The Top 100 Tracks of 2009
Our 2009 coverage concludes this week with the best tracks and albums of the year. Here's what we have coming up:
Wednesday: Albums, Honorable Mention - 25 excellent records that didn't make our Top 50
Thursday: Top 50 Albums of 2009, #50-#26
Friday: Top 50 Albums of 2009, #25-#1
Today, we're counting down our favorite tracks of the year. As we've been doing for a while now, the pool of eligible tracks goes beyond singles. Basically any song released or covered in 2009 was fair game for this list; in one case, a song that squeaked onto the lower end of the list last year when it circulated as a single made an even bigger impact this year as part of an album, so that track was again open for consideration.
To hear the tracks, be sure to check out our Spotify playlist.
As ever, thanks for reading Pitchfork this year. OK, here we go...
"Aidy's Girl's a Computer"
Only a label that has released records by Kode9 and Zomby under the banner of "dance" could consider "Aidy's Girl Is a Computer"'s bob-and-weave a fitting tempo for movement. Its title wants to take literally the shrinking gap between human and computer interaction, and the track's winning, fractal vocal samples do their best to make some sense of the concept. But this is also one of the most tonally interesting electronic tracks of the year. The pitter-patter melody-- a marimba, a wooden xylophone, or just exquisitely manipulated digital tones-- carries the song as a stream of distorted keys run underneath. It sounds like a jocular, urbane cousin to one of Boards of Canada's fireside jams. Would that all significant others prove so rewarding. --Andrew Gaerig
99. Julianna Barwick
Call it the Sufjan Stevens factor but independent music consumers softened their stance on faith this decade, so long as it was packaged pretty and subtle. In "Bode", Julianna Barwick offers that package without pandering or compromising. A Louisiana transplant to New York, she paints spiritual yearning with such loose brushstrokes-- her own vocals looped and layered to lyrical inscrutability, soaring yet ecumenical electronic tones-- the most devout unbeliever risks no crisis of conscience wallowing in its loveliness. Make no mistake, "Bode" has the modal chant of medieval monks and ecstatic rhythms of Sacred Harp in its soul, and as its name implies, the song's an omen. Instead of announcing imminent end-of-days, however, "Bode" declares the good news. --Amy Granzin
98. Future of the Left
Pity poor Rick, the subject of Andrew Falkous' mysterious rage in "Arming Eritrea". Did anyone suffer a more brutal browbeating in all of pop music in 2009? Each line of the verses begins with Falkous screaming "C'mon RICK!" with an intensity that is at once maniacal and hilarious. Who is Rick? Why does he deserve severe contempt? Though Rick's literal or metaphorical connection to Eritrea is unclear, the root of Falkous' fury is obvious and universal: He cannot stand this man's condescension, and must insist that he is an adult. Though berating one's enemies is not typically a hallmark of maturity, the song expresses an exasperated disgust that is bitterly familiar to anyone who has ever felt a bit too old to be treated like an idiot kid. The details don't really matter here, because we've all had to deal with a Rick at some point or another, if not every day of our lives. So, actually, you know what? Fuck Rick. He totally had this coming. --Matthew Perpetua
97. The Smith Westerns
"Be My Girl"
The Smith Westerns aren't shy about borrowing from their heroes, and with "Be My Girl" they aren't afraid to compete with them. Whether it's the lurching half-drunk rhythm of the verses, the strings and echoing drum hits of the chorus, or the fuzz nicked from contemporary lo-fi acts, they seem hellbent on squeezing onto record shelves somewhere between "Seeds" and "T. Rex". The band sighs amiably at first, seemingly content to float by on languid jangle and good vibes. But the way the whole track swells on the chorus, it's as if they think they can overwhelm their forebears through sheer volume. And while the melody is hard to resist, the band's earnest exuberance is the glue that holds it all together. --Jason Crock
96. Gucci Mane [ft. Plies]
Gucci's music is divisive, like gangster rap should be. He is a hedonist, often emotionally detached and frequently ironic. "Wasted", though, was not an act, and, given his recent legal troubles, has a brutally sad subtext-- you know you have a substance abuse problem when you're failing piss-tests under threat of jail time. It was the party-rap hit of 2009, a track for rap fans tired of the encroaching gloss of Flo Rida's 1980s corpse-fucking formula. Fatboi's gradually layered chainsaw beat was the perfect groggy intoxicant for Gucci and Plies' slurred pitch-imperfect raps. Combined with Gucci's 50 Cent-like ability to ingrain a hook into his listeners' subconscious, and a scene-stealing quote from Plies ("I don't wear tight jeans like the white boys...") made this one of 2009's most memorable singles. It's nice to have an anti-hero again. --David Drake
95. The Thermals
"Now We Can See"
[Kill Rock Stars]
A recording studio? A band? Who needs those artifacts and ankle weights these days. During the last half of this decade, lots of young artists-- Washed Out, Toro Y Moi, Bon Iver-- retreated from full-band settings to the isolation of their consoles, computers, and bedrooms. Maybe that makes the Thermals, who recorded Now We Can See with indie production star John Congleton, Luddites, but that archaic methodology also makes the title track such a successful anthem. Up front, we get a sing-along of four repeated syllables in a hook so simple you'll know it by the time the drums-- loud and live like, you know, real drums-- enter. Then we get our backstories-- damaged kids of disparate origins. And then we hear what we hope can be our future-- a confluence of independence and solidarity. "Now we can see/ What should we need," sings Hutch Harris. "We should need nothing at all." We thank you, rock band. --Grayson Currin
94. Best Coast
"Sun Was High (So Was I)"
[Art Fag Recordings]
In all the hubbub over the 1960s suntime funtime revival this year, it was surprising to see how few female singers got involved-- that beach party was a total sausage fest, brah. Thank goodness then for Bethany Cosentino, who broke off from Pocahaunted to contribute her own project to 2009's (ugh) wave of oceanic lo-fi. "Sun Was High (So Was I)" has all the signposts of its scene: murky percussion, barbed-wire-stringed guitars, oodles of reverb. But it stands out from the pack due to Cosentino's reach-back-and-belt-it vocals, a lighthouse through the four-track fog. That passion creates girl-group echoes, although the fact that Cosentino sings alone rather than in a shimmying trio lends the song a kind of isolated sadness. Yet even a fuzzy kiss leads to another, and "Sun Was High" was a much-needed feminine breeze for the year. --Rob Mitchum
"Something is Squeezing My Skull"
After Morrissey's onstage collapse and subsequent pegging by a drink-hurling fan, Years of Refusal's muscular, defiant opener, with its worries about the star's health, feels like its most striking accomplishment. For such an aggressively upbeat glam-rock tune, the theme is melodramatically bleak-- and, to British pop fans, probably doubly familiar: Modern life is loveless. Worth it just to hear Moz list meds and then breathlessly repeat, "Don't give me anymore," at the song's conclusion. Oh, Mother, he can feel the soil falling over his head. --Marc Hogan
"I Hate My Job"
Killa Cam's career-peak infamy hung on elaborate death threats, audacious wardrobe inventories, and lyrics that used the slipperiest words possible to get his point across. "I Hate My Job" has none of those traits, and that's what makes it one of his weirdest tracks. Cam's casually audacious flow lets up on the swagger and rolls out a couple hard-luck stories dealing with 9-to-5 frustration and the even harsher realities of unemployment, and damned if it doesn't work perfectly. Not only does he capture the perspective of a stressed-out underpaid woman ("Ain't no money for new shoes or purses here/ Should've done my first career, nursing, yeah") and an ex-felon trying to join a diminished workforce, his delivery absolutely nails their emotional stress. Skitzo's piano-driven beat is deceptively uplifting, with a choral "yeah yeah yeah" refrain providing a bit of classic-soul sympathy, but it doesn't obscure the bitter realities at the core. --Nate Patrin
It's fitting that HEALTH's most melodic song to date manages to rip and rend something sweet from a grind. It's a hook that could have been fashioned from sheet metal, but adorned with wiry guitar and Jacob Duzsik's airy vocals, the cycling, jagged loop gains velocity and feels visceral yet restrained. These Smell alums obviously know how to move a sweaty, packed room; listen for the double bass-hit and the chugging, heavy riffs that make a brief appearance 10 seconds in, a paean to house parties past. What makes "Die Slow" stand out is that it's some of the best evidence yet that, after a dance remix record and road trip with Trent Reznor, these guys know how to play to a much larger room. --Patrick Sisson
#1 Club Hits 2008 - Best of Dance & Techno (New Edition)
Electronic dance music
Broad category of electronic music
Electronic dance music (EDM), also known as dance music, club music, or simply dance, is a broad range of percussive electronic music genres made largely for nightclubs, raves, and festivals. It is generally produced for playback by DJs who create seamless selections of tracks, called a DJ mix, by segueing from one recording to another. EDM producers also perform their music live in a concert or festival setting in what is sometimes called a live PA.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, following the emergence of raving, pirate radios, PartyCrews, underground festivals and an upsurge of interest in club culture, EDM achieved widespread mainstream popularity in Europe. In the United States at that time, acceptance of dance culture was not universal outside of New York City; although both electro and Chicago house music were influential both in Europe and the United States, mainstream media outlets and the record industry remained openly hostile to it. There was also a perceived association between EDM and drug culture, which led governments at state and city level to enact laws and policies intended to halt the spread of rave culture.
