Major Lazer are one of the most influential dance groups of all time. Helmed by Diplo, the group has seen the likes of Walshy Fire, Switch and Jillionaire involved as they enter their second decade of existence. Since the beginning, Major Lazer has looked to seek out styles from all across the world from Jamaican dancehall to African Afrobeats, often colliding it with other dance genres. Every year, they have switched up the sound and introduced different elements so to celebrate their new album Music Is The Weapon, we’re taking a look through Major Lazer’s discography one year at a time.
2009 - Pon De Floor (Feat. Vybz Cartel & Afrojack)
The one that started it all for Major Lazer. Pon De Floor was a sensation. The dancefloor-infused track soundtracked dancefloors all around the world. It charted in the UK but got its true boost when it landed as a sample on Beyoncé’s 2011 hit Girls (Run The World) which was co-produced by Diplo.
2010 - Sound Of Siren (Feat. M.I.A. & Busy Signal)
With 2009 debut album Guns Don’t Kill People...Lazers Do making a major splash on the US dance charts and drawing critical acclaim for its genre-mashing genius, Major Lazer kept the momentum going. 2010’s Lazers Never Die remixed songs from the debut but also featured one new original, tapping Santigold and Busy Signal. Diplo had worked with M.I.A. extensively on her breakthrough record Arular but this was the first time she’d appeared with Major Lazer. Together with Busy, they made electricity.
2011 - Original Don
Original Don is somewhat of a rarity for the group now but if you’ve ever seen Major Lazer live you’ll recognise these relentless, frantic beats. It’s one of the most aggressive tracks they’ve ever released and the only thing that they dropped in 2011. It was the Netherlands that resonated most with it as it snuck into the top 100 of the charts there.
2012 - Get Free (Feat. Amber Coffman)
In 2011, Major Lazer went through some line-up changes. Switch departed and was replaced by Walshy Fire. With a second album in sight, the group took another left turn launching Get Free. Teaming up with Amber Coffman who was then in indie group Dirty Projectors, Get Free was a washy, aquatic protest song that was remixed across the globe and became a mainstay of every dance festival. It remains one of the group’s defining tracks.
2013 - Watch Out For This (Bumaye) (Feat. Busy Signal, The Flexican and FS Green)
The tempo notched up again for this highlight from their sophomore record Free The Universe. Once again tapping Busy Signal, it was a moombahton smash mashed with salsa samples. At this point, Major Lazer’s sweaty shows were notorious for being the most chaotic and celebratory experiences in the dance scene and this song was the peak of every show.
2014 - Aerosol Can (Feat. Pharrell)
Keeping the Free The Universe momentum going, Major Lazer dropped the Apocalypse Son EP launched by this Pharrell-featuring track. It was a moderate hit finding success in Australia and it captured two artists riding high on success. Pharrell had just logged a late career hit in Happy the year before.
2015 - Lean On Me (Feat. Mø)
Major Lazer had been loosely influencing modern pop but they began to penetrate mainstream music in 2015. With Diplo producing for the likes of Madonna and Beyoncé, he veered Major Lazer onto the radio with the all-conquering Lean On. Teaming up with alternative-pop hero Mø, they unleashed the sort of track that would influence radio fodder for year. The Major Lazer drop became a mainstream staple after Lean On and the song remains one of the most-streamed records of all time. “All we want to do is make the records feel like classics, even though they’re feeling progressive and strange to a normal ear,” Diplo told Radio 1 around the time of release.
2016 - Cold Water (Feat. Justin Bieber)
With the charts well-and-truly conquered, Major Lazer set about collaborating with some of the biggest popstars on earth. Diplo had already worked with Justin Bieber on his 2015 record Purpose but he pulled him into the Major Lazer world on the Ed Sheeran-penned Cold Water. Mø, now an honorary member of the crew, also joined for the track. It was another global smash for the group.
2017 - Run Up (Feat. PartyNextDoor & Nicki Minaj)
Diplo once said that Nicki Minaj had been sent Lean On. She passed but she did take up the opportunity to get on the Major Lazer train with 2017’s Run Up. Having written Work for Rihanna, PartyNextDoor was no stranger to great dancehall melodies and he stepped it up here for one of the group’s most effortless tracks.
2018 - All My Life (Feat. Burna Boy)
Major Lazer have been skipping through global styles for their whole career but in 2018, they turned their attention to Africa, specifically Afrobeats. Nigerian artist Burna Boy was on the cusp of big success when he teamed up with Major Lazer on the lead-track of Africa Is The Future. It’s a triumphant, inspiring tune that set Major Lazer on a new path once again.
2019 - Already (With Beyoncé)
With Africa still very much in sight, Major Lazer joined forces with Beyoncé again for her project The Gift inspired by her work on the live action reboot of The Lion King. Bey found inspiration in the deep musical heritage of Africa for the project and tapped Major Lazer for the production of Already. Ghanaian dancehall artist Shatta Wale was also on the breezy yet majestic tune.
2020 - Oh My Gawd (With Mr. Eazi Feat. Nicki Minaj & K4mo)
Major Lazer have teamed up once again with Mr. Eazi and Nicki Minaj for a track that feels like we're being taken back to their roots. Oh My Gawd is a cheeky injection of energy that doesn't let up from start to finish. Prepare to have this hook in your head for days.