Best DJs: Top 5 Musical Maestros, According To Experts

The DJ is the master of ceremonies, the person with the playlist, and the driving beat behind the dance floor. Short for Disc Jockey, a DJ can be many things. Originally a term for terrestrial broadcast radio hosts, they captivated America with hit records and entertaining banter. By the 1980s, the DJ was a record scratching mix master that laid down the beats for rap acts like Salt-N-Peppa, Run-D.M.C., and Sugar Hill Gang. In modern parlance, a DJ is the master of electronic dance music (EDM) and a type of jet-setting celebrity that collaborates with every A-lister on the billboard charts. It is this last group that is the focus of the top five best DJs, according to our sources.

The history and meaning of the term DJ has changed so much over the decades that it is important to zero in on a precise meaning of the term before diving into our sources for answers. A top five of all time DJs list could include the likes of Jam Master Jay and Grandmaster Flash. Or should it consider broadcast greats like Casey Kasem and Wolfman Jack? Clearly, these are two distinctly different groups that merely share common nomenclature. As mentioned above, this top five list is focused on the contemporary vernacular of a DJ being the master of EDM and collaborations.

EDM is popular today not only at music festivals, but also as part of workout mixes, and general pump-you-up playlists. Modern artists mix electronic sound, digital beats, and celebrity featured artists like Sia or The Black Eyed Peas. EDM is music with a pulse, and for fans of the genre, it is irreplaceable. In previous decades this music might have been called techno, trance, or perhaps electronica. Now, EDM is mainstream pop and dance music that a person might stumble across while shopping at the supermarket or in the drive-thru. What has accounted for this change in the mainstream appeal of EDM? Perhaps it is the faster-paced rhythm or the pounding enhanced bass, but either way EDM seems to have taken a place in the musical mainstream of America.

As we age, cognitive decline is more likely to develop. So, how can we train our brain to fight it? Researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), HES-SO Geneva, and EPFL say the answer may be hiding in music. Their study finds that both listening and learning to play music could prevent a decline in brain health. Loving music and enjoying it frequently could contribute to more robust mental health with age. Additional research has even shown that the right song at the right moment can turn a bad day around. Now, new findings from Michigan State University suggest our favorite tunes can also help give meds a boost. Researchers found that music-listening interventions appear to make medicines more effective. Clearly, music enriches our lives and helps us in unforeseen ways.

With the many style-clad pop culture icons pumping out remixed tunes today, we turned to our sources to compile our list of the best DJs. Our top five list includes some of the most famous and recognized artists on the world charts. Let us know your favorite DJs in the comments below!

people partying under blue lights
People partying under blue lights (Photo by Brandon Erlinger-Ford on Unsplash)

The List: Best DJs, According to Music Fans

1. David Guetta

The leader in the ratings according to our sources is David Guetta, in a genre that has a wide range of international artists. “The French music producer and DJ is undoubtedly one of the greatest DJs of all time. He has thrice received the honor of the number one spot in the Top 100 DJ polls by DJ Mag. He is famous for his collaborations with top acts like Sia, Nicki Minaj, Jason Derulo, and more. With two Grammy awards, an AMA, and Billboard Music Award under his belt, David Guetta has made over 100 million dollars selling his recorded music,” explains Music in

Guetta’s musical contributions have become nigh-ubiquitous in mainstream pop music. “The 52 year-old French EDM DJ needs almost no introduction. Besides being a record producer, David Guetta makes house-style musical compositions, which he then demos and transforms into albums. He started DJing in various clubs during the 1980s and 1990s, before releasing the well-known track ‘Just a Little More Love’ in 2002,” details wavezoo.

“Unlike many famous DJs, the Frenchman didn’t achieve success until later in life. It wasn’t until he dropped his 2009 album, ‘One Love,’ at the age of 41, That Guetta became a household name. Since then he has gone on to sell over nine million albums and 30 million singles worldwide. Currently ranked by DJ Mag as the top DJ in the world (a title he has held for two years running), David Guetta has won countless awards (including two Grammy Awards) and produced songs for the likes of Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, and Rihanna,”  acclaims Net Luxury.

2. Tiësto

For some casual listeners the name Tiësto might sound familiar, but they might not be able to name his singles like his hit track “Don’t Be Shy” a collaboration with Karol G. “Tiësto has been on the DJ scene for many years, establishing a reputation as one of the highest-paid DJs in the world and one of the most influential. He’s another Dutch DJ with several decades of experience DJing and producing dance music, with a reputation for exploring multiple genres. Referred to by many music fans as the ‘Godfather of EDM,’… As well as being one of the highest-paid DJs, Tiësto is also one of the most influential, in addition to being a prolific record producer and world-famous DJ,” opines Zip DJ.