Subsequently, in the new millennium, the popularity of EDM increased globally, largely in the United States and Australia. By the early 2010s, the term "electronic dance music" and the initialism "EDM" was being pushed by the American music industry and music press in an effort to rebrand American rave culture. Despite the industry's attempt to create a specific EDM brand, the initialism remains in use as an umbrella term for multiple genres, including dance-pop, house, techno and electro, as well as their respective subgenres. The genre reached its peak as a dominant force in mainstream popular music in the 2010s.
See also: Electronic music and History of DJing
Various EDM genres have evolved over the last 40 years, for example; house, techno, dance-pop etc. Stylistic variation within an established EDM genre can lead to the emergence of what is called a subgenre. Hybridization, where elements of two or more genres are combined, can lead to the emergence of an entirely new genre of EDM.
See also: P-Funk
In the late 1960s bands such as Silver Apples created electronic music intended for dancing. Other early examples of music that influenced later electronic dance music include Jamaican dub music during the late 1960s to 1970s, the synthesizer-based disco music of Italian producer Giorgio Moroder in the late 1970s, and the electro-pop of Kraftwerk and Yellow Magic Orchestra in the mid-to-late 1970s.
Main article: Dub music
See also: Sound system (Jamaican) and Deejay (Jamaican)
Author Michael Veal considers dub music, a Jamaican music stemming from roots reggae and sound system culture that flourished between 1968 and 1985, to be one of the important precursors to contemporary electronic dance music. Dub productions were remixed reggae tracks that emphasized rhythm, fragmented lyrical and melodic elements, and reverberant textures. The music was pioneered by studio engineers, such as Sylvan Morris, King Tubby, Errol Thompson, Lee "Scratch" Perry, and Scientist. Their productions included forms of tape editing and sound processing that Veal considers comparable to techniques used in musique concrète. Dub producers made improvised deconstructions of existing multi-track reggae mixes by using the studio mixing board as a performance instrument. They also foregrounded spatial effects such as reverb and delay by using auxiliary send routings creatively. The Roland Space Echo, manufactured by Roland Corporation, was widely used by dub producers in the 1970s to produce echo and delay effects.
Despite the limited electronic equipment available to dub pioneers such as King Tubby and Lee "Scratch" Perry, their experiments in remix culture were musically cutting-edge.Ambient dub was pioneered by King Tubby and other Jamaican sound artists, using DJ-inspired ambient electronics, complete with drop-outs, echo, equalization and psychedelic electronic effects. It featured layering techniques and incorporated elements of world music, deep bass lines and harmonic sounds. Techniques such as a long echo delay were also used.
Main article: Hip hop music
See also: Rapping and Turntablism
Hip hop music has had some influence in the development of electronic dance music since the 1970s. Inspired by Jamaican sound system culture Jamaican-American DJ Kool Herc introduced large bass heavy speaker rigs to the Bronx. His parties are credited with having kick-started the New York City hip-hop movement in 1973. A technique developed by DJ Kool Herc that became popular in hip hop culture was playing two copies of the same record on two turntables, in alternation, and at the point where a track featured a break. This technique was further used to manually loop a purely percussive break, leading to what was later called a break beat.
Turntablism has origins in the invention of the direct-drive turntable, by Shuichi Obata, an engineer at Matsushita (now Panasonic). In 1969, Matsushita released it as the SP-10, the first direct-drive turntable on the market, and the first in their influential Technics series of turntables. The most influential turntable was the Technics SL-1200, which was developed in 1971 by a team led by Shuichi Obata at Matsushita, which then released it onto the market in 1972. In the 1980s and 1990s hip-hop DJs used turntables as musical instruments in their own right and virtuosic use developed into a creative practice called turntablism.
Main article: Disco
See also: Euro disco, Italo disco, and Hi-NRG
In 1974, George McCrae's early disco hit "Rock Your Baby" was one of the first records to use a drum machine, an early Roland rhythm machine. The use of drum machines in disco production was influenced by Sly and the Family Stone's "Family Affair" (1971), with its rhythm echoed in McCrae's "Rock Your Baby", and Timmy Thomas' "Why Can't We Live Together" (1972). Disco producer Biddu used synthesizers in several disco songs from 1976 to 1977, including "Bionic Boogie" from Rain Forest (1976), "Soul Coaxing" (1977), and Eastern Man and Futuristic Journey (recorded from 1976 to 1977).
Acts like Donna Summer, Chic, Earth, Wind, and Fire, Heatwave, and the Village People helped define the late 1970s' disco sound. In 1977, Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte produced "I Feel Love" for Donna Summer. It became the first well-known disco hit to have a completely synthesized backing track. Other disco producers, most famously American producer Tom Moulton, grabbed ideas and techniques from dub music (which came with the increased Jamaican migration to New York City in the 1970s) to provide alternatives to the four-on-the-floor style that dominated. During the early 1980s, the popularity of disco music sharply declined in the United States, abandoned by major US record labels and producers. Euro disco continued evolving within the broad mainstream pop music scene.
Main article: Synth-pop
See also: New wave music, Electropop, Minimal wave, and City pop
Synth-pop (short for 'synthesizer pop'; also called 'techno-pop') is a subgenre of new wave music that first became prominent in the late 1970s and features the synthesizer as the dominant musical instrument. It was prefigured in the 1960s and early 1970s by the use of synthesizers in progressive rock, electronic, art rock, disco, and particularly the "Krautrock" of bands like Kraftwerk. It arose as a distinct genre in Japan and the United Kingdom in the post-punk era as part of the new wave movement of the late 1970s to the mid-1980s.
Early synth-pop pioneers included Japanese group Yellow Magic Orchestra, and British bands Ultravox, the Human League and Berlin Blondes. The Human League used monophonic synthesizers to produce music with a simple and austere sound. After the breakthrough of Gary Numan in the UK Singles Chart in 1979, large numbers of artists began to enjoy success with a synthesizer-based sound in the early 1980s, including late-1970s debutants like Japan and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, and newcomers such as Depeche Mode and Eurythmics. In Japan, Yellow Magic Orchestra's success opened the way for synth-pop bands such as P-Model, Plastics, and Hikashu. The development of inexpensive polyphonic synthesizers, the definition of MIDI and the use of dance beats, led to a more commercial and accessible sound for synth-pop. This, its adoption by the style-conscious acts from the New Romantic movement, together with the rise of MTV, led to success for large numbers of British synth-pop acts (including Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet) in the United States.
The use of digital sampling and looping in popular music was pioneered by Japanese electronic music band Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO). Their approach to sampling was a precursor to the contemporary approach of constructing music by cutting fragments of sounds and looping them using computer technology. "Computer Game/Firecracker" (1978) interpolated a Martin Denny melody, and sampled Space Invadersvideo game sounds.Technodelic (1981) introduced the use of digital sampling in popular music, as the first album consisting of mostly samples and loops. The album was produced using Toshiba-EMI's LMD-649 digital PCMsampler, which engineer Kenji Murata custom-built for YMO. The LMD-649 was also used for sampling by other Japanese synthpop artists in the early 1980s, including YMO-associated acts such as Chiemi Manabe and Logic System.
Dance music in the 1980s
See also: New school hip hop, Miami bass, Freestyle music, Hip house, Latin house, and Industrial dance music
The emergence of electronic dance music in the 1980s was shaped by the development of several new electronic musical instruments, particularly those from the Japanese Roland Corporation. The Roland TR-808 (often abbreviated as the "808") notably played an important role in the evolution of dance music, after Afrika Bambaataa's "Planet Rock" (1982), made it very popular on dancefloors. The track, which also featured the melody line from Kraftwerk's Trans-Europe Express, informed the development of electronic dance music, and subgenres including Miami bass and Detroit techno, and popularized the 808 as a "fundamental element of futuristic sound". According to Slate, "Planet Rock" "didn't so much put the 808 on the map so much as reorient an entire world of post-disco dance music around it". The Roland TR-909, TB-303 and Juno-60 similarly influenced electronic dance music such as techno, house and acid.
Main article: Post-disco
See also: Boogie (genre)
During the post-disco era that followed the backlash against "disco" which began in the mid to late 1979, which in the United States lead to civil unrest and a riot in Chicago known as the Disco Demolition Night, an underground movement of "stripped-down" disco inspired music featuring "radically different sounds" started to emerge on the East Coast.[Note 1] This new scene was seen primarily in the New York metropolitan area and was initially led by the urban contemporary artists that were responding to the over-commercialization and subsequent demise of disco culture. The sound that emerged originated from P-Funk the electronic side of disco, dub music, and other genres. Much of the music produced during this time was, like disco, catering to a singles-driven market. At this time creative control started shifting to independent record companies, less established producers, and club DJs. Other dance styles that began to become popular during the post-disco era include dance-pop,boogie,electro, Hi-NRG, Italo disco, house, and techno.
