Are we dreaming, or is Skrillex really making a comeback with a double album this year? It felt like we all danced through the years 2010-2014. It was a giant party of pop and EDM, and Skrillex was undoubtedly one of the DJs during that time period.
Love or hate the sound, you can’t deny Skrillex is the pioneer at the forefront of dubstep: an EDM subgenre generally characterized by the use of syncopated rhythmic patterns, prominent basslines, and an intense, dark tone. Skrillex songs made a big splash when they first went mainstream in the early 2010s. Although they were subject to much mockery at the beginning, their sounds slowly became more incorporated into popular electronic music. Those who know Skrillex well know he’s always been ahead of the EDM curve. In honor of his talent, legacy, and upcoming success, we’ve created this Top 10 songs list.
Just so you know: we’re including original Skrillex songs present on his albums and EPs, as well as remixes of songs created by him. We won’t be counting Skrillex collaborations where he’s not at the forefront, so while the Justin Bieber track “Where are Ü Now” is indeed a hit, we’ll have to reserve it as an “honorable mention” on this list.
Anyway, ready to get nostalgic for the good ol’ days of dubstep? Check out which Skrillex songs made our Top 10 cut below.
We can only describe this cute little EDM tune as being like drugged-up Daft Punk playing in an arcade-esque atmosphere. It’s tight, it’s very danceable, and it’s the perfect Skrillex piece to play at parties for those whose ears are too sensitive to handle more hardcore dubstep.
This is one of the tracks that made the 2010 Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites EP so great. Our only gripe with “Rock ‘N’ Roll (Will Take You to the Mountain)” is that, well…it was a missed opportunity to use some classic rock ‘n’ roll guitar sound effects! At least those kinds of noises are more present on the song “Breakn’ a Sweat” from Skrillex’s project released the following year, Bangarang.
Like the name suggests, “Kyoto” possesses the same steely sound as a Japanese samurai sword. Listening to this is like being dropped right in the middle of a samurai fight, or maybe even a spy movie. Like Sirah exclaims, Skrillex really does “drop it hard” in this razor-sharp tune.
“Kyoto” is a fine example of the exemplary teamwork Skrillex and Sirah have when they work together. “Kyoto” is just one of the many Skrillex songs Sirah features on, and in this one, she gets to spit some hard bars after the second bass drop.
While the title may be edgy, the melody of “Kill Everybody” is fun and wonderfully mischievous. This track is essentially an electro-house dance jam with some dubstep and lyrics sprinkled here and there. “Kill Everybody” was included as the third track off Skrillex’s critically-acclaimed Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites EP. It’s a more underrated tune on the record, but still a hardcore fan favorite.
While the song’s regular EDM build-ups have a somewhat creepy and menacing vibe to them as the singer vocalizes, “I want to kill everybody in the world / I want to eat your heart,” the dubstep explosions have a flip-floppy vibe and are extremely danceable. Personally, we think this song is about being so angry, you (metaphorically) wish everyone was dead. Within every bass drop, Skrillex offers the cure to this feeling: just let loose, get to a club, and have a good time.
Why is it we remember so many dance routines to this track in the early 2010s? Especially dance routines that involved doing the robot? In any case, “First of the Year (Equinox)” is one of those songs people immediately think of when they think of pure dubstep. Like how the telekinetic little girl attacks the grown man in this song’s music video, the super-mechanical bass drops will slap you with musical force…and may even make you scream.
This particular Skrillex song has a deeper meaning. As evidenced by the title, Skrillex is trying to say that during the first part of every year, we are more enlightened than usual. Humans are more ambitious due to a fresh slate of time and new year’s resolutions. However, the chopped-up and reversed lyrics of this song read, “For the abandoned / my unhappiness is color / For you, I give and give away.” They suggest a painful state of mind. Thus, Skrillex is expressing that despite the joy that comes with the new year, there will always be people living the same every day, and suffering because of it.
As you’ll hear with some of our next picks, Skrillex has a talent of combining chill and chaos in his dubstep pieces. “First of the Year (Equinox)” is a song that starts off serene, but then that explosive, shrill “Call 911 now!” signifies things are about to get dangerous. Fun fact: that piece of dialogue was actually taken from an old YouTube video where a raging “Karen” yells at a group of skaters.
This is the only Skrillex song on our list released in 2023. While “Rumble” is possibly one of the most minimalist EDM songs we’ve ever heard and is a far cry from the over-produced dubstep Skrillex put out in the 2010s, it still undoubtedly sounds like him. It has the same sense of urgency present in several of his other tracks, and the combination of sound effects he uses in “Rumble” – including water drips, congo drums, lion roars, and fast stopwatch-esque ticks – help to create an extremely intense beat.
Featured on this song are vocals from Elley Duhé and English MC Flowdan, as well as contributions from Fred again.. and American rapper BEAM on the bridge. Electronic musician Four Tet was supposed to be on the project, but according to Skrillex, he was kicked out. Our favorite part of “Rumble” has to be how, after every “killers in the jungle” from Flowdan, there’s a ricochet sound effect. It’s not even the actual sound of a gun, but just the way it’s played evokes imagery of guerrilla fighters shooting off artillery in the middle of a tropical rainforest. It’s genius producing and storytelling from Skrillex.
