What is Hardstyle Music

What is Hardstyle Music: Unraveling the Mystique of this Unique Genre

Estimated reading time: 15 minutes

Have you ever asked yourself, “What is hardstyle music? It’s the aural equivalent of a caffeinated adrenaline rush! Stick around for a thrilling deep dive into the beats, history, and cultural influence of this electrifying genre. Hold on to your eardrums!

What is Hardstyle Music? Introduction

Indeed, hardstyle music is a hidden gem in the vast treasure chest of electronic music. It originally began as an offshoot of gabber, a genre synonymous with the Dutch electronic music scene. However, hardstyle soon carved out its own identity. It now has a global following that spans continents and cultures. Consequently, understanding this musical genre offers insights into its rich history and evolving influence. Furthermore, exploring hardstyle helps us appreciate the diverse soundscape of electronic music. So buckle up as we take a high-octane ride through the world of hardstyle music.

The History of Hardstyle Music

Hardstyle emerged in the late 90s, mainly in the Netherlands. It was an adventurous mix of techno, hardcore, gabber and trance. Pioneers like DJ Zany and Showtek led the way. Artists such as Headhunterz joined in and expanded the genre’s reach.

Despite its roots, hardstyle quickly outgrew its Dutch origins. By the early 2000s, it had captivated audiences internationally. It also began to leave its unique mark on festivals around the world. As a result, the genre’s footprint has expanded beyond expectations. As a result, the history of hardstyle music is one of rapid growth and widespread influence.

In this sense, understanding its history offers a deep appreciation for the genre. It also underscores the innovation and resilience of its artists. Undeniably, hardstyle music has forged a unique path in the global music scene.

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The Anatomy of Hardstyle Music

If hardstyle music were a vehicle, it would be a monster truck. Powerful, loud, unapologetic. Accordingly, its characteristics are distinct. Its tempo ranges from 150-160 beats per minute (BPM). The genre features a unique “kick drum” that is its pulse.

It also incorporates distorted sounds, punctuated by a thumping reverse bass. In addition, hardstyle has evolved over time, branching out into subgenres. Euphoric hardstyle, rawstyle and dubstyle are notable examples. Each adds a unique flavor that enhances the richness of the genre.

Understanding this anatomy is essential for any hardstyle enthusiast. In particular, it provides a framework for appreciating its depth and complexity. In essence, the anatomy of hardstyle music is a symphony of powerful, raw, and compelling elements.

Notable Hardstyle Artists and DJs

In the realm of hardstyle, certain artists have left an indelible mark. For example, Wildstylez and Noisecontrollers stand tall. Their pulsating tracks like “Lose My Mind” and “Attack Again” revolutionized the genre.

Their creativity and innovation continues to shape the hardstyle landscape. As a result, their music sets the tone at events around the world, turning crowds into ecstatic masses. Above all, these artists are the lifeblood of hardstyle music.

Furthermore, their work ensures that hardstyle continues to evolve and push boundaries. In conclusion, the hardstyle scene is home to artists who continue to shape the genre with passion and innovation.


Headhunterz, also known as Willem Rebergen, is an internationally acclaimed Dutch DJ and producer. He’s known for his contribution to the hardstyle genre with tracks like “Psychedelic” and “Dragonborn”. His dynamic style has made him a household name in the hardstyle community.


Showtek, made up of Dutch brothers Sjoerd and Wouter Janssen, started their career producing hardstyle. They are known for tracks like “FTS” and “The Colour of the Harder Styles”. Although they’ve moved on to other genres, their influence on hardstyle is significant.


Wildstylez, whose real name is Joram Metekohy, is a Dutch hardstyle DJ and producer. He has been instrumental in shaping the euphoric hardstyle subgenre with tracks like “Timeless” and “Lose My Mind”.


Noisecontrollers aka Bas Oskam is known for his innovative sound. His hits such as “Attack Again”, “So High” and “Pillars of Creation” showcase his distinctive, melodic take on the hardstyle genre.

Radical Redemption

Radical Redemption, known off stage as Joey van Ingen, is a DJ from the Netherlands who’s known for his rawstyle tracks. Tracks like “Brutal 6.0” and “The Radical Dome” epitomize his aggressive, intense approach to hardstyle.

Paul Elstak

Paul Elstak is a name that is etched in the annals of hardstyle music history. Debuting in the ’90s, the Dutch artist quickly made a name for himself with his high-energy tracks. Often revered as the “Godfather of Hardcore”, Elstak’s work brilliantly reflects the powerful, intense nature of hardstyle. His breakthrough hit “Rainbow in the Sky” remains an iconic hardstyle anthem, showcasing his talent for blending enchanting melodies with pounding bass lines. Elstak’s influence on hardstyle and related genres cannot be overstated, and he continues to be a guiding light for aspiring hardstyle DJs and producers.

Each of these artists has played a pivotal role in shaping the Hardstyle genre with their unique styles and musical ingenuity. They have left an indelible mark on the genre and continue to inspire up and coming artists.

Please also take a look at our article about Hardstyle DJs. Find out more about iconic artists and DJs of the hardstyle genre.

