"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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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?!
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.
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.
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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