Main article: Electro (music)
In the early 1980s, electro (short for "electro-funk") emerged as a fusion of electro-pop, funk, and boogie. Also called electro-funk or electro-boogie, but later shortened to electro, cited pioneers include Ryuichi Sakamoto, Afrika Bambaataa,Zapp,D.Train, and Sinnamon. Early hip hop and rap combined with German and Japanese electropop influences such as Kraftwerk and Yellow Magic Orchestra inspired the birth of electro. As the electronic sound developed, instruments such as the bass guitar and drums were replaced by synthesizers and most notably by iconic drum machines, particularly the Roland TR-808 and the Yamaha DX7. Early uses of the TR-808 include several Yellow Magic Orchestra tracks in 1980–1981, the 1982 track "Planet Rock" by Afrika Bambaataa, and the 1982 song "Sexual Healing" by Marvin Gaye. In 1982, producer Arthur Baker, with Afrika Bambaataa, released the seminal "Planet Rock", which was influenced by Yellow Magic Orchestra, used Kraftwerk samples, and had drum beats supplied by the TR-808. Planet Rock was followed later that year by another breakthrough electro record, "Nunk" by Warp 9. In 1983, Hashim created an electro-funk sound with "Al-Naafyish (The Soul)" that influenced Herbie Hancock, resulting in his hit single "Rockit" the same year. The early 1980s were electro's mainstream peak. According to author Steve Taylor, Afrika Bambaataa's Planet Rock serves as a "template for all interesting dance music since".
Main article: House music
See also: Chicago house, Garage house, and Deep house
In the early 1980s, Chicago radio jocks The Hot Mix 5 and club DJs Ron Hardy and Frankie Knuckles played various styles of dance music, including older disco records (mostly Philly disco and Salsoul tracks), electro funk tracks by artists such as Afrika Bambaataa, newer Italo disco, B-Boyhip hop music by Man Parrish, Jellybean Benitez, Arthur Baker, and John Robie, and electronic pop music by Kraftwerk and Yellow Magic Orchestra. Some made and played their own edits of their favorite songs on reel-to-reel tape, and sometimes mixed in effects, drum machines, and other rhythmic electronic instrumentation. The hypnotic electronic dance song "On and On", produced in 1984 by Chicago DJ Jesse Saunders and co-written by Vince Lawrence, had elements that became staples of the early house sound, such as the Roland TB-303bass synthesizer and minimal vocals as well as a Roland (specifically TR-808) drum machine and Korg (specifically Poly-61) synthesizer.
"On and On" is sometimes cited as the 'first house record', though other examples from around that time, such as J.M. Silk's "Music is the Key" (1985), have also been cited. House music quickly spread to American cities including New York City, and Newark, and Detroit—all of which developed their own regional scenes. In the mid-to-late 1980s, house music became popular in Europe as well as major cities in South America, and Australia. Chicago House experienced some commercial success in Europe with releases such as "House Nation" by House Master Boyz and the Rude Boy of House (1987). Following this, a number of house inspired releases such as "Pump Up The Volume" by M|A|R|R|S (1987), "Theme from S'Express" by S'Express (1988), and "Doctorin' the House" by Coldcut (1988) entered the pop charts.
The electronic instrumentation and minimal arrangement of Charanjit Singh's Synthesizing: Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat (1982), an album of Indian ragas performed in a disco style, anticipated the sounds of acid house music, but it is not known to have had any influence on the genre prior to the album's rediscovery in the 21st century.
Techno, acid house, rave
Main articles: Techno and Acid house
See also: Detroit techno, Electronic body music, Balearic house, and Second Summer of Love
In the mid 1980s house music thrived on the small Balearic Island of Ibiza, Spain. The Balearic sound was the spirit of the music emerging from the island at that time; the combination of old vinyl rock, pop, reggae, and disco records paired with an "anything goes" attitude made Ibiza a hub of drug-induced musical experimentation. A club called Amnesia, whose resident DJ, Alfredo Fiorito, pioneered Balearic house, was the center of the scene. Amnesia became known across Europe and by the mid to late 1980s it was drawing people from all over the continent.
By 1988, house music had become the most popular form of club music in Europe, with acid house developing as a notable trend in the UK and Germany in the same year. In the UK an established warehouse party subculture, centered on the British African-Caribbeansound system scene fueled underground after-parties that featured dance music exclusively. Also in 1988, the Balearic party vibe associated with Ibiza's DJ Alfredo was transported to London, when Danny Rampling and Paul Oakenfold opened the clubs Shoom and Spectrum, respectively. Both places became synonymous with acid house, and it was during this period that MDMA gained prominence as a party drug. Other important UK clubs included Back to Basics in Leeds, Sheffield's Leadmill and Music Factory, and The Haçienda in Manchester, where Mike Pickering and Graeme Park's spot, Nude, was an important proving ground for American underground dance music.[Note 1] The success of house and acid house paved the way for Detroit Techno, a style that was initially supported by a handful of house music clubs in Chicago, New York, and Northern England, with Detroit clubs catching up later. The term Techno first came into use after a release of a 10 Records/Virgin Records compilation titled Techno: The Dance Sound of Detroit in 1988.
One of the first Detroit productions to receive wider attention was Derrick May's "Strings of Life" (1987), which, together with May's previous release, "Nude Photo" (1987), helped raise techno's profile in Europe, especially the UK and Germany, during the 1987–1988 house music boom (see Second Summer of Love). It became May's best-known track, which, according to Frankie Knuckles, "just exploded. It was like something you can't imagine, the kind of power and energy people got off that record when it was first heard. Mike Dunn says he has no idea how people can accept a record that doesn't have a bassline." According to British DJ Mark Moore, "Strings of Life" led London club-goers to accept house: "because most people hated house music and it was all rare groove and hip hop...I'd play 'Strings of Life' at the Mudd Club and clear the floor".[Note 2] By the late 1980s interest in house, acid house and techno escalated in the club scene and MDMA-fueled club-goers, who were faced with a 2 a.m. closing time in the UK, started to seek after-hours refuge at all-night warehouse parties. Within a year, in summer 1989, up to 25,000 people at a time were attending commercially organised underground parties called raves.
Dance music in the 1990s
See also: Progressive house, Tech house, Minimal techno, Trance music, Intelligent dance music, Eurodance, Ghetto house, Hardcore (electronic dance music genre), and Digital hardcore
Main article: Trance music
See also: Goa trance, Psychedelic trance, Progressive trance, and Uplifting trance
Trance emerged from the rave scene in the United Kingdom in the late 1980s and developed further during the early 1990s in Germany before spreading throughout the rest of Europe, as a more melodic offshoot from techno and house. At the same time trance music was developing in Europe, the genre was also gathering a following in the Indian state of Goa. Trance is mostly instrumental, although vocals can be mixed in: typically they are performed by mezzo-soprano to soprano female soloists, often without a traditional verse/chorus structure. Structured vocal form in trance music forms the basis of the vocal trance subgenre, which has been described as "grand, soaring, and operatic" and "ethereal female leads floating amongst the synths". Trance music is broken into a number of subgenres including acid trance, classic trance, hard trance, progressive trance, and uplifting trance.Uplifting trance is also known as "anthem trance", "epic trance", "commercial trance", "stadium trance", or "euphoric trance", and has been strongly influenced by classical music in the 1990s and 2000s by leading artists such as Ferry Corsten, Armin Van Buuren, Tiësto, Push, Rank 1 and at present with the development of the subgenre "orchestral uplifting trance" or "uplifting trance with symphonic orchestra" by such artists as Andy Blueman, Ciro Visone, Soundlift, Arctic Moon, Sergey Nevone&Simon O'Shine etc. Closely related to Uplifting Trance is Euro-trance, which has become a general term for a wide variety of highly commercialized European dance music. Several subgenres are crossovers with other major genres of electronic music. For instance, Tech trance is a mixture of trance and techno, and Vocal trance "combines [trance's] progressive elements with pop music". The dream trance genre originated in the mid-1990s, with its popularity then led by Robert Miles.
AllMusic states on progressive trance: "the progressive wing of the trance crowd led directly to a more commercial, chart-oriented sound since trance had never enjoyed much chart action in the first place. Emphasizing the smoother sound of Eurodance or house (and occasionally more reminiscent of Jean-Michel Jarre than Basement Jaxx), Progressive Trance became the sound of the world's dance floors by the end of the millennium. Critics ridiculed its focus on predictable breakdowns and relative lack of skill to beat-mix, but progressive trance was caned by the hottest DJ."
Breakbeat hardcore, jungle, drum and bass
Main articles: Jungle music, Drum and bass, and Breakbeat hardcore
See also: History of drum and bass, UK garage, Breakbeat, and Breakcore
By the early 1990s, a style of music developed within the rave scene that had an identity distinct from American house and techno. This music, much like hip-hop before it, combined sampled syncopated beats or breakbeats, other samples from a wide range of different musical genres, and, occasionally, samples of music, dialogue, and effects from films and television programmes. Relative to earlier styles of dance music such as house and techno, so-called 'rave music' tended to emphasise bass sounds and use faster tempos, or beats per minute (BPM). This subgenre was known as "hardcore" rave, but from as early as 1991, some musical tracks made up of these high-tempo breakbeats, with heavy basslines and samples of older Jamaican music, were referred to as "jungle techno", a genre influenced by Jack Smooth and Basement Records, and later just "jungle", which became recognized as a separate musical genre popular at raves and on pirate radio in Britain. It is important to note when discussing the history of drum & bass that prior to jungle, rave music was getting faster and more experimental.
