by E.P Pirt, Jr.
Here we have it – our most comprehensive, in-depth #ListnUp post yet, highlighting some of the best vocalists to ever grace our good world of dance music with their incredible singing abilities. Keep in mind, these are just our personal picks, so instead of getting all butt hurt just let us know in the Facebook or Twitter comments who your favorites are and who you think we missed. Enjoy!
From: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Collaborations: Adventure Club, Big Wild
Yuna first hit it big in the electronic scene through dubstep megastars Adventure Club, who featured her on “Gold” after remixing her track ‘Lullabies“. The Malaysian singer-songwriter began writing songs at age 14 and has also worked with the likes of Pharrell Williams and DJ Premier. Most recently she collaborated with rising electronic star Big Wild, on his track “Empty Room“.
22. Name One
From: Brighton, UK
Collaborations: Maxxi Soundsystem, Adriatique
As his name and this photo suggest, Name One is somewhat of a mystery man. Which shouldn’t come as a big surprise, as his most well-known collaborations are with relatively underground house artists like Maxxi Soundsystem and Adriatique. According to his Facebook page, which has a whopping 453 likes (WHO IS THIS GUY?!), his genre is “Hypercolour – Culprit – Jeudi – Defected – whatiplay”. Mystery man indeed. Whoever he is, we’re fans of his laid-back, confident, Chet Faker-esque singing style. Check out “Medicine” and “Midnight Walking” for a taste.
From: Calgary, AB, Canada
Known for: Hideaway, Giant In My Heart
Collaborations: Jack Ü, Bakermat
Canadian singer and multi-instrumentalist Kiesza came onto the electronic landscape in 2014 with her huge hit, “Hideaway“, which has racked up over 87 million YouTube views. Later that year she struck gold again on her collaboration with Jack Ü with the mega hit “Take U There“. Since then she has racked up millions more, through tracks like “Giant In My Heart“, and her cover of Haddaway’s 1993 classic – “What Is Love?“. Her range, passion, and aggressive style has captured ears the world over.
From: Brisbane, Australia
Collaborations: What So Not, GANZ
At just 18 years of age, Olivia McCarthy, aka Joy.,’s career has just begun. But we’d say she’s off to a good start by collaborating with What So Not and GANZ on the addictively seductive chillhop track “Lone“. If she keeps this kind of work up, it’s only a matter of time until other big producers are begging to work with her.
19. Anthony Gonzalez (M83)
From: Antibes, France
Known for: Midnight City, We Own The Sky, Reunion, “Do It, Try It”, Go!, Wait
Some of the words that come to mind when describing both M83’s sound and Anthony Gonzalez’s voice are ethereal, celestial, transcending, and divine. When you close your eyes and listen, it’s easy to feel as though you’re hurdling through space, eyes wide as you marvel at the heavens. That sound wouldn’t be the same without Anthony Gonzalez’s vocals. He writes all of the music himself and has different guest musicians perform with him live, and of course, is the lead singer.
From: Toronto, ON, Canada
Collaborations: Adventure Club, Flume, Diplo, Jack Ü
Kai has collaborated with some of the biggest names in electronic music. She has a strong, confident voice that can either command respect in tracks like “Revolution” or “Need Your Heart”, or offer a warm, soft embrace in tracks like “Never Be Like You“. We don’t know how she fucked up in the latter track, but how could you not forgive someone with that voice??
17. Tom Howie (Bob Moses)
From: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Known for: Tearing Me Up, Too Much Is Never Enough, Talk, Grace
Canadian duo Bob Moses (yes, it’s a duo), took the dance music world by storm last year with their dark, original sound and rigorous touring schedule. It’s paying off because they’re one of the hottest acts around now. Classifying the group is no easy task; house, ambient, and even rock could all suffice as descriptive genres. Perfectly meshed with their unique sound is singer and guitarist Tom Howie’s sultry, calm voice that reminds this writer of perennial heart throb Chris Isaak. He just has one of those voices where he could be singing about how constipated he is and still make it sound cool and sexy. Look – forget Miles Davis; if peeing your pants is cool, consider yourself Tom Howie.
16. Aja Volkman
From: Eugene, OR
Collaborations: The Glitch Mob
Don’t mess with Aja Volkman. That’s the first impression I get when listening to her belt it out. It make sense – she comes from a rock background as the lead singer of alternative/indie rock band Nico Vega, and is married to Dan Reynolds, the frontman of Imagine Dragons. The only electronic collaboration of hers that we’re familiar is with The Glitch Mob. She appeared on “Our Demons” and “I Need My Memory Back” on their critically acclaimed and personal favorite, Love Death Immortality album back in 2014. WHY it is her only electronic collaboration is a great fucking question. She absolutely kills it on those two tracks, singing with unparalleled energy, sexiness, and emotion. Dan Reynolds must be one lucky man.
