If you’re a dance music fan in any sense of the word, you’ve got an opinion about Skrillex. Whatever genre you fancy, whatever festivals you frequent, Skrillex has appeared and will continue to appear somewhere in your cultural periphery. His hair alone is a conversation starter, and then there’s all the collaborations, the insane touring schedule, the OWSLA label and the artists he supports. He is the everywhere man of electronic music.
He made his name by reinventing the dubstep sound, and while some casual listeners may think only of his screaching, screaming, wobbling hits, he’s proven himself to be so much more. He is a pop star and a rock hero. He’s a singer, a guitarist, and a visual spell binder. He music loud and scary one minute, the next euphoric and bright, and sometimes maybe a little sad.
He’s won three Grammy awards, been nominated for five. He’s released two studio albums (counting Jack U’s), 14 EPs, nearly 30 singles and just as many remixes. He’s a staple, and icon, and what’s really impressive is he’s done all this in just seven years. He’s worth celebrating just because, so here we give you the 20 best Skrillex songs – so far.
#20: Skrillex – Rock n Roll (Take You to the Mountain)
Skrillex, or Sonny Moore, got his musical start as lead singer in the post-hardcore/screamo band From First to Last. When he first started producing, he was super inspired by electro house acts like Justice and Daft Punk. “Rock n Roll” tips its hat to both genres. It thrashes like metal, it features his wild vocals, it promises the power of rock, but it has all the glitch and funk of mid-2000s electro weirdness – plus a healthy face smack of dubstep, of course.
#19: Skrillex – KILL EVERYBODY
Who doesn’t want to listen to a song about killing everybody in the world? We’ve all felt that way. Don’t lie. The voice is so cute, you want to be on its side. The beat is bumpin’. It vacillates between twisted and adorable. It’s the perfect dance rage anthem.
#18: Jack U – To U feat. Alunageorge
Skrillex has been a player in tons of collaborations through the years, but no doubt his most exciting is his duo with Diplo. Jack U took the world by storm seemingly overnight. They then went and collaborated with some of the best vocalists in the world. This album cut, quite like love, comes on sweet and hits you where it hurts.
#17: Skrillex – Breakn a Sweat feat. The Doors
Jim Morrison famously quipped that one day, music would be made not with a band and regular instruments, but one man and a computer. Skrillex is the living representation of Morrison’s prophecy, and here he had the incomparable opportunity to work with Morrison’s band The Doors, reinterpreting the legendary poets own lyrics and musical message.
#16: Skrillex – Ease My Mind feat. Niki & The Dove
Take a walk on the touching side with Skrillex and his beautiful friends as your guide. Music comes to represent so much in our lives. It brings us back to better times, and “Easy My Mind” is about that strange power. It’s got exotic flavor and a lot of bite. Things will get hard before they get finished.
Some of Skrillex’ best work is as a hiphop producer. Some might think hip-hop should be stark and simple so as to make room for the boastful voices. Skrillex proves that maximalism has its place in the MC realm. Plus, Pusha kills this one.
#14: Skrillex – Make it Bun Dem feat. Damian Marley
Dubstep got its name from its Jamaican dub influence. People could argue that Skrillex helped take the dubstep sound so far as to become almost unrecognizable, but he pays serious homage to the “dub” in dubstep here. He even tapped the mean rudeboy Damian Marley for a sick vocal, and Marleys are pretty much reggae royalty.
#13: Skrillex – First of the Year
This is one of Skrillex’ hardest hitting songs ever. The drop, a moment in music for which he has been crowned King, is the sound of a complete mental breakdown. It’s basically a sonic stroke. The video is equally alarming and saw the artist nominated for the Grammy Best Short Form Music Video.
#12: Skrillex – Stranger Remix with Tennyson and White Sea
People do not pay enough lip service to the softer side of Skrillex. He’s a sensitive guy, after all. This breathtaking remix of “Stranger,” alongside cool up-and-coming acts Tennyson and White Sea, is the kind of song that stops you in your tracks. Whatever you are feeling, you are overwhelmed with the tranquil stillness of it. Skrillex once said his favorite song was Aphex Twin’s “Flim,” and on this remix, it shows.
