The best drops in dance music, according to you - Features - Mixmag

The best drops in dance music, according to you

"Are you ready?!"

  • Words: Seb Wheeler, Dave Turner and Patrick Hinton
  • 17 April 2020

What’s the best drop in dance music? We asked, and you answered. We’ve been missing the rave desperately during lockdown, but the reams of big, banging drops our Facebook audience recommended has helped channels some of those rave thrills into our personal and virtual parties.

Drops are some of the most intense and euphoric moments on dancefloors, and among the selections there’s plenty of ecstatic trance, surging techno, uplifting house, boisterous big beat, and more. We picked out 26 of the top rated suggestions to write about in the list below, and compiled all available into a Spotify playlist too to tide us over until the clubs reopen.

Josh Wink ‘Higher State Of Consciousness’

‘Higher State..’ is the mate who stuffs a bomb of mandy in your hand and leads you down the dusty dirt path toward your first free party, a warren of parked cars, soundsystems and figures silhouetted against the night sky. The ruff breakbeats lure you in and the creeping acid line keeps you hooked as it wriggles devilishly inside your head. Nothing will ever be the same again.

One of the great tracks from the ‘303’ and ‘90s’ categories, Josh Wink uses the breakdown of ‘Higher State Of Consciousness’ to slowly increase the acid pressure until it reaches fever pitch, an intense squall that walks the line between Really Fun and Oh God My Mind Is Melting.

Read this next: Josh Wink tells us how he really made 'Higher State Of Consciousness'

DJ Misjah & DJ Tim ‘Access’

By all accounts, the track was everywhere upon its release in 1995, and stayed in heavy rotation for years thereafter. It’s techno at its most blistering, carrying a sense of urgency and excitement that made it irresistible even for DJs favouring the smoother side of the musical spectrum. Reading the YouTube comments below the line is a wonderful time capsule back to the heyday of 90s raving. In short, they describe: pills and euphoria by the bucketload. When the music cuts out then steadily builds back to its frantic climax via siren-like synth squelches and ecstatic vocal snippets, the impact is cataclysmic. Crank it loud, shut your eyes, and you’ll be transported back to the heyday of 90s raving yourself.

Roni Size & Reprazent ‘Brown Paper Bag’

'Brown Paper Bag' is high up the list when it comes to iconic drum 'n' bass openings. The funky, warped riffs loop and loop, backed by subtle drums and a piercing, drawn out synth. Piano chords tap in and out before - at 2:34 - a meowing vocal cry ignites the tune into full-blown d'n'b workout. Teasing build-ups are well worth the wait if it results in a tune like this, one that'll live on forever in the d'n'b history books.

Read this next: 12 of the best late-90s drum 'n' bass tracks

Azzido Da Bass ‘Dooms Night’ (Timo Maas Remix)

There are some people who dislike electronic music because they can’t connect to music without lyrics. But really, can any well-crafted words hit you in the gut with more impact than a well deployed WOMP? Timo Maas’ remix of Azzido Da Bass’ ‘Dooms Night’ has some of the very best WOMPs in dance music history, and it’s not shy about unleashing them. Released around the turn of the millennium and rocketing to a UK Top 10 top chart hit, it has a near-universal appeal for dance fans, still getting played across the coolest basement parties to the biggest stage at Dekmantel to arena-sized shows. Bassweight speaks louder than words.

Justice vs Simian ‘We Are Your Friends’

This record turned a generation on to dance music and its rich trappings of style (skinny jeans and shirts by So-Me or Kate Moross in this instance) and substance abuse. The bubble writing on the cover was an indicator of the lurid fun that Ed Banger, Kitsuné and Dim Mak were peddling in the mid 00s and the track itself was the anthem for devotees of the indie/dance crossover, from Paris to LA.

Thousands of badly mixed drinks in plastic cups served at sweat-soaked indie-electro discos have been spilled to ‘We Are Your Friends’, the opening synth stabs acting like an air raid siren warning of the chaos to come. There’s a double drop: first the rolling bassline beloved of the noisy French electro crew and their French Touch forebears, then the seminal, stadium-sized vocal hook, which is repeated and wrung dry a la Iggy on ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ (and would indeed make bona fide rockstars out of Justice). There isn’t a 00s club kid alive that hasn’t screamed “Because we are your friends / You’ll never be alone again” from the scrum of a dancefloor group hug and it’ll forever be associated with MDMA, neat alcohol and the thrill of making new friends and lovers in nightclubs for the very first time.

Masters At Work feat. India ‘To Be In Love’

"That bassline kicking in after the beautiful vocal break from India. Still gets me after listening to it a thousand times," goes one Facebook comment responding to our question about the best drops in dance music. It was a popular answer, prompting replies such as 'One of my all-time favourites', 'That's my favourite tune ever' and 'Absolute goosebumps when I hear it'. They ain't wrong, are they? The quickfire bassline, rustled up by Masters At Work, that kicks in after India's vocal break is worth revisiting again and again, and the seamless vocals throughout hit that vocal house sweet spot.