15. Eleanor Jackson (of La Roux)
From: London, England
Known for: Colorless Colour, In For The Kill, I’m Not Your Toy, Bulletproof, Quicksand
Collaborations: Major Lazer
Ahh yes…La Roux. You didn’t forget about them did you?? While they’ve been kinda M.I.A from the scene the last few years, few singers have had as much impact on the dance music world as their gorgeous redheaded lead singer, Eleanor Jackson. She’ll always hold a special place in my heart. It was her angelic, piercing vocals in Skream’s remix of “In For The Kill” that left me mesmerized after my first electronic show back in 2010. I had to know who she was, and came to find out she was probably the most sought-after singer by the world’s biggest electronic producers at the time. Their debut self-titled album was a smash hit and had tracks that were remixed by Dave Aude, Skrillex, and Skream, along with a mash-up collaboration album with Major Lazer, Lazerproof. Here’s to hoping La Roux makes a comeback within the dance music world.
From: Perth, Australia
Known for: Honey, Divinity
Collaborations: Flume, A$Ap Rocky
When it comes to vocalists, Kučka is without a doubt my favorite right now. I’ve been crushing hard. I’m not exactly sure what it is, but she has it. Her voice just melts your heart and your eardrums at the same time. It’s magical. It reminds me a lot of the vocals in AlunaGeorge, but slightly more mellow and silky. She recently crushed it in Denver while opening up for Mura Masa at the Gothic, so be on the lookout for her to make a big impact. Listen to Medasin’s remix of “Honey“, and then if you can handle it without inexplicably bursting into tears, give “Divinity (Mazde remix)” a listen. Hell, even if you are sobbing. It’s worth it.
13. Aluna Francis (of AlunaGeorge)
From: Wales, UK
Known for: I’m In Control, You Know You Like It, Best Be Believing, Attracting Flies, Automatic
Collaborations: Jack Ü, Disclosure, Flume, Baauer, Peking Duk, Avicii, ZHU
Speaking of AlunaGeorge. I kinda picture her as the big sister of Kučka. Probably just because they sound pretty similar and she arrived on the scene earlier. Know how before I said few singers have had as big an impact on the dance music scene as La Roux? Well Aluna Francis is one of those few. Just look at who she’s collaborated with. The collabs have been happening for years and everyone is still trying to work with her. It’s pretty much impossible to get sick of those smooth, catchy vocals. But collaborations are just part of it. She and producer George Reid, the other half of AlunaGeorge, made a name for themselves all on their own, with hugely popular originals like “You Know You Like It“, “Best Be Believing“, and “I’m In Control“.
12. Terra Lopez (of Sister Crayon)
From: Sacramento, CA
Collaborations: The Glitch Mob
Part electronic, part rock, Sister Crayon (who now goes by the name Rituals of Mine), is a California duo signed by Warner Bros Records that toured with the Deftones last year. So it should come as no surprise that they were yet another artist featured on The Glitch Mob’s heavily-rock influenced Love Death Immortality album in 2014. Ironically however, the song that they are on, “Beauty Of The Unhidden Heart”, is one of the least rocking tunes on the record. It’s an electronic ballad, and one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard, from any genre. Terra Lopez’s vocals are astoundingly pristine. Crisp, clean, and just plain gorgeous. She needs to be on more dance music tracks.
11. Greta Svabo Bech
From: Tórshavn, Faroe Islands
Collaborations: deadmau5, Zeds Dead, The Bloody Beetroots
Greta’s name may not sound familiar to you, but surely this song is. That’s “Raise Your Weapon”, by yep, deadmau5. Surely you’ve heard of him. “Raise Your Weapon” is undoubtedly one of the producer’s most recognized songs and what would that song be without Greta’s beautifully tragic vocals ripping our hearts out? Nada. After her triumphant introduction to the world with deadmau5, she went on to work with The Bloody Beetroots on “Chronicles of a Fallen Love“, Gemini on “Fire Inside“, and Zeds Dead on “Shut Up & Sing, V2.0“.
