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Who is Deadmau5?
Deadmau5, aka Joel Zimmerman, is a producer and DJ within the genre of house music (primarily progressive house, although he also dabbles in techno and dubstep). He is well known for pushing the boundaries of electronic music and inventing new sounds and techniques. He is an excellent ambassador for the electronic music scene and a surprisingly down-to-earth guy.
And his music is fantastic. His first two albums, Random Album Title and For Lack of a Better Name are continuous albums where each song transitions directly into the next with no break in between. These albums are roller coasters of atmosphere and emotion, adrenaline-driven journeys into sound which ceaselessly manipulate mood from start to finish. His third album, 4x4=12, although not continuous, is extremely innovative and fresh.
Below you will find my choice of his ten best songs, in no particular order. If you have a difference of opinion, please feel free to leave a comment.
1: Sometimes Things Get, Whatever
"Sometimes Things Get, Whatever", the first song on Deadmau5's first album Random Album Title, shows from the outset that this guy means business.
Like I said, the album is continuous, so it can be broken into smaller bits or heard as one continuous thread. Each individual song builds a gradual theme before leading seamlessly into the next song. That is what he does, and he does it so well. As the first vocal says, "sometimes things get complicated", and Deadmau5 fulfills the promise of those words with everything that follows.
The song begins by fading into the kick, gradually building to the full beat with claps and hi hats before he introduces the hook of "sometimes things get complicated", which cuts in every so often. As the song progresses, this hook becomes distorted and choppy, showing Deadmau5's technical skills. The song progresses gradually, introducing new sounds every so often, such as subtle hi hats and cleverly placed beeps and tones. It has a break in the middle, a relaxing synth line with a gritty yet strangely soothing essence, but it only lasts long enough to lull you into a false sense of security before throwing you right back into the drum beat which continues to build. Further on, there is one more break which erupts into the drum beat once more, adding layers and twists to the complication.
Overall, it is a remarkable song which sounds simple yet is technically outstanding and innovative.
Listen to "Sometimes Things Get Complicated" by Deadmau5
2: Brazil (2nd Edit)
"Brazil" is awe-inspiring and dramatic, with a steadily increasing build which oozes technical excellence and charisma, delivering a masterclass in progressive house.
It has a crisp, sharp drum beat and a wave of synth lines which convey an emotional impact that is particularly uplifting. It builds an atmosphere with a steadily increasing bass and synth line before breaking apart into a beautiful, emotion-filled reverberation.
At one point, chaos ensues with two parallel but dissonant tracks compete for primacy. Deadmau5 introduces delay and reverb, giving the cacophony an otherworldly transcendence that continues to build before the synth gracefully rejoins the house beat and the sounds merge into one, creating a relaxing experience after the rollercoaster of emotion.
Overall, it is an excellent song which appeals to the emotions, as music should.
Listen to "Brazil" by Deadmau5
"Arguru" begins with a relaxing piano melody and a simple house beat. However, the beat is quickly dismissed and the piano gradually leads to an aggressive, adrenaline-filled drop into a dark, sinister, and downright brilliant hole.
This is truly fist-pumping, heart-in-your-mouth stuff. It's the type of sound that makes you want to get off your seat and go mental. Deadmau5 then brings the intro synth line into this aggressive breakdown to build up to a bouncy, uplifting groove. From there it becomes ecstatically brilliant, throwing in build ups, breakdowns, and crazy synths.
From start to finish this song takes your emotions, gnaws them up, and spits them back out. A great tune that truly shows what Deadmau5 is capable of.
The build up in "FML" is great. It consists of a variety of drums, like a marching band, gradually beating the tension up. This continues until the drop which hits like a sledgehammer.
At first, it's a drum medley--next thing, you're into a crazy house arrangement of synths, bleeps, and zips that sound like guns popping. The crazy electro house beat incorporates both progressive house and electro house into one ball of insanity.
At this point, the drums fade into the medley which starts to builds again, but we know what to expect this time don't we? Once again, we are thrown into a crazy electro beat, but this one is even crazier and heavier than the one before. After a slow build, the song is suddenly taken down a notch and slips into a relaxing yet sinister break in which everything seems well. Another drum medley begins, but this one has more style and substance than the two before and suits the mood of the break perfectly. Before long, it launches right back into the crazy drum beat.
Once again, this is a great song to dance to or chill out to. Deadmau5's songs have a lot of variety and can appeal to whatever mood you are in. That's why I love them and this song particularly.
Listen to "FML" by Deadmau5
5: Ghosts n' Stuff
"Ghosts n' Stuff" is probably Deadmau5's most well known songs. It features vocals from Rob Swire, the front-man of Pendulum. The vocals are not generic "put your hands up" dance crap. The song has a positive vibe to it, offering a sense that anything's possible. It has a hard-hitting drum beat and a nice arrangement of synths and bleeps.
What is particularly adept is the panning at the intro of the song when the sound switches from one speaker/headphone to the other. It is a nice effect.
Another great song by Joel. Oh, and the video's pretty cool, too. I used that ghost as a costume for a fancy dress party before, and it was pretty cool.
