What the hell was blog house? 30 classic tracks from a great lost era

In the summer of 2006 the Klaxons spawned nu rave, but the real youth subculture of the mid-00s was the music that DJs played after bands had finished: blog house.

It’s difficult to define what blog house was exactly, because it covered so many styles. Some of it was dance music that mutated from the electroclash scene and trickled out from seminal London nights like Nag Nag Nag, Trash and Our Disco. DJs Erol Alkan, Rory Phillips and Nadia Ksaiba brought acts like Justice and 2manyDJs to the capital, all of them combining disco and ‘80s classics with noisy electro house. For a country still recovering from NME‘s “new rock revolution” led by The Libertines and The Strokes, it was a breath of fresh air.

It wasn’t just happening in London. In Paris, the Ed Banger and Institubes crews took inspiration from Daft Punk and French touch. In Australia, Van She and the Bang Gang DJs fed off acts like Cut Copy and The Presets. A US contingent grew out of the Hollerboard forum run by Diplo, while Switch and Hervé weaved ghetto house with UK club music into a style commonly known as fidget. In Japan they played these tracks and called it “apparel electro”. But this melting pot of lurid synths, compressed bass and big beats had one thing in common: it was the focus of an international network of music blogs disseminating DIY remixes and dodgy radio rips around the world.

“Blog house was what happened when people who ought to have been in bands spent more time in nightclubs than in venues,” says Jas Shaw, half of one of the era’s taste-making DJ duos Simian Mobile Disco. “These same people spent as much time online as in ‘proper’ record shops. Blogs were essentially just digital fanzines but they could reach further, and rather than just enthuse about a record they had just found, they could post it – you could grab it and hear it, or play it in your own town that night. It was the beginning of what we take for granted now.”

2manyDJs at Rock En Seine, 2007

For a period of roughly three years between 2006-09, producers making tracks in their bedroom believed they could be the biggest act in the world if they managed to reach the top of MP3 blog aggregator The Hype Machine. As blogs raced to post the biggest tracks first so they could get to the top of the charts themselves, the quality control levels dropped to appallingly low levels. The abrasive bass and angular structures perfected by Justice were endlessly copied, resulting in club nights where DJs would play any old 128KB MP3 just to stay ahead of the curve, even if the music was basically unlistenable. By 2009, the pills were crap and the neon dreams and carefree days were over. Joy Orbison released ‘Hyph Mngo’ and everyone moved on to post-dubstep, where house mutations were the next logical destination for kids who had caught the club bug.

A lot of people now might sneer at blog house or try to pretend they had nothing to do with it, but for plenty of us who heard Erol Alkan play ‘We Are Your Friends’ at Trash or saw 2manyDJs in a warehouse in then-derelict King’s Cross, the fun we had in that era is the reason we carry on going to clubs now. “In retrospect it all seems like some sort of musical puberty, slightly embarrassing and messy, but we were making it up as we went along rather than attempting to fit in,” Shaw says. “The intentions were solid.”

The blog house era gave us a lot of unforgivable music, but it also spawned some genuine bangers that remain fuckloads more fun than anything you’ll hear at a tech-house pool party in 2016. To mark roughly 10 years since the peak of one of dance music’s most maligned genres, we picked over the blog house carcass to rank the best tracks – from sing-along anthems to obscure deep cuts. If you were there, you’ll know.


