Hardstyle is a relatively new sub-genre of electronic dance music. It's origins can be traced back 15 years, but the music didn't break into the international public spectrum until around 2007. Taking different aspects of hard trance, gabber, and hard house, producers developed a sound that generated raw energy in it's bass, as well as an emotional pulse in the melody.
Hardstyle is generally be defined by a rhythm between 140 and 150 BPM, a compressed kick sound, a punctuated vocal sample, and the genre's signature reverse bass. Originally produced in the Netherlands, DJs such as Pavo and The Prophet (above) developed the style from the underground and gave the up-tempo, hard-hitting bass drops a more club-friendly vibe.
Artists, like Blutonium Boy and Zany, saw the marketability in hardstyle. As the Trance scene grew in Europe, hardstyle record labels started to emerge and mix compilations gave producers a way to reach the public. Blutonium Boy's “Hardstyle Instructor” albums helped to push hardstyle bass into the mainstream by using progressive melodies in harmony with the hard drum kicks.
The transformation of hardstyle into mainstream dance music started with the explosion of Q Dance. In working with the industry's largest promotion companies (Insomniac/ID&T), Q Dance has put the harder styles of dance music in a place that can't be ignored.
DJ Mag's top 100 saw an influx of hardstyle in 2012. Seven hardstyle producers, led by protege Headhunterz, landed in the poll's top 50: Headhunterz (11), Noisecontrollers (27), Zatox (36), Coone (37), Wildstylez (41), Angerfist (42), and Brennan Heart (49). With the help of established names, Q-Dance began to feature hardstyle-only stages at major U.S. festivals such as Electric Daisy Carnival.
In 2013, hardstyle continued to make waves in the mainstream by piggy-backing off of the already rising dance music trend. Artists like DJ Isaac would take popular EDM or trance songs and remix them; adding the familiar reverze bass and kicking the tempo up to 150 BPM. Some of the scenes most successful remixes include Headhunterz' remix of Hardwell's “Spaceman” and Kaskade's “Lessons in Love”, and Isaac's remixes of Dash Berlin's “Till The Sky Falls Down” and “Animals”.
Lately, Tiesto has gotten a lot of flak for ‘not making trance' anymore. Little known fact: Tiesto was actually a hard-dance producer before he broke into the trance scene. Back in the day, Tiesto used the pseudonym Da Joker: “Getting Bored“, “Set It On Fire“, “Fuck Me Right“, “Speed Up San Francisco“. More recently, Showtek transitioned from the hardstyle scene into more popular EDM. Last year, Q-Dance named Showtek's hardstyle classic “Fuck The System” the greatest hardstyle song of all time.
Moving into 2014, hardstyle has taken a hold in the mainstream of EDM. Podcasts, including Headhunterz' “Hard With Style”, are continuing the explosion of exposure. Hardstyle DJs are getting a shot at playing the main stage at some of America's biggest festivals, and even major satellite radio stations are taking risks by featuring hardstyle shows.
Now that you know the history of hardstyle, here's all necessary hardstyle-related resources for you to bookmark:
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