Video of "Ghosts N Stuff" by Deadmaus5 (Featuring Rob Swire)
"Bot" is one of Deadmau5's songs that really leaves me in awe. It is a technical masterpiece that hints loudly at the talent Joel Zimmerman has.
It has a nice long intro with a hard kick, a strange bleeping noise, and a bouncy bassline. A ping-pong synth line enters and throughout the song, Deadmau5 manipulates it in a variety of ways. When the atmosphere changes halfway through the song, things get truly amazing. This part actually gives me butterflies. It is eerily beautiful, with the ping-pong synth being manipulated in the most beautiful and innovative ways with the use of delay and reverb. The tones and soft bass line add to the emotion-driven atmospheric break that ends abruptly, dropping to a nice drum beat.
The song is innovative the whole way through, making good use of that ping-pong synth.
Listen to "Bot" by Deadmau5
"Strobe" is just beautiful. If you like music that creates an atmosphere, then this is the song for you. It is eerie, beautiful, relaxing, uplifting... you name it, its got it, and it's over ten minutes long.
This is no dance song to pump your fist to but, if you take the time to listen, you will get something out of it, something personal.
It begins with a peaceful intro that builds slowly into emotion; emotion is the thing this song seems designed to evoke, like the soundtrack of a major drama. The emotions change, but one thing stays consistent; the song's ability to move the listener. For me, it captures the heart and soul of what it means to be human.
Listen to "Strobe" by Deadmau5
8: Some Chords
This is the first song on Deadmau5's third album, 4x4=12. As you listen, you realize that once again, Joel Zimmerman has pushed the boundaries of what is possible.
The intro consists of some chords, as the name suggests, which gradually increase in power and emotion. Joel fades in a kick to add to the build-up, which leads nicely into the exciting drop. When it drops you are treated to a truly original and awe-inspiring production.
The beat (an electro masterpiece, with some elements of progressive house in it) gradually increases in excitement and finesse before once again dropping into the same chords we started with. These build again but in a much more atmospheric sense as they act as a break from the unyielding craziness of the drum beat. As before, it leads into the drop, which builds in emotion and technical brilliance just as the first one did.
Once again, Deadmau5 has pushed the boundaries, and once again he has delivered emotion-driven excellence.
Listen to "Some Chords" by Deadmau5
9: Cthulhu Sleeps
"Cthulhu" is a really interesting and technically outstanding song.
In his short story The Call of Cthulhu, H. P. Lovecraft describes the Cthulhu as "A monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whose face was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and forefeet, and long, narrow wings behind." Like this mythological monster, Deadmau5's "Cthulhu" is a song of many elements that brings you on a journey of wonder and pure enjoyment.
"Cthulhu" uses sounds in an innovative way. About a quarter of the way in, there is a speed-up which leads into the main bridge. This part is another moment that gives me butterflies. I can feel the music enter my chest and start messing with my heartbeat. This main bridge is relaxing but all of a sudden you're thrown right back into the crazy main drum beat of the song.
A truly excellent song that takes you strange places.
Listen to "Cthulhu Sleeps" by Deadmau5
10: Raise Your Weapon
Last but never least is a song that features the hauntingly beautiful vocals of Greta Svabo Bech. The song sucks you in, mesmerizing you with the beautiful lyrics and underlying house beat then, without warning, it drops and what comes next is so unexpected you could be excused for dirtying your pants. It drops into some really filthy dubstep, a new venture for Deadmau5 on this album. The dubstep continues and Bech's lyrics are brought in once more on top of this dubstep.
Here, Deadmau5 successfully merges two genres of dance music, house and dubstep, and creates a unique experience.
Listen to "Raise Your Weapon" by Deadmau5
Joel Zimmerman, aka Deadmau5
There It Is
My top ten. Of course not everyone will agree with these because Joel Zimmerman has so many great songs. Not many producers within the dance music scene today have the ability Deadmau5 has. His tunes are not simply fist-pumping club-fillers, they are emotional, atmospheric, and beautiful pieces of art. He is an inspirations to producers and DJs all over the world.
TheGoldfish11 on December 25, 2016:
4Ware, Fn Pig (love 3:40), Ghosts n stuff and Moar ghosts and stuff is good too
Gabe D on October 30, 2014:
How about Clockwork? He referenced both a musical piece from Clockwork Orange and a 300 year old classical music composition, and the chord progressions follow patterns that can be graphed into geometric shapes and figures. As a nerd that kinda blew my mind, js.
PaigSr from State of Confusion on October 25, 2014:
This is one for my son. The only reason I know these songs is because he is playing them. Over and over.
kvlnflknv on September 18, 2014:
there might be coffee
WWA on June 10, 2014:
Hamza on December 25, 2013:
dude you forgot a city in florida
Nicolas on December 10, 2013:
I love Ghost'n Stuff
Brandon on October 18, 2013:
Nice list, although 'I Remember' is still his best imo. Nothing beats the synth, in the first 10 seconds of that song I cry.
