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Paring down an entire year’s worth of songs is no easy feat.
2018 saw the explosion of songs like ZEDD‘s “The Middle” and Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa‘s “One Kiss,” dominating both the dance music charts and the radio airwaves. Ear-catching tracks like these, along with fan favorites like FISHER‘s persuasive “Losing It” and Anti Up‘s entertaining “Pizza” wiggled their way into festival sets around the world and — love them or hate them — stood out as notable tracks that do their part in immortalizing this whirlwind of a year.
We also saw a creative collective of remixes surface in 2018, including Rinzen‘s compelling take on deadmau5 and Rob Swire‘s hit “Monophobia” and Skrillex‘s intoxicating rendition of Travis Scott‘s “Sicko Mode.” We celebrated the return of Gesaffelstein with “Reset” and welcomed new projects from Diplo in LSD and Silk City. We welcomed collaborations from Ekali, Medasin, and Elohim in “Forever,” Tiësto, Dzeko, Post Malone, and Preme in platinum smash hit “Jackie Chan,” and ZHU and Tame Impala in “My Life.”
Ultimately, though, we’ve narrowed 2018 down to 30 tracks that stole our hearts and smashed streaming records.
Dexter’s Beat Laboratory is a weekly collection of songs from DA managing editor Robyn Dexter. With a taste that can only be described as eclectic — to say nothing of a name that lends itself to punnery — DA is happy to present a selection of tracks personally curated by Dexter for your listening pleasure.
Listen in playlist format here.
After becoming hooked on his tunes in 2014 via “Dega Dega” on Mad Decent, I’ve kept my eye on Aquadrop. The producer seems to know no limits and can swap seamlessly between genres from one release to another. His latest, “Believe In Me,” is a sultry, electro-fueled number, highlighted by luscious vocals and a grooving bassline. It’s incredibly catchy and is part of the Italian producer’s Out Run mini EP.
Savoy’s been holding onto this treasure for a while and have finally released it to the world. “Treat Me Right,” a collaboration with vocalist Laura Reed, is afire with the dramatic elements of dubstep and electro the Brooklyn trio has become known for. The song is only their second release of the year — likely because two of the group’s members have been developing a new project called Jaguar Dreams. No matter what moniker the music’s under, though, these guys consistently make some of the most innovative “electronic rock music” in the game.
Mielo and Align have linked up to bring a gorgeously atmospheric track that’s reminiscent of ODESZA in its dreamy vocals and prominent percussion elements. It’s simultaneously calming and bass-heavy, bringing two worlds together in one collaboration. “James & I met freshman year while at rowing practice for The University of Iowa,” Mielo says of the song. “I had already started learning how to produce music & James was a huge fan of downtempo electronic music, so he soon began to pursue music. We’ve been friends ever since.”
Since its release in August, Netsky and A.CHAL‘s “Téquila Limonada” has been on repeat. Its fresh-squeezed flavor permeated my brain and stuck there, so my excitement only grew when I saw the track would be getting a reworking from UK drum & bass heavyweights The Prototypes. After it premiered on BBC Radio 1, the duo uploaded a cut of it to their SoundCloud, wowing with its anticipatory builds and rapid tempo. It’s a fun reimagining that gives some new flair to an already exceptional track.
In his latest offering, Kent’s Memtrix thrilled with a combination of enthralling melodies, infectious singing and a rapid drum & bass tempo. He holds nothing back, packing a punch filled with bass and vocals that draw the listeners in. “Dare Me” makes up part one of his newly released two track EP, which is out now via Viper Records. Its counterpart, “Oxidate,” is equally dynamic, creating a journey that feels much much more epic than just two tracks.
Both the producer and his collaborator sport colorful button-ups in the music video, making their way around a lavish patio as they smoke cigars and drink Don Julio 1942 with friends. Packed full of classic cars, gorgeous women, vintage camcorders, and, of course, a hefty supply of tequila, the music video beautifully brings the breezy, lighthearted track to life. Its nostalgic visuals and grainy transitions give the music video a feel-good, retro feel — which is exactly what Netsky was going for.
“I wanted the video for this track to represent simple, happy times; friends, drinks, summer parties,” he says of the video. “It started off with the director, my friend Diego and his team, finding this incredible mid-century Spanish house in the Hollywood Hills and it all came together quite quickly from there. We invited a bunch of friends to come and have a party with us and filmed it! Gotta shout out A.CHAL for his amazing performance. Such a star. And I got to fulfill one of my dreams of playing an old vintage drum-kit in a music video.”
Netsky will be releasing more music from his upcoming Palmtrees & Powerlines project in the near future.
Belgium’s Netsky is full of surprises.
Though he’s perhaps best known for drum & bass works like “Rio” and his remix of Rusko‘s “Everybody,” the producer has demonstrated time and time again that he’s just as skillful at producing in other genres, as well. (“Puppy,” anybody?)
On Aug. 10, Netsky surprised fans with a bright, Caribbean-inspired collaboration with A.CHAL, “Téquila Limonada.” With a merry piano melody and laidback vocals from A.CHAL, this latest venture is one of the producer’s catchiest releases to date.
With the release of “Téquila Limonada,” Netsky also announced a new partnership with superstar producers, Stargate. Palmtrees & Powerlines, a collaborative project between the Belgian producer and Norwegian duo, is the result of eight months in the duo’s studio in Venice, California.
“I’ve set some big goals for myself, and I’m excited to now have such an ambitious team behind me to help achieve them,” Netsky said in a press release. “We’re kicking off with ‘Téquila Limonada’ and I’m so happy to have collaborated with A.Chal on this record. Proud to start this new relationship with a song that feels like the beginning of a new era for me.”
Stargate’s Tor Hermansen also shared his excitement for the new effort, calling Netsky a “true innovator.”
“[Netsky’s] always true to himself, never one to copy, steering clear of cliches,” Hermansen says. “We’ve been lucky enough to work with Boris both in the studio and on stage where he’s a true force and a real friend. There are big things ahead for Netsky.”