Today as I was going through the ghost town known as Google+, I came across a blog post from a local news reporter about Gangnam Style. If you’re reading this and you have no idea who or what a Gangnam Style is, click here.
The post went like this: “My new blog on Gangnam Style. I hate it, and all dance music.”
Now if he had just ended with “I hate it”, I would have happily moved on from the subject. But to generalize and stereotype an entire genre of music based on today’s pop music, I feel, is a little unfair.
I’m not here to discuss the merits of the massive popularity of Gangnam Style. In fact, I agree with the author. There’s nothing more soul-crushing than knowing that Ke$ha’s “Tik-Tok” sold more copies than ANY Beatles single.
But as a music artist, DJ, and blogger, I feel like I have some kind of duty to clear the air and release the stigma and negative attitude that surrounds “dance music.”
Now, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of different styles of “house” or “dance music”. Trust me, I even looked on Wikipedia only to find an “incomplete list, which may never be able to satisfy particular standards for completeness.” So in saying that “it all sounds the same”, I believe that he is discounting literally hundreds of genres of music that he has likely never heard before. From what the author described, it seems to me like he doesn’t not like dance music, he just doesn’t like pop music.
You see today’s pop music has transformed into its own style of electronic music. What’s popular today is taking different elements of the electronic sound, the kick, the bass, the synths, and making an uncomplicated, generic, catchy track that appeals to the masses.
Gangnam Style is a song that reflects the ultra-energy side of pop music today. Like a shot of liquor, the music is designed to hit hard, fast, and furious. It’s meant to push as much energy as possible into the listeners head, as fast as possible. To use one word to describe it, it’s exciting.
As a niche music fanatic that endorses unknown artists and the underground side of the music industry, nothing is more frustrating than being told to play LMFAO or some other equally droning equivalent. But it’s no different than in the early 2000s when it was Creed or Nickleback cramming the airways – it’s all crappy pop music. It just so happens that today’s crappy pop music encompasses electronic elements.
So to associate today’s pop music with all electronic dance is like associating the early 2000s pop music with all rock music. Just because there are a few popular musicians you don’t like doesn’t mean you should discount the entire genre. And just because you don’t like the “Thump” of progressive house or the “Wobble” of dubstep doesn’t mean you won’t like poetic-ness of indie dance or the smoothness of ocean house.
And to Psy’s credit, Gangnam Style is supposed to be cheesy – the music, the dance, the light-heartedness – it’s just viral in nature. I’d associate it with watching a comedy like American Pie – sometimes people want to watch something they know is bad just to turn off their brain. Sometimes people don’t want to sit and evaluate the metaphorical meaning of lyrics. These days we are so innudated with information, some people just want to shut off, and shouldn’t that be accepted, if not encouraged?
There’s no need to get up in arms about what’s popular and what’s not. I sometimes find myself getting incredibly frustrated with people’s music choices, but it is a personal choice, and at the end of the day, these pop songs are generic and easily forgotten, and we can take solace in that.
Now back to the dance music. Might I suggest you try listening to some ocean house, nu disco, daytime disco, deep house, or soft indie dance? Check out RAC, Shook, or Breakbot, and you might find yourself surprised at your reaction to this so-called dance music you hate.
And if not, that’s fine, but at least then you will have tried it and can make an educated opinion of it.
I’ll leave you with these wise words from now 18 year-old electronic dance music producer Madeon (who in contrast only has 13 million views on his most popular YouTube video): “Anyone hating on any genre of music simply doesn’t know the context in which it’s meant to be enjoyed.”