Read this next: Vocal House: The 30 All-Time Biggest Anthems

Size 9 ‘I'am Ready’

At 12 minutes long, this track takes its time to get going. The extended build to kindle anticipation for the impending drop is a well-worn club trope, but that’s because it works damn well in igniting dancefloors. This track takes a brave approach of teasing the coming mania for nine minutes of steady hype-building. At the climax, the only response is delirium.

Underworld ‘Born Slippy’

Come ups, come downs. Blasting the car stereo on the way to raves and the Megabus home. Strobe lights until the light of dawn. ‘Born Slippy’ is basically the dance music equivalent of a blue plaque, forever enshrined as the track that epitomises the rush and tumble of raving. The euphoria and the melancholy.

“You see light from the dark. And you see the dark from the light. That's definitely a big part of the combination of Karl [Hyde] and I,” said the band’s Rick Smith. He was responsible for the gigantic ethereal chords that open the track and provide its breakdown, while Karl Hyde wrote the lyrics – a collage of lust, hedonism and sneering disregard of normie lager lads – during a drinking session in Soho. And as that suggests, ‘Born Slippy’ will lift you up to the heavens before sending you head over heels toward the pumping pit of rave hell – both enjoyable places to be, naturally.

DJ SS ‘The Lighter’

Press play on DJ SS 'The Lighter' and you have to double check you've selected the right tune, so delicate and calming are the piano chords in the intro. These are sampled from Francis Lai's 'Theme From Love Story', acting as the tee-up for a bruising jungle canon ball. The first drop's a complete head-fuck throw-off from the classical medley, but you get a few more bass thumps further on that are just prime for rave carnage. It's a Grooverider fave, with the legendary d'n'b and jungle DJ including the S-Files VIP Mix in his 'FABRICLIVE 06' mix, a CD that, when hearing it as a young teen, set the tone for my own music taste.

Read this next: The 20 best jungle mixes you can listen to online

DJ Jean ‘The Launch’

“Get ready for the launch” advises a vocal near the start of this track. The sage words follow a sample of NASA comms, which come back around as a space shuttle countdown (“5.. 4.. 3.. 2.. 1..”) as the track builds towards its momentous drop. It’s extremely cheesy, and extremely fun. When those bouncing trance notes rush in, dancefloors always hit the stratosphere.

Bedrock ‘Heaven Scent’

1999. The era of superclubs and superstar DJs. The dawn of a new millenium. Judge Jules on a fucking unicorn. The weekend had well and truly landed.

As Bedrock, John Digweed and Nick Miur were looking to create an epic tune with which they could close their parties at London club Heaven and a piece of dance music history was born. ‘Heaven Scent’ is the prog house juggernaut that kicked off Bedrock records, landing the duo at 35 in the UK Top 40 singles chart and netting Digweed a cameo in rave film Groove. Weighing in at 10 minutes, it throbs with the collective energy of a Big Room, providing a sparkling breakdown that begins at the three-minute mark and is designed to give 1000+ people a communal rush.

Read this next: 10 venues where genres were invented

Quench ‘Dreams’

Wedding bells and hellish synths combine on Quench's 1993 trance classic 'Dreams', bouncing off each other for over two and a half minutes before an unleashing of relentless fizzing and percussive shakes. Trance is known for its suspense-building drops and this one's no different. A proper kaleidoscopic ride that leaves you feeling dizzy and completely freaked out.

Art Of Trance ‘Madagascar’ (Ferry Corsten Remix)

Ferry Corsten’s take on Art Of Trance’s 1999 track ‘Madasgascar’ propels through a robust and pulsating opening couple of minutes, before tearing off the shackles and soaring to stupendous trance heights. The chords fizz with the vigour of a thousand come-ups.

Gat Decor ‘Passion’ (Naked mix)

Where were you in 92? Perhaps dissolving in a pool of happiness to this proto prog house banger, which pairs old-skool house pianos with big, bumpin’ kicks and was well hyped by Mixmag during the 90s. Something of a younger sibling to Bedrock’s ‘Heaven Scent’ which is elsewhere on this list, you can hear the blueprint of big room house to come, but with that warm, spontaneous early 90s production value. Naughty!

The Prodigy ‘Poison’

It ain't so easy to write about a tune like this, given how much of an acid-fueled trip you go on listening to 'Poison', taken from The Prodigy's second album 'Music For The Jilted Generation'. Your head's in such a spin you're unsure of where TF you are once it's done. Crow-like caws and devilish synths litter the intro, before it bursts into full-on bass growls and industrial fizz. No wonder it's called 'Poison'. You're completely done in once it's over. Better listen to it again, then.