Listen to a YouTube playlist of every track


30. New Young Pony Club
‘The Bomb’ (Phones Collateral Damage Remix)
(Modular Recordings, 2007)

Paul ‘Phones’ Epworth’s disco edit of Bloc Party’s ‘Banquet’ was the track that first turned the indie kids on to a techno beat, but his “Collateral Damage” remix of massively underrated English band New Young Pony Club and their (independently brilliant) ‘The Bomb’ was the producer at his most unhinged. The sound of Shoreditch circa 2006-9, as if caught in amber. SW

30 best blog house tracks

29. Friendly Fires
‘Paris’ (Aeroplane Remix)
(XL Recordings, 2008)

Floating down from 2007’s looming nu-disco cloud, Belgian producer Aeroplane’s breathy remix of ‘Paris’ felt as sky-high as his name. When the grainy electro melody drops in and the risers peak you get that bittersweet note that’s the very essence of Sónar-baked mash-up euphoria, and you look down at your feet and your white lace-ups are covered in crap and you’ve lost your fake Ray-bans but someone’s handing you another menthol and everyone is here and everything is going to be absolutely fine. CR

30 best blog house tracks

28. Don Rimini
‘Let Me Back Up’ (Crookers Tetsujin Mix)
(Mental Groove Records, 2008)

Italian DJ/producer duo Phra and Bot were responsible for a lot of filthy club moments in this era, slathering obscene synth leads over everything and laying the groundwork for the determinedly unserious party ethic of labels like Fool’s Gold and OWSLA. Their take on Don Rimini’s ‘Let Me Back Up’ is absolutely wild, and in its own way strangely elegant. Pure, distilled blog house. CR

30 best blog house tracks

27. Radioclit
‘Divine Gosa’ (Switch Remix)
(Counterfeet, 2007)

As important to the Hype Machine disciples as the French electro stuff but spinning on a slightly different axis was the mash-up melting pot sound of DJs like Switch, who was about to form Major Lazer with Diplo via their work on M.I.A.’s early music. His remix of Radioclit’s ‘Divine Gosa’ is maybe the biggest and stoopidest track on this whole list, with the levels ramping up every 16 bars to ridiculous heights of screwface silliness. Very prescient, when you think about it. CR

30 best blog house tracks

26. Boy 8 Bit
‘The Suspense Is Killing Me’
(Mad Decent, 2008)

You’d think Boy 8-Bit would be all ironic Game Boy necklaces and neon shutter shades, but instead he looked like a metalhead-turned-D’n’B promoter from Bristol. With its sparring ‘guitars’ and cascading, euphoric beats, ‘The Suspense Is Killing Me’ probably isn’t quite DJ Scotch Egg enough for my finely chiptuned ears but is still better than anything Diplo could ever do, IMHO. ACW

30 best blog house tracks

25. Tiga
‘Move My Body (Only 4 Erol Mix)’
(Different, 2006)

Tiga was the Pied Piper of blog house. He only had to conjure the magical words ‘body’ and ‘move’ from his electro-flute and the kids would come running. With its distorted vocal, high-pitched fluttering and relentless thump slathered in distortion, ‘Move My Body’ is one of the more reflective tracks from the blog house canon, and perfect after-party fodder for those nights when your asymmetrical fringe has given up but you still need to impress the back-to-mine crowd. ACW


24. Larry Tee feat. Princess Superstar
‘Licky (Work It Out)’ (Hervé Remix)
(Holon Records, 2007)

Applying deadpan humour and standoffish sex appeal to a loopy concoction of Bizarre Inc’s rave stabs and old skool electro-rap, Larry Tee and Princess Superstar’s infuriatingly catchy ‘Licky’ is basically a years-too-late electroclash hit, but you know what? It still works. But horribly, contagiously catchy. Be warned. CR


23. Justice vs Simian
‘We Are Your Friends’
(10 Records, 2006)

The big crossover one, the one that was on T4 idents, the one that you must have heard even if you were too old, too young or, dare we suggest, too uncool for blog house (no such thing as too cool for blog house). If I never heard ‘We Are Your Friends’ ever again I’d probably be alright, actually, but I fully intend to dance to it at all my mates’ wedding receptions. CR

