Ultra: 10 Songs To Shake The Dance Floor

Tiesto live; courtesy of the artist

Tiesto is arguably the most famous DJ in the world. courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption courtesy of the artist

On March 26 and 27, the Ultra Music Festival closes out Miami's weeklong Winter Music Conference for electronic and dance music. Last year, it was estimated that more than 70,000 people attended, and the festival's popularity only seems to be increasing. As a byproduct of Ultra's success, the scope of sounds coming from the stages at the annual festival is becoming increasingly diverse. Though Ultra's roots are in house, trance and techno, this year's line-up mirrors dance music's recent tendency to mix genres.

Here are 10 songs from some of this year's performers, handpicked to showcase the range of styles featured at the festival.

Advisory: Some of these recordings contain explicit language and subject matter not suitable for all ages.

Ultra: 10 Songs To Shake The Dance Floor

Tiesto album cover

Tiesto (feat. Jonsi)

  • Album: Kaleidoscope
  • Song: Kaleidoscope

Headlining this year's festival is Dutch DJ and producer Tiesto. As arguably the most famous DJ in the world, Tiesto's influence in dance music cannot be overstated. His star power has helped to change the way DJs are perceived: They've gone from anonymous faces behind turntables to iconic musicians. On the title track from his latest album, Kaleidoscope, he teams up with Sigur Ros frontman Jonsi. The Icelandic singer's haunting falsetto builds the first five minutes of this song, and releases it to a trance-y explosion of synthesizers. The latter half of the piece is more typical of Tiesto's sound.

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Song
Kaleidoscope
Album
Kaleidoscope
Artist
DJ Tiësto
Label
Pias/Musical Free
Released
2009

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Cover for Guns Don't Kill People... Lazers Do

Major Lazer (feat. Mr. Vegas and Jovi Rockwell)

  • Album: Guns Don't Kill People... Lazers Do
  • Song: Can't Stop Now

Who would have thought that the most successful dancehall album of 2009 would come from two white guys, one from London and one from Philly? Nevertheless, Diplo and Switch made some Ja-magic with Guns Don’t Kill People... Lazers Do, getting help from some established dancehall stars like T.O.K., Vybz Kartel and Mr. Vegas. This track features Mr. Vegas and newcomer Jovi Rockwell, whose vocals vibe perfectly with the rolling groove on this cut.

This album is available from Amazon MP3.

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Song
Can't Stop Now
Album
Guns Don't Kill People... Lazers Do
Artist
Major Lazer
Label
Sony Music Distribution
Released
2009

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Passion Pit The Reeling - Remixes cover

Passion Pit (Calvin Harris Remix)

  • Album: The Reeling - Remixes
  • Song: The Reeling (Calvin Harris Remix)

Passion Pit sits high on the bill of this year's festival, and a large part of that has to do with the amount of remix attention that its 2009 album, Manners, received. Producers have been remixing rock and pop music for club play since the early '80s -- and, for many artists, it spreads their work to an audience that would have never known or cared.

This album is available from Amazon MP3.

Cover for Planet Rock: The Album

Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Force

  • Artist: Afrika Bambaataa and Soulsonic Force
  • Album: Planet Rock: The Album

Afrika Bambaataa's appearance at Ultra may seem out of place, but as the father of the electro-funk sound, he fits right in. Best known for his role in the creation of hip-hop, Bambaataa was heavily influenced by the electronic music scene at the time. His most famous track, "Planet Rock," samples Kraftwerk's "Trans-Europe Express" for its main melody, and is driven by an up-tempo hip-hop rhythm.

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Song
Planet Rock
Album
Planet Rock: The Album
Artist
Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Force
Label
DBK Works

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Benga & Coki cover

Benga/Coki

  • Artist: Benga/Coki
  • Album: Night [CD]
  • Song: Night [Original Version]

In 2008, Croydon, U.K., producer Benga released the album Diary of an Afro Warrior to tremendous critical acclaim. The album's crossover appeal landed it on many best-of lists for the year, and brought the dubstep genre out of South London to an international audience. Benga has been producing tracks since his early teens, and alongside longtime friend Skream, resides at the forefront of a globally charged dubstep scene.

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Song
Night [Original Version]
Album
Night [CD]
Artist
Benga/Coki
Label
Tempa
Released
2008

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Pretty Lights cover

Pretty Lights

  • Artist: Pretty Lights
  • Album: Making Up A Changing Mind
  • Song: I Can See It In Your Face

Pretty Lights is the work of producer Derek Vincent Smith, whose soul-laden samples have become their signature. Smith's beats are for the most part rooted in hip-hop, though flavored with sonic elements often found in today's electro-house scene. "I Can See It in Your Face" is a track from his EP Making Up a Changing Mind.

The EP is available for free from Pretty Lights' site and for purchase from Amazon MP3.

Heads Will Roll cover

Yeah Yeah Yeahs (A-Trak Remix)

  • Album: Heads Will Roll (A-Trak Remix)
  • Song: Heads Will Roll (A-Trak Remix)

Born in Montreal but based in New York, turntablist and producer A-Trak is a jack of all trades in the music business. The younger brother of David Macklovitch from Chromeo, Alain Macklovitch rose to fame by winning the Disco Mix Clubs World DJ Championship at age 15. He runs a label, heads a collaborative clothing line, performs as Kanye West's personal tour DJ, and has even released a toy. He also happens to be an excellent remixer, as evidenced by his remix of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs single "Heads Will Roll," which caught fire in the blogosphere last year.

Fake Blood / 8 Boy-Bit

Fake Blood (Boy 8-Bit Remix)

  • Album: Mars
  • Song: Mars (Boy 8-Bit Remix)

DJ/producers Fake Blood and Boy 8-Bit both hail from London and have been playing shows together across North America. In 2008, Fake Blood released a bass-heavy banger called "Mars." Using a technique called side-chain bass compression, Fake Blood removes all but the bass frequencies of a track for a more prominent bass line and bass kick. The song was remixed heavily, though it was his touring buddy Boy 8-Bit who provided the most compelling interpretation of the song. It takes a spacey, more relaxed approach to Fake Blood's sound.

The original version of "Mars" is available on Cheap Thrills, Vol. 1 at Amazon MP3.

Wolfgang Gartner cover

Wolfgang Gartner

  • Artist: Wolfgang Gartner
  • Album: Wolfgang's 5th Symphony / The Grey Agenda
  • Song: Wolfgang's 5th Symphony

This glitchy electro reworking of Beethoven's 5th Symphony shows why Wolfgang Gartner is currently sitting atop dance music's "electro house" scene. Gartner supplies a range of thinly spliced samples throughout the piece, creating a work that sounds both aurally stimulating and danceable. Note the range of textures he uses after the beat drop, and the precision with which he works them together.

This album is available from Amazon and Amazon MP3.

Daedmau5 sover

Deadmau5

  • Artist: Deadmau5
  • Album: For Lack of a Better Name
  • Song: Moar Ghosts n Stuff

Joel Thomas Zimmerman, or Deadmau5, had a quick rise to super-stardom. He released eight albums from 2006 to 2009. Originally from Ontario, he performed at this year's Olympic Games, while "Moar Ghosts n Stuff" was aired across America when it was blasted from the loudspeakers during mogul skier Hannah Kearney's gold-medal run. He headlines the second night of Ultra, and will surely wear some variation on his mouse costume.

This album is available from Amazon MP3.

Purchase Featured Music

Song
Moar Ghosts n Stuff
Album
For Lack of a Better Name
Artist
Deadmau5
Label
Virgin
Released
2009

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