premiered on Swedish House Mafia‘s takeover of Pete Tong‘s Radio 1 show, the instrumental version of ‘Years’ immediately had fans excited. Alesso shortly after released the vocal version after experiencing the anticipation of the said instrumental.
Alesso stated that he came up with the melody firstly by humming the melody into his phone. Once he has the melody, he knew it would be stunning. ‘Years’ was actually the first piano based record he produced.
Skrillex feat. Sirah – Bangarang
With over a billion streams online, ‘Bangarang’ is definitely one of Skrillex’s top accolades. The well produced video is entertaining and also captures the energy the track outputs. When you mention Skrillex to the general public, this is likely the music they’ll envision. The song’s title and lyrics reflect the battle cry of the Lost Boys in the 1991 movie Hook.
According to The Recording Academy, ‘Bangarang’ is the best dance track of 2012 as they awarded it a Grammy in early 2013. It went platinum in several territories around the world, most notably 5x in Australia and 3x in United States.
Cedric Gervais – Molly
French producer Cedric Gervais released his slightly controversial record ‘Molly’. Molly is a street name for MDMA, a drug taken frequently with dance music fans. This may be the reason for its success as the vocals “Please help me find molly” are the staple and highlight of the record. Many edits and mashups of this track were created, all themed around the vocals.
To say the video clip is NSFW is a bit of a understatement and it doesn’t shine any positively on the dance music world. In 2013 Tyga sampled the release, going as far as featuring Cedric Gervais on the track. This brought many eyes onto the released, mostly from the urban scene.
Zedd feat. Foxes – Clarity
Zedd became one of the biggest dance music producers following ‘Clarity’. Having just released ‘Spectrum’ a few month prior, Zedd released back to back hits. ‘Spectrum’ created the platform for Zedd and then ‘Clarity’ pushed him to the top of said platform.
Teaming up with Foxes for the only time resulted in magic. 3x platinum is USA as well as equivalent achievements in alternative territories. Zedd would unlikely have had the opportunity to collaborate with acts such as Katy Perry, Selena Gomez, Liam Payne and countless others if it weren’t for ‘Clarity’. It showcased Zedd’s master craft in producing, which is transparent through the rest of his discography.
2012 was Tommy Trash’s year, the Australian producer released four incredible releases that all deserve a place in this list. Unable to pick just one, all four are included below.
Tommy Trash’s remix of Steve Aoki and Wynter Gordan’s ‘Ladi Dadi’ is out of this world good. The track had been supported by some of the best in the game and its clear why. It features an electrifying take on Trash’s signature sound, which resulted in one of the best remixes of this era. As soon as it progresses on the build towards the drop, it’s breathtaking, slowly bringing the elements in line with the drop. It drops into a catchy melody with impeccable sound design. There is not much, if anything, wrong with this production.
‘Reload’, a collaboration with SHM member Sebastian Ingrosso was a smashing success when it hit eardrums as an instrumental in 2012. The melody was produced by Tommy and sent to Ingrosso for his input, understandably this saw Ingrosso jump onto the track and finalise an exceptional release. Although it never died over the course of a year. it was later revived with a perfect vocal version courtesy of John Martin.
At the tail end of 2012, Tommy Trash teamed up with fellow Australians The Aston Shuffle for another outstanding release. Releasing on Axwell’s Axtone imprint, ‘Sunrise’ was another prime example of perfect melodic progressive house. Like his ‘Ladi Dadi’ remix, the build is slowly and masterfully introduced up until it drops into a vibrant production.
To top it all off, Tommy provided his skills to an already incredible track in deadmau5’s ‘The Veldt’. Whilst the remix didn’t add a lot in terms of originality, this new take presented a more energetic iteration. Tommy Trash brought his sounds over and mixed them with an incredible melody for a track that many would argue rivals the original with its quality.
2012 was an incredible year for dance music in general but there were definitely acts that stood out. As mentioned in the introduction, it was not easy to pick just 12 for the year. Read below to let the nostalgia hit with this 2012 gems. Swedish House Mafia for example released two singles, ‘Don’t You Worry Child’ – mentioned above, as well as the smashing hit ‘Greyhound‘ that featured a beautiful progressive structure and an awesome groove. Back in 2012, ‘Greyhound’ was highly praised by dance fans and artists and it still is today. Eric Prydz released a slew of tracks such as ‘Every Day‘ and many others under Pryda. Nari & Milani released ‘Atom‘, the track that was a leader in the big room movement.
Dada Life had a prominent year with tracks such as ‘Kick Out The Epic Motherf**ker‘ which then led to their album in the same year. Dada Life released some outstanding productions back around 2012, unfortunately we haven’t seen as good since. Tujamo broke onto the scene and seemingly created a new sound with ‘Who‘ together with Plastik Funk. This spawned collaborations with Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike and Steve Aoki that took that sound to the next level. Afrojack teamed up with good friends Shermanology for ‘Can’t Stop Me‘ which was a vibrant mash between Dutch and melodic sounds that resulted in a perfect summer vocal anthem that still holds up today.
TJR brought the bounce with ‘Ode To Oi‘ as with Will Sparks releasing his breakthrough single ‘Ah Yeah‘, which was not only beneficial for him, but it kick started the Melbourne bounce craze. David Guetta and Nicky Romero joined forces for the first time with ‘Metropolis‘, a gritty progressive electronic that is underrated to this day! The Russian ‘Trio‘ Arty, Matisse & Sadko brought timeless melodies with their track, as did Deniz Koyu with ‘Bong‘! This list could continue on, 2012 was truly a stand out year when it comes to dance music.
Take a time machine back to 2012 with our playlist featuring everything listed above and more!