By 1994, jungle had begun to gain mainstream popularity, and fans of the music (often referred to as junglists) became a more recognisable part of youth subculture. The genre further developed, incorporating and fusing elements from a wide range of existing musical genres, including the raggamuffin sound, dancehall, MC chants, dub basslines, and increasingly complex, heavily edited breakbeat percussion. Despite the affiliation with the ecstasy-fuelled rave scene, Jungle also inherited some associations with violence and criminal activity, both from the gang culture that had affected the UK's hip-hop scene and as a consequence of jungle's often aggressive or menacing sound and themes of violence (usually reflected in the choice of samples). However, this developed in tandem with the often positive reputation of the music as part of the wider rave scene and dance hall-based Jamaican music culture prevalent in London. By 1995, whether as a reaction to, or independently of this cultural schism, some jungle producers began to move away from the ragga-influenced style and create what would become collectively labelled, for convenience, as drum and bass.
Dance music in the 21st century
See also: Bass music, Crunk, Trap music, Trap music (EDM), Footwork (genre), Electroclash, Hardstyle, Moombahton, and Microgenres
Main article: Dubstep
Dubstep is a genre of electronic dance music that originated in South London in the late 1990s. It is generally characterized by sparse, syncopated rhythmic patterns with bass lines that contain prominent sub-bass frequencies. The style emerged as an offshoot of UK garage, drawing on a lineage of related styles such as 2-step, dub reggae, jungle, broken beat, and grime. In the United Kingdom, the origins of the genre can be traced back to the growth of the Jamaican sound system party scene in the early 1980s.
The earliest known dubstep releases date back to 1998, and were usually featured as B-sides of 2-step garage single releases. These tracks were darker, more experimental remixes with less emphasis on vocals, and attempted to incorporate elements of breakbeat and drum and bass into 2-step. In 2001, this and other strains of dark garage music began to be showcased and promoted at London's nightclub Plastic People, at the "Forward" night (sometimes stylised as FWD>>), which went on to be considered influential to the development of dubstep. The term "dubstep" in reference to a genre of music began to be used around 2002 by labels such as Big Apple, Ammunition, and Tempa, by which time stylistic trends used in creating these remixes started to become more noticeable and distinct from 2-step and grime.
Main article: Electro house
Electro house is a form of house music characterized by a prominent bassline or kick drum and a tempo between 125 and 135 beats per minute, usually 128. Its origins were influenced by electro,electroclash, The term has been used to describe the music of many DJ Mag Top 100 DJs, including Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Hardwell, Skrillex, and Steve Aoki. Italian DJ Benny Benassi, with his track "Satisfaction" released in 2002, is seen as the forerunner of electro-house who brought it to the mainstream. By the mid 2000s, electro-house saw an increase in popularity, with hits such as the Tom Neville remix of Studio B's I See Girls in 2005 (UK #11). In November 2006, electro-house tracks "Put Your Hands Up For Detroit" by Fedde Le Grand and the D. Ramirez remix of "Yeah Yeah" by Bodyrox and Luciana held the number one and number two spots, respectively, in the UK Top 40 singles charts. Since then, electro-house producers such as Feed Me, Knife Party, The M Machine, Porter Robinson, Yasutaka Nakata and Dada Life have emerged.
Trap music (EDM)
Main article: Trap music (EDM)
Trap music (EDM) originated from techno, dub, and Dutch House, but also from Southern hip hop in the late 2000s and early 2010s. This form of trap music can be simplified by these three features: "1/3 hip hop (tempo and song structure are similar, most tracks are usually between 70–110 bpm) – with vocals sometimes being pitched down, 1/3 dance music – high-pitched Dutch synth work, Hardstyle sampling, as well as a plethora of trap remixes of popular EDM songs, and 1/3 dub (low-frequency focus and strong emphasis on repetitiveness throughout a song)". Some of the artist that popularized this genre, along with several others, would-be producers such as RL Grime with the tracks "Core" and "Scylla" released in 2014, Flosstradamus with their "Hdynation Radio" album released in 2015 and Carnage (DJ) with his track "Turn Up" released in 2012. Trap music in this connotation was characterized by "soulful synths, 808s, the pan flute, sharp snares and long, syrup-slurred vowels" which created dirty and aggressive beats resulting in "dark melodies" Trap is now mainly used as remixes.
The earliest use of the term "electronic dance music" (EDM) was by English musician, producer, manager, and innovator Richard James Burgess in 1980, whose single "European Man" with his band Landscape used the term on the back of the single's record sleeve: "Electronic Dance Music... EDM; computer programmed to perfection for your listening pleasure." Burgess is therefore known as having coined the term, as well as "New Romantic". In response to a question about being credited with coining the term New Romantic in an interview with The Electricity Club, Burgess said: "Initially I was using three terms – Futurist, Electronic Dance Music (the Landscape singles have EDM printed on them) and New Romantic." In the United States, the term was used as early as 1985, although the term "dance music" did not catch on as a blanket term. Writing in The Guardian, journalist Simon Reynolds noted that the American music industry's adoption of the term EDM in the late 2000s was an attempt to re-brand US "rave culture" and differentiate it from the 1990s rave scene. It has been described as an era of electronic music, being described in a MixMag article as being "the drop-heavy, stadium-filling, fist-pumping, chart-topping, massively commercial main stage sound that conquered America...possibly somewhere between electro and progressive house, directed by Michael Bay, and like many music genres, trying to pin it down exactly is like trying to grab a fistful of water". In the UK, "dance music" or "dance" are more common terms for EDM. What is widely perceived to be "club music" has changed over time; it now includes different genres and may not always encompass EDM. Similarly, "electronic dance music" can mean different things to different people. Both "club music" and "EDM" seem vague, but the terms are sometimes used to refer to distinct and unrelated genres (club music is defined by what is popular, whereas EDM is distinguished by musical attributes). Though Billboard debuted a "dance" chart in 1974, the larger US music industry did not create music charts until the late 1990s. In July 1995, Nervous Records and Project X Magazine hosted the first awards ceremony, calling it the "Electronic Dance Music Awards".[Note 4]
Electronic dance music is generally composed and produced in a recording studio with specialized equipment such as samplers, synthesizers, effects units and MIDI controllers all set up to interact with one another using the MIDI protocol. In the genre's early days, hardware electronic musical instruments were used and the focus in production was mainly on manipulating MIDI data as opposed to manipulating audio signals. Since the late 1990s, the use of software has increased. A modern electronic music production studio generally consists of a computer running a digital audio workstation (DAW), with various plug-ins installed such as software synthesizers and effects units, which are controlled with a MIDI controller such as a MIDI keyboard. This setup is generally sufficient to complete entire productions, which are then ready for mastering.
A ghost producer is a hired music producer in a business arrangement who produces a song for another DJ/artist that releases it as their own, typically under a contract which prevents them from identifying themselves as a personnel of the song. Ghost producers receive a simple fee or royalty payments for their work and are often able to work in their preference of not having the intense pressure of fame and the lifestyle of an internationally recognized DJ. A ghost producer may increase their notability in the music industry by acquainting with established "big name" DJs and producers. Producers like Martin Garrix and Porter Robinson are often noted for their ghost production work for other producers while David Guetta and Steve Aoki are noted for their usage of ghost producers in their songs whereas DJs like Tiësto have been openly crediting their producers in an attempt to avoid censure and for transparency.
Many ghost producers sign agreements that prevent them from working for anyone else or establishing themselves as a solo artist. Such non-disclosure agreements are often noted as predatory because ghost producers, especially teenage producers, do not have an understanding of the music industry. London producer Mat Zo has alleged that DJs who hire ghost producers "have pretended to make their own music and [left] us actual producers to struggle".
A bedroom producer is an independent musician who creates electronic music on their laptop or in a home studio. Unlike in traditional recording studios, bedroom producers typically use low-cost, accessible software and equipment which can lead to music being created completely "in the box," with no external hardware.
See also: Beacham Theater § Late Night era: (1988–1994) Aahz
Initially, the popularization of electronic dance music was associated with European rave and club culture and it achieved limited popular exposure in America. By the mid-to-late 1990s this began to change as the American music industry made efforts to market a range of dance genres as "electronica". At the time, a wave of electronic music bands from the UK, including The Prodigy, The Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim and Underworld, had been prematurely associated with an "American electronica revolution". But rather than finding mainstream success, many established EDM acts were relegated to the margins of the US industry. In 1998 Madonna's Ray of Light, an album heavily influenced by club music trends and produced with British producer William Orbit, brought dance music to the attention of popular music listeners. In the late 1990s, despite US media interest in dance music re-branded as electronica, American house and techno producers continued to travel abroad to establish their careers as DJs and producers.
By the mid-2000s, Dutch producer Tiësto was bringing worldwide popular attention to EDM after providing a soundtrack to the entry of athletes during the opening ceremony of the 2004 Summer Olympics — an event which The Guardian deemed as one of the 50 most important events in dance music. In 2003, the influence of dance music on American radio resulted in Billboard creating the first-ever Dance/Mix Show Airplay chart. By 2005, the prominence of dance music in North American popular culture had markedly increased. According to Spin, Daft Punk's performance at Coachella in 2006 was the "tipping point" for EDM—it introduced the duo to a new generation of "rock kids". As noted by Entertainment Weekly, Justin Timberlake's "SexyBack" helped introduce EDM sounds to top 40 radio, as it brought together variations of electronic dance music with the singer's R&B sounds. In 2009, French house musician David Guetta began to gain prominence in mainstream pop music thanks to several crossover hits on Top 40 charts such as "When Love Takes Over" with Kelly Rowland, as well as his collaborations with US pop and hip hop acts such as Akon ("Sexy Bitch") and The Black Eyed Peas ("I Gotta Feeling"). The music sharing website SoundCloud, as well as the video sharing website YouTube, also helped fuel interest in electronic music. Dubstep producer Skrillex popularized a harsher sound dubbed "Brostep", which had drawn comparisons to the aggression and tone of heavy metal.
