Is America killing dance music?
Wed 13th Jun, 2012 Featuresin
Any cynicism aside, these are the exact same concerns ITMers have been wailing about for ages now, but it’s a perspective that’s also starting to be heard beyond the confines of specialist dance music media and its community forums. Will North America’s embrace of dance music ultimately be a bad thing for the scene worldwide?
The tone of the Wall Street Journal article was surprising because up until now, the mainstream American media has for the most part welcomed the commercialised aspects of the ‘EDM’ craze with open arms. Take US trade weekly Billboard Magazine as a prime example. As ITM pointed out in February, “Billboard has donned its neon ‘RAGE’ cap to help champion the cause. One of the magazine’s favourite poster boys is Tiesto, with lengthy features devoted to the Dutchman’s business acumen and ballooning Stateside following.” If they’re raking in a shitload of money, then they’re OK with us. The Wall Street Journal ’s scathing account has definitely been the exception to the rule, as far as American mainstream media goes.
Over in the UK though, one of the world’s most enduring spots for clubbing culture, there’s been plenty of people looking on at the developments in the US with a touch of bemusement. Quality journalism tome The Guardian recently published a fascinating critique of David Guetta’s stateside adventures; titled with the slightly misleading Lord of Dance, it examined the current levels of commercialisation we’re witnessing in dance culture.
“I'm not Carl Cox the hit player… Am I supposed to dumb down to the idea that all I'm doing is pressing a button?”
“If you're part of the original acid-house generation, for whom dance music was a genuinely counter-cultural movement born out of dirty raves in basements and warehouses, it couldn't be a more alien world. Dance music went mainstream in the UK in the 90s with the rise of superclubs and festivals, but the likes of Ministry of Sound and Creamfields have nothing on its current commercialisation in the US,” The Guardian quite accurately pointed out.
“Planes fly overhead trailing 40ft banners advertising new gigs in Las Vegas for Guetta, Afrojack, Swedish House Mafia, et al. Vegas has no interest in alternative music – only in who sells the most tickets, and the casinos that used to court Elton John and Dolly Parton are now scrambling to offer residencies to DJs.”
In comparison, the Wall Street Journal ’s critique was a lot less measured in its assessment, and allowed a few of dance music’s most enduring performers to weigh in, including longstanding favorite Carl Cox. “If somebody said to me: Play The Time of My Life by the Black Eyed Peas and throw your hands in the air, I couldn't do it. If you gave me $10 million, I couldn't do it," He told the paper.
“I'm not Carl Cox the hit player. I find I have to work hard for it. I have no idea what I'm going to play when I start… Am I supposed to dumb down to the idea that all I'm doing is pressing a button?”