It’s been a steady shift over the past few years, but I believe 2013 was finally the year dance music (more specifically of the electronic persuasion) took the throne from hip hop as the most dominant genre in music today. There were multiple signifiers to me throughout the year that this shift has finally occurred, and below I will lay out the four biggest signs the robots have finally taken over.
EDM (electronic dance music) now controls the public square
Everywhere you turn these days, you can hear electronic dance music, or at the very least, an act highly influenced by it. Commercials are probably the most clear example of this, with the below Toyota Corolla commercial probably being the best example. The commercial showcases the Corolla in different eras, with different styles of music representing each, from Motown to soul to punk music, and then finally landing today, with some dubstep electronic music representing the music of today. And that’s just the start: Microsoft, Nissan, and Samsung are just the surface of companies utilizing the primary music of today.
In addition to commercials, I have begun to hear dance music more and more at public events. My wife and I were playing tennis this fall at a high school that was hosting a community college football game, and before the game, instead of playing pregame football staples like hip hop and classic rock, the speakers blasted Avicii to be heard for miles around. The style of music has been not just accepted in youth circles, but pretty much everywhere.
No great pure rap record in 2013
In addition to the widespread nature of dance music, it certainly didn’t help that there was no great pure rap record this year. The most-talked about rap record of the year, Kanye West’s Yeezus, is just as much of a dance record as it is a rap record, steeped in 80’s acid-house and Chicago drill music. Other rap heavy hitters like Jay-Z and Eminem released serious duds for records. R&B continued its resurrection with Drake, Janelle Monae, Blood Orange, Justin Timberlake, and Rhye all having major records, but R&B often shares the sheets with dance music.
Rock bands everywhere are getting in the groove
While rappers either slinked back in the chair or got in on the action, many notable rock bands caught dance fever. Nine Inch Nails released its first record in five years in Hesitation Marks, its most groove-heavy album to date. Arcade Fire hired indie dance whiz James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem to produce their latest album Reflektor, which was steeped in disco and employed some of Murphy’s repetitive dance tricks. Tegan and Sara, the female indie folk rock duo, essentially released a Katy Perry dance pop record in Heartthrob, which also proved to be their best album to date. Thom Yorke and Flea released their Atoms for Peace super group debut, the grooviest and least rocking thing both have done. This isn’t a trend that just began this year, but this year’s moves – most significantly with Arcade Fire, who is maybe the biggest indie rock band on the planet – were just further proof that dance music rules the culture.
There were more great electronic records in 2013 than any other genre
Above all else, the proof is in who has the most delicious pudding, or something like that. And the most delicious pudding this year was consistently electronic dance records. Established electronic-based acts like Daft Punk, M.I.A., Zomby, Jon Hopkins, and the Knife all released solid-to-great records, while a number of others released promising sophomore efforts including James Blake, Thundercat, Gold Panda, Baths, and Holy Ghost!. But above all else, I discovered more new electronic acts than any other genre. Disclosure’s Settle is undoubtedly one of the best records of the year. AlunaGeorge’s debut is infectious and original. Autre Ne Veut took all three of us by storm. Finally, CHRVCHES The Bones of What You Believe is plain and simple the catchiest album of the year (with Haim’s Days Are Gone as a close second). Every month of the year, I heard a new dance album I fell in love with.
Yes, you can say saying “dance” music has taken over is pretty generic considering one can pretty much dance to any music, but the electronic-based, techno-informed dance scene has truly dominated. EDM festivals like Electric Daisy Carnival, Ultra Music Festival, and the Electric Zoo Festival are among the biggest in the country, and it seems like a new one pops up every week. Not only that, but when you attend a rock festival like Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza, the electronic acts like Skrillex and Avicii are almost always the most anticipated artist to see for most attendees. We have truly reached the distant future where machines have taken over. This was in my mind, the most notable trend in 2013.