30 best blog house tracks

22. Timbaland
‘Miscommunication’ (Bloody Beetroots Remix)
(No label)

Italy’s Bloody Beetroots were about as crass as this crassest of genres got – and for all intents and purposes they were a poor man’s Crookers – but their white label remix of Timbaland’s ‘Miscommunication’ (later given a re-release on Dim Mak as ‘Dimmakmmunication’) remains one of blog house’s best, driven as much by that longing arpeggio as its greasy bassline. Bizarrely, Paul McCartney tapped the Beetroots for a collaboration close to a decade later, but we shouldn’t be too surprised – Sirpaul has been mining Hype Machine for collaborations since the mid-noughties. TG

30 best blog house tracks

21. Chromeo
‘Fancy Footwork’
(Back Yard, 2007)

This Canadian electro-funk duo knew how to pump out an earworm. ‘Fancy Footwork’ was Chromeo at their celestial peak, all AM gold smoothness, finger-clicks and hepcat ‘aahs’, but still dripping with enough fake ‘80s sleaze to warrant any form of indie power dressing. For me that meant shoulder pads, lamé, and a “Chanel” chainmail handbag. It was the song to lure you to After Skool Klub’s sticky dancefloor with a glint in your eye and a snakebite in your hand, still full of so much hope about the future. ACW

30 best blog house tracks

20. Klaxons
‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ (Van She remix)
(Kitsuné Music, 2007)

For about 10 months around 2006 and 2007, you were nobody unless you’d remixed the Klaxons. Careers were forged by this most sacred of callings, but the best was one you probably never heard: Australian electro-pop outfit Van She’s OG remix of ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’. It’s basically Alan Braxe & Fred Falke’s filter house classic ‘Most Wanted’ with a neon fuel injection – the perfect soundtrack for any 18-year-old coming up for the first time. SW

30 best blog house tracks

19. Hot Chip
‘Boy From School’ (Erol Alkan’s Extended Re-work)
(EMI, 2006)

Where Hot Chip’s original coasts along on a thick laminate of choir-boy harmonies and trebly percussion, Erol’s re-work takes us way down low, with a punk-funk bassline propelling those warped keys for a full eight minutes. We endured a lot of disposable time-stretched electro and cheesy poseur nonsense at the heights of blog house, but this track really is a thing of beauty, the more so a decade later, the dust having long since settled around The End club (RIP). CR

30 best blog house tracks

18. Para One
(Institubes, 2006)

While Justice were influenced by Daft Punk’s disco side, fellow French producer Para One took cues from the side of the robots that liked to pair slamming 909 kicks with good old-fashioned acid. ‘Dudun-Dun’ is basically ‘Rock’n Roll’ or Thomas Bangalter’s 1995 Roulé classic ‘What To Do’ given a mid-00s makeover, or Leftfield’s ‘Phat Planet’ as heard through a haze of cheap pingers. Rave music Parisian style. SW

30 best blog house tracks

17. The Whitest Boy Alive
‘Golden Cage’ (Fred Falke Remix)
(Modular Recordings, 2006)

Fred Falke produced his classic remix of The Whitest Boy Alive’s ‘Golden Cage’ in 2006, but it wasn’t until 2008 that it spread through The Hype Machine. By that time the nu rave comedown was in full swing, and Erlend Øye’s soaring vocals paired with Falke’s wistful ‘80s groove became the escapist soundtrack to cold, hard reality. Aeroplane took a similar nu-Balearic sound to much dizzier heights, but Falke’s remix is still a textbook example of how to remix an indie band like a pro. SW

30 best blog house tracks

16. Zongamin
‘Bongo Song’
(Ed Banger Records, 2005)

The chances of a track called ‘Bongo Song’ standing up to critique a decade later seem slim, and yet here we are: ‘Bongo Song’ still rules. Japanese-born, UK-based producer Zongamin draws on the downtown energy and live drums of punk-funk to carve out a proto-Gossip indie disco anthem that just so happens to have a fuckton of bongos on it. Everybody wins. CR

Jas Shaw, Simian Mobile Disco: “If you try to do house with a band you get this. Amazing live, as the bass player triggered samples with his feet using a MIDI keyboard he had modded with wooden spoons. Really, spoons. With his feet.”

