Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last couple of years, you already know: the ’90s are back. But are they better than ever? It’s safe to say some things, like UFO pants and Internet Explorer, are best left in the 20th century. But it seems that other things, like the sweet sounds of the Roland TR-909, are here to stay. Below are some EDM artists who’ve continued to make their mark in the 21st century and some of our current faves who followed their lead. Crack a glow stick and enjoy the ride.
Black Box, “Everybody Everybody” (1990)
Ow! After Chicago had its own distinctive house renaissance well throughout the 1980s—R.I.P. Frankie Knuckles—the movement shifted its way across the pond, blasting the beat eastward and taking off in the UK, Germany and Italy. Acts like Real McCoy and Black Box kicked off a wave of forceful jock jams, their power unparalleled by the decade which preceded them.
Disclosure feat. Mary J. Blige, “F For You” (2014)
UK dance duo Disclosure have a knack for crafting smash house hits with a light dose of pop. Taking their cues from Euro house, they play off some spacey funk vibes, while keeping it clean with lightweight percussion and more shallow bass lines. But above it all, soul queen Mary J. Blige totally dominates this track with her powerful pipes.
Hardwell, “Everybody Is In The Place” (2014)
A tribute to The Prodigy‘s 1993 hit, “Everybody Is In The Place,” Dutch dance sensation Hardwell mixes up a potent cocktail of hard trance and progressive house. But until its full release on April 6th, we’re only so lucky as to get a 2-minute taste of this heavy-hitter.
DRUM AND BASS
Baby D, “Let Me Be Your Fantasy” (1992)
You could go either way with drum and bass. The swifter pace of the rhythm ramps up the mood, setting the scene for infectiously hyper club hits …
Squarepusher, “Dimotane Co” (1996)
…Or jacks it up with a dark intensity, leaving you to wait for an emaciated Ewan MacGregorto come barreling out of a sketchy alleyway.
Sub Focus, “Close” feat. MNEK (Ivy Lab Remix, 2014)
Fred V. & Grafix, “Recognise” (2014)
Aphex Twin, “Polynomial C” (1996)
The Godfather of Trance, Aphex Twin cites his own experiences with synaethesia as his gateway into more cerebral, ambient dance music. His vast catalog of textural electronic tapestries still provide a fundamental blueprint for this dreamy subgenre.
Ashley Wallbridge, “Africa” (2014)
Rising star Ashley Wallbridge puts a fresh take on trance, occasionally blasting his quietly cosmic intermissions with heavy house beats and supersaw sequences that scream 1998.
Massive Attack, “Dissolved Girl” (1998)
Slow and steady wins the race with trip hop. One of the ’90s finest exports, trip hop still seems way ahead of its time. At the forefront of the movement were Bristol’s Massive Attack, bridging the gap between ambient electronica and R&B, sometimes even infusing it with heavy rock riffs.
FKA Twigs, “How’s That” (2013)
London’s FKA Twigs has a strangely sexy, somewhat extraterrestrial quality to her slow trip hop jams. Her simple, hushed vocal styling only heightens her mystery, and allows the minimal, experimental percussion to fill the space. Her work encompasses the past, present and future all at once.