Top 10 Pretty Lights Songs
What makes electronic music so special is the way in which producers have a relentless thirst to break down the boundaries of genre classification and continue to experiment with different styles and textures of sound. One artist who has been at the forefront of this is none other than the iconic producer, Pretty Lights. With a strong influence stemming from the timeless rhythms of hip-hop, funk, soul and rock, Pretty Lights, also known as Derek Vincent Smith, fuses select themes to create his own unique flavor of electronic music. Over the years his sound has taken various forms from the hard-hitting party starters to the low-key chilled out ballads. With a catalogue as deep as any electronic music producer in the game, we take a look back at what made him the artist we know today by presenting you with our list of top 10 Pretty Lights songs.
When digging into the music of Pretty Lights, it’s crucial that we pay respect to the classics as well as give you a sample of his more recent work. After all, if we are to truly lay out the Pretty Lights story in just 10 tracks, we need to make sure it is as diverse as the music he produces. With a focus on steady rhythm and a keen ear for cohesion, Smith is such an artist that helped take music production to new heights. Our sample, that we present to you now, shows just how unique and talented a producer he is. Check out our selections below.
Included on his very first album in 2006, "Finally Moving" is the most legendary production in Smith’s catalogue of music, and is the very track that put Pretty Lights in the spotlight. Using the sample from Etta James' hit "Somethings Got a Hold on Me" was brilliantly coupled with the sample from Judy Clay and Williams Bell’s "Private Number," and showcases how Pretty Lights is a true master of fusing samples from selected works.
The year of 2010 marked a massive breakout year for Pretty Lights as he held down headline slots at festivals all around North America. It was also the year he released his album Making Up A Changing Mind. "I Can See It In Your Face" was a standout track then and still holds down a space in his live performances.
Premiering "I Know The Truth" at Bonnaroo 2011 was a defining moment for Pretty Lights. It had been some time since fans had a taste of new material and they had been hungry for something new and exciting. Pretty Lights made a point to satisfy that hunger. During that fateful sunrise at Bonnaroo fans lost it when they heard this track and it was one of the most memorable Pretty Lights moments in history.
A track that further showcases the Pretty Lights sound of blending futuristic tones with old school samples, "Hot Like Dimes" was a staple in Smith’s sets during the breakout early years and still holds strong today. Smith’s technique of using wonky synths and distortion would evolve and mature over the course of his career but this production is absolute quality.
Released in 2009 on his album titled Passing By Behind Behind Your Eyes, "Sunday School" featured distinct samples from The Notorious B.I.G. and a spacey synth arrangement that further introduced fans to Smith’s new sound of electronic music. Not many producers at the time had such unique sounds and textures in their music and Smith managed to fit all of them cohesively into his music. "Sunday School" is, without a doubt, a defining track for PLM.
There are many reworks and edits produced by Pretty Lights that could have made our Pretty Lights Top 10 Tracks list. Like his remix of "Time" by Pink Floyd or the fan favorite remix of Jay-Z’s "Empire State of Mind." And lets not forget about the remix of "Fly Like An Eagle" by The Steve Miller Band. No, the one that started it all was his "After Midnight" (Live Mix) that he played during his 2009 New Years Eve performance at The Vic in Chicago. From that moment on his NYE performances became the legendary events that they still are today.
As a single released in 2012, Pretty Lights went back to his roots on this one. Using organic sounds to convey his musical message he showed how versatile his production style can be. The down-tempo beat sets the foundation for intricately woven subtle sounds pieced together in the classic sample style that Pretty Lights built his name on. Is it possible to not bob your head to this one? I don’t think so.
In 2013 Pretty Lights took his production process to the next level. In order to get the correct sound he wanted for the samples to be used on his next album, A Color Map of the Sun, he decided to press 13 acetate records on his own and use samples from those records. A process that was unheard of at the time, this showed how relentless his production process is and brought a new kind of respect for the music he produces. "So Bright" is a standout track on that album and a sure fan favorite at his live performances.
A track that really showcases Pretty Lights hip-hop influence, "Still Night" possesses an infectious beat and an erie piano melody at it’s core. Going back to the wonky synth style that was so prominent in his music at the time Pretty Lights was just getting set to begin the prime of his career in 2010. He was pumping out music at a rapid pace and "Still Night" embodies the Pretty Lights sound to a tee.
Often the final track in his live performances, "Yellow Bird" has a special place on our countdown and also holds a special place in the heart of Pretty Lights. As a tribute to his girlfriend Krystle, PL tends to shout her out before the track is played. The song itself is stunningly beautiful and dreamlike which is fitting for the close out track to a raucous Pretty Lights set. There is a lot of love in this piece of music and it reflects the ethos that Pretty Lights promotes.