With the increasing popularity of electronic dance music, promoters and venues realized that DJs could generate larger profits than traditional musicians; Diplo explained that "a band plays [for] 45 minutes; DJs can play for four hours. Rock bands—there's a few headliner dudes that can play 3,000–4,000-capacity venues, but DJs play the same venues, they turn the crowd over two times, people buy drinks all night long at higher prices—it's a win-win." Electronic music festivals, such as Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) in Las Vegas and Ultra Music Festival in Miami also grew in size, placing an increased emphasis on visual experiences, and DJs who had begun to attain a celebrity status. Other major acts that gained prominence, including Avicii and Swedish House Mafia, toured major venues such as arenas and stadiums rather than playing clubs; in December 2011, Swedish House Mafia became the first electronic music act to sell out New York City's Madison Square Garden.
In 2011, Spin declared a "new rave generation" led by acts like David Guetta, Deadmau5, and Skrillex. In January 2013, Billboard introduced a new EDM-focused Dance/Electronic Songs chart, tracking the top 50 electronic songs based on sales, radio airplay, club play, and online streaming. According to Eventbrite, EDM fans are more likely to use social media to discover and share events or gigs. They also discovered that 78% of fans say they are more likely to attend an event if their peers do, compared to 43% of fans in general. EDM has many young and social fans. By late 2011, Music Trades was describing electronic dance music as the fastest-growing genre in the world. Elements of electronic music also became increasingly prominent in pop music. Radio and television also contributed to dance music's mainstream acceptance.
US corporate interest
Corporate consolidation in the EDM industry began in 2012—especially in terms of live events. In June 2012, media executive Robert F. X. Sillerman—founder of what is now Live Nation—re-launched SFX Entertainment as an EDM conglomerate, and announced his plan to invest $1 billion to acquire EDM businesses. His acquisitions included regional promoters and festivals (including ID&T, which organises Tomorrowland), two nightclub operators in Miami, and Beatport, an online music store which focuses on electronic music. Live Nation also acquired Cream Holdings and Hard Events, and announced a "creative partnership" with EDC organizers Insomniac Events in 2013 that would allow it to access its resources whilst remaining an independent company; Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino described EDM as the "[new] rock 'n' roll".
US radio conglomerate iHeartMedia, Inc. (formerly Clear Channel Media and Entertainment) also made efforts to align itself with EDM. In January 2014 It hired noted British DJ and BBC Radio 1 personality Pete Tong to produce programming for its "Evolution" dance radio brand, and announced a partnership with SFX to co-produce live concerts and EDM-oriented original programming for its top 40 radio stations. iHeartMedia president John Sykes explained that he wanted his company's properties to be the "best destination [for EDM]".
Major brands have also used the EDM phenomena as a means of targeting millennials and EDM songs and artists have increasingly been featured in television commercials and programs. Avicii's manager Ash Pournouri compared these practices to the commercialization of hip-hop in the early 2000s.Heineken has a marketing relationship with the Ultra Music Festival, and has incorporated Dutch producers Armin van Buuren and Tiësto into its ad campaigns. Anheuser-Busch has a similar relationship as beer sponsor of SFX Entertainment events. In 2014, 7 Up launched "7x7Up"—a multi-platform EDM-based campaign that includes digital content, advertising featuring producers, and branded stages at both Ultra and Electric Daisy Carnival. Wireless carrier T-Mobile US entered into an agreement with SFX to become the official wireless sponsor of its events, and partnered with Above & Beyond to sponsor its 2015 tour.
In August 2015, SFX began to experience declines in its value, and a failed bid by CEO Sillerman to take the company private. The company began looking into strategic alternatives that could have resulted in the sale of the company. In October 2015, Forbes declared the possibility of an EDM "bubble", in the wake of the declines at SFX Entertainment, slowing growth in revenue, the increasing costs of organizing festivals and booking talent, as well as an oversaturation of festivals in the eastern and western United States. Insomniac CEO Pasquale Rotella felt that the industry would weather the financial uncertainty of the overall market by focusing on "innovation" and entering into new markets. Despite forecasts that interest in popular EDM would wane, in 2015 it was estimated to be a £5.5bn industry in the US, up by 60% compared to 2012 estimates.
SFX emerged from bankruptcy in December 2016 as LiveStyle, under the leadership of Randy Phillips, a former executive of AEG Live.
In 2020 LiveStyle entered its final phase of restoring the original owners of the companies acquired during the SFX reign or selling them. Northeast EDM promotor React Presents was sold to LiveXLive and Donnie bought his company, Disco Donnie Presents, back from LiveStyle.
Criticism of over-commercialization
Following the popularization of EDM in America a number of producers and DJs, including Carl Cox, Steve Lawler, and Markus Schulz, raised concerns that the perceived over-commercialisation of dance music had impacted the "art" of DJing. Cox saw the "press-play" approach taken by newer EDM DJs as unrepresentative of what he called a "DJ ethos". Writing in Mixmag, DJ Tim Sheridan argued that "push-button DJs" who use auto-sync and play pre-recorded sets of "obvious hits" resulted in a situation overtaken by "the spectacle, money and the showbiz".
Some house producers openly admitted that "commercial" EDM needed further differentiation and creativity. Avicii, whose 2013 album True featured songs incorporating elements of bluegrass, such as lead single "Wake Me Up", stated that most EDM lacked "longevity". Deadmau5 criticized the homogenization of popular EDM, and suggested that it "all sounds the same". During the 2014 Ultra Music Festival, Deadmau5 made critical comments about up-and-coming EDM artist Martin Garrix and later played an edited version of Garrix's "Animals" remixed to the melody of "Old McDonald Had a Farm". Afterwards, Tiësto criticized Deadmau5 on Twitter for "sarcastically" mixing Avicii's "Levels" with his own "Ghosts 'n' Stuff".
In May 2014, the NBC comedy series Saturday Night Live parodied the stereotypes of EDM culture and push-button DJs in a Digital Short titled When Will the Bass Drop?. It featured a DJ who goes about performing everyday activities—playing a computer game, frying eggs, collecting money—who then presses a giant "BASS" button, which explodes the heads of concertgoers.
After years of rapid growth, the American popular EDM market started to wane in 2016 when a number of artists famous for producing so-called 'big room' electro-house started to diversify stylistically. This development was directly referenced by two such DJs – David Guetta and Showtek – in a techno-influenced single released in April 2016 titled 'The Death of EDM'. By the end of the 2010s, EDM's position as the dominant force in mainstream popular music began to plateau as it became displaced by other styles.
In May 2015, the International Music Summit's Business Report estimated that the global electronic music industry had reached nearly $6.9 billion in value; the count included music sales, events revenue (including nightclubs and festivals), the sale of DJ equipment and software, and other sources of revenue. The report also identified several emerging markets for electronic dance music, including East Asia, India, and South Africa, credited primarily to investment by domestic, as well as American and European interests. A number of major festivals also began expanding into Latin America.
In Ghana, West Africa, an artist named Djsky introduced EDM in 2015–present and organised successful festivals and events such as Hey Ibiza, Sunset music Festival, Sky show and more. In an interview with WatsUp TV, Djsky revealed he was the first to introduce Electronic Music Dance into Ghana music.
In Ethiopia EDM has become part of mainstream music after the 2018 breakthrough of a young artist named Rophnan which incorporated EDM sound with traditional rhythms and melodies. In his shows, tens of thousands of youth were packing stadiums across the country and radios started to play the emerging genre.
China is a market where EDM had initially made relatively few inroads; although promoters believed that the mostly instrumental music would remove a metaphorical language barrier, the growth of EDM in China was hampered by the lack of a prominent rave culture in the country as in other regions, as well as the popularity of domestic Chinese pop over foreign artists. Former Universal Music executive Eric Zho, inspired by the US growth, made the first significant investments in electronic music in China, including the organisation of Shanghai's inaugural Storm festival in 2013, the reaching of a title sponsorship deal for the festival with Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser brand, a local talent search, and organising collaborations between EDM producers and Chinese singers, such as Avicii and Wang Leehom's "Lose Myself". In the years following, a larger number of EDM events began to appear in China, and Storm itself was also preceded by a larger number of pre-parties in 2014 than its inaugural year. A new report released during the inaugural International Music Summit China in October 2015 revealed that the Chinese EDM industry was experiencing modest gains, citing the larger number of events (including new major festival brands such as Modern Sky and YinYang), a 6% increase in the sales of electronic music in the country, and the significant size of the overall market. Zho also believed that the country's "hands-on" political climate, as well as investments by China into cultural events, helped in "encouraging" the growth of EDM in the country.
