The art of DJing and mixing has always been one of the cornerstones of dance music culture, but few have seen the level of success that Avicii has enjoyed in recent years. His breakout hit Wake Me Up was one of the most popular songs on radio in 2013, and his next two singles from his debut album True were both among the top 10 hits on Billboard in 2014, including his second song to reach #1, You Make Me. What does this mean for the future of dance music? And what does it mean for you?
The Golden Era
Electronic dance music (EDM) rose to prominence during a period of rapid change. The Golden Era of EDM, which lasted from 1998 until 2011, was marked by an explosion of new artists and styles—as well as some lasting developments that continue to influence electronic music culture today.
Electroclash, Dubstep, and Glitch Hop
The 2000s were an exciting time for dance music. With new genres popping up, mixing, and influencing each other, producers discovered new ways to create electronic music. With electropop gaining popularity in North America, electroclash was on the scene with acts like Peaches and Chicks on Speed. Many of these artists relied heavily on synthesizers and drum machines, which sounds a lot like another genre that emerged around that time: Dubstep. (Check out Korn’s Twisted Transistor or Skrillex’s Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites if you don’t believe us.) It wasn’t just pop music that inspired musicians in 2009; indie bands also influenced production trends. Best known as glitch hop, producers combined elements of hip-hop beats with glitchy breakbeats, manipulating samples from bands like Radiohead and TV on the Radio into darkly atmospheric EDM tracks. One act helped define what would come to be known as chill trap; RL Grime’s remixes still sound fresh today.
Trap and EDM
The first half of the decade was a heady time for dance music, from dubstep and trap to house and EDM. While genres like these (and others) were experiencing some of their best years ever, many wondered if they would last—especially as pop music continued to take cues from them. Trap experienced a huge boom after an influx of producers began working with it in mid-2010s; by early 2016, The Guardian was calling it one of America’s most vital musical forms. EDM blew up around 2011 as Deadmau5’s Grammy win grabbed national headlines; three years later, there was a public backlash as people grew tired of its excesses and overly sexualized culture.
Future Bass & Melodic Trap
The past few years have seen a rise in melodic trap and future bass. A large part of these genres focuses on singing and elements of pop music, with beautiful results. Partially due to social media sites like SoundCloud, artists are able to follow their creative whims without following any set formula for popular success. This has led to a high number of interesting, experimental new sounds that are highly diversified from one another. Artists are also able to take inspiration from other styles such as hip-hop, trap, techno, and house; both melodic trap and future bass have roots in many styles other than their namesakes (which can make it hard for producers to market themselves). The genres have exploded into international popularity over recent years.
In 2002, Dizzee Rascal exploded onto London’s hip-hop scene with his debut album Boy In Da Corner. Containing lyrics that made him a pariah to much of Britain’s establishment, his edgy album introduced grime music to a generation hungry for something new. Born of London’s rave culture and influenced by Jamaican dancehall reggae music, grime took over from garage as London’s most popular electronic dance music genre by 2004. By 2007 it had become massive across Europe; even American rappers like The Game had begun making references to grime songs in their lyrics.