30 best blog house tracks

15. Digitalism
(Kitsuné Music, 2005)

Sónar ‘07 was the Woodstock of blog house. All the big guns came out to play for a weekend of thrills, spills and tears in the Catalan sun, and I was riding high on my seventh pill when Digitalism unleashed this face-melter in an explosion of hard-as-nails synths and hands-in-the-air drums. I don’t know how I made it out alive. ACW

30 best blog house tracks

14. Uffie
‘Pop The Glock’
(Ed Banger Records, 2008)

Re-purposing the low-slung breaks of ‘Top Billin’ by Brooklyn hip-hop duo Audio 2 into her own sassy (and #problematic) sing-speak statement, ‘Pop The Glock’ was Uffie’s signature tune. Produced by Ed Banger signee Feadz – also her boyfriend at the time – the former fashion student ruled the blog house throne like the “x-rated bad ass bitch” that she truly was. ACW

30 best blog house tracks

13. SebastiAn
(Ed Banger Records, 2006)

If blog house had a darkside moment (and we all do eventually) then it had a lot to do with Ed Banger stalwart SebastiAn and the grisly punishment he inflicted on his tracks. ‘Walkman’ is a relatively intact piece of work compared to the unhinged glitch-demolition of ‘Head:Off’ or his countless chainsaw-executed remixes, but it’s monumentally menacing in its own way, crushing the dancefloor under its tracks like an armoured vehicle. CR

30 best blog house tracks

12. Riot In Belgium
‘La Musique’
(Relish Records, 2006)

One of blog house’s greatest and most under-appreciated one-hit wonders, I had to Shazam this song in the middle of a muddy festival field to find out what ‘La Musique’ was before Shazam or smartphones were even a thing (the proto-Shazam was called 2580, remember? No, okay). Even today it’s as if this track never happened – you won’t find it on Spotify, but you will find it soundtracking a YouTube video from 2008 called “Britney Spears & Paris Hilton: Best.Duo.Ever.” SW

30 best blog house tracks

11. Mr Oizo
‘Patrick 122’
(Ed Banger Records, 2007)

If you copped some stick off your mum for buying ‘Flat Beat’ on CD single from Woolworths when you were at school then she literally won’t believe that you bought this on vinyl when you were a grown-up. SW

30 best blog house tracks

10. DJ Mehdi
‘Signatune’ (Thomas Bangalter Edit)
(Ed Banger Records, 2007)

One of the advantages of managing Daft Punk and running your own record label is that you can just call Thomas Bangalter at home in L.A. and call in that cheeky remix he promised you, probably when he was drunk at that wedding or whatever it was, but of course he just hands in an edit because he was “busy” doing sound effects for Gaspar Noé’s latest piece of unwatchable “cinema” but it’s the greatest edit of all time, probably even better than the Todd Terje edit of Chic. SW

30 best blog house tracks

9. Fake Blood
(Cheap Thrills Records, 2008)

In 2008, ‘Mars’ felt like a nadir had been reached. The gurning bass, the synths that sounded like distressed cats, the aeroplane chime: it was like Noel Fielding’s music in Nathan Barley made real. In retrospect, it was probably just the ultimate troll, a tactical musical weapon designed to infiltrate the Hype Machine like a dank meme. There’s still something totally cynical about ‘Mars’, but if you’re going to jump the shark, you may as well do it in style. SW

30 best blog house tracks

8. Feist
‘My Moon My Man’ (Boys Noize Remix)
(Polydor, 2007)

Kitsuné poster boy Alexander Ridha played god with a Feist hit you’d hear in the supermarket aisles, twisting her skipping-through-the-meadows vocal into the kind of demonically manipulated growl that would give Deirdre Barlow a run for her fag money. Splice in a few snippets of her original coo while shooting cool bass riffs from the hip, and he’s got himself the Frankenstein’s monster of blog house. ACW

Rory Philips, DJ at Trash and Durrr: “Given the jaunty and tender nature of Feist’s version, a remix by an act known for distorted bangers shouldn’t have worked – but Boys Noize balanced it perfectly, highlighting the melody of the original and adding one of the more delicate breakdowns of the era.”