Gabriel on July 15, 2013:
The veldt is my personal favourite. I think that should be on the list, but it was made in 2012.
HumanPerception (author) from Ireland on June 29, 2013:
@Ceresyon; as stated in the article, the list is in no particular order. :)
Ceresyon on June 26, 2013:
I feel strongly that Strobe should be MUCH higher up the list, and that Moar Ghosts 'n' Stuff should be on the list. Ghosts 'n' Stuff should be higher too.
mau5 fan on April 08, 2013:
strobe shud be first ! its mad !
mcstir on March 07, 2013:
"bad selection" seems to have a hold on me right now.....
digimeat on November 15, 2012:
Hey dude awesome list but theree are a lot of remixs my fav is faxing berlin dubstep remmix mash up long road to nowhere
KevinM on October 25, 2012:
I like Moar Ghost N stuff, strobe, 8-bit, tau v2, this is the hook, FML, arguru
acsdaug on September 26, 2012:
Listen to "Maths" and "Fn Pig". Fn Pig gradually speeds up, then it drops out of nowhere into a feel-good beat. Maths is a repeating tone that will never leave your head.
BK on July 23, 2012:
had to comment because this is a list I agree with wholeheartedly, I could do without cthulu and Bot maybe replacing them with Faxing Berlin and Not Exactly but still, great job.
Siddhartha on July 06, 2012:
I think Right this second cannot be omitted. Ditto with Porcelain. But then nor can 'A moment to myself', 'Creep', 'Careless', 'We Fail', 'HR 8938 Cephei', 'October', 'Porcelain', 'The Veldt', 'Waking up from the american dream', 'Bleed', 'Aural Synapse', and 'Faxing Berlin'. Hell with a top 10 list, u can only do justice to Joel with a top 100 ;)
ice-pud on June 07, 2012:
Bleed is awesome :3
Deezo on June 07, 2012:
not forgetting this song 'so there i was' and 'reduction'
Deezo on June 05, 2012:
i love strobe and BOT!!! i agree with Rabe! strobe should be number 1 for me also!
i wonder which music is Joel Zimmerman favourite 1z....
Gday on May 30, 2012:
These are all album tracks.
Why none of his single releases or remixes?
Gameforza on May 18, 2012:
I miss 'I Remember" in your list ;)
Rabe on April 24, 2012:
Nice top 10 but where are i remember and faxing berlin? D:
they're both emotional... and strobe should be number 1 4 me :)
HumanPerception (author) from Ireland on April 09, 2012:
@p3r50n624: Each to their own, I like the beauty contained in Deadmau5's music :)
@tajishima: Yeah it's a great song :)
@Kevin: It ain't done in order mate ;)
Kevin on April 06, 2012:
Strobe should be ranked higher. Like, first.
tajishima on March 05, 2012:
I really like Secondary Complications!! Awesome Track!!
p3r50n624 on March 02, 2012:
I LOVE Deadmau5 but I think that his songs are slow
I love the fast paced songs songs like skrillex
just my opinion I wanted to see if you guys feel
the same way
HumanPerception (author) from Ireland on February 21, 2012:
@MattCarp: Thanks, glad you liked it :)
@PhoDaKids: Ha nice, never actually noticed that myself :) thanks for the input!
PhoDaKIds on February 20, 2012:
Just noticed that in the picture of Deadmau5 at the top he's wearing the 8-bit tie :D
Anyways, great article I'm loving these songs on here.
MattCarp on February 13, 2012:
I really like this list! Appreciate how it takes his classic stuff into account greatly! I think Not Exactly should be on here, but that's my own opinion and each persons is different - great selection nonetheless!
HumanPerception (author) from Ireland on January 25, 2012:
@Chris: It very nearly made it into the list man, its a beautiful song :) Very charismatic as well, the way it goes from the melodic break into the quirky drum beat :P
Glad you like the list :)
Chris on January 22, 2012:
I love this list, But I think Soma should def be in the top 10!
That song is just absolutely beautiful. But then again, So are most of his songs ;)
DuBsTep on November 16, 2011:
r u kiddin me bro. u forgot "professional griefers!"
HumanPerception (author) from Ireland on November 12, 2011:
@Sergio Thanks :) Yeah that is an amazing song, can't stop listening to it at the moment!
Sergio!! on November 10, 2011:
WOW! I can't agree more with this top 10.. I love every single one of these songs. I'd add his new song Aural Psynapse 2nd edit to this list, and make it top 11..
HumanPerception (author) from Ireland on November 06, 2011:
@Damien I know the song well, it is a beautiful song, his old stuff is really good, so yeah, like you said, people should check that out too :)
Damien on November 04, 2011:
I really think Creep should be on this list....someone please listen to that song
HumanPerception (author) from Ireland on November 04, 2011:
@dwayne Yeah its a class song :)
@PERACTOPAULO No bother man :)
PERACTOPAULO on November 03, 2011:
thanks man, nice to get some pointers in such a vast array of albums and tracks
dwayne on October 18, 2011:
killa beat to ghost'n'stuff