DJMag launched its list of top 100 DJs last week at the Amsterdam Dance Event and managed to kick up a shitstorm with its top 100. The winners of this year’s poll are Belgian/Greek duo Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike who were criticized by the entire EDM community for their brazen ‘marketing tactics’ which they employed in the run up to the final polling.
This year the top three positions were bagged by Dmitri Vegas & Like Mike, Hardwell, and Martin Garrix respectively. The EDM community was shocked by the announcement and many took to twitter to voice their discontent. Hardwell was quick to comment on the controversy and responded to a tweet by 3LAU calling out the duo for using tactics like employing volunteers at popular festivals, encouraging festival-goers to vote for the duo on the poll.
Here is a clearly disgruntled Hardwell on the duo’s questionable tactics.
Image courtesy: youredm.com
The top 100 by DJMag has always made the news for being controversial and subjective. There have been concerns raised about the website’s credibility. Talk about the misrepresentation of the EDM scene and an excessive focus on “Marketing power” and “Social media presence” of featured artists has given DJMag a dubious reputation. However, the list is much quoted in music journalism and a slot on the list is coveted by new artists who want to break into the scene and garner some visibility. The list often generates a lot of hype around the artist leading to increased billings, better gigs and even slots in top festivals, after taking note of popular demand.
The winning duo had employed showgirls to convince festival-goers to vote for them at Tomorrowland Belgium festival site and even at the festival campsite leading up to the polls. They had even interrupted their Tomorrowland set to encourage people to vote for them on the poll. This kind of unabashed publicity mongering was attacked and mocked by the entire EDM community.
Popular progressive house DJ Kaskade who featured at #84 (dropped 38 places) on the list has earlier spoken out critically of the magazine and the polling system they employed, calling it a glorified “prom title” that does not reflect the scene.
The list had a lot of upsets as Martin Garrix, who was the hot favourite to come on top with his slew of hits and performances at top festivals this year, was listed at third place following Hardwell who featured at the second slot this year, after topping the list in 2013 and 2014. New entrants to the list are popular UK EDM duo Disclosure of Latch fame at #65 who had a tremendously successful year with their album Caracal and a huge worldwide tour, KSHMR at #23, Kygo #33, Bassjackers #39 and JACK U #45.
Other notable entries are popular duo Axwell^Ingrosso of the former Swedish House Mafia who featured at #17(Highest collaboration). The duo commented on the ranking stating that they were happy with their slot at #17 as they had not done any sort of marketing or promotional campaigning, and also had not asked any of their fans to vote for them on the poll. The duo stated, “We have the sickest supporters in the world, as they voted for us without us asking them and they wanted us to appear on the list. Their love means more to us than any no 1 slot.”
Video courtesy: Youtube
The Indian connect and controversy.
Acrimony and uproar engulfed the entire Indian EDM community over the inclusion of DJ Chetas, a popular Bollywood DJ, at number 59 on the top 100 list. The announcement was met with derision and surprise from fans in India who claimed that the magazine had lost all credibility and its ranking is all about “blitz promotions” and social media marketing. Many claimed that acts like Lost Stories, Arjun Vagale, Nucleya and Dualist Inquiry deserved the spot rather than an artist who mostly plays “Bollywood mashups” and has no original tracks to his credit.
DJ Chetas took to Instagram to defend his ranking and stated, “I’m overwhelmed with my rank considering certain legends have a lower rank than mine, but that’s not what I wanted. It wasn’t about the rank, it still isn’t, it’s about putting out the Indian sound. In no way do I mean to disrespect any other artist. For those of you who complain that a ‘Bollywood’ DJ is making it to the Top 100, I believe in music beyond genres and language, we make and play music which we love, let’s not put a language or style to it.”
The list had another Indian connection in the form of KSHMR, the Indian-American EDM producer Niles Hollowell-Dhar, who took his stage name fascinated by the Indian state of Kashmir and its fabled beauty. He broke into the list at #23 getting the highest new entry award. KSHMR initially worked under anonymity as he released his first tracks under the stage name without publicly outing himself as the artist. He got into the spotlight when he was introduced by Tiësto in front of the Ultra Music Festival stage, for his new single with Tiësto and Vassy, Secrets. He also became immensely popular with his collaborations ‘No Heroes’ with Firebeatz and ‘Burn’ with Dallas K.
We are glad that Indian music is finally getting visibility on the world stage through KSHMR and DJ Chetas 😉 . It’s up for debate whether Bollywood has a place in a list dedicated to Electronic music artists. However, it is surely drumming up a conversation about Indian music around the world and the way that popularity polls are a wildly inaccurate reflection of the scene, and for that inadvertent outcome we are thankful to DJMag.