Tiësto performs a live DJ set at the Way Out West festival on August 13, 2011 in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Tiësto performs a live DJ set at the Way Out West festival on August 13, 2011 in Gothenburg, Sweden (Photo by Carl Bjorklund on Shutterstock)

Tiësto is unsatisfied with his success and wants to make sure that his legacy expands. “Before DJs were superstars in the USA, the Dutch trance legend… was a U2-size draw in Europe – dropping more-epic-than-‘Avatar’ synth bombs everywhere from Ibiza to the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. Now he rules just as large here – rocking festival mainstages with a sound that’s evolved from shiver-inducing trance spirals toward chunkier electro-based grooves. And even though he makes a reported $20 million a year, he’s not settling for the bajillion fans he already has. ‘Skrillex has a completely different fan base than I have,’ says Tiësto. ‘So I can win fans from him or other DJs. They know the name Tiësto, but they don’t know what I spin!”’ exclaims Rolling Stone.

“He has claimed a lot of honor and love from his fans and followers. In 2013, The DJ Mag voted him for the ‘Best DJ in last 20 years’. On the other hand, Mix Magazine named him ‘All Time’s Greatest DJ’. Some consider him as the ‘Godfather of EDM’. He has been elected for ‘World No. 1 DJ’ for three years, 2002 to 2004… His first solo album ‘In My Memory’ was released in 2001 and since then he [has] released many musical hits. His third studio album ‘Elements of Life’ has been nominated for Grammy Awards,” offers Daily Music Roll.

3. Martin Garrix

Martin Garrix is an accomplished artist from the Netherlands. “Martin Garrix has hit No. 1 in the Top 100 DJs poll for the fourth time, an astonishing achievement in a career already filled with defining moments. After a vertiginous live streamed show from the top of New York’s Empire State Building, he tells DJ Mag about working with U2, writing music on guitar, how he stays grounded, his charity work and his STMPD label — and explains that staying independent has been a recipe for happiness and success,” raves DJ Mag.

EDM music is heavily influenced by a wealth of European talent. “Martin Garrix is a pro-Dutch DJ, musician, and producer. Garrix is regarded by many as the best DJ in the world at the moment, or, more correctly, the biggest DJ in the world. He was discovered by Tiësto and became a superstar before he was 18. You may know him for his viral hit ‘Animals’, which was released in 2013. In 2016, he left Spinning Records to form his label, STMPD Records,” praises Boom Speaker.

“The Dutch youth is a big name in current music. At only 24 years of age, Garrix has taken the leap of spot 40 in the rankings to top 1 in preference in the last ten years. His musical career began at age 8, learning how to play the guitar and later, he fell in love with electronic music by watching Tiesto and discovering the energy in his music. His career has grown exponentially since 2013, becoming DJ number 1 in 2016, 2017 and 2018,” offers The L Magazine.

4. Swedish House Mafia

Showing more evidence that northern Europe is the heart of modern EDM, Swedish House Mafia has created some of the best dance hits on global pop charts. “Swedish House Mafia is one of the biggest names in DJing. The trio, originating in Stockholm, has risen to international fame. They played a mega, four-day fun performing in New York,” adds Record-Head 50.

A common thread with all the artists on our list is that they have influenced, helped, and fostered each other in their music careers. “The trio has inspired other renowned DJs, including Avicii, Calvin Harris, and Martin Garrix. With several Grammy nominations, EMA wins, and others, the Swedish House Mafia is easily one of the greatest DJ acts of all time,” posits Music in

“Now that Steve Angello, Axwell and Sebastian Ingrosso announced they’re retiring from touring together next year, things have gotten ridiculous – including a Grateful Dead-like four-night arena run in New York next March. Since forming in 2008, the Swedes have conquered the planet with their super-high-gloss brand of progressive house,” raves Rolling Stone.

5. Avicii

Tim Bergling is better known by his stage name, Avicii, and his passing in 2018 was a keenly felt loss in the music community. “His premature passing hasn’t undermine [sic] the vitality in his music. The Swedish DJ managed to reach millions of people since 2011, but his first experience with music came at age 8. He was always listed in the top spots of DJs rankings, and his music was recognized by the biggest names in the industry, like MTV, The Billboard Award, Teen Choice Award and many others. His sudden passing left a mark in music history that will forever stay,” contributes The L Magazine.

Simply put, “Avicii was young for the game but competitive with DJs who’d been performing for a while. Avicii had a real love for music, and it showed. His massive hits proved he was capable of connecting with large audiences of all types of people,” writes Record-Head 50.

Written before his passing, “If one song sums up the current moment in commercial EDM… it’s the young Swedish spinner’s Etta James-sampling ‘Levels.’ The 2011 tune, which seems to magically trigger a huge, instant serotonin surge, is such total ear candy that Diplo admiringly tweeted, ‘i h8 how much i love levels makes me feel gay inside.’ But beyond the music, the baby-face DJ sums up the scene in all kinds of other ways,” states Rolling Stone.

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