Understanding Hardstyle Subgenres

Like any thriving genre, hardstyle music has spawned several subgenres. Each has unique characteristics that add to the diversity. Euphoric hardstyle, for example, is melodic and incorporates emotional and uplifting elements. It’s known for its lyrical depth and infectious rhythms.

Conversely, Rawstyle is a harder variation. This subgenre emphasizes aggressive basslines and heavier beats. It’s like hardstyle’s more rebellious sibling. Then there’s dubstyle, a fusion of dubstep and hardstyle. It combines wobbling basses with the rhythmic intensity of hardstyle.

Understanding these subgenres helps to appreciate the breadth of hardstyle. In short, hardstyle is not a monolithic entity, but a dynamic and evolving musical genre.

Euphoric Hardstyle

Euphoric Hardstyle is the melodic and emotional subgenre of Hardstyle. Known for its uplifting elements, it often features powerful lyrics and enchanting melodies. Artists such as Wildstylez and Brennan Heart have championed this subgenre, and it continues to grow in popularity.


Rawstyle is the heavier, darker version of hardstyle. It is characterized by aggressive basslines, distorted kick drums and an overall intense sound. Not for the faint of heart, Rawstyle is the edgier side of Hardstyle. DJs like Radical Redemption and E-Force are known for their rawstyle tracks.


Jumpstyle is another important subgenre of hardstyle music. Unlike other hardstyle subgenres, jumpstyle is characterized by a distinct dance style that involves jumping and kicking to the beat. The music generally has a tempo of around 140-150 BPM. What sets it apart, however, is its playful and energetic rhythms that seamlessly merge with the hardstyle ethos. DJs like Coone and Darkraver have made significant contributions to the subgenre, pushing its boundaries and contributing to its popularity. Ultimately, Jumpstyle is more than a subgenre; it’s an exhilarating dance movement that takes the hardstyle experience to another level.


As the name suggests, Dubstyle is a fusion of Dubstep and Hardstyle. It combines the wobbly bass and broken rhythms of dubstep with the pace and intensity of hardstyle. Dubstyle may be less popular than other subgenres, but it still has a dedicated fan base.

Happy Hardstyle

Happy Hardstyle, also known as UK Hardstyle, blends the classic elements of Hardstyle with uplifting melodies and energetic beats. Known for its catchy tunes and positive vibes, this subgenre lives up to its “happy” name.

Hardstyle Reverse Bass

Hardstyle reverse bass is a subgenre that focuses on a specific kick drum pattern. It’s characterized by a heavy, reverberating kick drum sound that hits on the offbeat, creating a unique rhythm.

Hardcore / Gabber

Hardcore, often referred to as gabber in the Netherlands, is the ancestor of hardstyle. It features a much faster tempo (typically between 180-220 BPM) and a relentless, pounding rhythm. The genre is characterized by aggressive themes, distorted kicks and a raw, industrial sound.

While not a subgenre of Hardstyle per se, the influence of Hardcore/Gabber is undeniable. It laid the foundation for the creation of hardstyle. Artists like Angerfist, DJ Mad Dog, and Miss K8 are some of the leading names in the genre.

Understanding Hardcore/Gabber helps to appreciate the origins of Hardstyle and its foundational elements. It serves as a reminder of the genre’s evolution from the edgier, faster-paced Hardcore/Gabber to the more melodic and versatile Hardstyle we know today. Hardstyle is often mentioned in connection with gabber. They are related genres. For a deeper insight into Gabber read our article what is gabber music.

All these subgenres helps us appreciate the diversity and dynamism that exists within the world of hardstyle music. Each subgenre offers a unique twist that adds to the richness of the hardstyle universe.

For all the fans of hard beats, we have also compiled a list of the best hardstyle songs. Be sure to check it out, it’s worth it!

Please check also: What Genre Is Skrillex? Unveiling Skrillex’s Unique Musical Identity

Hardstyle Festivals: A Global Celebration

As a genre inextricably linked to festivals and dance music, hardstyle thrives in the open air under pulsating lights and crowds of enthusiastic fans. Whether held indoors with fog machines under high ceilings or outdoors under the open sky, hardstyle events create an atmosphere of unity, freedom, and ecstasy.

The proliferation of hardstyle events around the world is a testament to the genre’s significant growth beyond its European roots.


Undoubtedly a titan among hardstyle events, Defqon.1 has been electrifying audiences for decades. This annual weekend festival, held in the Netherlands, Australia and Chile, showcases hardstyle with a side order of hard trance, hardcore and hard techno. Each year there is a theme and anthem that provides the backdrop for an unforgettable experience. With live streaming options available, you won’t want to miss the likes of DJ Coone, Noisecontrollers, Da Tweekaz, Wildstylez or Brennan Heart.


Intents is a multi-day campground extravaganza featuring performances by top hardstyle, hardcore and freestyle artists. Known for its dazzling stage production, attendees are treated to a symphony of lights, lasers, and pyrotechnics, all working in concert with immersive video and audio. To add to the sensory overload, the festival’s venue features vibrant themes and colors.