#11: Skrillex – Next Order
A less prolific but no less incredible collaboration in Skrill’s world is Dog Blood. Here he teams with German techno weirdo Boys Noize, and all rules fly out the window. Boys Noize is famous for his analog leanings. With Dog Blood, he opens Skrillex’ very computerized mind to the world of three-dimensional synths, and the result is next level – scratch that, it’s “Next Order.”
#10: Skrillex – Ruffneck – FULL Flex
If you like a hard hitting, teeth-shattering, neck-knockin’ bass beat, there’s no way this isn’t one of you favorite songs. I don’t know who that man is asking me if I’m ready for the “Ruffneck” bass, but I love him, and my body has never been more ready for anything in my life.
#9: Skrillex – Summit feat. Ellie Goulding
“Summit” feels like standing in the wind at the top of a snow-capped 8-bit mountain. It feels like staring out into the distance through a swirling storm of white at the pure and shining stars. Skrillex lends his own imploring vocals, but Ellie Goulding adds a wonderfully angelic touch.
#8: Skrillex – The Reason
The Leaving EP, released in early 2013, was a bit of a departure from Skrillex’ earlier work. In hindsight, it’s not all that different. It’s still got plenty of glitch and goes heavy on the bass, but it was one of the first times we saw a more thoughtful, less bash-you-in-the-face Skrillex song. “The Reason” is a halfway point between its most somber moments and the Skrill everyone had, up until that point, come to know and love.
#7: Jack U – Take U There feat. Kiesza
This was the first sound of Jack U anyone had ever heard, and boy oh boy did it go off. This was played at every festival, in every trap and bass set around the word. Kiesza’s voice rings high and mighty over the cartoonishly stompy drop beat. It’s like a crudely-drawn swamp monster walking in rainbow galoshes.
#6: Skrillex – Purple Lamborghini with Rick Ross
Even Rick Ross will tell you this is one of the best Rick Ross songs ever recorded. It’s definitely the best hip-hop Skrillex song. It’s got all the dark grit of most Ross jams, but Skrillex injects it with purple electricity until it’s as mean and insane as the Joker himself. More people may have seen this music video than saw the actual Suicide Squad movie.
#5: Skrillex – Bangarang feat. Sirah
Sirah and Skrillex go way back, but this is their best joint classic. It’s one of Skrillex’s hardest songs, but it’s also one of his most playful. There’s a lot of color mixed in with the famously aggressive textures. It’s also impossible not to love if you were raised on Hook.
#4: Skrillex – With You Friends (Long Drive)
This is one of Skrillex’ earliest songs and one of his most touching, which jus goes to show he’s been this dude the whole time. The lyrics are basically unintelligible, but there’s no doubt that’s his voice creaking through the sonic mist. He’s actually pleading to an old love, which is relatable through that heart-wrenching but hopeful piano melody. Long drives with old friends are the ones we miss the most.
You know you killed it when the original artist can’t get through a set without mixing into your remix. The sudden b-boy switch up has got to be one of the most memorable moments in Skrillex’ whole career. The drop is classic, signature Skrillex glitch and gore. This is career defining stuff.
#2: Jack U – Where Are U Now feat. Justin Bieber
This song was such a risk, it’s hard to honestly comprehend. It could have been career suicide; two of the most in-demand electronic musicians respected by kids who claim to live an alternative lifestyle teaming up with the biggest and most derided pop star of the day. Justin Bieber didn’t have a lot of friends at the time, but this song not only saved his career, it catapulted Diplo and Skrillex to household names – as long as that household had anyone under 30 inside it. It’s weird, for sure. That vocal-pitch synth sound is not usual, but it is undeniably cool and infectious as all hell. This song landed them an interview with Katie Couric. End of story.
#1: Skrillex – Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites
This Skrillex song hit the music blogs like a bullet hits a pane of glass. It shattered everyones ideas of what a dance song sounded like, what dubstep was all about, who Sonny Moore was, if they had any idea beforehand. The sample is iconic (it’s also speedstackinggirl on YouTube). “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” is the song that spawned a million copy-cats and ultimately influenced many of the artists who play festival stages to this day. It was Skrill’s first massive takeover hit, and it only came out in October of 2010. It’s been all uphill from here, at least professionally, and yet this game-changing single remains one of Skrillex’ best and most important recordings to date.