30 best blog house tracks

7. The Count & Sinden (ft. Kid Sister)
(Domino, 2008)

Justice’s ‘D.A.N.C.E.’ pushed blog house into the wider consciousness, but speed garage homage ‘Beeper’ was the moment it went mainstream. It only reached the heady heights of #69 on the UK singles chart, but it was released on Domino, home to the Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand – a sure signal that there was money to be made from indie kids ditching gigs for clubs. Cynical perhaps, but it’s also aged better than most of its contemporaries. SW

Sinden: “‘Beeper’ started its life as a unofficial remix of Famlay’s ‘Hit Me On My Beeper’ and a cheeky little homage to speed garage. We chopped up the Pharrell-produced a cappella and laid down a warped bass line. We pressed it vinyl-only via Counterfeet (the label run by me and Switch) and were shocked when Annie Mac started championing the track on Radio 1. We noticed other DJs felt the same, so it took on a life of itself own and became this cult track. We decided to make it official, so we re-vocalled ‘Beeper’ with Kid Sister, signed it to Domino (along with a full-length album) and shot a video in Chicago. Looking back I’m really proud of the track – we made it with no expectations and zero outside pressure to conform. We were making music back then that was carefree, with no concept of where it would fit in or who would play it.”

30 best blog house tracks

6. Spank Rock
‘Bump’ (Switch Remix)
(Big Dada Recordings, 2006)

Of all the tracks to feature on Erol Alkan’s seminal Disco 2006 mix CD for Mixmag, Switch’s remix of Spank Rock’s ‘Bump’ is the one that’s stood the test of time. Nothing else has come as close to encapsulating the twitchy sound of what was dubbed “fidget house”, a micro genre whose dirty, pitch-bent basslines, clipped vocals and bouncy rhythms owed more to hip-hop and Baltimore club than house music. One of the best remixes of anything, hands down. SW

30 best blog house tracks

5. Justice
‘Waters of Nazareth’ (Erol Alkan’s Durrr Durrr Durrrrrr Re-Edit)
(Ed Banger Records, 2006)

Some artists will always have to live up to the reputation of their very first single, and though Justice released plenty of great music in their mid-noughties pomp, nothing really beats the grinding rifferama of ‘Waters of Nazareth’. Erol Alkan’s subtle edit added a bit of North London grot to the French duo’s crisply groomed original, unleashing a club monster in the process. For a generation of young punks and drifting indie kids, Justice were basically a gateway drug. CR

A-Trak: “This song really encapsulates the dirty, sweaty, rock and roll aesthetic of the era. To me, bloghaus is really a direct reaction to what came before it, which was electroclash and minimal techno – both comparatively clean and neat. Distortion was a key ingredient of the new sound, and it doesn’t really get any more distorted than ‘Waters Of Nazareth’. Justice borrowed some production ideas from Mr Oizo and Jackson (who came before them) and SebastiAn (their peer), and injected classic rock riffs and ‘70s sheen into it. Erol helped make their first true single club-friendly without having to change much.”

Erol Alkan: “It was one of the fastest reworks I’ve ever made, maybe only five or five hours max. The idea behind it was to make something really simple to play out and have the track unfold in a playful way. I loved the original track but Justice, Pedro Winter and I seemed to be the only people playing it at that point. It was obviously a stunning track but maybe DJs needed a version with a little more space in there. A lot of it is call-and-response between certain parts which keep repeating themselves – maybe that’s what made it so instant. I knew it had to contain the original sounds with nothing much else added to it, as the production was so inspired. I still think it sounds pretty fresh and completely out-there. It certainly doesn’t feel like it’s 10 years old, and that surprises me a little.”

