There has been a lot of talk in the music-news media lately that “EDM is dead” or “dying.” Even EDM mega-legends such as Deadmau5 have claimed that the festival scene is killing off the once-artist friendly EDM culture.
We all know what happens when something “goes pop” – the hordes of uber-followers flock to it like flies on poop. Throwing lights and getting down to EDM lost its purity as it became invaded and overtaken by the hordes of mainstream-going frat-boys, idiotic drunk sluts and roided-out fist-pumping douchebags. All of the mainstream pop artists followed suit – everything sounds like buzz-house dance music, it’s used in everything: from insurance ads to Lexus commercials.
So does it look like EDM has outworn its welcome? Well… yes and no. If you talk to any true lover of EDM about this possibility, you’ll see the disappointment in their eyes as they lament the realization that, in fact, nothing lasts forever, and perhaps EDM’s days are done.
So why do I feel that now is a better time than ever to get in to loving, producing and dancing to EDM? Why should you have complete faith that EDM will live on, and live strong, from this day until the end of time?
1. EDM is a major genre, and genres go through changes.
Hair-metal rock died out, but rock never died – it evolved, changed, and morphed into new and more interesting forms. Remember the obsession with “nu-metal,” “emo rock,” and “shoegaze?” Yes, those are all still around.
EDM has been around for a long time now. It broke out initially in pockets of trance-lovers who were eager to experiment with outdoor raves and “emotionally-expanding drugs.” Trance never died, but the EDM mainstream was quick to move on to harder, “buzzier” sounds like electro-house and hardcore.
Trance is dreamy, emotional and thought-provoking. House music is casual and immediately accessible as hipster-fodder – which made it a prime target for the mainstream. Needless to say, it caught on – because people liked it – not a bad thing. But as the ‘bell curve’ of mainstream popularity goes, the mainstream is as quick to adopt new things as they are to leave something behind.
Why should we care? Will the electro-house buzz die down? Probably? Will the “big build and big drop” of the club-rave sound become old-hat? Most definitely. But what is EDM other than danceable sounds that were constructed with the aid of a computer? You really believe that people will stop making (and loving) this kind of music?
It’s a very mixed bag, and maybe this is why its a better time than ever to start getting in to EDM. It’s time to get creative and take risks. It’s time to return EDM to its deeper and more thought-provoking roots, which leads us to our next point:
2. Enjoy the re-niche-ing of EDM
The mainstream moves on. The herd eats things up and spits it out again. But what was EDM all about in the first place: PLUR: Peace, Love, Unity and Respect. Perhaps we mourn the mainstreaming of EDM because we feel that the testosterone-spewing douchebags and near-naked slutty girls do not reflect our values? I remember listening to EDM in the 90’s as an artistic, lonely and nerdy outcast. Today we see people that are in to EDM that we wouldn’t want to have hung out in high school. They’re in to it because it’s popular, and nothing else. Why shouldn’t we use this as a chance to take it back – to reclaim what we love because we love it? Do you need the mainstream’s permission?
Does a things popularity affect your ability to enjoy it?
This absolutely beautiful track by OceanLab (now Above & Beyond), “Sirens of the Sea,” represents the true passion and beauty of EDM. It’s deep, ethereal and emotional, and was produced in 2008. Dont’ you think it has staying power?
3. Do you mourn the news?
The EDM and raver communities are mourning the “news” of the death of EDM – but we were in to it long before it was ever mainstream. The worst-case scenario? It becomes underground and niche again. The fact that you and so many of your friends are mourning the “news” is proof-positive that people still love it, and that there is demand for it.
4. New EDM sounds are popping up everywhere.
Are you familiar with a few great bands that are doing interesting things with 80’s-theme-music-like synth sounds?
So the ‘big news’ from EDM-sources is that EDM has outworn its welcome, it has ‘gone pop’ and thus is in a period of popularity-decline. There is a big difference between falling out of the mainstream and being ‘dead.’ It’s a cleansing – a time for refreshed energy and new creativity to take over and reinvigorate what was once small, special and underground.
People love EDM and people love to dance. Let the mainstream pick up something else (who knows what that’ll be – banjos, anyone?). Keep it up, and if you’re a DJ or producer don’t forget to experiment. Let’s restore the fun of the small, niche scene.