Main article: List of electronic music festivals
In the 1980s, electronic dance music was often played at illegal underground rave parties held in secret locations, for example, warehouses, abandoned aircraft hangars, fields and any other large, open areas. In the 1990s and 2000s, aspects of the underground rave culture of the 1980s and early 1990s began to evolve into legitimate, organized EDM concerts and festivals. Major festivals often feature a large number of acts representing various EDM genres spread across multiple stages. Festivals have placed a larger emphasis on visual spectacles as part of their overall experiences, including elaborate stage designs with underlying thematics, complex lighting systems, laser shows, and pyrotechnics. Rave fashion also evolved among attendees, which The Guardian described as progressing from the 1990s "kandi raver" to "[a] slick and sexified yet also kitschy-surreal image midway between Venice Beach and Cirque du Soleil, Willy Wonka and a gay pride parade". These events differed from underground raves by their organized nature, often taking place at major venues, and measures to ensure the health and safety of attendees.MTV's Rawley Bornstein described electronic music as "the new rock and roll", as has Lollapalooza organizer Perry Ferrell.
Ray Waddell of Billboard noted that festival promoters have done an excellent job at branding. Larger festivals have been shown to have positive economic impacts on their host cities the 2014 Ultra Music Festival brought 165,000 attendees—and over $223 million—to the Miami/South Florida region's economy. The inaugural edition of TomorrowWorld—a US-based version of Belgium's Tomorrowland festival, brought $85.1 million to the Atlanta area—as much revenue as its hosting of the NCAA Final Four (the national championship of US college basketball) earlier in the year. EDC Las Vegas boosted the Clark County economy by $350.3 million in 2015 alone, with over 405,000 attendees across three days (June 19–21). The popularity of EDM and festivals also led some multi-genre festivals not strongly associated with electronic music, such as Coachella and Lollapalooza, to add more electronic acts to their lineup. They often play EDM-specific stages, but major acts such as Deadmau5 and Calvin Harris have made overall headlining appearances on the main stages of Lollapalooza and Coachella respectively—placements that are typically associated with rock and alternative.Russell Smith of The Globe and Mail felt that the commercial festival industry was an antithesis to the original principles of the rave subculture, citing "the expensive tickets, the giant corporate sponsors, the crass bro culture—shirtless muscle boys who cruise the stadiums, tiny popular girls in bikinis who ride on their shoulders – not to mention the sappy music itself." Drug-related incidents, as well as other complaints surrounding the behaviour of their attendees, have contributed to negative perceptions and opposition to electronic music events by local authorities.
After Ultra Music Festival 2014, where a crowd of gatecrashers trampled a security guard on its first day, Miami's city commissioners considered banning the festival from being held in the city, citing the trampling incident, lewd behavior, and complaints by downtown residents of being harassed by attendees. The commissioners voted to allow Ultra to continue being held in Miami due to its positive economic effects, under the condition that its organizers address security, drug usage and lewd behavior by attendees. In 2018, after continued concerns, the commissioners voted to bar the festival from being held in Bayfront Park and downtown Miami, but subsequently approved a proposal to move the event to one of Miami's barrier islands, Virginia Key. Following the festival, which was impacted by transportation issues (as there is only one vehicular link between Virginia Key and mainland Miami) and other problems, Ultra pulled out of the agreement, and negotiated an agreement to return to Bayfront Park.
Association with recreational drug use
See also: Club drug, Party pills, MDMA, 2C-B, 4-MA, Cannabis, Cocaine, GHB, DMT, LSD, Ketamine, Amphetamine, Benzylpiperazine, and Benzodiazepine
Dance music has a long association with recreational drug use, particularly with a wide range of drugs that have been categorized under the name "club drugs". Russell Smith noted that the association of drugs and music subcultures was by no means exclusive to electronic music, citing previous examples of music genres that were associated with certain drugs, such as psychedelic rock and LSD, disco music and cocaine, and punk music and heroin.
Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), also known as ecstasy, "E", or "Molly", is often considered the drug of choice within the rave culture and is also used at clubs, festivals and house parties. In the rave environment, the sensory effects from the music and lighting are often highly synergistic with the drug. The psychedelic amphetamine quality of MDMA offers multiple reasons for its appeals to users in the "rave" setting. Some users enjoy the feeling of mass communion from the inhibition-reducing effects of the drug, while others use it as party fuel because of the drug's stimulatory effects. Another drug para-Methoxyamphetamine (4-MA) also known as pink ecstasy, PMA, "Death" or "Dr. Death", it is similar to MDMA but they can take up to an hour to produce effects, which can result in hyperthermia and subsequently, organ failure. People who take PMA are often mistaken for it being identified as MDMA.
MDMA is occasionally known for being taken in conjunction with psychedelic drugs. The more common combinations include MDMA combined with LSD, MDMA combined with DMT, MDMA with psilocybin mushrooms, and MDMA with the disassociative drug ketamine. Many users use mentholated products while taking MDMA for its cooling sensation while experiencing the drug's effects. Examples include menthol cigarettes, Vicks VapoRub, NyQuil, and lozenges.
The incidence of nonmedical ketamine has increased in the context of raves and other parties. However, its emergence as a club drug differs from other club drugs (e.g. MDMA) due to its anesthetic properties (e.g., slurred speech, immobilization) at higher doses; in addition, there are reports of ketamine being sold as "ecstasy". The use of ketamine as part of a "postclubbing experience" has also been documented. Ketamine's rise in the dance culture was rapid in Hong Kong by the end of the 1990s. Before becoming a federally controlled substance in the United States in 1999, ketamine was available as diverted pharmaceutical preparations and as a pure powder sold in bulk quantities from domestic chemical supply companies. Much of the current ketamine diverted for nonmedical use originates in China and India.
Drug-related deaths at electronic dance music events
A number of deaths attributed to apparent drug use have occurred at major electronic music concerts and festivals. The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum blacklisted Insomniac Events after an underaged attendee died from "complications of ischemic encephalopathy due to methylenedioxymethamphetamine intoxication" during Electric Daisy Carnival 2010; as a result, the event was re-located to Las Vegas the following year. Drug-related deaths during Electric Zoo 2013 in New York City, United States, and Future Music Festival Asia 2014 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, prompted the final day of both events to be cancelled, while Life in Color cancelled a planned event in Malaysia out of concern for the incident at Future Music Festival Asia and other drug-related deaths that occurred at the A State of Trance 650 concerts in Jakarta, Indonesia.
In September 2016, the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina banned all electronic music events, pending future legislation, after five drug-related deaths and four injuries at a Time Warp Festival event in the city in April 2016. The ban forced electronic band Kraftwerk to cancel a planned concert in the city, despite arguing that there were dissimilarities between a festival and their concerts.
|BRIT Awards||British Dance Act||1994–2004||The BRIT awards in the UK introduced a "British Dance Act" category in 1994, first won by M People. Although dance acts had featured in the awards in previous years, this was the first year dance music was given its own category. More recently the award was removed as was "Urban" and "Rock" and other genres as the awards removed Genre-based awards and moved to more generalised artist-focused awards.|
|Grammy Award||Best Dance Recording||1998–present||Most recently won (2019) by Silk City and Dua Lipa featuring Diplo and Mark Ronson for "Electricity".|
|Grammy Award||Best Dance/Electronic Album||2005–present||Most recently won (2020) by The Chemical Brothers for No Geography.|
|DJ Mag||Top 100 DJs poll||1991–present||The British dance music magazine DJ Mag publishes a yearly listing of the top 100 DJs in the world; from 1991 to 1996 the Top 100 poll were ranked by the magazine's journalists; in 1997 the poll became a public vote. The current number-one as of the 2018 list is Martin Garrix.|
|DJ Awards||Best DJ Award||1998–present||The only global DJ awards event that nominates and awards international DJ's in 11 categories held annually in Ibiza, Spain, winners selected by a public vote and one of the most important.|
|Winter Music Conference (WMC)||IDMA: International Dance Music Awards||1998–present|||
|Project X Magazine||Electronic Dance Music Awards||1995||Readers of Project X magazine voted for the winners of the first (and only) "Electronic Dance Music Awards". In a ceremony organized by the magazine and Nervous Records, award statues were given to Winx, The Future Sound of London, Moby, Junior Vasquez, Danny Tenaglia, DJ Keoki, TRIBAL America Records and Moonshine Records.|
|American Music Awards||Favorite Electronic Dance Music Artist||2012–present||Most recently won (2020) by Lady Gaga.|
|World Music Awards||Favorite Electronic Dance Music Artist||2006–present|
|Most recently won (2014) by Calvin Harris.|
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- ^"Logic System – Orient Express". Discogs.
- ^Kirn, Peter (2011). Keyboard Presents the Evolution of Electronic Dance Music. Backbeat Books. ISBN .
- ^Beaumont-Thomas, Ben (February 14, 2016). "Roland launch new versions of the iconic 808, 909 and 303 instruments". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved January 16, 2016.
- ^Hawking, Tom (January 16, 2014). "10 great songs built around the 808". Flavorwire. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
- ^Anderson, Jason (November 27, 2008). "Slaves to the rhythm". CBC News. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
In 2009, electronic music was 20 years beyond England’s second summer of love in 1989, the year when waves of four-on-the-floor reverberated from Manchester to the moon and set in motion a long arc of momentum that can now be said to be completely decentralized. If you’re having troubling chasing the concordant memes of electronic music in 2009, you’re not alone. Even an obsessive with no distracting family, social, or economic preoccupations would have a hard time keeping up.
Back in the acid house moment, it would be easy for Luddite rockists to chide, “I don’t listen to techno because it all sounds the same.” Now, you’d be hard-pressed to find any cogency amidst the variety of synthetic noises out there. Sure, there will always be pasty-faced demagogues rallying around guitar dinosaurs (U2) and new-school fogies (Jack White). But more people are listening to electronic sounds now than ever before.
