Benny Bennassi’s classic hit “Satisfaction” is considered by many to have paved the way for anthemic house music featuring epic build-ups and even bigger drops. DJs playing massive international dance festivals started tinkering with big boomy sounds that sounded great to live audiences, and the big room sound was born. While the genre has been criticized by many as lacking originality (it’s often called stereotypical EDM), festival crowds still love it and it doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.
Big room is a direct descent of earlier electro house, taking inspiration from fidget house, complextro, and Dutch house. But in contrast to its earlier electro house influences, big room emphasizes minimalism, using only two or three instruments and drums that rarely feature more than a kick, tom and hi-hats.
Melodic openings featuring upbeat and euphoric synths that lead to extended swells and massive drops are the main features of the genre. Perfect for massive clubs or outdoor parties, big room DJs have overt emotional control over the crowd with buildups, drops and breaks that are all highly formulaic. There’s nothing subtle about the soaring synths, “Get your hands up” vocals and pounding four-on-the-floor beat.
Avicii – “Levels”
Avicii’s “Levels”, featuring a sample of Etta James, was a watershed moment for EDM. The genre had started reaching the general public, but this track marked the beginning of a trend where house was producing massive hits that eclipsed the best pop and rock had to offer.
Nicky Romero – “Toulouse”
“Toulouse” is another massive crossover hit that had everyone dancing from late night clubbers to families in minivans driving to soccer practice.
Sebastian Ingrosso & Alesso – “Calling”
Ryan Tedders’ soaring pop music vocals combine with every big room trick in the book to create a hugely successful, but completely generic track.
Hardwell – “Spaceman”
Hardwell’s use of oscillating synth along with epic swells and long drops create a classic big room track.
Avicii – “Wake Me Up”
“Wake Me Up” is one of the highest charting dance tracks of all time. The driving house beat and anthemic synth chorus takes a pop song into the stratosphere.
Martin Garrix – “Animals”
Then-17 year old Dutch DJ Martin Garrix’s minimal drop in “Animals” was unlike anything before it.
MAKJ – “Generic”
San Luis Obispo, 2014
Calling a song that sounds exactly like every other big room track “Generic” may have been an inside joke, but it didn’t stop this track from being a huge hit in the clubs.
R3HAB & VINAI – “How We Party”
Spending an entire minute of a three minute song building to an anthemic drop preceded by “THIS IS HOW WE F*UCKIN PARTY” is the definition of big room.
Tiësto & KSHMR – “Secrets”
Breda & Berkeley, 2015
Dutch DJ Tiësto got together with California-based producer KSHMR to make this classic big room banger.
Martin Garrix & Brooks – “Byte”
“Byte” by Martin Garrix & Brooks is a little more subtle than many of the big room bangers that came before it, but the main body of the song retains the classic uplifting and throbbing beat.
Blasterjaxx – “Blackout”
The Hague, 2019
Blasterjaxx comes at you with a typical opening but takes the production and synth saturation in the break to another level. The genre is alive and well in 2019.
Oliver Heldens & Mesto – “The G.O.A.T.”
Rotterdam & Amstelveen, 2020
A rollicking bassline, handclaps and tubular sounding synth all echo a number of different genres, but the drops and swells are pure big room.