30 best blog house tracks

4. Joakim
‘I Wish You Were Gone’
(Versatile Records, 2006)

Joakim has remixed Cut Copy, Annie, Tiga and Late of the Pier across his career, but he was always one of blog house’s outsiders. During the era in question he seemed to be more influenced by krautrock and weird pop than club music, leading him to make some of the era’s most adventurous tracks (see the Ian Curtis-inspired croon of ‘Lonely Hearts’ and John Carpenter gloom of ‘Sleep In Hollow Tree’ for just two examples). But his best? ‘I Wish You Were Gone’, a weirdo rave track for misanthropic souls. In a time when hedonism was everything, Joakim’s people-hating anthem was one for everyone who didn’t fit in with the hipsters. SW

Andy Spence, New Young Pony Club: This falls into the category of overlooked gem – I’ve always admired the way Joakim blended guitars and dance beats so well.

30 best blog house tracks

3. Metric
‘Monster Hospital’ (MSTRKRFT Remix)
(Drowned In Sound Recordings, 2006)

Rising from the ashes of thrash duo Death From Above 1979, MSTRKRFT took the same raw energy and applied it to dance music – with mixed results. They played what remains one of the worst DJ sets I’ve ever seen in November 2006, a show which I believe opened up an EDM wormhole that still spins maliciously above London to this day. Their remix of Metric’s ’Monster Hospital’ though? Sidechained synths have never sounded so good. SW

30 best blog house tracks

2. The Gossip
‘Standing in the Way of Control’ (Soulwax Nite Version)
(Back Yard Recordings, 2006)

It didn’t hurt that the unremixed version absolutely destroyed the dancefloor on its own steam, but Soulwax’s euphorically bananas Nite Version of 2006’s greatest punk-funk track is basically all of blog house rolled into a single seven-minute serving. As the Gossip’s dun-dan-dun-dan bass guitar gradually mutates into an ear-scrapingly filthy electro-house melody, you move from indie disco to Ed Banger rave in one slick movement. It was, and remains, so fucking brilliant. CR

Rory Philips, DJ at Trash and Durrr: The original of ‘Standing In The Way Of Control’ was already a dancefloor hit, but as somebody who at the time was mixing indie rock with dance records, the two acts of the Soulwax mix acted as a perfect gateway between the two worlds. Much of the blog house era consisted of forgettable indie remixes, but this was the gold standard.

A-Trak: “The words “Soulwax Version” were synonymous with “put this in your crate”. All their remixes were essential. One thing I really remember from the bloghaus era was that there were a handful of inescapable songs. I toured with DJ Mehdi for years and he really had all the classic songs in his set – this was definitely one of the ubiquitous jams.

30 best blog house tracks

1. Simian Mobile Disco
(Kitsuné Music, 2006)

Simian Mobile Disco were there all the way through the blog house era, but like Erol Alkan and Joakim, they were completely above everything that was happening around them. SMD’s name suggests some kind of indie wedding experience, but they’ve always known their shit: their still incredible Fabriclive mix paired classics like Metro Area’s ‘Miura’ and Green Velvet’s ‘Flash’ with Moondog and Moebius, Plank & Neumeier, and they were performing live sets with a gigantic rig of analog synths long before people started jumping on the modular bandwagon.

Any number of Simian Mobile Disco tracks and remixes could have ended up in this list: the remix of Klaxons’ ‘Golden Skans’ that sounds like Kid A-era Radiohead-gone-rave, the pilled-up euphoria of ‘It’s The Beat’ and the Beth Ditto nu-disco number ‘Cruel Intentions’ to name a few. But there’s one that sounds as fresh now as it did then: ‘Hustler’. Originally issued on one of Kitsuné Maison’s iconic 12”s in 2006, it sneaked bleep techno, acid squelch and classic electro through the backdoor of fashionable electro and taught a new generation of ravers that dance music didn’t begin in 2005. For that, we salute you. SW



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