Who knew a reggae and dubstep fusion could sound so awesome? It actually shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that “Make It Bun Dem” sounds so good, considering dubstep is actually derived from Jamaican-style dub music. This unique song is ultimately Skrillex’s tribute to his electronic genre’s roots, and includes a phenomenal feature from reggae royalty Damian Marley (son of Bob Marley).
As with a lot of Skrillex’s music during the early-to-mid-2010s, “Make It Bun Dem” never gained much popularity on the US Billboard Hot 100. However, it gained buzz as a part of internet culture, mainly after its inclusion during the mission “Kick the Hornet’s Nest” in the open-world action-adventure game Far Cry 3. After the boost in popularity, the track was re-released along with seven remixes on the Make It Bun Dem After Hours EP.
Also known as “Reptile’s Theme,” this cold-blooded track was created by Skrillex for the 2011 video game Mortal Kombat. “Reptile” was used not only as the theme song for the character Reptile – a humanoid reptilian who first appeared in Mortal Kombat 1 as a secret fighter and later became playable – but the track was also used as the theme for the entire video game itself.
“Reptile” ranks high on our list because there’s so much to unpack within its intricate production. It has a menacing undertone: as if a monsterous creature is slowly crawling towards you. But there’s also lots of bouncy fun within the mix, especially when you hear all the vintage Mortal Kombat sound effects, those opening “rah rah rah’s,” and the pumped-up “jump!” vocals. Our favorite parts of the song have to be the super speedy synth chord progressions up and down the scale with each beat drop. Skrillex truly did a masterful job with this, and “Reptile” is so good, it’s sure to knock you out with a “fatality.”
This is a classic in our books. Skrillex took the Benny Banassi love song “Cinema” and made this track an even bigger hit than the original. According to official Genius notation from Benny Banassi, Skrillex’s remix remained in the Top 10 of the Dance Charts for months and on the overall dance charts for 5 years. It was eventually certified platinum in the US.
The mix between the song’s slow and prettier parts and rougher dubstep bits accentuate the excitement, love, and butterflies the speaker feels with his partner. The hype lyrics, “Get up, get down, rinse that sound My DJ gonna break it down” as well as that “Dr-Dr-Dr-Dr-Dr-Dr-Dr-Drop the bass” are like the handlebars and chain lift of a rollercoaster before plummeting down into Skrillex’s dubstep chaos. Between the twinkly sounds during Benny’s verses and the wobbly beat drops, we could listen to “Cinema” forever.
We believe the “Scary Monsters” in this title track refer to the ferocious dubstep bits and the “Nice Sprites” are the crispy, cutesy synth melody parts. This is the song most people think of when they think of Skrillex. And like “First of the Year (Equinox),” it’s also a song that comes to mind when people think of early 2010s dubstep music. Dare we say, “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” is the posterchild of the music genre.
The track, with a name inspired by David Bowie’s Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), borrows its iconic “Yes, oh my gosh!” line from a 2008 video of a girl cup-stacking. Massive bass drops, featured prominently in the song, eventually became a staple of EDM and helped kick off its 2010s craze. The reversed lyrics at the start of the song – sung by Skrillex himself – read, “For I am just like you / You don’t need to hide, my friend.” Ultimately, this song’s deeper meaning is all about the duality of humans. We all have our “scary monster” side and our “nice sprite” side, and that’s what unites us.
“Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites,” released as the first single from the EP of the same name, peaked at #69 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent 14 weeks on the chart. The track became certified 2x platinum by the RIAA in 2013, and has been included on the soundtracks for the 2012 film Spring Breakers, the baseball video game MLB 2K12, and the racing game Ridge Racer: Unbounded. “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” went on to earn Skrillex the award for Best Dance Recording at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards in 2011. It’s also been remixed and covered by various other artists, including Zedd, Noisia, Fraxiom, and Dirtyphonics.
Maybe it’s because “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” got overplayed in the early 2010s. Maybe it’s because this track’s title is really fun to say out loud. Or maybe it’s because this song gives us so much 12-year-old middle school dance nostalgia…but we had to give our #1 spot to “Bangarang.” Controversial, we know. But this song is so ridiculously catchy, it almost hurts.
We believe this Skrillex EDM track feels the most like a traditional “verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-final chorus” song, and that’s why it works so well. It’s another collaboration with Sirah, and her vocals really give that wild child oomph needed to carry “Bangarang’s” message home. The word “Bangarang” is the battle cry of the Lost Boys in the 1991 movie Hook. The Lost Boys are also mentioned throughout the verses of the song. “Shout to all my lost boys, we rowdy” Sirah speaks.
The dubstep in this track will give you a good whiplash, but it’s nowhere near being overcooked. That’s why “Bangarang” is easy to listen to over and over again despite how crazy it sounds. And of course, we can’t talk about this song without mentioning the iconic music video, in which three boys rob an ice cream truck and grow up to become more sophisticated thieves. This song is for all the misfits out there, and when we listened to this Skrillex track as young “lost boys” and girls, it felt like we were being heard. It’s angst, entertainment, and “beats bangin’ out of the toy car” all wrapped in one. After listening to Bangarang, we too would like to eat some Fun Dip and not give a f-.
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Article Image: Skrillex holds headphones to his ears while DJing on a neon-lit platform during a music festival. (benhoudijk via DepositPhotos.)