I’m so overwhelmed by music these days. I used to spend hours lurking in music forums, find myself hours deep in a Youtube hole or so far into Soundcloud it felt like what I can only imagine the Mines of Moria to feel like. Now, I spend my days at work creating Spotify playlists that will sit well with our 30 strong open plan office. Bonobo and D’Angelo have become the middle grounds between the much loved playlists called ‘Gal Free Up Ya Vibe’ and the painfully nostalgic ‘Teen Movie Songs’.
You can imagine my delight then, when I was asked to write the content for a site that would track the rise of electronic dance music through the years at work. I soon came to realise, however, that what they really meant by electronic dance music was the heavily Americanised version of it: EDM. Normally this acronym would send me running to the hills, but this was my job – I said yes.
EDM is no new thing, nor is it new to slate it on the Internet. It’s not hard to do, let’s be honest. There are so many negatives surrounding the genre that I wondered whether finding any defence of it would be possible at all, but we’ll get to that later. EDM itself has taken hold of America and turned itself into a £4billion global industry. This is not sustainable. No genre is. The difference with EDM compared to dubstep, breaks or electric house though is that even the main players are calling out its death. Tiesto, Steve Aoki and others have openly said it can’t survive. If the artists that make the most money off the thing say it won’t last, it won’t be long before those bedroom DJ sheep start jumping ship too. As Fatboy Slim said in his Thump interview “It’s fine as entry level stuff, but make no mistake: EDM will crash and burn”.
Aside from instability and button pressing, EDM has more sexism and misogyny than you can shake a stick at. As I wrote the content for the website I talked about above; How The Party Started: The Rise Of EDM I was disappointed at the lack of females within the nodes. Disappointed, sure, but not really all that surprised. Electronic dance music doesn’t have a problem with women, it has a problem with diversity in general and EDM is no exception. When you bear in mind the Youtube channels, festivals and artists that exploit the female figure in order to market their music it’s no wonder the ratio of females to males in the industry is so wildly uneven.
So the defence? Well, it’s a difficult one.
“Music is subjective” is a defence right? EDM works well in the context in which it was created for. There can be no doubt that people love it; the crowds at Ultra Music Festival who can be seen in states of pure euphoria are proof of that. There’s the breadth of the music too. EDM is perhaps too lose a term to describe the many genres that actually fall underneath its umbrella; Swedish House Mafia some would say is house music, but to me, it falls within EDM with melodic synth lines and swelling builds. Skrillex could arguably been seen as Trap, but to me, Trap is Gucci mane, Young Thug, Migos – not Skrillex and his new version of Trap. How can we dislike an entire genre that is a blanket term for so many different things? But maybe that’s also its problem.
The thing is, music isn’t that subjective – taste is. You enjoy different music than I do; no two people’s tastes are the same, but that doesn’t change the fact that some people really enjoy horrible, badly written music. The main problem with EDM is the term itself; many people, including myself, have a problem with the fact it is derived from Electronic Dance Music. It’s almost lazy to name a genre after an umbrella explanation of a sound. If EDM had been named differently would people care as much? I definitely wouldn’t. Maybe even the artists that reject their music falling under the EDM banner would be a little less quick to dismiss the term entirely if it wasn’t this acronym that everyone associated with them.
So what’s the solution? I’m not going to sit here and try and come up with a name that better describes the many facets that fall within the EDM bracket but we need another description; the least progressive thing we can do is condemn any new music coming out of the EDM years to the same name. Because there is music coming out of it and it’s listenable. Take ‘Bang My Head‘ for example, it’s David Guetta, yes, but it’s co-signed by Fetty Wap and Sia. It’s not exactly intelligent, but in terms of the pop style it was created for, it’s catchy; I could play this in my office and they would only be mildly offended. And there it is. There’s music within EDM worth defending, but the simplistic label just isn’t helping.
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