2018: A year in music

Very few years throughout the entire history of dance music have managed to shock and delight in equal measure in the same way that 2018 did. Led by the euphoria of three returning Swedes, and the tragic loss of another, this was truly a game-changing 12 month period for the industry. From the retirement of the former #1 DJ in the world, to the meteoric rise of his successor, here’s a special We Rave You guide to 2018: A year in music…


Overworked: Avicii en route to a gig in 2014 just minutes after being discharged from hospital


After first breaking the story in December 2017 that Swedish House Mafia would reunite at Ultra Music Festival in Miami, the We Rave You social media channels were forced to withstand a barrage of angry comments from frustrated fans who didn’t believe the story. However, on Sunday 25th March, the dance world stood still as the three kings made the most dramatic return, ending a half-decade hiatus, exactly 5 years to the night since their last performance together; ironically, on the very same stage.

As fans all across the globe stayed up until the early hours to watch the live-stream, those on the ground in Florida were left open-mouthed in gasp-drawing amazement at the spectacular fire-led show put on by the iconic act. Ultra’s 20th anniversary was certainly given the fitting finale it deserved, with Axwell declaring:

“It is Swedish House Mafia for life this time!”


The date of 20th April 2018 will forever be etched into the minds of music lovers all over the world, as the brightest sparkle in the Sky Full of Stars faded into darkness. When the news broke during early evening that Avicii had passed away, the reaction was largely one of incredulous belief. But looking into the tragic events that transpired on that fateful night in Muscat, Oman, and the king of EDM’s demise had looked largely inevitable.

Driven to suicide by the constant pressures placed on him – expertly showcased in his ‘True Stores‘ documentary – Tim‘s suicide left the world in shock, still to this day mourning a loss that nobody will ever truly recover from. Tributes from around the world poured in, with his biggest hits played by DJs all over the world at various festivals, culminating in a giant Avicii flag appearing on the hill at the main stage of Tomorrowland 2018.


Following the success of CamelPhat‘s 2017 smash ‘Cola‘, which saw the UK duo nominated for a GRAMMY, no sub-genre of dance music continued to rise faster – or more potently – than tech-house during 2018. With summer approaching, the movement inadvertently found a poster boy in the form of decadent Aussie, Fisher.

Debuting his floor-filling weapon ‘Losing It‘ at Coachella, the video (below) went viral, catapulting the energetic producer to worldwide fame, having previously bubbled under the surface with slick productions like ‘Stop It’ on Claude VonStroke‘s Dirtybird label. With Cristoph & CamelPhat later rivalling the Big Fish for the title of ‘2018’s biggest hit’ with their collaborative November release ‘Breathe’, the genre continues to soar heading into 2019.


Carving out a reputation as a promising producer famed for his powerful progressive prowess, Max Vangeli was best known to fans for his work alongside Steve Angello on tracks like ‘Monday’ and iconic anthem, ‘The Island’. But Google his name these days, and the results that return will rely on entirely different reasons.

What started as classic EDM Twitter beef between Max, Diplo, and Zedd, saw Vangeli launch into a tirade of foul-mouthed rants, but even when the row continued, the Moldovan’s anger continued as he switched to full CAPS LOCK mode and began posting aggressive gibberish across a lengthy timespan. With deadmau5 warning the producer that he was wrecking his career with these comments, fans started fearing for the mental health of Vangeli. His Twitter account is currently suspended.


Quite simply, a commercial hit machine, Calvin Harris made a triumphant return to EDM in 2018 following his flirtation with the downtempo synth-led sounds of previous album ‘Funk Wav Bounces Vol.1.’ Teaming up with the world’s most in-demand vocalist, Dua Lipa – who later incurred the wrath of dance fans with her disrespectful comments regarding female DJs during Tomorrowland – their hit ‘One Kiss‘ would eventually top the charts for 8 consecutive weeks.

Calvin then returned only a few weeks later, with his Sam Smith collab ‘Promises‘ which hit the top spot for a further 6 weeks, marking his 10th number #1 single in the UK, which means he joins the ranks of double-digit chart-toppers like Elvis, Madonna, Take That, and The Beatles.


Following his mesmerising EPIC 5.0 show at the Steel Yard in London‘s Victoria Park (May 2017), Swedish maestro Eric Prydz further cemented his reputation as the greatest visual genius in the game during 2018, launching his brand-new ‘HOLO’ concept. Bringing the fully holographic performance to Glasgow and Belsonic Festival in Belfast, Eric rounded off the trilogy with a headlining set at Creamfields.

Closing the festival at the same time as Martin Garrix (Horizon Stage) and Tiesto (Arc Stage), Prydz flashed expertly between his Pryda and Cirez D aliases, as gasps rang around the 10,000 capacity crowd which spilled out of the arena and onto the surrounding grass, such was the Swede’s popularity. Prydz will return to the venue in May 2018 for his Finsbury Park HOLO performance.