10. Alana Watson (of NERO)
From: London, England
Known for: Between II Worlds, Crush On You, Reaching Out, Must Be The Feeling, Innocence, Act Like You Know, Promises
Alana Watson. Holy cow, what a babe. I wonder if she’s single. What? She’s married? Yea, but he probably isn’t even that cool. What? He’s one of the dudes in Nero and they have a baby coming? Oh. Right. I mean, can you imagine being in one of the world’s greatest electronic groups with her as your singer, AND you’re married to her with a kid on the way? I wonder if the other guy ever gets jealous. What gets Alana into the top 10 on this list isn’t just the quality of her voice alone, but the way she uses it and carries herself. If you’ve ever seen NERO live with Alana performing vocals, you know just what I mean. I saw them back in 2012 at the Ogden Theatre and to this day it’s still one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. The way she would just appear in the spotlight out of nowhere throughout the show and just completely take over was Goddess-like. Her soaring, mesmerizing voice and undeniable physical beauty captivated the whole audience over and over. If you ever have the chance to see NERO live, do not fuck it up.
9. Orlando Higginbottom (TEED)
From: London, England
Known for: Household Goods, Without You, Garden, Your Love
Collaborations: Dillon Francis, Blur, Pete Tong, Eats Everything, Anna Lunoe, Banks
Orlando Higginbottom, stage name Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, or TEED as people without a lot of free time like to call him, is a true pioneer of electronic music. The only act I can think of that can produce, DJ, and sing like him is Disclosure, but I still think TEED has them beat in the vocals department. He doesn’t do anything crazy or all that exciting with it – to be honest, quite the opposite. But it works. It’s just relaxing, crisp, and handsome. Kinda like you’d expect with a handsome name like Orlando Higginbottom. I wish this guy could just sing me lullabies to sleep every night.
8. Tyrone Lindqvist (of Rüfüs)
From: Sydney, Australia
Known for: Like An Animal, You Were Right, Sundream, Take Me, Innerbloom, Say A Prayer For Me
I may have spoken too soon when I said Tom Howie is the real Miles Davis of peeing your pants. Tyrone Lindqvist sings, plays guitar, and keys for Australian dance music sweethearts Rüfüs. You know the old saying…women want to be with him, and so do men. The live trio have skyrocketed to fame since forming just seven years ago, with many instant classics on albums Atlas and Bloom. While all three members are without a doubt integral to the band’s success, none if it would be possible without Lindqvist’s hypnotizing vocals that throughout the course of one album can leave the listener feeling at one time or another somber, cheery, nostalgic, optimistic, turned on, and everything in between.
7. Nick Murphy (Chet Faker)
From: Melbourne, Australia
Known for: Gold, Talk Is Cheap, I’m Into You, No Diggity, The Trouble With Us
Collaborations: Flume, Kaytranada, Bonobo, Marcu Marr
Ok, for real this time…Nick Murphy is the real Miles Davis. Mean it. Just look at that beard. And his style with all those beanies, backward hats, and cool shirts. He’s also a solid keys player and he’s Australian, so all he has to do is say some gibberish about putting another shrimp on the barbie or anything at all for that matter and it’s game over. Plus he’s good homies with Flume. Oh yea, he’s got a pretty good voice too. Out of this whole list, he is by far the male with the best classical voice and raw singing talent, and could easily have a career in any musical genre. Lucky for us he likes to dabble in the electronic sphere.
6. Martina Sorbara (of Dragonette)
From: Toronto, ON, Canada
Known for: Hello, Let It Go, Fire In Your New Shoes, Outlines
Collaborations: Kaskade, Martin Solveig, Zeds Dead, Mike Mago
Martina Sorbara is a boss. She’s been crushing it as the lead singer of Canadian electropop group Dragonette since 2005 and has had huge hit collabs with Kaskade (Fire In Your New Shoes), Martin Solveig (Hello), Zeds Dead (Neck & Neck), and Mike Mago (Outlines). Her singing is infectious and she can hit the highs like no one else. Her voice can sweep you off your feet as gentle and delicate in tracks like “Outlines”, but can also smack you right in the face with a uniquely confident sexiness in tracks like “Fire In Your New Shoes”. One of the greats for sure.
5. Eliza Doolittle
From: London, England
Eliza Doolittle, official name Eliza Sophie Caird, began singing live around various venues in London at the age of 15 and since then has gone Silver and Platinum, and had numerous top 40 hits in various charts around the world. So it may come as some surprise that she arguably did more for Disclosure with her contribution to “You & Me”, than they did for her. That was her first, and so far as we know last dance music collaboration and it’s a damn shame. A truly gifted singer, her soulful, powerful sound and style is reminiscent of Amy Winehouse and Mary J. Blige.