Daft Punk ‘Robot Rock / Oh Yeah’

Taken from Daft Punk’s 2007 live album ‘Alive 2007’, recorded at an arena in Paris, the transition between ‘Robot Rock’ and ‘Oh Yeah’ is the show’s opening and most explosive segue. As the oscillating synths die of ‘Robot Rock’ fade out, the scuzzy guitar chords and vocoder vocals wrap around each other, gathering pace and inspiring screams of excitement. Then suddenly the beat drops into the growling bassline of ‘Oh Yeah’ which powers forward with the might of a chainsaw taking down a Redwood. Daft Punk, come back, please.

Leftfield ‘Universal Everything’

‘Universal Everything’ landed as the lead track to Leftfield’s 2015 album ‘Alternative Light Source’, the act’s first in 16 years. And what a way to end the drought: this is towering techno that builds to improbable proportions. The faint of heart need not apply.

Bizarre Tracks ‘Sensory Delight’

What a treat for the mind, such is the glistening opening of 'Sensory Delight' by Bizarre Tracks. It's a like a sunrise breaking into a new day for over two minutes. That's until an intergalactic bass rumble bounces into play, swiftly followed by a blinding vocal cry of "do it riiight". Deep house with a perfectly executed bass kick to flip the mood in an instant .

New Order ‘Confusion’ (Pump Panel Reconstruction Mix)

Best known for soundtracking one of the most iconic rave scenes in Hollywood history (Blade’s gory blood rave opening), this track isn’t for the faint-hearted. A propulsive acid line surges through the foundations, taking full control around the six minute mark and growing increasingly more agitated before the kicks return with a vengeance. Absolute fuel for the dancefloor.

Felix ‘Don’t You Want Me’

This rave anthem rocketed to number 6 in the UK Top 40 in 1992 and was a hit internationally, its neon stabs perfect for cutting shapes to in a field or warehouse wherever dance music was taking hold and kicking off. It soups up Jomanda’s vocal and launches into a universe of smiley faces, baggy fits and getting home at breakfast time.

Faithless ‘Insomnia’

You don't have to be a seasoned raver to understand the power of Faithless' 1995 classic 'Insomnia'. The brooding cut was the group's second single and was re-released in 1996 and hit number three in the UK Singles Chart. Maxi Jazz's spoken words about struggling to kip - alongside a heartbeat build-up - are deeply ingrained in worldwide consciousness, as are the piercing, relentless synth stabs that burst into the tune a few minutes in. You'll do well to get some shut-eye after turning this one up loud. Anthem, mate, absolute anthem.

Layo & Bushwacka ‘Love Story’ (Vs Finally) [Bushwacka! Bootleg Version]

House music at its most classic. This track sucks you into a dancefloor trance with the marching and hypnotic pulse it sets off with, before some rapid and organic-sounding drum hits switch up the atmosphere to lofty piano house heights. The percussion has fallen out as the track moves through its sixth minute, as crooning vocals dance around soft chords, before the beat powers back in with the vocals from The Kings of Tomorrow’s all-time great single ‘Finally’ at 5:50. Magic.

Sarah Mclachlan 'Possession' (Rabbit In The Moon remix)

A slice of old-skool US rave that sends Sarah Mclachlan’s vocal into a dark abyss of rough-hewn drums and heavy bass. Like the Underworld track elsewhere in this list, it’s also one only for the brave.

Chemical Brothers ‘Hey Boy, Hey Girl’

Glasto 2020 might be postponed, but at least I've got the memory of The Chemical Brothers there in 2019 locked in my memory. A trippy, visual-heavy headline set on the Other Stage, the Chems zoomed through their fat back catalogue of hits, 'Hey Boy Hey Girl' being one of them. Hearing that sizzling, electrical current build-up, then the brief breakdown, back into the whirlwind synth fizzes was one of those "Remember that set at..." memories. Doesn't get much better than that.

Age Of Love ‘The Age Of Love’ (Jam & Spoon Watch Out For Stella Mix)

Trance perfection. It has all the elements you could want from the genre: ethereal vocals, potent bassline, finely-crafted percussion and percussive flourishes. The more than 1 million views it’s clocked up in under 18 months are testament to the infectious euphoria this track spreads to people and gets them returning back to, again and again.

Read this next: The 15 best mid-90s trance tracks

N'n'G 'Right Before Eyes' feat. Kallaghan (The Remix feat. MC Neat)

There's a reason UK garage is fondly thought of as the best genre ever. The tunes bang, whether it's those bubbly melodies, crisp basslines or delectable vocals. The MC-Neat-featuring remix of 'Right Before My Eyes' has all of that and has one of those drops that slaps. The 2-step beat's already in full force, then comes MC Neat's iconic line 'Here comes the remix' and a sharp gunshot that activates a whirring bassline dreamland.

Read this next: Get the best of Mixmag direct to your Facebook DMs

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