Located in Antwerp, Belgium, Reverze is an annual event that celebrates hardstyle, hardcore and jumpstyle. Each year, a theme and anthem, created by a DJ, set the tone for the participants. This unique event takes place in the Sportpaleis and the Lotto Arena, each with a different line-up.


An annual hard dance and hardstyle gathering hosted by Q-dance in the Netherlands, Qlimax welcomes nearly 30,000 EDM enthusiasts each year. Known for its impressive stage production and quality sound, Qlimax promises a complete festival experience. With an annual anthem and artists like The Prophet, Wildstylez, DJ Isaac, Alpha Twins and Da Tweekaz on the lineup, it’s a hardstyle lover’s dream.


Thunderdome, another notable entrant in the hardstyle festival scene, has built a reputation as one of the most important hardcore techno events in the world. Born in the Netherlands, Thunderdome’s immense popularity led to the rise of the hardstyle genre as we know it today. Its recurring theme, “The Wizard,” has become a symbol of the hardcore techno movement, representing a powerful and energetic musical experience that leaves an indelible mark on attendees. Thunderdome’s memorable lineups and energetic atmosphere make it a must-attend event for any hardstyle enthusiast.

The Cultural Impact of Hardstyle Music

The influence of hardstyle music reaches far beyond the dance floor. For one, it’s permeated various cultural spheres worldwide. Especially in Europe, where it started, hardstyle has had a significant impact.

The genre has also inspired the creation of numerous music festivals. Events such as Defqon.1 and Qlimax, which are entirely dedicated to hardstyle, attract tens of thousands of fans. These festivals aren’t just about music; they are cultural phenomena in their own right.

Hardstyle has also influenced fashion trends, especially in the rave scene. With its own unique aesthetic, it’s easy to recognize a hardstyle enthusiast.

In conclusion, hardstyle’s impact on global culture is profound. The genre doesn’t just create music, it forges communities, shapes trends, and even influences lifestyle choices.

How to Start Producing Hardstyle Music

Starting to produce hardstyle music may seem daunting at first. But with the right tools and mindset, it’s doable. First, you’ll need a digital audio workstation (DAW). This software is essential for creating and editing music.

Software like FL Studio, Ableton Live, or Logic Pro X are commonly used in hardstyle production. Each comes with its own set of features, so choose according to your needs. YouTube, in particular, offers several tutorials to get you started.

You should also familiarize yourself with hardstyle’s signature elements, such as the hard kick, reverse bass, and distinctive melodic structures. This will help you understand the essence of the genre and guide your music production process. With all elements of hardstyle music, be it kicks, basses, synth sounds or even melodies, hardstyle sample packs are a good place to start.

Finally, practice is key. Keep experimenting with sounds and techniques. Your first track may not be a masterpiece, but with time and persistence, you’ll get better. In conclusion, embarking on your hardstyle production journey requires patience, creativity, and a solid understanding of the genre’s fundamental elements.


GenreHardstyle, Electronic Dance Music (EDM)
OriginEarly 2000s, Netherlands
Key ElementsHigh tempo (140-150 BPM), Hard-hitting beats, Distorted basslines, Energetic, Melodies
Notable ArtistsPaul Elstak, Headhunterz, Showtek, DJ Coone, Noisecontrollers, Da Tweekaz, Wildstylez, Radical Redemption
SubgenresRawstyle, Euphoric Hardstyle, Hardcore / Gabber, Jumpstyle, Happy Hardstyle, Hardstyle Reverse Bass
Cultural ImpactGlobally popular, Significant presence in festivals
FestivalsDefqon.1, Intents, Reverze, Qlimax, Thunderdome
UseClubbing, Festivals, Gym workouts
What is hardstyle music – Summary


So what is hardstyle music? It’s a high-energy, intense genre with a wide range of influences and subgenres, a cultural movement, and a way of life for many. It’s a genre that’s making its mark on the global electronic music scene, one booming bass kick at a time.

Whether you’re a hardstyle veteran or a curious newcomer, there’s always something new to discover in this vibrant genre. Now, turn up the volume, feel the adrenaline rush, and let the hardstyle beats take control!


What is considered Hardstyle music?

Hardstyle music is a genre of electronic dance music characterized by hard beats, distorted sounds, and a tempo typically between 140-150 BPM.

How would you describe Hardstyle?

Hardstyle can be described as a fusion of techno, hard trance, and hardcore, defined by its intense, energetic beats and often dark or distorted themes.

What is the difference between Hardstyle and EDM?

The main difference between Hardstyle and EDM is the intensity and tempo. Hardstyle has a faster, more aggressive sound compared to the often more melodic and varied sounds of general EDM.

What makes Hardstyle Hardstyle?

What makes Hardstyle unique is its focus on hard-hitting, fast-paced beats, aggressive hardstyle basses, distorted sounds, and its remarkable tempo.

Why is hardstyle used in gym?

Hardstyle is used in the gym because its high energy and fast pace can motivate and help maintain a vigorous workout pace, contributing to an intense and effective fitness session.