What Is Hardstyle Music? With 9 Top Examples & History
Heard of hardstyle music and been wondering what this genre is?
Well in this blog post we discuss what hardstyle music is, its history, and give some examples of hardstyle songs and musicians. Read on for all the details.
What Is Hardstyle Music?
Hardstyle is a genre of electronic dance music (EDM) that originated in Europe in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Its fast tempo (usually around 140-150 BPM), heavy bass, and distorted sounds characterize it. Tracks typically feature a “reverse bass” kick drum pattern—a signature element of hardstyle music.
Although the music is frequently fast-paced, hardstyle is also recognized for its upbeat and meticulously coordinated dance style. Fans of the genre often engage in “shuffle” dance battles where they demonstrate their joint movements and footwork to the beat of the music.
There's a lot of diversity to be found within the hardstyle genre. Several subgenres fall under hardstyle music, each with its particular sound and style. These include euphoric hardstyle, which has faster tempos than other types, raw hardstyle with distorted basslines, and hardcore which focuses on heavy kicks.
Hardstyle music is a dynamic and powerful genre that continues to evolve and push the boundaries of dance music. Its high energy, distinctive sound, and passionate fanbase make it a beloved genre for many dance music enthusiasts worldwide.
Hardstyle Music Characteristics
But what are the defining characteristics of this genre? We'll take a closer look at the key elements that make up the sound of hardstyle, from the hard-hitting kick drums to the screechy, distorted sounds and melodic elements that help to balance out the music.
Whether you're a seasoned hardstyle fan or just curious about this unique genre, here are the characteristics of hardstyle music.
Hardstyle music is characterized by a fast and energetic tempo, typically 140-160 beats per minute. This high BPM gives the music its intense and driving energy, making it popular among fans of EDM and other high-energy genres.
Hard and Heavy Kick Drums
Hardstyle music's most defining characteristics are the hard and heavy kick drums. These kicks are often distorted and compressed, giving them a powerful, aggressive sound that dominates the mix. The kick drum is typically the most prominent element in the mix, driving the rhythm and providing the track's backbone.
Distorted and Screechy Sounds
Hardstyle music also features distorted and screechy sounds, often created using synthesizers and other electronic instruments. These sounds can range from harsh, metallic tones to high-pitched, piercing screeches, adding to the overall intensity and energy of the music.
While hardstyle is primarily known for its hard and heavy sound, it also often features melodic elements such as uplifting chords, catchy hooks, and soaring leads. These melodic elements help balance the aggressive and intense sound of the kick drums and distorted sounds, adding a touch of emotion and musicality to the music.
Another characteristic of hardstyle music is the use of a technique known as “reverse bass.” This involves reversing the polarity of the bassline, creating a unique and distinctive sound that is a hallmark of the genre. Reverse bass is often used during buildups and drops to add excitement and anticipation to the music.
Many hardstyle tracks also feature vocals, often delivered by a male or female singer. These vocals can range from uplifting and upbeat to dark and aggressive and are typically used to add emotion and meaning to the music.
Buildups and Drops
Finally, hardstyle music is known for its buildups and drops, which are designed to create a sense of anticipation and release.
Buildups typically involve a gradual increase in intensity and energy, often featuring rising synth lines and vocal samples. In contrast, drops feature a sudden release of energy, typically marked by a hard-hitting kick drum and a burst of distortion and screechy sounds.
9 Top Examples of Hardstyle Music
Here’s what you’ve been waiting for, some of the best examples of hardstyle songs.
1. “Dragonborn” by Headhunterz
“Dragonborn” is a hardstyle track produced by Dutch DJ Headhunterz. The song is inspired by the video game “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” and features a sample of the game's main theme.
The track is characterized by its heavy bassline, fast tempo, and aggressive kicks. The melody is uplifting and epic, creating a sense of adventure and excitement. The drop is powerful and energetic, making it a popular track for festivals and raves.
2. “A Different Story” by Wildstylez & Noisecontrollers
“A Different Story” is a hardstyle collaboration between Dutch DJs Wildstylez and Noisecontrollers. The track features a melodic and uplifting melody with a driving bassline and powerful kicks.
The vocals add a human touch to the song, conveying a message of hope and determination. The drop is hard and energetic, making it a fan favorite at festivals and club events.
3. “Wodka” by Da Tweekaz
“Wodka” is a hardstyle track produced by Norwegian duo Da Tweekaz. The song features a catchy, upbeat melody with a driving bassline and fast-paced kicks.
The vocal samples are playful and fun, adding to the overall party vibe of the track. The drop is explosive and energetic, making it a famous track at festivals and club events.
4. “Be Here Now” by Brennan Heart & Jonathan Mendelsohn
“Be Here Now” is a hardstyle track produced by Dutch DJ Brennan Heart in collaboration with American singer Jonathan Mendelsohn. The track features a powerful and emotional vocal performance with a melodic and uplifting melody.
The drop is hard and energetic, creating a sense of euphoria and excitement. The track has become a fan favorite and is often played at festivals and club events.
5. “Dedicated To The Core” by Coone
“Dedicated To The Core” is a hardstyle track produced by Belgian DJ Coone. The song features a melodic and uplifting melody with a driving bassline and fast-paced kicks.
The inspirational vocals encourage listeners to stay true to their passions and never give up. The drop is powerful and energetic, making it a popular track for festivals and club events.