Following the death of Avicii in April, the dance scene showed a warmer compassion and further understanding of mental health issues throughout the industry, but were left in shock regardless when former DJ Mag Top 100 winner Hardwell announced his retirement from live shows in September.

The news was particularly surprising given the fact Hardwell had told We Rave You just weeks earlier than he was enjoying his live performances more than ever in an exclusive interview. Fans could at least take solace from the fact the big-room star hinted that the retirement would only be temporary, and despite performing a sold-out ‘Farewell’ show at ADE, we wouldn’t be too surprised to see Robbert return to the live scene in 2019.


Now there’s a headline you never thought you’d read. Revealing his identity as one of the underground’s hottest alter-egos, Jack Back, the French superstar earned the respect of all corners of the dance music world with the most incredible mixtape, packed with rhythmic deep-house records and gritty techno-leaning productions.

It is perhaps worth remembering that prior to his flurry of EDM radio hits, Guetta started out as a vinyl master on the terraces of Space Ibiza, but even so, the dramatic stance in musical style from a man best known for collabs with artists like Nicki Minaj and Flo Rida was hugely refreshing. So far, Jack Back has enjoyed released on iconic labels such as Toolroom and DEFECTED, and looks set to dominate after-hours dancefloors further in 2019.


Undoubtedly the biggest expert in running his mouth via Twitter when sometimes it may be best to stay mute, Canadian superstar deadmau5 landed himself in hotter water than usual this Autumn when he was filmed critiquing Slushii’s music in a video where the Mau5trap owner labelled the tunes as ‘AIDS‘ and ‘Autistic music.’

After large sections of the EDM community called Joel out for his intolerable behaviour, the masked producer issued a full apology in which he declared a full social media blackout whilst going away to wrestle his own personal issues that had caused his negative mindset. Slushii, who revealed he is on the autistic spectrum himself, told various media outlets that he was – unsurprisingly – bitterly disappointed by Joel’s comments.


Having scooped the crown in 2016 and 2017, the pressure was EDM’s biggest superstar, Martin Garrix, to see if he could pull of a remarkable trilogy of titles at the DJ Mag Top 100 awards in October. Facing competition from the likes of previous winners David Guetta, Armin van Buuren and Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Martin was the resounding victor, winning by a landslide margin in the public vote.

The success cemented his place as the dance industry’s most in-demand name right now, with further spots in the top 10 for Don Diablo, and a re-entry for Oliver Heldens following the culmination of another sensational Amsterdam Dance Event in the Dutch capital.


Seven months on from Ultra, and still, the public were no wiser on the future of Swedish House Mafia, despite fever-pitch levels of excitement surrounding a potential world tour in 2019. However, all that changed on the Monday after ADE when Axwell, Steve Angello, and Sebastian Ingrosso sat down to publicly reveal their plans at a live-streamed press conference which left the dance world captivated.

There were to be no more teaser posters, no more trio of dots emerging in public places, and no more mysterious social media posts. There would however be, new music, and 3 dates in their hometown of Stockholm at the Tele2 Arena in May, with a further range of dates added at various festivals, including Creamfields – their only UK performance of 2019, and a return to Britain for the first time in 7 years.


With Avicii announcing his retirement from live shows in 2016, and Hardwell following suit in 2018, the Dutch star wasn’t the only act to power down his CDJs for good this year, with bass-trap star Carnage also revealing his intentions to take a hiatus from the scene.

Revealing the post on his Instagram account, Carnage told fans:

“My therapist & doctor are recommending that I take some time off to get my head back in the game… Don’t worry people, I just need to recharge that’s all.”


View this post on Instagram


Honest self-reflection opens your mind to reprogramming, change, success and freedom.

A post shared by EL DIABLO (@djcarnage) on


Despite many tipping the triumphant return of progressive EDM, led by Swedish House Mafia in 2019, it’s worth remembering that the Swedes originally gained their reputation as innovators of the sub-genre and it wouldn’t be totally jaw-dropping to see them pioneer the music world once more. With disco making a subtle return, could SHM potentially add tinges of this style into their new productions? Elsewhere, we’re tipping a return to touring for Hardwell, and a tough battle for the DJ Mag crown with Martin Garrix up against the Scandinavian phoenix from the ashes, and the ever-popular Don Diablo, who snatched the 1001Tracklists crown in October.

Whatever happens, We Rave You will, of course, exclusively bring you the news first every step of the way, so buckle in and prepare for 2019… It promises to be the most iconic so far.

From all the team at We Rave You: Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

(BA Hons Journalism), 30, London. NCTJ-accredited journalist and dance music lover specialising in interviews, features, editorial work, and reviews. www.journojake.com

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