The radio has been completely electrofied, the most it has been since the 1980s, for better or worse. And while the current crop may slightly evoke the aforementioned decade, there’s also a touch of catching up with 2002’s 1982-grave-robbing schemas. Shakira’s DFA-like synthpop single, Owl City’s blatant Postal Service rip-off, Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl-scale reimagining of electroclash, Electrik Red’s proselytizing of Sugababes into depraved sex kittens, and Christina Aguilera’s plans to work with Ladytron all point to a pop present that could be interpreted as a zeitgeist with either a paucity of ideas or a knack for reformulating alternative notions of pop buried by the postmodern age’s information surplus.
With the continued reign of Auto-Tune, pop music exposes melisma for the mechanical concoction it is, democratizing American Idol pick-a-note-ism for robots. Still, the promise of technological fusion in pop seemed to have been squandered in 2009 by stoopid-ly gigantic T.I.-style power chords that resembled bland Darude clubism rather than any kind of real vanguard as imagined in the halcyon days of Timbaland and the Neptunes (both of whom continue to desecrate their legacy by staying active). Similarly disappointing, grime moved out of the pirate stations onto the main dial in the UK, but #1 hits by Dizzee Rascal and Tinchy Stryder found those two adapting to the charts rather having their radical energies welcomed by the mainstream.
The broad topographical field known as “indie” was also littered in electronic sounds, boasting a diversity as vast as Animal Collective, Passion Pit, Fever Ray, Junior Boys, Fuck Buttons, the XX, and so on. The one “new” sound to emerge out of electronic indie pop was a barrage of warbled, sun-baked cassette patches and bubblegum resuscitations of unconscious sound from the junk food television of hipster youth (Ducktails, anyone?), a TV Carnage DVD mashed in a blender and purposefully retracted from the sheen of today’s digital eternal sound. In other words, a less bookish and less calculated hauntology for a younger generation. Once, this may have just been called lo-fi, but the ubiquity of cheap laptop software would seem to indicate that all the line noise is a deliberate choice.
Dubbed “hypnagogic pop” via an article in The Wire by David Keenan, the broad umbrella of sounds came to include those disenchanted with the noise scene (namely the Skaters) and those just fascinated by the morose sadness of a rear view lens (Memory Tapes/Memory Cassette/Weird Tapes, Neon Indian, Delorean). Impressively, the hypnagogic pop stars were able to find possibility rather than stasis in ancient putrid lite FM and new age — no small feat. Ironically, this all came about at the moment Black Moth Super Rainbow hooked up with a major producer (and, apparently, Ariel Pink too), but they seemed to survive the split alright, as their inclusion on the list below illustrates.
Though Weird Tapes did find a fine way to incorporate a Legend of Zelda sample, those subconscious sources of electronic influence — buzzy chiptune sounds — found a more comfortable home in the overlapping worlds of dubstep and wonky. Joker’s Purple Wow Sound mix seemed to give as good a name as any to the sound, and it was all over releases this year, juxtaposing the brown-note-anticipating low end with high-pitched Nintendo freakouts. There was still all manner of epileptic shudders and fuck-shit-uppery wobble in dubstep (Caspa, Broken Note, Cookie Monsta, et al.), but the genre’s horizon continued to shrink further in the distance as new bodies stretched the sound every which way. The year of Joy Orbison’s “Hyph Mngo” was still owned by singles, but a selection of versatile interests also tried their hands at the long player, either as album-length statements (Martyn, Starkey, FaltyDL, 2562) or collections of previous works (Shackelton, RSD).
Planet Mu’s dubstep at times got so mercurial that it sounded like intelligent dance music with emphasis on the “dance” rather than the “intelligent” (ditto Redshape’s techno on The Dance Paradox). However, the most unexpected fusion was that of dubstep and funky house, now garnering the preliminary tag of “funkstep”. Singles under this tag by Donaeo, Cooly G, Kode 9, and Geeneus were more upbeat and R&B-inflected than dubstep, but seemed to share the warbly genre’s crooked gait.
The past continued to be reanimated in the form of reissues in 2009. Kraftwerk, pioneers of just about all that followed, finally got around to the remaster they’d been promising since 2004, but lesser-knowns from the hardcore continuum (Shut Up and Dance, Terror Danjah, El-B, Bizzy B, Roll Deep) were also celebrated, sometimes for the first time on CD (just like the Beatles!). Some stellar house mixes also saw double-disc action with Pépé Bradock’s Confiote De Bits and DJ Koze’s Reincarnations spinning on repeat for many who couldn’t resist their insistence. Hyperdub celebrated five years with a high profile double-CD, Kompakt marked a decade with little fanfare, and Warp turned 20 with a canonical box set objet d’art, which, at this point, is pretty much what you’d expect from Steve Beckett and company.
Last year’s year-end retrospectives saw much proclamation of the death of minimalism, and while it has quieted down a bit (pun intended), with the exception of a few notables releases on Echospace, Modern Love, and the like, not much has come along to take its place (least of all some kind of maximalism). Deep house (Moodymann, Black Jazz Consortium) continued to get deep, electro had a few surprise knockouts (Harmonic 313, Linkwood, DJ Hell), several noteworthy supergroups synergized their talents (Moritz von Oswald Trio, Lindstrom and Prins Thomas, Moderat), and big ballers pumped out adequate though hardly compulsory releases (Basement Jaxx, Röyksopp, Simian Mobile Disco). On the fringes, hauntology seemed to split its time between Broadcast-related projects (Broadcast and the Focus Group, Roj, Seeland), Raster-Noton (SND, Alva Noto) and Miasmah (Kreng, Elegi) upped their games, and there was a wealth of intriguing entries into the arcane (Tim Hecker, Vladislav Delay, Somfay, Syntheme) and otherwise unclassifiable (Spoonbill, Matias Aguayo’s latest).
To cut a long story short, we have no idea where the hell electronic music is going in the next decade, but if you can’t find something in the wide stew of sonics out there to get excited about, check your pulse. You’re probably dead.
So here’s what we could distill to a list of ten selections.
10. Brock Van Wey – White Clouds Drift on and On [Echospace]
Brock Van Wey unapologetically daubed his impressionist ambient soundscapes in a surfeit of colors long thought extinct in the world of electronic music. Somewhere between the ethereality of an early 4AD record and a starburst version of Bowery Electric’s Beat (without, of course, the beat), White Clouds Drift on and On is a mix both gentle and restless. The whirlwind of emotions composed by Van Wey (also known as Bvdub) are direct and open, rather than retracted and masked, a rare quality, especially along the Echospace axis from which it emerged. Van Wey’s embrace of melodrama feels less a plea for emotion than a bellowing cry from inside, a Douglas Sirk Technicolor envisioning of affectation as a formulation of style exercises.
Perhaps to legitimate matters in the dubtronic community, Stephen Hitchell’s Intrusion remixes the entire album in reverse order on disc two, but it’s obvious that Van Wey opened a door for Hitchell as much as Hitchell did for Van Wey. The sensory panorama of the Intrusion “shapes” on disc two are easily as lovely and viscerally stirring as Van Wey’s, but with more of a skeletal rhythmic structure and echo-plated aura. Overall, it’s the best either have yet offered. – Timothy Gabriele
9. 2562 – Unbalance [Tectonic]
While some of the loveliest, most seductive dubstep (and related) sounds materialized in small doses during 2009 — Cyrus’s “Space Cadet”, Mount Kimbie’s “Maybes”, and Burial’s “Fostercare”, for example — 2562’s Unbalance stuns in long player format. Re-engaging Brit 2-step is omnipresent of late, and just as he did on 2008’s debut LP Aerial, Dave “2562” Huismans blends dub and techno tendencies for most of Unbalance, but it’s a warmer trip this time. “Lost” is positively mesmerizing — the clacking and clopping beats slow to half-pace, while bells, stuttering keyboard tones and vocal samples are weaved around rubbery, subtle bass prods. It’s easy to head back to the record primarily for temperate moments like these — they’re everywhere — but if you peek back only for the glitzy organ swathes and slick programming in “Love in Outer Space”, you’d miss out on uneasy trips like “Who Are You Fooling?”, where ambient techno is thankfully still very much on Huismans’ agenda. – Dominic Umile
8. Bibio – Ambivalence Avenue [Warp]
On a tree-lined street in Central London, Bibio’s Stephen Wilkinson greets the day, clad in late-summer gear and gazing optimistically at a point in the distance. He looks as if the world is his oyster. Not six months after Vignetting the Compost took us around the same lovely fields he’d been roaming for half a decade, Bibio moved to Warp and unleashed his experiment, a dizzying show of genre-play less notable for its actual music than for the impact it had on everyone who’d already written him off. All of a sudden, Wilkinson wasn’t just exploring his guitar’s sonic possibilities, but the ways in which he could use it to participate in a dazzling musical tradition.