6. “Galaxies Collide” by Frontliner & Kristina Antuna
“Galaxies Collide” is a hardstyle track produced by Dutch DJ Frontliner with Kristina Antuna. The song features a melodic and uplifting melody with a driving bassline and powerful kicks.
The vocal samples add a sense of drama and urgency to the track, creating a sense of adventure and excitement. The drop is hard and energetic, making it a fan favorite at festivals and club events.
7. “Journey Of The Mind” by Project One
“Journey Of The Mind” is a hardstyle track produced by the Dutch duo Project One, consisting of DJs Wildstylez and Headhunterz. The song features a melodic and emotional melody with a driving bassline and powerful kicks.
The vocal samples add a sense of introspection and contemplation to the track, creating a sense of depth and meaning. The drop is hard and energetic, making it a popular track for festivals and club events.
8. “Red Alert” by Zatox
“Red Alert” is a hardstyle track produced by Italian DJ Zatox. The song features a driving bassline and powerful kicks with a catchy and memorable melody.
The vocal samples add a sense of urgency and danger to the track, creating a sense of excitement and adrenaline. The drop is hard and energetic, making it a fan favorite at festivals and club events.
9. “Brutal 8.0” by Radical Redemption
“Brutal 8.0” is a hardstyle track produced by Dutch DJ Radical Redemption. The song features a heavy and aggressive bassline with powerful and intense kicks. The melody is dark and ominous, creating a sense of danger and tension. The vocal samples are haunting and add to the overall dark atmosphere of the track.
The drop is explosive and high-energy, making it a popular track for fans of hardstyle music's more complex and intense side. It's often played at festivals and events catering to this hardstyle music.
5 Top Hardstyle Musicians
Here are some of the best musicians that make hardstyle music.
1. Brennan Heart
Brennan Heart is a Dutch hardstyle producer and DJ. He has been active in the hardstyle scene since the early 2000s and is known for his energetic, melodic tracks. Some of his most popular songs include “Imaginary,” “Lose My Mind,” and “FIFO.”
2. Da Tweekaz
Da Tweekaz is a Norwegian hardstyle duo consisting of Kenth Kvien and Marcus Nordli. They are known for their fun, upbeat tracks and live performances. Some of their most popular songs include “Wodka,” “Hewwego,” and “Komon.”
3. D-Block & S-te-Fan
D-Block & S-te-Fan is a Dutch hardstyle duo consisting of Diederik Bakker and Stefan den Daas. They have been active in the hardstyle scene since the mid-2000s and are known for their driving, energetic tracks. Some of their most popular songs include “Angels & Demons,” “Twilight Zone,” and “Ghost Stories.”
4. Hard Driver
Hard Driver is a Dutch hardstyle producer and DJ. He has been active in the hardstyle scene since the early 2010s and is known for his powerful, bass-heavy tracks. Some of his most popular songs include “Welcome,” “Interconnected,” and “Blow Da Club Down.”
Headhunterz is a Dutch hardstyle producer and DJ. He has been active in the hardstyle scene since the mid-2000s and is known for his melodic, emotional tracks. Some of his most popular songs include “Dragonborn,” “Colors,” and “Psychedelic.” He has also experimented with other genres, such as EDM and pop.
The History of Hardstyle Music
The roots of hardstyle music can be traced back to the late 1990s and early 2000s when a new wave of complex dance music emerged in Europe. This unique style, which combined techno, hardcore, and trance music elements, was characterized by its fast tempo, heavy bass, and distorted sounds.
One of the key figures in the early development of hardstyle was DJ The Prophet, also known as “The Godfather of hardstyle,” who is credited with coining the term “hardstyle.” Other early genre pioneers included DJs such as Dana, Technoboy, and Headhunterz, who helped shape hardstyle's sound and establish it as a distinct genre within the wider dance music scene.
Throughout the 2000s and into the 2010s, hardstyle continued to evolve and grow in popularity, with a thriving scene emerging in the Netherlands, Belgium, and other parts of Europe. The genre also began to spread to other parts of the world, with dedicated hardstyle festivals and events in countries like Australia, the United States, and Japan.
In recent years, hardstyle has also begun incorporating elements of other genres, such as trap, dubstep, and hip-hop, as producers continue experimenting with new sounds and ideas. This ongoing evolution of the genre ensures that hardstyle will continue to be a vital and exciting part of the dance music landscape for years to come.
Today, hardstyle remains a popular and thriving genre, with a dedicated fan base and a vibrant scene of producers, DJs, and fans worldwide. Some top hardstyle labels and events include Q-Dance, Scantraxx, Defqon.1, and Tomorrowland, which draw tens of thousands of fans each year to celebrate this unique and powerful dance music genre.
Overall, hardstyle music is a unique and powerful genre shaped by a rich history and a passionate community of fans and artists. Whether you're a longtime fan or a newcomer to the scene, there's never been a better time to discover the energy and excitement of hardstyle music.
What Is Hardstyle Music? Final Thoughts
In conclusion, hardstyle music is a genre shaped by a rich history and a passionate community of fans and artists. Its characteristic heavy bass, distorted sounds, and fast tempo make it a unique and exciting part of the dance music landscape.
With its growing popularity and ongoing evolution, hardstyle will continue to captivate audiences and inspire new generations of fans and producers in the coming years.
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