The Essential Bloghouse Bangers
Apr 21, 2022
12 min read
It’s a fool’s errand to try and summarize the mania, magic, and music of bloghouse through 10 tracks alone. But if there’s anyone who’s up to the task, it’s the music nerds at Gray Area.
Amid the renewed interest in the much-missed era, this list attempts to distill the wealth of sounds that made it so memorable — and continue to prove influential — into a single, definitive collection of songs. To borrow a word one of the selected artists below built an entire album around. These cuts are essential to understanding everything bloghouse encompassed, from the sacred and transcendently beautiful to the unapologetically brazen and profane.
Maybe you had the good fortune of spending the late aughts and early 2010s clad in American Apparel and shutter shades. Or you're just discovering this world through the intrigue of “indie sleaze.” Either way, you’ll find plenty of sneering, genre-defying spectacles of sound to love here. Scroll on for Gray Area’s selection of essential bloghouse tunes and recommendations for further listening.
Justice vs. Simian - We Are Your Friends
This is it — the big, era-defining anthem. It’s the one that brought a generation of kids into the dance music fold, propelled two of its key groups to stardom, was enough of a crossover hit to adorn the title of an ill-fated movie, and whose video spurred one of Kanye West’s earliest award shows meltdowns. “We Are Your Friends” is bloghouse refined to a perfect four-and-a-half minutes, blending its various strands into an idealized expression of the movement. With its impossibly earworm-y production and lyrics, the song lovingly pushes you in the chest and all but bullies you into getting in on the fun. In short, it’s flawless.
Simian Mobile Disco - Hustler
“Hustler” is the towering centerpiece of one of the best albums to emerge from bloghouse. Attack Decay Sustain Release was the first LP released by James Ford and Jas Shaw as Simian Mobile Disco after the pair broke away from their former band Simian to move in a more explicitly electronic direction. Their indie rock origins served them well on the dance floor. Soon enough, they codified many of the things that made bloghouse great, including the in-your-face production and playful raunchiness depicted in the very-much-of-its-time music video for “Hustler.” Attack Decay Sustain Release is as fully realized an electronic album as they come — but if you have to dip your toes into just one track, make it this frenzied blast of musical fanaticism, kleptomania, and survival.
Robbie Williams & Soulwax - Lovelight (Soulwax Ravelight Vocal Mix)
There’s a lot to be said for the musical finesse brothers David and Stephen Dewaele have flexed at every step of their career. As both 2manydjs and Soulwax, the duo spent the late ‘90s and early aughts paving the path for bloghouse’s arrival by deftly blending indie rock and dance music into one brain-bending brew. (Quick clarification: 2manydjs is their name while mixing on the decks, while Soulwax is their moniker for original music, remixes, and live shows as a band.) Although they remain as prodigious as ever in 2022 with their record label DEEWEE and other projects, it was during the bloghouse era that they cemented their reputation as masters in the art of remixing. The words “Soulwax Remix” are synonymous with quality, and of all the reconfigurations they’ve done, their 2006 effort for English pop star Robbie Williams may just be the nuttiest.
"Lovelight (Soulwax Ravelight Vocal Mix)” is an aural roller coaster, a torrent of crisp hand claps, perfectly placed percussion, and screeching synths set against Williams’ sultry come-ons. Propulsive is a mild word to describe what's happening. Long before the industry abused “the drop” to the point of memeification and mockery, it was deployed by artists like Soulwax to genuinely surprising effect. Whether you hear this one while out clubbing or at home, steel yourself to get scraped off the walls by the time it’s over.
See also: Soulwax: “Accidents and Compliments” / The Gossip: “Standing in the Way of Control (Soulwax Nite Version).”
DJ Mehdi - Signatune (Thomas Bangalter Edit)
The genius of “Signatune” lies in its simplicity. Although the original by DJ Mehdi is nothing short of a sonic assault, the version released on 2006’s Lucky Boy only lasts a scant minute and four seconds. Leave it to Thomas Bangalter, one-half of Daft Punk, to kick it up a few notches by adding a light touch: now looped across six minutes with just a kick drum, the occasional interlude, and “Rollin’ & Scratchin’”-esque skittering adjoined to it, Bangalter’s edit transforms “Signatune” into a lightning bolt of dopamine from the dance floor heavens.
The song’s emotional resonance is only heightened by the havoc Bangalter famously wreaked with it during Busy P’s 2009 birthday party at Cinespace (where, indeed, he mixed it with “Rollin’ & Scratchin’” — more than a decade onward, the footage remains one of the craziest things you’ll ever see on the internet) and Mehdi’s tragic passing in 2011. “Signatune” is a tour de force of raw production prowess, and the passage of time has done little to dull its power.
Cut Copy - Hearts on Fire
One of the beautiful things about bloghouse is the sheer number of musical styles that fit under its inclusive, neon-tinted tent. Whether it was hip-hop, electro, or synth-pop, few genres had trouble staking a comfortable claim in the bloghouse landscape. Synth-pop specifically thrived in this environment and, as throughout the history of popular music, played a large part in bringing rock-inclined listeners into the dance floor fold.
Much of the era’s best synth-pop came from Australia, where record label Modular Recordings fostered a regional sound fusing indie rock signifiers with electronic ecstasy. The most definitive release among artists of that particular time and place — think the likes of Midnight Juggernauts, The Presets, and Van She — arguably came from Cut Copy. The band’s 2008 album In Ghost Colours represented a crossover moment for bloghouse, winning over Pitchfork-reading hipsters and raucous club kids in equal measure. It helps that several scene luminaries — including Hercules & Love Affair, Boys Noize, Joakim, and even a pre-breakthrough Calvin Harris — enshrined the record’s status by contributing remixes of the album’s many standout cuts.
