Exploring the Cultural Significance of “The Drop” in EDM

Electronic dance music is a dominant force in contemporary popular culture, driven by its explosive beats and frenetic energy. One term, “the drop,” has come to define the genre’s sonic identity.

It is a moment of climactic release that propels the listener through the sonic landscape, inducing a rush of euphoria and communal energy that is the hallmark of the EDM phenomenon. DJs and producers devote immense time and effort to crafting the perfect drop, creating a moment of pure sonic bliss that resonates with their audience. The impact of the drop extends beyond the sonic realm, permeating into the cultural consciousness of the EDM community, making it a critical component of the EDM experience.

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A good drop makes people dance. But a great drop, starts a movement. Passion, love, and good vibes.
FDJ Ella Garcia

The creation of a drop in an EDM track involves building tension through a basic melody or chord progression, adding layers of percussion and instrumentation, and culminating in a moment of silence before a heavy bassline or synth hook explodes onto the track, releasing the tension and triggering a rush of energy and euphoria. Producers may spend countless hours fine-tuning these elements to create the perfect drop, using various techniques such as layering, filtering, and modulation.

The Drop - Midnight Rebels

It’s an essential element of electronic dance music that every producer strives to capture and it’s a moment that I always look forward to creating
DJ-Producer Jet Boado

The popularity of “the drop” in EDM can be attributed to a combination of factors, including the evolution of music technology and production techniques, the rise of festivals and live performances as a central component of the genre, and the role of social media in disseminating and promoting EDM culture. Additionally, the visceral and communal nature of the drop experience has helped to propel its popularity, as it provides a moment of release and euphoria that resonates with listeners and creates a sense of unity and belonging within the EDM community.

The Drop - Midnight Rebels

The drop is a moment that I always cherish, especially during festival season when I’m surrounded by my friends.
RAVE.PH Terrence Liquigan

The origin of the drop in electronic dance music (EDM) is not attributed to a single specific moment or artist, as it has evolved over time and been utilized by many producers and DJs. However, some sources suggest that the concept of the drop can be traced back to the early days of rock, disco and dance music in the 1970s, where DJs would use breaks in songs to create a sense of tension and anticipation before releasing the beat again. The drop as we know it today, however, emerged in the 1990s and 2000s as a key feature of genres such as house, techno, and trance, and has since become a staple of EDM.

According to Wikipedia, “the drop” has its roots in 70s rock. The bass drop, a subtype of the drop, was first employed in the Miami bass subgenre of hip hop music in the 1980s, which utilized the deep kick drum sound of the Roland TR-808. Since then, the TR-808 bass drop has become a prominent feature in various electronic dance music genres, either produced by a TR-808 or by using a sample of a TR-808 bass drop. The concept of the EDM drop has continued to develop over the years and has been embraced by different sub-genres.

Featured image: Hydro Manila 2019 by Sai Zacarias

Here are 23 tracks famous for their drops:

  1. “Levels” by Avicii (2011)
  2. “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” by Skrillex (2010)
  3. “Satisfaction” by Benny Benassi (2002)
  4. “Strobe” by Deadmau5 (2009)
  5. Zeds Dead – “Adrenaline” (2012)
  6. Flux Pavilion – “I Can’t Stop” (2010)
  7. Bassnectar – “Timestretch” (2010)
  8. Diplo & GTA – “Boy Oh Boy” (2013)
  9. DJ Snake & Lil Jon – “Turn Down for What” (2013)
  10. Excision & Space Laces – “Throwin’ Elbows” (2016)
  11. Tiesto – “Maximal Crazy” (2011)
  12. Avicii – “Levels” (2011)
  13. Porter Robinson & Mat Zo – “Easy” (2013)
  14. Knife Party – “Internet Friends” (2011)
  15. GTA & Diplo – “Bolo Trap” (2013)
  16. RL Grime – “Core” (2014)
  17. Major Lazer & DJ Snake ft. MØ – “Lean On” (2015)
  18. Daft Punk – “One More Time” (2000)
  19. Deadmau5 – “Strobe” (2009)
  20. The Chainsmokers & Coldplay – “Something Just Like This” (2017)
  21. Swedish House Mafia – “Don’t You Worry Child” (2012)
  22. Armin van Buuren ft. Trevor Guthrie – “This Is What It Feels Like” (2013)
  23. David Guetta ft. Sia – “Titanium” (2011)


DJ | Music Producer | Multi- Instrumentalist | Midnight Rebels CFO

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