He played blue-eyed soul, futuristic urban pop, amped-up versions of his own thatched folk and amazingly good instrumental hip-hop like he had everything to gain, and with mystifying confidence. So assured was he, in fact, that he let his voice fly high and adopt the protean role of his guitar, after years of withholding it. And just as quickly, Bibio found himself with an audience of people as giddy about his music as he was. The prevailing feeling on Ambivalence Avenue isn’t ambivalence at all, which implies dispassion. It’s the excitement of a highly creative artist who didn’t want to choose, who saw his options, said “no regrets”, and ran as hard as he could after all of them. – M.R. Newmark
7. Gui Boratto – Take My Breath Away [Kompakt]
Hear that on “Besides”? That’s the sound of 1,000 tech conventions and car commercials launching. It’s optimistic, yet oddly sterile. The same could be said of Gui Boratto’s music, sparkly techno that soundtracks a beautiful sunny day as seen through the large window from a cleanroom. The cover art for Take My Breath Away — easily one of the best cover images of the year — depicts such a scenario, as respirator-equipped children appear oddly unfazed in a meadow which, upon closer inspection, is artificial. Like a Pixar film, however (and equally as arresting and ultimately uplifting), Boratto wrests unlikely strides of emotion from his germ-free origins, whether it’s the life-passing-by observations of “No Turning Back”, or the cool gusts of percussive noise on “Opus 17”.
Boratto got his start in the advertising world, which isn’t at all surprising, considering the carefully crafted moods of Take My Breath Away. However, like a great pop artist, Boratto’s skill is in his ability to metamorphose these frames of reference into something else, something truly unique. – David Abravanel
6. Black Moth Super Rainbow – Eating Us [Graveface]
Granted, Black Moth Super Rainbow did not exactly reinvent the wheel with their 4th album, but, with Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, MGMT) behind the consoles, Eating Us is definitely the best-produced album yet released by the Pittsburgh collective. While the somewhat lo-fi aspect of their sound up to this point was a large part of their charm, little or nothing was lost in the transition to real studio recording.
The vocoder retains its sepia-toned ethereality and the gobs of synth distortion fill the same aural gaps they did on 2007’s Dandelion Gum, but the filters and effects no longer veer out of sight. It is their most accessible and linear album in terms of production and songwriting, though their surreal lyricism may “freak out the squares” as they were intended. For such a lofty, detached sound, Black Moth Super Rainbow actually feature some fairly bluesy lyrics, asking “Iron Lemonade” to “wash my friends away” and proclaiming they were “born in a world without sunshine” in the opening track. If this was a work of depression, depression has never been this much fun. – Alan Ranta
5. Dan Deacon – Bromst [Carpark]
As with Fuck Buttons’ Tarot Sport, Dan Deacon’s Bromst kept the album format’s partial exquisite corpse alive by a marathon methodology. Far from being diversified and regimented, Bromst is an album of beautiful consistency, transparently syncopated to machinal programming like it boiled down jouissance to a mathematical formula (with the exception of “Wet Wings”, which transforms a folk sample into a flock of migratory birds). Deacon even set up many of his tunes of assaultive glee to synch with a player piano. It’s no surprise that hipsters are beginning their backlash against Deacon, once their patron saint of juvenilia n’ whimsy.
Bromst marches in defense of the loudness war, on what many fidelity snobs would dub “the wrong side”. However, the album’s authority is not solely in the massiveness of its sound, but in the richness of his melodies. Deacon emotes with the euphoric power chords of M83, arpeggiates with the manic chiptune splendor of Koji Kondo, xylophones like a wind-up monkey doll with a rainbow coming out its ass, and blurts glossolalic warped chants into the microphone with the pitch-bent sway of Kevin McCallister’s Talkboy.
Yet gripes about Deacon’s manchild persona should evaporate in those who sit down with the album and notice its complex interplay of broken nursery rhyme carnivale and momentously-timed explosions of synth-bliss pop rapture. Bromst is the first recorded instance of Deacon pouring his heart all over a record, the way he does in nearly every performance he has ever done in his last five years of consistent touring (“Hello, my ghost, I’m here / I’m Home” go the album’s opening lines). It’s an instance of transforming the pre-pubescent elation innate in discovery and novelty, always a transfixion of Deacon’s, into something that’s not onanistic (as it has been in the past with him), but actually transcendent. – Timothy Gabriele
4. Harmonic 313 – When Machines Exceed Human Intelligence [Warp]
Rather than falter under the weight of the grim, future-noir-esque implications suggested by an overt album title, Mark Pritchard’s efforts under his Harmonic 313 guise are astonishing. When Machines Exceed Human Intelligence finds Pritchard dabbling in volatile sonic alchemy, matching gritty and razor-sharp synthesizers against ludicrous bassweight for a techno-and-Total Recall-influenced tribute to Dabrye and J Dilla. A man of many faces (Global Communication, Reload, Jedi Knights, more), Pritchard comes off as a little scatterbrained for inviting Detroit emcees Phat Kat and Elzhi to spit on “Battlestar” (and later, Steve Spacek), but the rest of When Machines boasts such intricate design that a couple of forgettable guest verses matters not. Robust intro track “Dirtbox” surfaced in late 2008 as an appetite-whetting EP, but on When Machines it’s a thunderous, malevolent precursor to the onslaught that follows. Pritchard’s electro hip-hop quivers and quakes on this record, and pondering it again so late in the year has me re-evaluating my 2009 favorites (and 2080 predictions) entirely. – Dominic Umile
3. SND – Atavism [Raster-Noton]
Okay, I’ll admit it: listen to Atavism enough times, and those sharp digital pads start to sound like the Law & Order “doink doink” sound got a remix job. There’s no caveat of “but wait, come back” with this album. SND are harsh, minimal, sterile, and brutally uncompromising. The sonic palette on Atavism is, compared to other minimal techno records (even its siblings at Raster-Noton), shockingly limited. There are a few percussive sounds, and some (very) slowly morphing synth stabs, all definitely digital. In one fell swoop, SND undo generations of progress toward emulating “analog warmth” on computers, preferring instead to focus on cold processors.
The untitled tracks bleed into one another easily; no one cut has a sonic signature that would greatly distance it from the herd. Fittingly for a comeback, Atavism is, even with its hour-long running time, a statement of purpose that’s free of fat. Fittingly for SND, there’s no grand ceremony behind Atavism. It is what it is, with bare-bones information in a brilliant bone-white package. In his full-length review of the record, M.R. Newmark looked at Atavism as a study in how curiously “safe” computers are. And he’s right — SND is the kind of safe that makes your muscles clench. It’s inexplicable, but it’s also addicting. – David Abravanel
2. Jon Hopkins – Insides [Domino]
Insides was one of 2009’s most pleasant surprises. Before this landmark album, Hopkins seemed content to use his classical piano training to color lengthy ambient soundscapes and easy listening chill compositions. I don’t know if his dog died last Christmas or what, but this album saw Hopkins step into the darkness and invest himself in sweeping, moody melodies underpinned by guttural bass and hints of unforeseen glitch.
Where his previous work seemed content to allow listeners to exist outside the music, Hopkins is incredibly elegant, moving, stirring, and introspective on Insides. It is all foreground listening, percolating IDM tempered with a classical style that allows itself room to breathe. Electronic music so often suffers under the crushing demand for immediate dance floor filler, but this album subtly sucks you into its drama and draws out your deepest reflection and contemplation, while still quenching your thirst for rumbling lower frequencies. Hopkins has now entered the prime of his career with this album. – Alan Ranta
1. FaltyDL – Love Is a Liability [Planet Mu]
As the curtain draws on the first decade of the 2000s, locking it tight within the annals of history, it appears that dubstep has come out on top as the era’s most important electronic movement. It’s strange and maybe a little suspect — dubstep proper didn’t have much to it besides heavy bass and a slow pace, and it produced a lot of copycats whose mission, it seemed, was to zap the life out of UK 2-step and dance music in general. The ones who elevated it to something special were, in fact, those who 86ed most of the rules to pursue a singular ideal; two years ago, Burial’s Untrue hit new levels of bruising emotionality, and suddenly dubstep could make us cry. Now, the best electronic record of 2009 parallels the best electronic record of 2007, using dubstep reference points to build its own stunningly attractive environment in black and silver tendrils around us.
Love Is a Liability, the debut full-length from Brooklynite Drew Lustman, is a foxy world of fashion runways, photographers’ flashes, velvet ropes, and chiaroscuro lighting schemes, a vision of London dubstep refracted off the tiles of a private New York discotheque. It seems like it should have come with a $70 invitation. Milking his oblique production sense and state-of-the-art equipment for everything they’re worth, Lustman explores the peculiar depth in surface-level turn-ons. His computerized sounds exhale diamonds with each sigh (check the gorgeous Cuisinart-in-heaven whirring noises on “The Shape to Come”) and commingle with beat work rivaling 2562 in its poetic fluidity. The vocal snippets from Untrue return, in a sense, but here they burn with sexual energy: A looped “ahh” is spun into silk on “Winter Sole”, and phrases like “I want…” shoot straight for the pleasure receptors and ignite an erotic glow. They could be the ghosts of partygoers from the walls inside the Paradise Garage, coming out for one more dance under the hedonistic spell of FaltyDL’s lights and music. As the legacy of the New York club underground lives on, so may this album. Its most memorable word? “Forever.” When it reverberates through “Human Meadow”, it’s enough to send shivers down the spine. – M.R. Newmark
TAGS 2562best electronic musicbest musicbest music of 2009bibioblack moth super rainbowbrock van weydan deaconelectronicfaltydlgui borattoharmonic 313jon hopkinslist thissnd
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