Big Room House: Everything You Need to Know

JD Rinehart

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What is Big Room House Music?

Big room house music is a powerful and energetic subgenre that saw an explosion in popularity in the mid-2010s followed by a rapid drop-off after a few years.

Characterized by its massive kick drum rhythms and dramatic buildups, big room house became a staple of the EDM scene, popularized by artists like Afrojack, W&W, Showtek, Armin Van Burren, and Martin Garrix.

Whether you’re a fan of big room house already or are just looking to explore new genres of music, this genre is sure to get you moving and grooving.

What is “Big Room”?

Big room refers to the large and energetic atmosphere that a big room house track creates which is specifically engineered for the mainstage or big room venues, and to get the crowd dancing like crazy.

It is often associated with being at a massive festival mainstage like Ultra, Tomorrowland, or EDC surrounded by people dancing and jumping to the beat.

The term “big room” is the shortened version describing the sound of the genre known as “big room house”.

Big Room House music is distinctive for its easy-to-grasp instrumentation, the danceable tempo of 126 to 132 BPM, lengthy build-ups, and a drop hard-hitting electro drop.

In addition, this style of electronic dance music typically features driving kick drums and spacious, arpeggiated synthesizers.

While the genre started as primarily electro-house and progressive house, it has since evolved into a wide range of subgenres and styles.

Many artists helped to popularize big room in the early 2010s, including artists like Afrojack, Martin Garrix, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, R3HAB, and Hardwell.

History of Big Room House and Its Impact on EDM

While there are many different styles and subgenres of EDM, one genre, in particular, has come to be known for its catchy hooks, powerful kicks, and stadium-sized sound

That genre is “big room house”

Originating in Europe in the early 2010s, the big room house was initially defined by its simple, repetitive percussion and massive buildups designed to elicit a visceral response from listeners.

Big Room House drop.

The “Animals” song by Swedish DJ Martin Garrix 2012 was one of the first tracks to be widely associated with big room house and helped to popularize the genre in the mainstream.

As big room house continued to gain traction, EDM DJs and producers began to focus on crafting music for arena-sized venues and crowds as EDM was became increasingly popular.

Something that was once considered a niche subgenre of EDM started to take over the mainstream, with big room house tracks appearing at all the largest music festivals.

Mult-genre EDM festivals and “superstar” DJ tours soon became the norm, and big room house quickly developed a reputation in some circles as overly simplistic and commercialized.

Culturally important samples, melodies, and rhythms found in complex trance or progressive house songs were seen as elements that made these genres more sophisticated than big room house.

Because big room house developed a reputation for lacking sophistication it became a common criticism that big room house tracks lacked uniqueness and sounded too mainstream.

Why Is It Called Big Room House?

Big Room House is a commonly played genre at Ultra

The term “big room house” is also thought to have originated from the physical size of the rooms where this type of music was often played.

These rooms were typically large, open spaces with high ceilings, such as warehouse clubs or outdoor festivals. The music was designed to fill these spaces with a booming, energetic sound, hence the term “big room.” 

Additionally, using electronic instruments and synthesizers allowed for the creation of big, expansive sounds that could fill a large room.

Over time, the term “big room house” came to be used to describe this music style and the energetic, powerful sound it produces.

Criticisms of Big Room House

Despite its catchy melodies, it has also been subject to criticism from other DJs, industry insiders, and long-time ravers.

Critics of the genre often cite its lack of originality, homogeneity, and artistic merit. They argue that the genre is formulaic, relies on repetitive sounds, and samples lacking cultural significance. 

Furthermore, the genre is often seen as a vehicle for commercial success and a way for DJs to cash in on popular trends at the expense of the creativity and soul that authentic dance music should possess.

The Big Room boom from roughly 2014 – 2017 was arguably a major contributor to the “EDM Mainstream Apocalypse” that many would say caused an industry-wide music shakeup.

When huge artists such as D-Block & S-Te-Fan, Headhunterz, W&W, Showtek, Tiesto, and Armin Van Buuren (just to name a few), left their respective genres to make Big Room it was met with a feeling that Big Room was diluting the quality of the EDM scene.

In response to a growing fan base with mixed reactions, many DJs considered this criticism and argued that expanding their music production style helped ensure their music and genre as a whole did not become stagnant.

The future of big room house music is uncertain and some would argue that the genre is already dead.

We tend to agree that the genre is already dead, however, it will likely still have a place in the electronic dance music community in the future.

Big room was and has continued to be highly commercialized however, it helped with the emergence of many new sub-genres like future bass and future house.

The success of Big Room in the future will depend on producers innovating and creating music that pushes musical boundaries.

Top 3 Big Room Artists When Big Room Was At Its Peak

1. Martin Garrix

If you have ever been to a big EDM festival, chances are you have heard the electrifying beats of Martin Garrix.

The Dutch DJ and producer has become one of the biggest names in the scene, known for his high-energy tracks and impressive live performances.

With hits like “Animals” and “Scared to be Lonely,” Garrix has garnered a massive fan base and earned numerous awards, including the title of “World’s No. 1 DJ” by DJ Magazine in 2016.

His signature sound and infectious energy make him a must-see act at any big room event.

2. Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike

Belgian brothers Dimitri Thivaios and Michael Thivaios, better known as Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, are two of the biggest names in the big room scene.

Their energetic and uplifting tracks, such as “Mammoth” and “Higher Place,” have become festival favorites and earned them numerous awards, including the “Best Global DJ” title at the 2018 Electronic Music Awards.

In addition to their successful music careers, the duo hosts the annual Tomorrowland music festival in Belgium further solidifying their status as leaders in the big room genre.

3. Hardwell

Dutch DJ and producer Robbert van de Corput, better known by his stage name Hardwell, is another big room heavyweight.

With hits like “Spaceman” and “Apollo,” Hardwell has become known for his high-energy tracks and impressive live shows.

He has won numerous awards, including the “World’s No. 1 DJ” title from DJ Magazine in 2013 and 2014, and has been a regular at major music festivals worldwide.

Hardwell’s signature sound and dynamic stage presence make him a must-see act at any big-room event.

Final Thoughts

Big room house is a popular genre of electronic dance music characterized by its high energy, driving rhythms, and powerful buildups.

Despite criticisms of its lack of originality and commercialization, the genre has grown in popularity and become a key part of the modern EDM scene.

With the emergence of new subgenres and producers incorporating big-room elements into their music, this style remains exciting for fans and newcomers alike.

Whether you’re looking to dance or hear something new, a big room house is sure to get you moving.