“Hearts on Fire” is the shimmering linchpin tying the emotional threads of In Ghost Colours together. (All apologies to the “Lights & Music” evangelists.) Equal parts melancholy and euphoric, the track soars across the expanse of feelings a dance floor can evoke. Armed with a buoyant beat, lovelorn lyrics, a horn-heavy climax, and blink-and-you-miss-it Jennifer Lopez vocal snippets, “Hearts on Fire” is as tailor-made to soundtrack crying in the club as it is moody late-night drives. If any track here transcends bloghouse for a place in the pantheon of great pop music, it’s this one.
Switch - A Bit Patchy
“A Bit Patchy” is something of a secret handshake among the bloghouse faithful, notably accompanying the most chaotic sequence in Soulwax’s scene-defining documentary Part of the Weekend Never Dies (where a hilarious Peaches cameo immediately precedes it) and kept in semi-regular rotation thanks to dance music veterans like Boys Noize.
Anchored by a prominent sample of “Apache” by the Incredible Bongo Band — which also provides the tune’s punny title — “A Bit Patchy” sees Switch take the source material and contort it to better resemble his signature style. As with other Switch productions, it’s goofy, fidgety, and squelchy as all hell. “A Bit Patchy” might not be the most immediate song newer bloghouse converts fall head over heels for, but give it a bit of time, and they’ll come around on it.
Does It Offend You, Yeah? - We Are Rockstars
Sneer is a crucial ingredient in the bloghouse formula, and few did it more snottily than Does It Offend You, Yeah? As noted in writer Lina Abascal’s book surveying the movement, Never Be Alone Again: How Bloghouse United the Internet and the Dancefloor, the group emerged in a blaze of glory, releasing their rowdy debut LP You Have No Idea What You're Getting Yourself Into and wreaking total havoc at music festivals before returning to the chaotic ether from which they came. But before they simmered down, Does It Offend You, Yeah? trampled over scenesters’ ears and good taste with tunes that rocked as hard as they raved.
“We Are Rockstars” is the platonic ideal of bloghouse bedlam, a finely tuned electro temper tantrum with jeering lyrics taking the piss out of online notoriety. The song left a large enough impression to thrash its way out of the clubs and into the larger cultural conversation, fueled in part by its appearance in the trailer for 2009’s Fast & Furious.
Does It Offend You, Yeah? seems to be gearing up for a big return with the release of “GUESS WHO JUST ROLLED BACK INTO TOWN,” the band’s first single in a decade. Brace yourself for the answer by cueing up “We Are Rockstars” and flashing back to the days of MySpace Top 8s and carefully chosen profile songs.
The Whitest Boy Alive & Fred Falke - Golden Cage (Fred Falke Remix)
For all the chaos that bloghouse is closely and rightfully associated with, many of the period’s best cuts also delivered moments of sublime, otherworldly beauty. Fred Falke’s remix of “Golden Cage” by The Whitest Boy Alive is one such song. The French DJ-producer’s rework takes the original track — a sparse-but-groovable slice of melancholic indie pop — and bathes it in glistening synths primed for peak dance floor euphoria.
Music journalist Larry Fitzmaurice may have said it best, “People who liked music for three years in college call it ‘indie sleaze.’ People who partied too hard into their 20s call it ‘bloghouse.’ The truly enlightened and pure of heart call it ‘The Whitest Boy Alive, 'Golden Cage (Fred Falke Remix).’”
See also: Hot Chip: “Boy From School” (Erol Alkan’s Extended Re-Work)” / Friendly Fires: “Paris (Aeroplane Remix)”
Uffie - Pop the Glock
Uffie exuded more swagger across the three-and-a-half minutes of “Pop the Glock” than most artists do in their entire careers. Following in the tradition of raunchy electronic female vocalists before her — electroclash starlets Avenue D, Peaches, and Miss Kittin immediately come to mind — the ex-Ed Banger cohort rattles off a flurry of brags that can’t help but stoke the imagination. Just who is her crew, and what makes them militia? How did she and Feadz get so bangin’? Is she actually as fast as Twista on the mic? And most importantly, will she really pop the glock?
Like any great work of art, the questions it raises are more important than the actual answers. “Pop the Glock” both captured the zeitgeist and tacitly reshaped it, embodying mid-2000s celebrity decadence, setting a precedent for viral internet success, and unifying the disparate threads of hip-hop, underground club music, and pop all at once. The most impressive thing about it all? She made it sound effortless.
It's possible that Katy Perry may never have kissed a girl, and Kesha couldn’t tick-tock on the clock were it not for “Pop the Glock.” Contemporary culture owes a lot to Uffie, and we can show our appreciation by pressing play on Sunshine Factory, her forthcoming second album co-produced by Toro y Moi.
MSTRKRFT - Bounce (feat. N.O.R.E. & Isis)
“All I do is party” — is there a better summary of the bloghouse ethos? The electro-punk maestros of MSTRKRFT teamed up with NYC rapper N.O.R.E. and Isis for “Bounce,” a concentrated burst of punishing beats and braggadocious flow. It’s a tight party rock anthem that wastes zero time getting to the serious business of throwing down and exemplifies the madness that tended to ensue whenever hip-hop and bloghouse collided.
If the brief running time leaves you wanting more, the standalone single release of “Bounce” features an extended version and remixes courtesy of The Bloody Beetroots and Felix Cartal.