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17 Artists You Didn't Know Went EDM

Who knew Karen O, Chance The Rapper and Neon Trees would sound so good over a club beat?

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"EDM" (aka electronic dance music) is a tough genre to define these days. With its mainstream crossover in the late '00s, pop stars (from Britney Spears to Ariana Grande), R&B singers (Usher; Mary J. Blige) and rappers (like T.I. and Lil Wayne) have all embraced electronic elements to some extent, making the term "EDM" feel isolating and confusing when we're hearing its traits on every track and on the radio.

But in regards to a select group of artists who have seemingly steered clear of the EDM world, we're about to completely shift your paradigm. From pure R&B crooners to classic rock acts, here are the 17 artists you didn't realize went EDM, but did so—and with incredible results, nonetheless.

1 / 17

John Legend

John Legend scored a mega No. 1 hit this year with the ballad "All of Me" that featured just his voice and a piano—doesn't get more classic than that. But last summer, the R&B purist brought his crooning to surging dance track "Dance the Pain Away" with EDM veteran Benny Benassi. They even recorded a slick, black-and-white video for it.

2 / 17

Neon Trees

Neon Trees is one of the few pop-rock groups who can consistently score hit single after hit single with their soaring, jam-out tracks. But the group jumped on this phat, synth-heavy banger from Kaskade, and we got to give props to frontman Tyler Glenn for sounding right at home on it.

3 / 17

Lykke Li

You probably never anticipated Sweden's indie-pop darling Lykke Li to team up with Kanye West and Santigold on a spacey dance beat ... but it happened on "Gifted." And it was awesome.

"Gifted" came about thanks to N.A.S.A., a hip hop duo whose namesake stands for "North America/South America" and specialize in bringing together artists from different countries.

4 / 17

The Doors

In one of the most brilliant sample uses we've heard, Skrillex found a way to incorporate all of the members of The Doors, which, yes, even means putting Jim Morrison on the record in a way you've never heard before. The electronic prince used a vocal sample from a Morrison interview from the '60s, while the remaining Doors members handled the chants throughout the insane dubstep track.

5 / 17

Chance The Rapper

Chance The Rapper is still establishing himself in the hip hop world, but that doesn't mean the rising Chi-town rapper can't experiment in the electronic sphere. He joined up with his roommate James Blake to serve some haunting, airy crooning over the British minimalist's beats. 

The 21-year-old teamed up with Skrillex on his new Recess album earlier this year, too.

6 / 17

Karen O

We don't think we're crazy for never expecting to hear Karen O handle a hook alongside an Ol' Dirty Bastard sample, but the N.A.S.A. guys made it happen (again!) with "Strange Enough." 

7 / 17

Rivers Cuomo

Yup, even the Weezer frontman has dabbled in a little dance. This Steve Aoki collaboration sees Rivers Cuomo showcasing his rap-singing skills over a zippy, synthy production. 

If that sounds bizarre, just watch the trippy music video. Mind. Blown. And we love it.

8 / 17

Jennifer Hudson

Everyone knows J. Hud can saaaang, but we never heard her roar over epic synths, drum machine buildups and hard-hitting beats. Take a listen to this cut off David Guetta's 2011 album Nothing But the Beat that totally sounds like it could have been single material.

9 / 17


Santana on a dance track? But Santana doesn't really sing nowadays, you say. It doesn't mean the dude can't shred over an anthemic, shout-along, fist-pumping chorus courtesy of Avicii for the 2014 World Cup soundtrack.

10 / 17

Danielle Haim of HAIM

Thanks to fantastic tracks like "The Wire" and "Falling," Danielle Haim and her sisters have crafted a sound people struggle to label ('60s-folk-meets-'90s-R&B?), but the 25-year-old was undeniably in club banger mode for this Major Lazer collaboration. Who knew she'd sound so good singing a hook about LSD?!

11 / 17

Jessie J

Pop diva Jessie J has dabbled in reggae ("Price Tag") and gospel ("Bang Bang"), but had yet to go into hardcore EDM mode. Cue DJ king David Guetta, who recruited the British babe for this snappy, euphoric dance track. 

12 / 17

Sigur Ros' Jónsi

As the lead singer of the Icelandic post-rock outfit Sigur Ros, Jónsi embracing Tiesto in his trance days made for a woozy, trippy 7:38 sonic adventure that goes from light and ambient to industrial and ethereal.

13 / 17


Estelle's proven herself as a rapper ("American Boy") and a singer (have you heard "Conqueror" live yet?), but she also showed she can be a house music diva with this David Guetta collaboration "One Love." The song was the title track to Guetta's breakout 2009 album and topped the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart.

14 / 17


You read that right. Afrojack + Sting. It happened. 

How? The Dutch DJ told us earlier this year, "We wrote 'Catch Tomorrow' and after the song was finished we were like, 'Oh my God, this is amazing. Who is going to sing this? It's so different and it's so deep! A friend of mine, one of the writers, he said, 'What about Sting?' And I was like, 'Sure! You want me to call Bono, too? Or Oprah Winfrey?' And three months later I was in a studio in New York and an Englishman walked in and he said, ‘Hey Nick, how are you doing?' There are no words. It's Sting."

p.s. Afrojack, can you make an Oprah feature happen? We'd love to hear that. Thanks.

15 / 17

Brittany Murphy

Paul Oakenfold is one of the few people who got to record with the late singer/actress. The pair recorded this fizzy club track in 2006, way ahead of today's dance music obsession.

Listen to a rare hip hop remix of the track to pay further tribute to Murphy's legacy.

16 / 17

Debbie Harry

The Blondie bombshell herself dove into electronica with none other than Moby holding her hand. The two crafted an ode to New York City which packed an additional punch, as both these artists honed their skills in the city before making it big.

17 / 17

Perry Farrell

The dude who founded one of the biggest rock festivals in the world (aka Lollapalooza) also has EDM hook singer as a title on his resume. The Jane's Addiction frontman slurred through an ominous Paul Oakenfold production that stands as one of the DJ's earliest standout tracks.

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Photo of the day

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 19: Chance the Rapper and Iman dance at KENZO x H&M Launch Event Directed By Jean-Paul Goude' at Pier

Oct. 20: Fashion Party

Is there anyone busier than Chance The Rapper these days? Attending fancy State Dinners at the White House with Dad, starring in the best Kit-Kat commercial we’ve ever seen, partying with Beyoncé, and now dancing the night away with the one-and-only Iman! At the KENZO X H&M fashion event Chance rubbed elbows with not only Iman, but with Lupita Nyong’o, Rosario Dawson and Halsey as well. Both Chance and Iman are ambassadors for the KENZO x H&M campaign.