Year in Review: Sampling the Best DJ and Dance Music of 2009

The past year brought the worst economy since the malaise of the 1970s, and like that era, it also saw dance music sweep the nation. Lady Gaga, the Black Eyed Peas, Beyoncé and Sean "P. Diddy" Combs all dabbled in the sound. Even Michael Jackson was said to be working on a dance album with the Peas' Will.i.am before his untimely death in July.

Leagues beneath the headlines and charts, it was also a banner year for core e-music grooves. If one thing marked 2009 on the dance floor, it was a new sense of eclecticism. Cool-kid indie DJs played trance, trance jocks name-checked MGMT, techno artists expanded the definition of the genre, dance stars went pop, pop stars went dance, and a brooding aesthetic returned to the big-room marathons of after-hours America. This list of the year's top ten dance-music long-players represents all of the above.

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Joris Voorn
Balance 014
(EQ Recordings)
Joris Voorn spread 102 tracks of other people's music over two discs. More than that, however, he cut, edited and atomized the tracks and re-orchestrated them using Ableton Live software so that the entire composition was essentially his own. This sublime, progressive house and melodic techno isn't recognizable as anything particularly "2009," but the compilation represents an edgy, postmodern blur of sampladelic art.

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Deadmau5
For Lack of a Better Name
(Ultra)
In 2007, Deadmau5 had just a few tracks to his name. Two years later, he's the leader of a new generation of DJs who are as much computer whizzes as musical artists. More than any other album, Lack of a Better Name spanned the dance-floor trends of '09 -- hip-hop dance, tech-trance and crunchy, '80s-flavored electro -- and slotted them in a non-stop DJ mix.
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Kanye West
808s & Heartbreak
(Roc-A-Fella)
This 2009 Grammy-eligible album (released in late '08) left any doubt about rap's electronic ambitions in the dust. Still, 808s & Heartbreak was more like digital blues than anything you'd hear in a super-club at 3 a.m. West set the studio afire with synths, samples and voice-box lyrics, and he opened dance music's door to a new generation of African-American kids.

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