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Monday, June 05, 2023

For Your Entertainment: Is EDM the next disco?

<p>"<span><a href="" target="_blank">Skrillex @ Camp Bisco X</a>" by <a href="" target="_blank">Weekly Dig</a>, used under <a href="" target="_blank">CC BY 2.0</a></span></p>

"Skrillex @ Camp Bisco X" by Weekly Dig, used under CC BY 2.0

Electronic dance music, or EDM for short, has quickly become a formidable genre in the always-dynamic world of music. Once a genre many wrote off for a variety of reasons (notably the way most songs abstained from including lyrics or the repetitive nature when compared to pop songs), it is now the most profitable genre in the world. It has its own culture, it appeals to the young and old alike, and it has created a movement in the way it has altered other genres (most seen in numerous pop songs today).

However, with this success stems a debate: how long can the genre keep expanding until the bubble bursts? Ticket prices for festivals like Ultra Music Festival and EDC Vegas continue to raise yet the events repeatedly sell out. Festivals once comprised of primarily rock and alternative artists are now enlisting EDM talent more than rock bands (many complained about Lollapalooza’s lineup this year). Can something keep growing so much without faltering and eventually crashing down?

Many have drawn comparisons to disco in the 70s. For the uninitiated, disco definitely reigned as the “it” genre in the 70s for its stark contrast to rock music (high-energy, light dance tracks vs heavy, brooding rock anthems) and appeal to all demographics. However, by the end of the decade disco rapidly declined in popularity and paved the way for “dance music” to take its place. 

I can see the similarities between the two genres but I think EDM will not suffer a severe blow like disco. Electronic music has remained popular in Europe for the past decade. Yes, it has changed immensely since the US adopted the genre, but I think an important fact to note here is how music is constantly changing. 

When EDM began to blow up in the US, progressive house and dubstep sat at the forefront. Artists like Swedish House Mafia, Skrillex, and Deadmau5 influenced many producers to pursue similar sounds and tune them to their own desires. Three years later, those genres have pretty much subsided and new genres have taken their place. Trap took hip-hop’s grittiness and refined it to fit the dance floor, big room progressive removed the cheesy melodies in favor of minimal yet synth-heavy drops, and deep house returned to the roots of classic house music that gained steam in America in the 1990s. 

I think an important aspect to note is how electronic music always had a place in American music history. Detroit is credited as the birthplace of house music and house music played frequently in clubs in huge cities. Unfortunately, it remained a bit of a niche genre while Europe embraced it with open arms. 

While genres come and go in popularity, I think electronic music is here to stay. While hip-hop is not nearly as popular as it was in the 2000s, it still perseveres as a relevant and respected genre. As new styles of electronic music emerge, perhaps the umbrella term EDM will disappear. Only time will tell. 

"Skrillex @ Camp Bisco X" by Weekly Dig, used under CC BY 2.0

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