4. Orlando Napier
From: Los Angeles, CA
Collaborations: GRiZ, Gramatik, Raekwon
Apparently if you’re having a son and want to give them a shot at being a world-class singer, start by naming them Orlando. Though to be fair, Orlando actually goes by Leo these days. If you’re reading this, you’re likely in Colorado. And if you’re in Colorado, you likely are a fan of GRiZ and Gramatik. And if that’s the case, then you’ve almost certainly heard Napier’s other worldly singing abilities on numerous tracks from the electro funk / electro hip hop producers. Napier cites Ray Charles as his biggest influence, which is fitting because he is basically the Ray Charles of EDM. The guy also plays the keys quite skillfully, drawing another comparison to the soul music icon. Another appropriate, more modern comparison would be John Legend. I was pretty surprised to find out that Napier was on The Voice a few years ago, mostly because I never watch that show. But it really shouldn’t come as a surprise, as it’s just another testament to his supreme talent. While Napier’s roots are in more traditional soul and R&B, he’s experienced the majority of his success alongside his electro funk buddies GRiZ & Gramatik in tracks like “Native Son“, “A Fine Way to Die“, and “Before I Go“.
3. Hannah Reid (of London Grammar)
From: London, England
Known for: Hey Now, Strong, Wasting My Young Years
Disclosure has a knack for handpicking stellar singers (read: Eliza Doolittle, Sam Smith) that haven’t done much in the electronic music world and then blowing them up within said genre. Hannah Reid is another one. Like Eliza Doolittle, she had an already well-established career of her own as the lead singer and songwriter of English indie pop band London Grammar. But it was her featured appearance on Disclosure’s “Help Me Lose My Mind” that caught the attention of dance music fans worldwide. She’s has one of the most beautiful, powerful voices I’ve ever heard; operatic in nature and similar in tone to Florence Welch (of Florence & The Machine), but minus whatever it is about Florence that annoys me. A true songbird of our generation.
2. Ellie Goulding
From: Herefordshire, England
Known for: Lights, Burn, On My Mind, Something In The Way You Love, Anything Could Happen, I Need Your Love, Outside
Collaborations: Calvin Harris, Skrillex, Major Lazer, Kygo, Zedd, DJ Fresh
Ok, I’m sure some of you are already crying “sell out”, but I don’t care. You might be asking “What’s so special about this pop star?” Well, she has the voice of an angel, for one. So there’s that. She also has the looks of an angel, so in other words she probably is an angel. You’re not gonna tell me you hate angels now are you? Didn’t think so. Seriously though, Ellie’s voice, songwriting, and resumé speaks for itself. Not only does she have one of the most unique voices ever heard, her songwriting is creative and catchy, and she can play multiple instruments to boot. Most EDM fans probably first heard of Ellie after Bassnectar’s remix of “Lights” went viral, but that was just the beginning. After that, she had the attention of the industry’s biggest producers and tastemakers, working with Calvin Harris, Skrillex, and Major Lazer to name just a few. Yea, those guys might be “mainstream”, but they know how to write a hit and they know talent when they hear it. Aside from collaborations, Ellie has cranked out hit after hit of her own. Any track she releases is guaranteed to have millions of YouTube plays, if not billions. Countless other electronic producers have remixed her originals. The accolades go on and on, and there’s simply no denying the influence Goulding has had on the genre.
1. Mimi Page
From: Los Angeles, CA
Collaborations: Bassnectar, Shotgun Radio, Seven Lions, Yinyues
Surprise! And you thought I was selling out 😉 I’m sure this is still even more controversial than my #2 pick for opposite reasons. Some of you may even be saying “Who the hell is Mimi Page?” But surely no Bassnectar fan is saying that. Mimi has been featured on at least three of his tracks and I dare say all three are some of his better works. Unlike many of the singers on this list, she doesn’t have a real energetic, “in your face” sort of voice, but that’s what I like about her. The nuances are subtle but if you pay attention, they are there. She’s just quietly and unassumingly creating beautiful masterpieces of cinematic, atmospheric, and ethereal sounds. I hate to use the word ‘angelic’ again, but her voice really is of that variety. It puts you in a trance. Pretty sure she was one of those sirens beckoning Odysseus back in the day. One of the most unforgettable concert experiences I’ve ever had was when she came on stage during Bassnectar’s set at Red Rocks in 2013 and performed “Butterfly” live. The hypnotic, high definition, slow motion video of butterflies in mid-flight was playing on the large stage projectors as Page belted out the ballad under the stars at the best venue in the world. At the risk of sounding like a heady wook, I would venture to say it was a spiritual experience.
So there you have it, my personal picks for the 23 best vocalists in electronic music. Below are some honorable mentions that just missed the cut. Who’d I miss? Who do you agree with? How bad did I butcher it? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or wherever you fancy.
Best EDM vocalists