NEW YORK (Billboard) - Dutch DJ/producer Tiesto and the return of house music were the highlights of the dance scene in 2007.
Tiesto's spectacular tour -- named after his album "Elements of Life" -- featured sky-high video screens, pyrotechnics and trippy appearances by Blue Man Group. With a lighter-hoisting rock scope and a "concert-style" set programmed to match the visual onslaught, the tour blazed a new trail for DJ performance.
And the fans who attended in droves were dedicated, not casual; singing every word of the vocals and recognizing the instrumentals at first bleep. Even before he took the stage, the enthusiastic twenty-somethings on the floor were so pumped that they erupted into spontaneous soccer chants.
"Tiesto had the most heat (in 2007)," says John Parker, VP of A&R/dance promotion at indie dance label Robbins Entertainment. "The big story was his tour and all the people talking about it for weeks after he left their city. That was very encouraging to see and hear."
A world away from paint-peeling Dutch trance was the still-energetic, yet more sophisticated house of French imports like David Guetta and Bob Sinclar and U.S. originals like Kaskade and Roger Sanchez.
"House tracks laced with vocals are making a smashing comeback, getting airplay and creating quite a buzz," says Jessica Risling-Sholl, director of marketing at New York-based Ultra Records, which handles Tiesto and Guetta.
Already familiar to existing dance fans, yet willing and able to pen songs in pop structure and length, these DJ/producers are spearheading a new movement that is already merging the old dance factions.
Hosh Gureli of new mainstream-leaning download site Masterbeat.com named Sinclar his artist of the year. And Brad Roulier, founding partner of Beatport.com -- the DJ download site where the most cryptic of dance music gets sold -- predicts "a big comeback for house music and fun" in '08.
Guetta's recent stop at tiny New York club Cielo was a shocking spectacle: The well-heeled crowd -- out on Thanksgiving night, no less -- pawed at the lanky DJ like he was Elvis reincarnated, climbing banquettes to snap his photo, gazing at him with the kind of devotion usually reserved for teen idols.